Eating is the best part of traveling.
For all of those scoffing at such a bold claim, let me explain. Eating is the best part of traveling for me.
Ugh. Okay, okay. Fine. Even that’s not 100% true. I’m just hungry and impatiently waiting for dinner to finish cooking as I write this post. Anyway…
Sometimes, I wish I could be a less food-obsessed traveler. You know, one of those budget-conscious people who grocery shop and meal prep on the road. I’d certainly save a lot of money on eating out expenses.
Perhaps that could be me one day… you know, that magical day when I’m no longer salivating at the mention of snacks. When I finally go one full morning without fantasizing what’s for dinner only an hour after breakfast.
Which, let’s face it, may never happen.
All kidding aside (yes, I’m kidding – wipe that look of skepticism off your face), it’s no secret I love to eat during my travels. Whenever I visit a new city, one of my favorite activities is trying the top-rated local restaurant.
Recently, I went to San Luis Obispo with my boyfriend and his family. One day of the trip, we worked up quite an appetite wine tasting at a local SLO vineyard, and decided a little BBQ was in order. We were already planning to check out the infamous gum alley in downtown SLO, so nearby Old San Luis BBQ Company was the perfect fit for our growling tummies.
Want the scoop? I’ve got you covered.
Old San Luis BBQ Company: What to Know Before You Go
Old San Luis BBQ Company features Santa Maria style BBQ, which centers around meat seasoned simply with salt, garlic and pepper. The meat is then grilled over coals of red oak wood, native to the central coast.
BBQ sauce is served on the side, but give the meat a try without it to see how well it shines on its own.
Right in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, this is the perfect restaurant to go to if you’re already in the area exploring the nearby Mission or SLO’s infamous gum alley. There is also a beautiful pathway to the left of the restaurant building, that trails along the San Luis Obispo Creek. If you need to burn off the mass amounts of meat you consumed, it makes for a lovely post-meal walk.
And I almost forgot the best part.
You heard me: self-serve beer!
San Luis Obispo Barbecue Company has a huge selection of craft beer available on draft. When you order, they ask if you’d like to order beer. If you say yes, you’re handed a card (after being ID’ed – of course!). Then, you can simply walk over to their massive beer wall, and use the card to self-pour whichever beer catches your eye. Prices per ounce are posted above each selection.
Personally, I tried a sour berry beer, and it was absolutely delicious. Tart enough to make my lips pucker – just the way I like it. Others in my party opted to get smaller glasses of several beers, almost like a make-your-own beer flight.
What to Order
Where to begin? I was fortunate enough to sample a little bit of everyone’s dish. This included tri-tip, baked beans, pulled pork, french fries, garlic toast, coleslaw and tri-tip/pulled pork sliders. In order of ranking, here’s what I’d recommend:
- Pulled Pork – tender, juicy, and fall apart perfection.
- French Fries – holy moly, these were particularly delicious. Very well-seasoned and not too thin, not too thick.
- Tri-Tip and Pulled Pork Sliders – the buns did a fantastic job at balancing out the richness of the Tri-Tip.
- Garlic Toast – I mean, how can you go wrong with garlic butter on bread?
- Tri-Tip (on its own) – delicious, but perhaps a touch too salty. I prefer it paired with the buns in the sliders to balance out the richness and saltiness, as mentioned above.
- Baked Beans – always a BBQ standout.
- Coleslaw – personally, I’m never a fan of coleslaw, so I feel a bit like a phony trying to review this side. It seemed fairly standard to me, with lots of mayo. I’m sure an actual coleslaw fan would like it more than I did.
Wanna Go? Here’s Where to Find It
Old San Luis Barbecue Company
670 Higuera St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
I’ll see you there!
Have you ever been to San Luis Obispo, or are you headed there soon? Let me know in the comments below.