Ten years ago, if you would have told me Arroyo Grande would be home to the best restaurant between Santa Barbara and Monterey, I'd have thought you were crazy. But here we are. The rents and parking have made downtown SLO a wasteland. Jocko's has slipped a little (there, I said it). Sure Paso Robles has some gems and more great restaurants than south county. Ember is just better.
Its also worth noting: I don't consider Six Test Kitchen (also in AG) in its current incarnation a real restaurant. So, until their Tin City location opens later this year, Ember on Grand Avenue is the best restaurant in San Luis Obispo County.
Ember is everything you'd want from California Cuisine. Incredible pizzas from a giant, wood-fired oven. Perfect steaks from a custom GrillWorks Argentinian grill (don't get your panties in a bunch Santa Maria-style purists). A seasonal menu that changes monthly. All from a top-notch chef and crew that simply knows what they're doing.
Oh, and aside from all that, the wine list is solid and the bar at Ember serves up some of the best cocktails around.
The October Menu is Here
Ember's October menu is out and has some nice new additions. We had the pleasure of dining there this past weekend for my wife's birthday.
Here's a few highlights from the new menu:
Mission fig and arugula salad. Fresh figs wrapped in pancetta and roasted. Served with local arugula and a fabulous vinaigrette.
Melon and speck salad. I don't even care for melons and this was amazing. A medley of melons, prosciutto, pistachios. Extremely light and fresh.
Wood-oven duck and oxtail lasagna. Two people in our party ordered this and it was by far the standout of the evening. I would never normally order lasagna at an Italian restaurant. Incredible in every aspect.
Pan-roasted steelhead. On a bed of green beans and fingerling potatoes. Topped with a jalapeno-scallion yogurt. Top-notch plate of fish.
Just Go There Already
If you're visiting or you live within a hundred miles of south county, you owe it to yourself to go to Ember. You owe it to your loved ones. You owe it to chef Brian Collins and crew for putting Arroyo Grande on the Central Coast food map.
Ember is located at 1200 E. Grand Avenue in Arroyo Grande, CA. They're open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Visit their website for more information.