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Half Moon Bay

I'm going to be in Half Moon Bay, CA over a long weekend in August as part of a work trip. It looks like an hour's drive could get me to San Fran for dinner -- or a day trip. Do you think I could get to Napa and back in a day? And if you've been there, do you have any recommendations?

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Half Moon Bay

Should be doable if you start early, although traffic seems to have grown exponentially worse since I lived out there. We used to daytrip from Palo Alto up to Sonoma to taste Zin, and Napa is maybe 25 minutes farther. It probably isn't as fast as cutting inland to I-280, but take the scenic drive up Highway 1...it's gorgeous. Unless you have a phobia against winding cliffside roads. Just be prepared for the considerable temperature fluctuations along the way.

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highway 1 is now closed at devils slide, so. . you have to cut over to 280 anyway at half moon bay to get to san francisco. from half moon bay, i'd say it's about a 2 hour drive or so to napa, a little longer to places like st. helena and yountville.

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Half Moon Bay

Heading to Half Moon on Wednesday for meetings and have twp of my five nights free. Any suggestions as to where to have a good dinner there other than Navio at the Ritz where we are staying and having a couple of dinners already. Thanks.

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Half Moon Bay

Heading to Half Moon on Wednesday for meetings and have twp of my five nights free. Any suggestions as to where to have a good dinner there other than Navio at the Ritz where we are staying and having a couple of dinners already. Thanks.

Too late for you this time, but...

I recently had dinner on a beach in Half Moon Bay, and chef Lewis Rossman of Cetrella Bistro & Cafe cooked. His food was just fabulous. I can't wait to get to eat at the actual restaurant.

I also recommend Mezza Luna: very good Northern Italian.

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Half Moon Bay; Santa Cruz

I spent a few days in Half Moon Bay recently and recommend it highly. I wouldn't go as far as the tourist brochures that compare Half Moon Bay to Carmel (um, no). But it was beautiful and a wonderful break from the oppressive heat of DC. I was lucky enough to go on the trip courtesy of my last company, which was holding a "closing party" to celebrate the sale of the company (and all of our resulting unemployment). This ended up being the most expensive "free trip" I've ever taken. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton and it lived up to its website picture. ritz. I didn't often eat at the hotel, but I had coffee each morning and an expensive burger ($20) in the Conservatory room overlooking the ocean. No complaints at all. I didn't eat at the hotel's main restaurant, Navio, but the menu looked nice, if veering a little toward heavy food. I ordered, via room service, the makings for s'mores. So nice to sit on my private patio and make s'mores on the fireplace/grill. I think I came close to ruining the Ritz's incredible featherbed by attempting to eat s'mores in bed. That is an Olympic level sport with high technical difficulty and I am not properly trained. Yet. At the risk of interrupting my already marginally topical post with a tangent, I will add that the service at the hotel was wonderful. I don't know how the hotel trains and manages its staff, but the results are impressive. More on point: the Half Moon Bay Coffee Company on Main Street had terrific coffee and sandwiches and good breafast food (including their "breakfast rice," a sort of fried rice with bacon). We were responsible for our own food/incidental expenses, so it was a relief to find a good and reasonably priced breakfast place. I didn't go anywhere too fancy for dinner. At It's Italia I had a casual and tasty dinner: linguine with goat cheese, walnuts and asparagus for me and a crispy white pizza for my friend. I had a lousy meal at the Half Moon Bay Inn (also on Main Street). I ordered the lobster salad and it was overpriced at $29.00. About half an avocado and some fresh pineapple pieces were tossed in an empty pineapple shell with about 1/3 cup of overcooked lobster pieces. I mentioned to the waiter that the dish was overcooked. Suffice it to say the restaurant wasn't interested in any comments. I visited the Obester winery. A fun little place, but they weren't able to deal with more than 2 or 3 people at a time. My company had a dinner party at the Thomas Fogerty winery in Santa Cruz. fogerty. We had the chance to taste a number of wines, not as an actual "wine tasting," but as part of the beverage service available at the firm prom. I really enjoyed the Pinot Noir and the Gewurztraminer, but I didn't write down the vintages. The winery is in a wonderful location. Alas, the food, catered by an outside company, was not so great.

