The world-class wine scene might be Paso Robles’ main draw, but visitors will be happy to discover that the California Central Coast community also offers plenty of excellent cuisine to go along with its vaunted wines.
Paso Robles lies in the midst of the rolling hills that rise just east of the Pacific Coast, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. With more than 200 vineyards, the mid-sized community is known as one of California’s premier wine regions.
Perfectly complementing the plentiful vineyards is a thriving dining scene that features everything from upscale farm-to-table eateries and casual breakfast spots to fun restaurants serving up tacos and tequila.
Paso Robles is anchored by a charming downtown area that dates back to the town’s early railroad and ranching days. Wander the vintage streets of the downtown and you will discover spots that serve up a delightful mix of California, Mexican, Thai, Latin, Italian, and cowboy cuisines.
Here are 10 wonderfully diverse and delicious restaurants to try in Paso Robles.
1. Fish Gaucho
Located at the busy corner of Park and 13th, Fish Gaucho attracts a steady stream of diners. The busy scene makes for a fun atmosphere inside where friendly bartenders whip up creative cocktails like the Lemon Grass & High Tides, made with mezcal, pomegranate lemongrass cordial, lime, and chile salt, or the Blackberry Mint, made with local blackberries, mint, tequila, lime, and pink peppercorn sugar. Or for something spicier, I loved the Jalapiñe, a mix of fire-roasted jalapeño and pineapple, tequila, lime, and chile salt.
The food choices are equally fresh, spicy, and creative. Taco varieties range from carnitas with pineapple pepper salsa, cabbage, and Oaxaca cheese, to short rib tacos with tomatillos jam, Oaxaca cheese, and pickled spicy red peppers. For a Baja-style taco, the West Coast fish tacos offer a perfect combination of Pacific rock cod, red and green cabbage, Spanish aioli, and heirloom carrot escabeche.
Pro Tip: For a quick drink and a snack on weeknight evenings, be sure to check out Fish Gaucho’s excellent happy hour menu that features appetizers, tacos, and cocktails.
2. The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar
Billed as a cozy spot with great food and interesting cocktails, The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar occupies a space in the historic Granger Union Building on Paso Robles’ bustling 13th Street. Featuring exposed brick walls, banquettes, and high wood tables, The Hatch offers an intimate setting that attracts a mix of locals and out-of-town visitors.
The comfort-food-driven menu centers on the restaurant’s wood-fired rotisserie that produces favorites like roasted chicken served with vanilla-maple slaw and buttermilk dip and Hatch hot sauce. Other creative menu choices include the seared salmon served with sweet potato and jasmine rice, and the pork shoulder served with white cheddar grits and apple-thyme chutney.
The Hatch is also known for its extensive whiskey selection and farmers market-inspired cocktails that feature fresh produce, juices, and garnishes. For a creative cocktail that is both beautiful and tasty, consider the Sip Gingerly with habanero-infused tequila, mezcal, lime, ginger, raspberry, and soda, or the Sleepy Thyme, made of gin, Montenegro, chamomile, lemon, and thyme.
3. Six Test Kitchen
The menu is billed as being “infinitely evolving and resulting from what the season gives us,” and it features a tasting menu and grand tasting menu that includes elements such as rock cod, oyster, cucumber, rhubarb, chicken liver, duck, asparagus, cherry, strawberry, white chocolate, honey, and bay leaf.
The chef’s tasting menu is designed to explore the bounty of the Central Coast, starting with a series of small bites, along with a 12-course menu that is driven by local farms and inspired by the seasons.
Six Test Kitchen features an intimate venue that seats just 12 guests Wednesday through Saturday. Reservations are required.
4. Basil Thai
Spicy curries, rich soups, and pan-fried noodle dishes are among the specialties of a Basil, a cozy Thai restaurant located across 11th Street from Paso Robles’ downtown City Park.
Basil also serves Thai favorites like the hot-and-sour lemongrass-based tom yum soup, papaya salad made with shredded green papaya, and pineapple fried rice served with wok-fried rice with yellow curry powder, shrimp, chicken, tomatoes, raisins, cashews, and onion.
