Solvang / Santa Ynez / Los Olivos / Buellton

If you are going to Paso Robles:
Wineries: Linne Calodo, L’Aventure, Booker, Herman Story, McPrice Myers, Clos Solene.
Restaurants: BL Brasserie (formerly Bistro Laurent), Thomas Hill Organic.

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Thanks again to everyone for the great suggestions!

Hitching Post II: This meat and potatoes steakhouse had little chance of winning my praise given that I am not a fan of grilled meat. To me, an average rendition of mapo tofu or spaghetti aglio e olio tastes better than America’s best steak. (I do like Japanese wagyu.) The two steaks I tried here (top sirloin and filet mignon) tasted much like the steaks I’ve tried at other acclaimed steakhouses in the past–fine, nothing special. That’s not criticism; I don’t know of any way they could be made better. I liked the quail a little bit more and the smoked duck breast a little less. Appetizers were decent; sides were boring but typical for steakhouses. Though this restaurant was not up my alley, I’m glad we went, because our foreign guests had often asked us what authentic American food tastes like, and I think this is a great example.

SY Kitchen: This restaurant was much more suited to my tastes. Their special of chilean seabass was the best fish dish I’ve had in recent memory. The spaghetti with clams was excellent. Soups and octopus salad were also good. The only disappointment was the pizzas due to their dense, dry crusts. I guess without a dedicated, super-hot pizza oven it’s impossible to make really good pizza.

Bob’s Well Bread. Everything here was good. This is a no-brainer for breakfast or brunch.

Due to our schedules, we decided to forego Industrial Eats in favor of Los Agaves in Santa Barbara. I concur with all the positive FTC reviews for this no-frills Mexican restaurant.

Finally, a shout-out to Good Seed Coffee in Solvang. I liked their coffees made from a $5,000 device called a “Trifecta,” which I had never seen before. I also liked their baked goods. This would make a great quick breakfast stop.

p.s.: Once again, our favorite wine tasting stop was Samsara. I think they have the best pinots in the Santa Ynez Valley. We became club members this time.

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Just came back from a weekend trip in the Santa Ynez Valley. Thank you to everyone for the recommendations here.

Industrial Eats

We stuck to takeout, and may have done ourselves a disservice by sticking to sandwiches, pizza and pasta.

Right when you walk in you notice the wood-fired ovens running on full blast. The smell is incredible, and we couldn’t walk away without a pie. Sadly this mushroom pizza turned out just ok. The crust was great, but everything else tasted very flat.

On the other hand, the Cuban sandwich is absolutely fantastic. I love that the bread is charred to the brink, and filled with porky, cheesy goodness. As a bonus, the lettuce wedge is also incredible. It tastes like it was picked straight out of the ground.

I would come back for this no questions asked.

This is the Banh Mi, which was confusing because it resembled a Big Mac collided with a katsu sando. I’ve never had one with a pork cutlet, that’s for sure. This sandwich was still enjoyable, but I didn’t get pick up on anything calling back to its namesake.

The spaghetti carbonara was disappointing. I expected something much richer and flavor-forward, but like the pizza this fell pretty flat.

Bob’s Well Bread (Ballard)

We adore the original Bob’s Well Bread, and were excited to be staying super close to the Ballard location. Unfortunately we were in for a rude surprise.

I consider the eggs in a jar one of my favorite breakfast dishes ever, but the Ballard location dropped the ball hard here. The bacon is tough while the potatoes and eggs aren’t salted enough. It’s merely good on its own. Otherwise, a tragedy if you’ve had the original.

The mushroom toast sounded incredible based on the menu description. What we got was was a disaster. It’s so heavy handed with the vinegar, and every bite is pucker-up sour.

Maybe the oatmeal raisin cookie will redeem things? Nope! Tough as a rock. I don’t know what happened, but this made my teeth sad.

We left pretty disheartened, although the crowd outside didn’t seem to have any problems. If there’s an upside, the cafe au lait (not pictured) was excellent.

Old West Cinnamon Rolls

We went up to Pismo Beach afterwards, with hopes of finding something to redeem our breakfast.

I didn’t have high hopes for a place that also sells bluetooth headphones. That doesn’t change the fact that these cinnamon rolls are great. We should’ve bought a dozen.

Bob’s Well Bread (Los Alamos)

We did not want to settle for mediocrity. The next day, we drove up to the original Bob’s in Los Alamos to see if it was still as good as we remembered.