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Half Moon Bay

My wife and I dined at Pasta Moon while in Half Moon Bay with friends back in March and had an enjoyable meal there. Recommended. See some pictures of some of the food below --

Their lasagna:

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Which had more layers than I have ever seen in a lasagna before. BTW, that is olive oil and balsamic in the foreground for dipping our bread into.

Their pappardelle with pork sugo and mushrooms (a Bolognese sauce made with pork):

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And that was probably the best pasta of the four. It was so porky and the pasta was perfect.

Their linguine with clams and pancetta:

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Which was made spicy with red pepper flakes. Very delish.

Their linguine with Dungeness crab, fennel cream, carrots, and chervil:

417926591_71a217440a.jpg

The Dungeness crab was a real treat!.

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Sunnyvale

Anyone have any suggestions on eats in the area? Local, fine dining, whatever...

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Sunnyvale

quote name='mdt' post='107465' date='Apr 15 2008, 07:34 AM']Anyone have any suggestions on eats in the area? Local, fine dining, whatever...

Do you like Indian food? Some of the best Indian restaurants in the country (according to AnotherSubcontinent.com, the brainchild of "Mongo Jones") are in the South Bay.

Dasaprakash (Santa Clara)
Saravana Bhavan (Sunnyvale)
Udupi (Sunnyvale)
Amber of India (San Jose on Santana Row: really Butter Chicken and Lamb Roganjosh)
Turmeric (Sunnyvale: where Hemant Mathur at D�vi once worked)

From all the recs I've gotten from people I know, Dasaprakash is thought best. Amber of India is pretty darned good, too.

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Sunnyvale

Do you like Indian food? Some of the best Indian restaurants in the country (according to AnotherSubcontinent.com, the brainchild of "Mongo Jones") are in the South Bay.

Dasaprakash (Santa Clara)
Saravana Bhavan (Sunnyvale)
Udupi (Sunnyvale)
Amber of India (San Jose on Santana Row: really Butter Chicken and Lamb Roganjosh)
Turmeric (Sunnyvale: where Hemant Mathur at D�vi once worked)

From all the recs I've gotten from people I know, Dasaprakash is thought best. Amber of India is pretty darned good, too.

I got to Udupi for one dinner and it was good. The rest of my meals were with business associates and nothing special.

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Sunnyvale

Bump

My boss and I are out there meeting with vendors on the south side of SF Bay area). Need suggestions for good (but not super expensive or super high end) non-chain restaurants to consider. All cuisines open, preferring something seasonal and super fresh (or really good seafood, too), but would not overlook something ethnic (Indian, Mexican, etc). A good wine list would be nice, too.

Probably staying in Sunnyvale. So anywhere in or between Redwood City, San Jose and Los Gatos would be fine. We will have a car for sure.

Thanks!

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Livermore; San Leandro; Hayward

In Livermore, we had a perfectly adequate meal at Zephyr Grill & Bar. I only mention it because literally everyone we asked (and we asked quite a few people!) told us to go there, and while it was pretty decent, there was nothing mindblowing about the place. I had a nicely prepared corvina and the sides were...nice, fine, forgettable, etc. My companion had a salmon that she didn't care for as much. Just so you know!

We did have a pretty great lunch at a little Thai place in town, though. Also in Livermore, Lemon Grass Restaurant serves up some generous lunch plates. We had a red curry and roasted duck, and both were very good. The duck was cooked really well, with crispy skin and fat rendered all the way through, over a bed of wilted greens - good contrast with the fatty duck. The dishes came with a very nutty and chewy (in a good way) brown rice. The Indian buffet lunch at the place a few doors down, Sansar, was disappointing. The selection was OK but the food was salty and quite cool.

In San Leandro, there was a Vietnamese place, LeSoleil, that I didn't care for. The cooked dishes were gloppy and sweet and the pho was only OK. So far when in San Leandro, I've found it best to just head across the bridge and eat in San Mateo.

In Hayward, there is a pretty decent Chinese dim sum (every day) place called New West Lake Restaurant. It's a classic dim sum place where you order off the set menu, instead of carts. There is also a lot of seafood swimming around in tanks. We ordered a variety of fried and steamed dumplings and other things and everything was good to great.

