The Best Breakfasts on the Central Coast
Undoubtedly, you wake up on a Saturday or Sunday and examine the breakfast options.
You could go to that same old spot you've been a million times.
They know you there, right? They make fine greasy spoon cuisine, piling on the cheese, half a dozen eggs and the okayest coffee in the neighborhood. It's time to mix it up. I want you in on some amazing Central Coast meals, hard finds for recent years. Places we've stumbled upon via recommendation or simply stopping in and finding delicious often-healthy inspired breakfast restaurants. The kinds of places turn a lucky find into a breakfast memory.
Honeymoon Cafe (Pismo Beach)
999 Price St. Pismo Beach.
Honeymoon Cafe has served delicious morning and afternoon meals in Pismo Beach for years. Located along Price St, a couple blocks from the troves of tourists filling Pomeroy Ave, abutting the pier, Price St became the best avenue for food in Pismo Beach. Every weekend Honeymoon, or H-moon if you're a local, makes several varieties of breakfast burritos (I recommend the cowboy or the pigpen, they have an option for every taste), hashes, wraps, scrambles and California-Mexican grillables. Though one of my favorite items is off-menu, a moonrise on pita with cilantro. The pita is folded taco-style and filled with market fresh veggies, cheese, eggs, sprouts, arugula and choice or omission of protein.
H-moon is known for healthier options throughout SLO county, their salads, smoothies, street tacos and sandwiches are all excellent. The cafe is often packed during weekends, so show up early and anticipate a line that sometimes stretches from the inside counter to the sidewalk. Just like Rome, when you see a line, expect good things happening. On weekdays, expect to find a seat anywhere inside or out, though I certainly prefer the patio. An unusual restaurant model, those unfamiliar will expect waitresses to take your order from a table. Everyone orders from the same inside counter, then it's up to you to grab utensils and find a seat. Sometimes that means sharing, which has always been a pleasant experience. Be sure you bus your table after finished eating.
Check out the savory stacked farmwich, breakfast enchiladas and huevos rancheros, all proudly served and patiently grilled. All photos are click to enlarge.
Sidecar (San Luis Obispo)
1127 Broad St. San Luis Obispo.
Sidecar is one of the sleeper hits in SLO. Usually, when people think of grabbing some breakfast, Big Sky Cafe comes to mind. You'll find people crowding around the sidewalk in front of Big Sky Cafe and basically staring at the Sidecar sign. Meanwhile plenty of tables are available in Sidecar, but more importantly Sidecar is making, I argue, a more inspired, textured and flavorful meal. Sidecar has a fantastic interior and attentive staff ensuring you're getting more than expected. Also, Sidecar is one of the few places on the Central Coast serving up a delicious batter of chicken and waffles. Their version of the eggs Benedict is tastefully served with portions not swimming in hollandaise, harmonizing with Sidecar's especially crispy tater-tots.
SLO Provisions (San Luis Obispo)
1255 Monterey St. San Luis Obispo.
SLO Provisions has kicked out the baked greatness since October 2015. Expanding into the neighboring space, the new larger space can accommodate massive families and still offer a bright comfortable view of uptown SLO.
This whole part of SLO is going to coolsville, some progressive mixed-use redevelopment, amazing eats options and reachable on foot if you live in proximity to downtown. Finding SLO Provisions was a lark, but the word is out.
The lady and I stumbled to this side of downtown on our way to two of our favorite eclectic shops, Ruby Rose and Left Field. They poured two coffees and we ordered breakfast sandwiches (below right) made with morning baked and toasted multi-grain bread festooned with avocado, ham, tomato and egg, meticulously prepared and presented with pride. It's one of the best breakfast sandwiches you'll find anywhere on the Central Coast, an indication of what quality ingredients curated for flavor accomplishes. You'll probably think the serving is too small, but it turns out to be a perfect size for a healthy on-the-go option. If you want a little more girth, go with the english muffin breakfast sandwich. The El Bocadillo baguette sandwich (below left photo, right sandwich) has magnificent finely sliced jamon, sweet tomato spread, prepared on that-day french bread--also perfect for on-the-go.
When we finished our breakfast sandwiches, we promptly bought one of their handmade pot-pies, a perfect 2-person meal. Comes with prep instructions, basically: throw in the oven. Their pot pies are one of the most affordable and delicious meals available on the Central Coast, savory, flavorful and humming with satisfaction. I honestly had given up on pot-pies prior to SLO Provisions showing me the way.
Kay's Orcutt Country Kitchen (Orcutt - Santa Maria)
135 E Clark Ave. Orcutt.
Everybody has a favorite comfort food style diner (many favor Jocko's in Nipomo, Penny's All American Cafe in Pismo Beach, Celia's Garden Cafe in Los Osos, or Tanner Jacks in Nipomo) where the portions are continent-sized, meals are savory and the reputation for customer service is top-notch. Any of the places in parenthesis above are equally fantastic if you love country-style hearty breakfasts.
