Looking at flowers all day is hungry work! Here are some choice restaurants where you can get your fill of the local cuisine, as recommended by locals and veteran Trials attendees.
* Indicates Chris Beytes tested and approved
In-N-Out Burger, Multiple Locations (Visit their website to see if there's one near your hotel or trial stop.)
Recommended by Bill Calkins, Ball Horticultural Company, who says, "There's nothing like a Double-Double 'Animal Style' after a morning of petunia peeking."
*Black Bear Diner, Gilroy
395 Leavesley Road
In front of the Forest Park Inn (which used to be a staple trial hotel, but it’s gone downhill in recent years), this restaurant is a must for breakfast. Just minutes from Syngenta.
*Central Texan Barbecue, Castroville
|Barbecue at the Central Texan in Castroville.
10500 Merritt Street
If you’ve followed GrowerTalks’ trial coverage, you know this is Chris Beytes’ No. 1 food stop. Sensational barbecue! The brisket is smoked for some 22 hours and the sausage is homemade. Chances are you’ll see Chris there.
Grillin & Chillin', Hollister
3650 San Juan Road
This casual, fun place has burgers that are made fresh daily, street tacos with marinated short ribs, cheese steak sandwiches—including a 16-oz. bone-in Rib Eye also known as "The Tomahawk."
Maverick BBQ, Hollister
35 Fifth Street
They specialize in everything BBQ and host a "Trivia Night" during the week. Jeannine Bogard of Syngenta said, "They do have a mouthwatering tri-tip and ribs. Steaks aren’t bad either."
*Phil’s Fish Market and Eatery, Moss Landing
7500 Sandholdt Road
For great seafood, try Phil’s. He’s just minutes from Golden State Bulb Company, and not too far from Pacific Plug & Liner and Syngenta. Phil was recently featured on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” cooking his famous cioppino, a traditional Italian fish stew.
Jocko's Steak House, Nipomo
125 North Thompson Avenue
Tel: (805) 929-3565
Recommended by Glenn Anderson of Western Pulp, who says, "Jocko’s is one of those independent restaurants that has become famous from word-of-mouth advertising. [It's] the best tasting steak you have ever had cooked over an open-pit barbeque. From the outside, Jocko’s doesn’t look like much and the same goes for the inside. But when you look at the number of pickup trucks in the parking lot and cowboy hats inside, you know the locals are well aware of how good the food is. Jocko’s specialty is a Spencer steak and I recommend the petite serving because most folks won’t be able to finish it. You’ll want to make reservations unless you have time to sit and wait."
*Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ, Pismo Beach/San Luis Obispo
221 Pomeroy Street/1005 Monterey Street
Almost as good as Central Texan, with several styles of ribs. Just off the pier in Pismo, so it’s convenient to the Sandcastle Inn.
La Super Rica Taqueria, Santa Barbara
622 North Milpas Avenue
Recommended by Jeff Gibson, Ball Horticultural Company: "BEST tacos in the world! Just pop off 101 on Milpas Avenue, head up the street and you're there. Not fancy, but oh my gosh, good!"
*Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Market, Ventura
806 East Thompson Blvd.
Hungry for fish tacos, we discovered this place in 2009. Quirky, casual atmosphere and excellent fresh fish served in several ways, including ceviche, salads and tacos.
Cracked Crab, Pismo Beach
751 Price Street
Recommended by Melissa Main, John Henry: "Buy a bucket of seafood—your choice of crab, slipper lobsters, etc.—along with potatoes and corn-on-the-cob. They put a large sheet of paper on your table, dress you in a plastic bib and dump the bucket on the table. You then proceed to eat with your hands!"
Guiseppe's Cucina Italiana
800 Price Street
Also recommended by Melissa Main of John Henry: "One of the best olive oil/parmesan bread dips I've ever had!"
*Hitching Post II, Buellton
|Grilling over an open fire of red oak at the Hitching Post II in Buellton.
406 E. Highway 246
Located in the central coast wine region, and made even more famous by the movie “Sideways,” the Hitching Post has long been a favorite of carnivores. They grill all their meats over an open red oak fire that you can see from the dining room. They’ve got a few strange menu items, too, like ostrich. The house Pinot Noir is excellent. Expensive, but very tasty.
Éclair Bakery, Arroyo Grande
117 East Branch Street
"They have the best cinnamon rolls, lemon bars and chocolate croissants!" says Melissa Main, John Henry.
*Tony’s Jacal, Solana Beach
621 Valley Avenue
Paul Ecke III, who’s been eating here since he was a young lad, will probably kill us for sharing it … but we can’t help but spread good news. Superb fresh Mexican food done authentically. Great margaritas, too, naturally.
*Le Papagayo, Encinitas
1002 North Coast Hwy 101
They call it “Pacific Island cuisine with French Mediterranean influences.” We call it fabulous, for the eclectic menu of seafood, duck, lamb, beef and chicken. The homemade sangria alone makes it worth stopping by. We like to visit on “Cuban Thursday.”
*Brett's BBQ, Encinitas
1505 Encinitas Blvd.
We stumbled upon this gem during the 2010 Trials while driving around Encinitas (thank heavens for the Urban Spoon app!). Nice, old-fashioned BBQ with a rather extensive menu. And it doesn't matter how messy you get—the restaurant is equipped with sinks along one wall to help you hose off the BBQ sauce. They also have a location in San Diego.
The Wild Note Cafe, Solana Beach
143 South Cedros Avenue
Melissa Main from John Henry says this is one of her favorite places. She said it has eclectic California cuisine and is right next door to the Belly Up Tavern, which is one of the best places to hear music in the area.
Poseidon on the Beach, Del Mar
670 Coast Boulevard
Right on the sand with a "delicious menu and awesome ambiance!" says Melissa.
Las Olas, Cardiff & Carlsbad
Low-key and economical with two locations.
Vigiluccis, Multiple Locations, including Encinitas and Carlsbad
Steak and seafood with Italian flair, but prepared to spend a little dough on your meal.
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