Also in Hayward is Oasis Grill, which is NOT the wonderful Mediterranean place I once ate at and was searching for. It is a merely fine place to pita sandwiches from rather inept (language barrier and/order unfamiliarity with their own menu issues) order-takers. Not much seating space and a very plain store.

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Paso Robles

I don't think there's an appropriate thread in the Intrepid Traveler forum for this, but mods please feel free to move if there is.

I'm planning a trip to CA for Memorial Day weekend and we're thinking about doing a day of wine tasting in Paso Robles. I was able to taste some wines at an industry event recently so I have a couple of places on my list, but I'm looking for other suggestions, particulary of wineries making high quality rhone style wines right now. Also, suggestions on where to have dinner the night we're there. Artisan and Thomas Hill Organics seem to pop up frequently in my searches, along with a few others, but I'd really love suggestions from someone on this board.

Thanks!

[ed. note: merged with California - Small Cities and Towns]

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Paso Robles

I've never been but my brother and his wife live out there and have worked on occasion in some of the tasting rooms. He is very knowledgeable about wines and had this advice:

"some of the best rhone style are MacPrice Myers, Herman Story, Tablas Creek, Linne Colada, Villa Creek and the top one is Saxum. For dinner Artisan is a good choice as well as Villa Creek....Turley has great petite, and their Zin's are some of the best...have a great time! B"

Hope this helps.

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San Mateo

If you're ever in San Mateo, I would be curious about your take on Sushi Sam. It is one of the go-to sushi places for chefs in the general Bay Area, and that's saying something -- chefs from the French Laundry trek to San Mateo on days off to eat at Sushi Sam.

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If you're ever in San Mateo, I would be curious about your take on Sushi Sam. It is one of the go-to sushi places for chefs in the general Bay Area, and that's saying something -- chefs from the French Laundry trek to San Mateo on days off to eat at Sushi Sam.

I put my thoughts on Sushi Sam in the San Francisco thread, as I consider major metropolitan areas to include nearby towns. Sam's and Koi Palace are really the best places to eat in the South Bay Area that I've found on the way to/around SFO. When I made the recommendation to bypass eating in San Leandro for San Mateo up above, I was thinking specifically of Sushi Sam's. It's worth the toll!

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I've never been but my brother and his wife live out there and have worked on occasion in some of the tasting rooms. He is very knowledgeable about wines and had this advice:

"some of the best rhone style are MacPrice Myers, Herman Story, Tablas Creek, Linne Colada, Villa Creek and the top one is Saxum. For dinner Artisan is a good choice as well as Villa Creek....Turley has great petite, and their Zin's are some of the best...have a great time! B"

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the suggestions!

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Paso Robles, Santa Barbara

Around there I particularly liked L'Aventure, and Windward. Both require a call ahead to go in for a tasting, but both were excellent. Windward is a pinot noir-only winery, which is rare in that part of CA. Écluse is also close by and is excellent. Very small-batch, with a lovely couple who make the wines. Also, need to call ahead, but in all three cases they were really easy to schedule with.

If you make it down as far as Santa Barbara, go to the Wine Cask for dinner - it is excellent - and be sure to try the Margerum wines, especially the M5. We were so impressed we joined their wine delivery club.

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Oxnard

Pho Oxnard Vietnamese is pretty decent! Sticky tables, cafeteria-plus atmosphere, and hardworking Asian service staff made me feel right at home. The pho broth is not bad, light and flavorful and not thirsty-making. The bun and pan-fried noodles were simple and tasty and the rice plates at the other tables looked good. I'd probably rank it around my usual spot Pho Thang Long in FFX, with the added bonus of having more types of cooked food. We were pleased to find it.

Sugar Beets Restaurant and Bar tried hard, but was kind of terrible. It had huge portions of heavy, gloppy Americanish food, without any of the redeeming lightness of "California style" food or ingredients. The server was very nice but, even though the room was nearly empty, it took forever to grab lunch - not great when you need to get back to work. We tried a soup, salad, and pasta, and wouldn't return to try any of them again.