Kay's Orcutt Country Kitchen is an institution. Serving massive plates of delicious country-style hearty meals for decades, I first came here the same way most people arrive, with family. Later, my father and I consecrated a Saturday sit-at-the-counter tradition that held for years. One of the best counter-sitting experiences on the Central Coast admittedly. It's fascinating watching the cooks choreographically move while preparing another twenty breakfasts.
Known for their mammoth omelettes, hashes, biscuits and gravy, Kay's generous portions will send you home with aftershock meals and a full stomach. Kay's also has a formidable Central Coast reputation for quality ingredients. Often families from hours away make the trek for a spot in the sunny and eclectic restaurant. Another fascinating aspect is all the old-west Orcutt memorabilia, images and clippings everywhere.
It would be a crime not to include at least one traditional diner experience on our local favorites list. Favored by thousands of customers every year, Kay's puts the heart in hearty. Below, a monte cristo sandwich and biscuits and gravy on the left, chorizo omelette on the right. Anyone with a hangover in Santa Maria knows about Kay's-prescribed cure-all dishes and the jubilant atmosphere will make you feel at home.
Bon Temps (San Luis Obispo)
1819 Osos St.
You can tell if a person knows what they're talking about regarding Central Coast breakfasts if they include Bon Temps Creole Cafe in SLO. An institution with a funky new railroad station location, Bon Temps, pronounced "bon-toms," serves the best California-inspired Cajun meals in SLO. Known for their savory blackened dishes, jambalaya, gumbo and collard greens; when you show up for breakfast, you order one thing: eggs Benedict. They make them a bunch of ways and they're all delicious.
Pick up some grits, a fluffy biscuit to soak up the residuals and expect to bring home leftovers. I prefer the fried green tomatoes, echoing a Benedict, of course complemented with links, firm red beans and rice, all sparked by the infamous table-width string of hot sauces parked on every table (see below middle, click the image for the full show).
Thing is, when it's busy expect to wait. I've only witnessed at most two waitresses working all the tables in the restaurant on any given day. Just be patient and your meal will be worth the investment. Good things take time.
Come to San Luis Obispo's historic railroad district and check out the new location for Bon Temps; the menu is the same, but now the restaurant is in a highly walkable location. It's anticipated that the new location will bring even more traffic, so anticipate getting there early.
Lido at Dolphin Bay (Pismo Beach - Shell Beach)
2727 Shell Beach Road. Pismo Beach.
When you need a Sunday brunch, you can't go wrong with Lido at Dolphin Bay in Shell Beach. With one of the best views on the Central Coast, zero wait-time and savory seafood-inspired dishes to welcome your week. I always splurge on a plate of Morro oysters splashed with lemon and horseradish. Lido also produces delicious eggs Benedicts drizzled respectfully on a halved muffin and dusted with herbs. Bottomless mimosas strike an ambitious morning chord.
The salmon Benedict (bottom second from left) is one of the most savory vacation-reminder meals available anywhere. Crispy home-fries accent the dish with a crunch. Sit outside, breathe in the ocean air with your meal, but bring a hat and sunscreen just in case as the canopy-shade situation can sometimes be dicey. I've left red-cheeked a few times.
105 S Main St. Templeton.
More than ever, Templeton is worth crossing the grade to enjoy the sleek, sophisticated and hip breakfast and lunch haunt, Kitchenette. Offering a daringly clean roster of dishes, the team produces elegant, healthy and delicious meals with respect for quality and refinement. I've only had memorable meals at Kitchenette.
If it's your first time, get the corned beef hash. Everything is good, but the corned beef hash is spectacular. The kind of meal that always pays off when going outside your boundaries. Kitchenette's staff are some of the friendliest and warmest on the coast. And the meals are respectfully and pridefully prepared, well-deserving customer loyalty. The formula here is similar to Honeymoon Cafe in Pismo Beach, you order from a counter, grab your own utensils and try to find seating. Please, sweet ever-loving Jesus, bus your table when you're finished eating. I highly recommend grabbing a counter seat and enjoy a meticulously prepared espresso drink. Make an event of going wine tasting while you hit this place in the morning, it's worth any trip and is excellently priced.
This closes out our first edition of our favorite Central Coast breakfasts. If you enjoyed this piece, check out our favorite Mexican grill article and our reviews of locally made SLO County salsas. Show your support for more local content by smashing that like button below and sharing a link to an amigo. We greatly appreciate it.
HONORABLE MENTIONS - EDITION 2
Obviously, we can't get to every great place for one list, it would be insanely long. But we're not even close to done. We look forward to your recommendations in the comment section. Some honorable mentions and places likely to be included in or next Breakfast roundup:
- Jocko's in Nipomo
- Penny's All American Cafe in Pismo Beach
- Celias Garden Cafe in Los Osos
- Tanner Jacks in Nipomo
- Sally Loos in San Luis Obispo