Thankfully, the egg in a jar is flawless. The bacon is the perfect texture, and I don’t have to critique the seasoning either. I love this dish so much.

I had had my eye on the bagels last time, and today I walked out with a sesame bagel with cream cheese. Sadly it was a little tough, but the flavor was spot on and I still enjoyed it plenty. I’m sure toasting it would have helped, but a fresh bagel would have been even better. This has a lot of potential.

I did not get a picture of the macaroon we ordered, but it was unexpectedly amazing. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t care much about them. Otherwise, we are relived that the original Bob’s is still great. I will never go back to the Ballard location.

Bell’s

Bell’s is a short walk over, which made for an easy bang bang.

The beef cheek sandwich is very good. A little overboard on the red wine, but still very good. The bread is possibly the best part. If you told me I was in Europe while eating this I would believe you.

I was not prepared for these french fries. They look ordinary, but they are so unbelievably savory - like a fresh batch of McDonald’s fries made using tallow. I really don’t think I have had better fries anywhere. The included bearnaise sauce is also nice. Feels like you’re eating with your pinky up.

Overall, great trip. Didn’t hurt that the scenery was beautiful as well.

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Love Los agaves and SY. Samsara and Dragonette are easily the best wineries in town. We’ve been going since they were in Lompoc. Just came back from Cambria

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Check out Rideau for delicious and also kid friendly

My turn! With fewer pix. Just got back from a few days staying in Los Alamos. Overall I would say the food was outstanding and the wine was solid - sip-for-sip I preferred the wines I’ve had in Paso Robles, but we ate much better in the Santa Ynez valley.

We did exclusively takeout, but lots of places were open for dine-in, and even dine-indoors.

Industrial Eats was cool, with a nice outdoor setup and an interesting menu. Pizza, as mentioned above, was good but not great, but I loved a dish of shrimp, pancetta, and white beans in broth.

SY Kitchen was - for my comfort - way too crowded for dine-in, but our takeout meal was very good. Nice handmade pastas, and some very solid roasted veggie sides. Definitely pricier and also fancier than Industrial Eats.

We did go to Jocko’s, and I thought it was as good as ever. Actually their beans were noticeably better than I remember. Steak was juicy and smoky and tender and cooked to the perfect temp, and my wife (not a steak gal) loves their super basic pasta with meat sauce - she went to a place like this all the time as a kid.

Bell’s for lunch because dinner reservations are impossible; steak was fine but the frites (again as mentioned above) were out of control. Great egg salad too, and the pickled carrots that came with the egg salad were fantastic.

Went to Bob’s Well Bread multiple times, because it’s just that damn good. The Kouign-Amann is one of the best pastries I’ve ever had.

Edit because I forgot: Full of Life Flatbread is great, much better pizza than I.E. and looked like they had some cool local wines on their list too, from places that don’t have tasting rooms or aren’t otherwise super accessible.

On the wine front, we did Demetria, Solminer, Peake Ranch, Lafond, and A Tribute to Grace. I think consensus favorite wines were ATtG. Demetria was probably the nicest tasting experience. Would recommend Peake Ranch to those looking for something fancy and modern and pretty, and Lafond for those looking to hang out and drink btg in a scenic field instead of going through a whole tasting. Liked the wines at Solminer, but the Los Olivos thing is not really for me - too crowded, too much of a scene. We did that one tasting and were ready to be outta there.

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Stopped for lunch at the original Bob’s Well Bread in Los Alamos. Great recommendation. Weather was perfect for one of the shady picnic tables.

Had a bite of the kouign-amann, might be the best I’ve had.

Egg in a jar ($9.75) was perfect. Clever idea.

Avocado toast ($9.50) was very good. Salad was underdressed.

Proper croque-monsieur with bechamel ($13.95), very good. Menu warned it would take 15 minutes but the place wasn’t busy so it took only around five.

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What day/what time? Unless it was an off-off hour, that’s a very fortunate anomaly!

1:30 on Easter Sunday. The line was much longer when we left.

I did not get the pun until I said the name aloud last night.

oh my god… regarding Los Agaves… i’m just learning that there’s one right by us in Thousand Oaks! whaaaaattttt

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Tried. it’s far from the quality of the SB-Milpas location. Expansion level quality. Huge place churning out approximations to Thousand Oakers

Still a nice to have right by Fig Mtn brewing