Hidden gems, referring to places that I love to eat at in San Luis Obispo, that others aren’t familiar with. In starting a food tour, I had to try EVERYTHING in SLO. I’ve been doing well at this venture. There are still many places to go, but I have crossed quite a few destinations off the list. There are two places in particular that I’ve come to really enjoy, Oasis and San Luis Fish & BBQ.
My first gem is Oasis Moroccan restaurant. I have so many accolades for this establishment. Namely, the food is really incrediable. There is nothing else like the food they serve here in SLO. Here’s a rundown of my favorite Oasis dishes.
Harira – Moroccan lentil soup with a tomato base that’s vegan and healthy. I love this soup, the flavors are complex, eastern spice and so satisfying.
Bastille – Cinnamon topped phyllo pastry with chicken & almonds. This starter is amazing, warm light and flakey with the delicate flavors of cinnamon and almonds embracing the chicken.
Oregano Beef Tagine – Beef with sautéed tomatoes and zucchini in oregano sauce with rice. It’s easiest to describe this dish as “beef stew”, but it’s so much more complex than that. The beef is tender and exploding with flavor, and the vegetables cooked to perfection.
Tagine Delight – Sweet potatoes, pears and grapes in a honey-cinnamon sauce topped with almonds and sesame seeds. This dish is a sweet rush of of decadence. This is a yummy dessert dish, or appealing to children. If your like me and can’t get enough (non refined) sugar, try it as a main course.
Mediterranean Combo Platter – choose between one and three of these to make your own combo dish.
Gyro Minced beef & lamb
Spicy Lamb Sautéed in spicy tomato-harissa sauce
Shawarma Grilled chicken topped with garlic sauce
Honey Chicken Honey cinnamon sauce topped with roasted almonds and sesame seeds
Roasted Eggplant Roasted and sautéed in olive oil and garlic
Artichoke & Green Cabbage Sautéed in olive oil and topped with hummus, and absolutely my favorite. Savory and spilling over with flavor, make sure if you choose the combo, this dish is in the mix.
Oasis is family owned and operated by a husband and wife team, he’s the chef and she’s the face of the front of the house. Occasionally you can see their sons workings with them, bussing tables and filling drinks. The atmosphere is cozy and very middle eastern. Pillows, lamps, and mosaics dominate the room.
Oasis offers a decent wine list with affordable pricing, I really enjoy the Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc for $30 with most of the dishes I mentioned. The acidity of this wine pairs nicely with the subtle spice in the dishes. Don’t miss the Moroccan Tea, it’s minty and sweet, served in a “Genie” in a bottle-esque silver tea pot.
The second gem in San Luis Obispo Gem is San Luis Fish & BBQ. Admittedly, I was a bit hesitant to give this place a try. The outside is run down, and not your typical “fancy” SLO type establishment. When I walk by, the booth’s outside always have a few people enjoying a plate of food. I was told by a guest while conducting a food tour, while walking by San Luis Fish & BBQ, that they have the freshest fish in town. I muscled up some gumption, and gave the place a try. Since the first time I visted, I have gone back almost weekly. The menu is so simple, fresh fish; halibut, salmon, cod, tilapia, snapper, etc. Do you want fried fish and chips style or BBQ’d to perfection? I myself am a BBQ girl. You get your choice of white rice, french fries, three bean salad or the coleslaw. I usually go with the bean salad, a combo of green beans, red beans, and pinto beans, and dressed with an oil and vinegar. To me, this BBQ’d fish with a bean salad is so healthy and satisfying.
I post up on a booth outside, grab an Arizona iced tea (there is local beer and wine by the glass), and wait for the chef to bring out my dish. San Luis Fish is owned by a husband and wife team who do it all. Mama is famous for her handmade Egg Rolls which are only .85 cents each. Hello bargain! There are a few booths outside to sit in, their are also a few tables inside. However, the inside is very fishy smelling (it’s a fish market), and cramped. Considering you can get a fresh fish meal for less then $10 here, I can easily look past the seating situation.
I’ve tried the Halibut both fried and BBQ’d, Scallops & Chips, Egg Rolls and Salmon. I’ve also boughten fresh Halibut to make fish tacos with. I have yet to try the fresh Morro Bay oysters for $15… You get a dozen oysters for that price! Undoubtedly, San Luis Fish & BBQ is the best place in SLO to get fresh fish at rock bottom prices with a free dive bar vibe.
Where’s your favorite hidden gem?