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Ventura

The Hill Street Café is a diner in an office park that perfectly serves out its mission. The food was homey, cheap, and filling, and we had some of the best service I've ever had in a dining establishment. Our server was an older woman who knew exactly how to charm and disarm, make knowledgeable suggestions about and tweaks to the menu offerings, remember each order perfectly, and make change effortlessly at the table for each individual place setting. All without ever consulting the menu or a notepad! I had a monstrous sausage avocado eggs benedict with excellent side potatoes for lunch and it was rich and wonderful, though I felt grossly full afterwards (not their fault; I shouldn't have finished it). It is an excellent place to grab lunch with picky coworkers when you want to bypass a chain restaurant.

Though we didn't get to it on this past trip, Tipps Thai Restaurant is an adequate little Thai place with wonderful, smiling service. I've eaten there for several business trips, and I wouldn't mind going back, though I don't make it a priority. If I recall, the rice noodles are the rehydrated kind, the curries are a little watery, and they don't serve Chinese, but American-style broccoli in its dishes. The soups are good, though, overall the food is not too sweet, and the restaurant is pretty and very relaxing. Hard to say what its equivalent restaurant would be around here, as I can't really think of any pretty dining rooms, but the food is probably on par with one of the Sala or Tara Thais and the service is like your favorite mom-n-pop.

Café Fiore is a surprisingly great Italian restaurant! I didn't know what to expect, but I suddenly found myself back on Long Island, amidst a hearty, humming dining room full of laughing, loud people. We had an excellent round of very fresh, colorful salads; the best were my burrata and the one dressed with grapefruit. The entrees were weirdly priced - my risotto, which came with a full portion of sliced lamb, was quite large, and priced about the same as the entrée pastas without meat. Mine was the best, though my dining companions were pleased with their dishes. I thought the squash ravioli were too sweet, but the owner gobbled them up, so had no complaints. Also, the salads were more expensive, being priced in the low-mid teens, while the pastas were only a bit more, in the high teens/low twenties. The portions were generous and we were too full for dessert. Overall the food was quite good, but what struck me most about the dining room was the energy and general feeling of congeniality. There seemed to be a lot of regulars in the crowd and the GM/owners were out working the room on a weeknight. The closest equivalent to a restaurant here in DC (take this with a big grain of salt, as I usually don't seek out Italian food besides going to Tosca) might be Dolce Vita, with solid food (the food at Fiore was better) and a convivial atmosphere.

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Camarillo and Ventura County

Well, it will be my new "˜hood, so I think I should start up some pages for Ventura County. My new hometown will be Camarillo and here are some thoughts about the places we've tried on trips so far"¦

Establos Meat Market Taqueria is a food counter in a grocery store. You actually order through the cashier and not at the back through the meat counter, as we'd guessed. The food here totally confirms my confidence that the Mexican food for the duration of our California adventure will Kick A**. We had some amazingly flavorful and juicy carnitas and very good carne asada (also pretty well spiced) tacos and combination plates. The food is simple, cheap, and AWESOME. There are a few tables set up along the window in front of some grocery aisles and we saw some Latin-looking folks and a bunch of military guys from the nearby base. We'll be back. Often.

The French Bulldog Bistro & Lounge recently opened in another former bar & grill-type space along the "Old-Town" corridor. It serves Americanish food "“ we had fish & chips, spinach lasagna, steak, and a nice cioppino plate at our table and everything was fine. The mixed drinks are expensive ($12 mixed drinks are a little ridiculous when you have entrees available at the same price) and very sweet. My girly martini-thing really didn't need a sugared rim! It isn't fine dining, but a place to meet non-DR-type friends for a bite and a drink. I didn't care much for the experience, but it does beat meeting people at Applebees and such.

Rubio's is a Mexican chain in CA, sort of a cross between Chipotle and Baja Fresh, and better than either of those, we think. The tacos are cheap and the fish tastes fresh. Pretty much all you need to grab a snack or meal on the go!

The Curry Leaf was touted as "pretty good Indian" and it was. Probably on par with Delhi Club at home, it's about the same size and with a similar variety of choices. No dosas here L but otherwise some nice renditions of our favorites: bangain bharta and lamb korma. It's a small, out of the way restaurant in a strip mall, but I think it will become one of our regular haunts.