For seafood lovers, Basil offers a number of tasty choices, such as sweet chili scallops, garlic jumbo shrimp, and crispy calamari.
Pro Tip: Along with a good number of tables for dining, Basil also has a bar that is a nice option for a solo meal.
5. La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant
The flavors of Spain and South America are celebrated at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, a downtown restaurant that combines Latin flavors with the offerings of the Central Coast.
La Cosecha — Spanish for “the harvest” — focuses on using local ingredients to create small plates that feature favorites like ceviche, fried calamari, grilled octopus, pan-seared scallops, and albondigas with lamb meatballs, goat cheese, and salsa verde. The menu also includes Latin specialties such as paella, serrano ham croquettes, and Honduran empanadas.
With tabletops and a bar crafted from repurposed wood, along with hand-blown glass sconces lining the walls, La Cosecha offers a warm and intimate atmosphere indoors, and it has a charming front patio for outdoor dining.
6. Il Cortile Ristorante
Fine Italian cuisine is the specialty of Il Cortile, a restaurant located just down the street from its sister establishment La Cosecha. Il Cortile is named for an Italian courtyard, and the restaurant aims to offer “a bit of Italy in Paso Robles.”
Homemade pastas, grilled seafood, and braised osso bucco are among the highlights of Il Cortile’s menu, with selections such squid ink pasta with lobster and blue oyster mushrooms on a fontina fonduta, and kabocha squash gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce with crispy sage.
The menus are seasonal and are created with fresh ingredients that are sourced locally and regionally.
Pro Tip: Decorated in warm tones, Il Cortile has an inviting atmosphere, and the restaurant is known as one of the best spots in Paso Robles for a romantic dinner.
7. Órale Taqueria
Located in the heart of downtown Paso Robles, just across the street from the City Park is Órale Taqueria, a restaurant that serves up a variety of authentic Mexican cuisine. The menu includes Mexican-style meats such as adobada (marinated pork), carnaza (shredded beef), carne asada, carnitas, chicken, and chile verde, as well as vegetarian choices.
Órale’s menu is family-friendly, offering to-go family-style meals, such as an enchilada dinner and a family meal of grilled meat, grilled peppers and onions, and sides of rice, beans, and tortillas. The menu also has a kid’s section that features quesadillas, mini burritos, and chicken strips.
8. Odyssey World Café
For diners having a difficult time choosing a cuisine type, the Odyssey World Café might just be the perfect solution. The downtown restaurant has a variety of offerings – serving everything from salmon tacos to burgers and fries to stir fry bowls of ahi tuna.
The Odyssey World Café is billed as a “fresh casual kitchen,” and the atmosphere is informal, with guests placing their orders at a counter. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating is available.
9. Red Scooter Deli
For those in search of a quick breakfast, a coffee fix, or a sandwich made of fresh ingredients, the Red Scooter Deli is a favorite choice for locals and visitors alike.
The deli bills itself as being quick and easy, and it offers a number of ready-made breakfast choices such as sticky buns, scones, croissants, and bagels. Red Scooter is also known for its sandwiches, and it has a variety of breakfast sandwiches and wraps, as well as vegetarian choices.
10. Cowgirl Café
For a traditional sit-down breakfast, the Cowgirl Café is the place to get the full meal of coffee, pancakes, eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, or chicken fried steak.
Known for its western décor and generous portions, the Cowgirl Café is the sort of place where the servers know the regulars and the service is quick and friendly. The French toast is a favorite, as are the biscuits and gravy, and the huevos rancheros.
Bonus: Brown Butter Cookie Company
Although more a shop than a restaurant, the Brown Butter Cookie Company store in downtown Paso Robles is a great choice for a crumbly sweet/salty treat after your meal. The regional chain, which also has locations in nearby Cayucos and San Luis Obispo, offers its signature brown butter sea salt variety as well as other favorite flavors like cocoa mint, espresso, and bourbon from the iconic Acorn Building in downtown Paso Robles.