The Old New York Deli & Bakery Co. is"¦fine. Everything looks great, from the large, colorful sandwiches to the baked goods, but each item we got was a teeny bit off from being good-great. The chicken sandwich was messy and not terribly tasty, despite a plethora of ingredients; the bagels were a little stale fairly early in the day; and the cookies were pretty and sweet but without that extra oomph that makes them cravable/worth the calories. We did like that they had some better bottled soda choices "“ root beer and black cherry.

There's In-N-Out Burger, of course, but I don't really care for burgers and prefer the thick-cut fries of Five Guys when I go. My husband tried his first one and liked it very much, for a fast-food burger. Doesn't compare well to Hellburger, though.

If anyone has any tips or suggestions for Ventura County, please post!!!! We'd love to target the better places rather than being blindly led by Yelp/Chowhound and well-meaning people with questionable (eh, let's just say unfamiliar) food standards. I miss DC already and we haven't even left yet.

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Port Hueneme (near Oxnard)

Pho Saigon in Port Hueneme (technically not in Oxnard but so close and I didn't feel like starting another page) makes me so, so, happy. It stands in very good comparison to the places I would frequent in DC and has great, simple food. The pho is fragrant and flavorful (though it does have a liberal dose of MSG) and they have a variety of other soups that I want to try. There are many cooked dishes and generous broken rice plates. The guy who serves as a GM makes a point to try and get to know customers (recognized us on our second visit) and his mom is the chef. Also, the beach is right down the road!! What's not to like?

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Camarillo; Oxnard; Ventura

Camarillo

While Establos remains a solid place to grab burritos, tacos, and fresh tortillas, these days we generally get our Mexican fix across the street at Taqueria Potrillos.  It was started by folks who used to work at Establos, so they still have the same great meats, though the flour tortillas aren't as good.  The draw is the fresh salsa bar, with AYCE salsa, pickled vegetables, and chips. I get plenty of vitamin C eating cups and cups of the pico and the tomatillo salsa!

Ventura

Our last few trips to Cafe Fiore have been sub-par, with some seriously heavy, bland food. I think we're done there.

There is an interesting Nepalese place called Andria's Seafood Restaurant and Market is a great shack to catch some fried seafood.  Everything is fresh and firm and plain. Their non-fried offerings are significantly weaker, so don't bother going unless you want to have fried stuff on the harbor. For that, you're in the perfect place.  Watch out for the gulls!

Brophy Bros is a nicer but still casual seafood restaurant across the street from Andria's.  Seating on the deck has a magnificent view of the harbor.  It's a busy place, but less crazy than the Santa Barbara location.  The menu never changes (at least in the year or so we've been going), which is my main gripe, but they have excellent seafood dishes (except for the ahi, which is weirdly served breaded in cashews.  Dislike.) in large portions (you get a heap of cole slaw plus salad, unless you want a soup, so there are plenty of veg).

Oxnard

The Collection, a large, outdoor mall reminiscent of Reston Town Center, sat empty and unfinished during the bust of the recession years and only began opening stores in late 2012.  It's not completely tenanted yet but is a busy, happy place (lots of outdoor events like concerts, Santa, salsa dancing, etc.), and a couple of the better chain restaurants have joined our regular rotation. It's anchored by a giant Whole Foods, which we don't frequent but are grateful to have available.

Settebello is a part of a small West Coast chain of Neopolitan pizzerias.  They follow the VPN practices and make quite a pretty good pie, charred just enough with a fairly well-done middle (i.e., not soupy, because they do cut them) and a tasty crust.  The salads are large and pretty and they feature their dough in the desserts (including a dessert pizza!).  The staff are young, mostly competent, and very friendly but keep in mind the place is always busy at night.  Also, the front door opens a lot so the tables near the front can be cold.  It's not my beloved Pupatella but we are so excited that there is now pizza in the area worth eating that we don't have to make ourselves!!! They don't take reservations, but we call ahead and so far they have been very nice about putting us in the queue so our wait is shortened.

Gen Korean BBQ House is another California mini-chain that serves more-than-decent AYCE Korean BBQ. The whole restaurant is AYCE and grill-your-own at night, which makes service and eating in groups easy.  There are a few interesting meat choices (intestines and tongue), though we usually stick with the kalbi, marinated pork belly, and spicy chicken. Cooked food includes a very plain jap chae, fried chicken, and fried rice sticks. It comes with a dressed salad, 5 panchan (mostly pickles), rice paper, and dipping sauces.  This location, because it is so new, is still very clean and nightclubby, and the servers are good about coming back for additional orders and changing out grills (though they don't tend the grill for you).  There's usually a line on weekend nights (no reservations) but it's been worth the wait.

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Pismo Beach

It's a tiny town on the beach with a few obviously touristy restaurants.  Still, the beach is beautiful (especially great and less crowded at sunset, with some of the finest, siltiest sand I've felt in the Continental US) and if you have happen to want to eat in town...

The Cracked Crab  stinks of crab, which was tough for me but heavenly for my husband, so it depends on your preferences. The key here is to get the buckets o' crab, which they boil with potatoes and corn and sausages and dump out on the table. The other dishes are fine but not really worthy of mention, as the bucket is the real reason for coming. He LOVED it so I was glad that I stuck it out (and can't really comment on otherwise. My salmon dish was fine but boring).

When you are sick of pure seafood, Giuseppe's is a viable option (though they do have lots of seafood on the menu - they just have other stuff as well, thank goodness). They had excellent squash blossoms and house marinara, and some of the most professional casual service that I've ever experienced. The gnocchi were quite good and my husband really like the simply grilled lamb lollipops. It was a genuinely nice meal in all respects.

We did get a lot of suggestions to try restaurants (both for food and the views) up the road at Avila Beach, but at that point were tired of seafood-only menus so decided against.

Scoop the Ice Cream Parlor "“ skip it, unless you feel like paying extra for Dreyers in a cone. Just go to the store and buy a carton.

Old West Cinnamon Rolls smells ah-mazing! both inside and when walking by. My husband tried it and enjoyed his fresh-out-of-the-oven pecan roll, though he mentioned that the dough is drier than expected. Probably best for the freshest rolls.

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San Luis Obispo

Jaffa Café "“ a quick-serve Mediterranean place with above-average meats and dips. Very good hummus and falafel and baba ganoush, and the lamb was a little fattier than expected (in a good way).

We tried Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab, a cute ice cream place with some inventive flavors (moonstone!), but it didn't hold up to the McConnell's I'd had in Santa Barbara earlier in the week.  Not quite as creamy or luscious, thought it was still nice. Instead, we went back to Batch, which serves ice cream cookie sandwiches. It's all in the house-made cookies, here "“ they are just crispy on the outside with some give in the middle, served with pre-formed discs of a more-than-decent local ice cream (SLO company or something). We had the cinnamon-caramel (? Something like that. Snickerdoodleish) with toffee ice cream and chocolate-chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate ice cream and both were fantastic.

Thursday Night Farmer's Market "“ they close down the main street and have several blocks with of local vendors. Most are just extended storefronts from the shops on the street but the produce looks great and the atmosphere is crowded and very fun.  At one end, all the BBQ folks set up shop, and this is where you want to inhale the aromas and get dueling Santa Maria tri-tip sandwiches.  I tried the tri-tips (so plain and SO good "“ just tender meat, toasted, garlic-buttered roll, and jus) from Rib Line and McLintock's and both were great! (If you don't feel like waiting in the ridiculous line, both have storefronts in town.) Supposedly, the sandwiches at Firestone Grill are even better. ..

The Wild Donkey "“ nice little Greek-Mexican shop. It was a slightly odd but workable combination (lamb burrito) and an easy, friendly stop for lunch.

Big Sky Café "“ this was a visit from a previous trip, and while we didn't go again this time, we definitely considered it. They are open all day and are pretty much the ideal brunch place. Their approach is fresh/local Cali-Mex American food with lots of vegetable options. I can't remember what we had last time but I do remember that we had a hard time choosing from lots of good-sounding and pretty options and enjoyed what we got.

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