DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

The Upper Crust in San Luis Obispo

Photo from Yelp
Photo from Yelp

TRAVEL THERE: THE UPPER CRUST TRATTORIA IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA

No, I’m not talking about the Central Coast‘s social elite. The Upper Crust is a great little Italian Restaurant on Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo.

LOVE AT FIRST BITE

One thing led to another.  After I moved to the San Luis Obispo area I researched churches and discovered Grace Church in SLO.  At Grace Church, I met Marilyn, who invited me to Bible Study.  After Bible Study we went to the Upper Crust.  All three of these were pivotal events.  Grace Church and Marilyn were foundational to my life in SLO and Upper Crust was my go-to restaurant.

When we wanted pasta, we’d go to Upper Crust.  When we wanted a pizza, we’d go to Upper Crust.  If we wanted a a salad, a quick bite, a romantic meal, a glass of wine, to entertain clients, to entertain guests…  The bottom line was, we went there a lot.  Since this was beach country, we went to seafood restaurants quite often too, but for everything else, it was Upper Crust.

THREE WORDS – RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE SALAD

The pizza was good.  Their pasta was great.  The Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad – to die for.  Fresh greens, candied walnuts, out of this world dressing, add chicken if you need protein – OMG.  If a had a nickel for every time I ate it, I would at least have enough to buy several more.

I heartily recommend anything on the menu.  You can’t go wrong.  However, if you leave without someone at the table ordering a Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad, you’ve made a huge mistake.  My friend Marilyn always maintained that another place had a better Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad, but she was wrong.  In all other things, I thought Marilyn was one of the smartest people I ever had the opportunity to befriend, but she didn’t know her Raspberry Vinaigrette Salads.

CENTRALLY LOCATED

Wherever you live or visit in San Luis Obispo County, no one outside SLO county residents will recognize the name of it.  Mention Heart Castle or Cal Poly and some people might say, “Oh yeah” – or you might have to resort to explaining it’s halfway between LA and San Fran.  The whole county doesn’t have as many people in it as Garland, a suburb of Dallas.

When I lived there, I sold real estate all over the county and Highway One was the main thoroughfare.  The Upper Crust is right off Highway One on Los Osos Valley Road.  That was an intersection I passed almost daily for one reason or another, so that made eating there or meeting there that much easier.  It also means that wherever you go in the area, you won’t have any trouble including the restaurant in your itinerary.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Do not miss The Upper Crust!  If you’re driving between LA and San Fran, it is just about halfway and it is worth the stop.

From SLO we drove on to LA.  I’ll tell you about that next week.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL, United States

Jump, Jive, Jamba

TRAVEL THERE: JAMBA JUICE, A DELICIOUS TREAT

I’m not exactly what you would call a health nut, but I do healthy things in spite of myself.  I watch what I eat – because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to wear my clothes and that would really tick me off.  I work out for the same reason.  I wish I could say that I loved it, but I don’t.

The California Connection

Jamba Juice is one healthy thing that I really do enjoy.  I found Jamba Juice in San Luis Obispo,  California.  It’s almost hard to believe, but I lived there for six years. This city girl was like a duck out of water in a place where everyone rolled in the sidewalk at nine o’clock, but there were a few things that made the sojourn worthwhile.  Jamba Juice was one of them.

We built our home in Pismo Beach, but when anyone in the county said “downtown,” they meant downtown San Luis Obispo.  The Farmer’s Market was on Thursdays in downtown.  Shopping and restaurants were downtown.  Jamba Juice was downtown.

Downtown was this darling collection of mission-inspired architecture.  In the hub was a pedestrian mall with exciting things like a Barnes and Noble, The Limited and The Gap.  There was also Jamba Juice.  When Bill and I went on a ramble, be it to Paso Robles for some wine tasting or Avila to stroll the beach or whatever, we’d invariably end up on the mall sharing a mango smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Jamba Juice, according to local legend, was the brain child of some Cal-Poly students.  They had one of those group marketing projects that we all hate, but instead of wanting to murder each other when it was all over, they decided to pursue their project into reality.

Before Jamba Juice came along, I was afraid of smoothie shops.  I’d been in a few, but they were all about whey protein and carrot juice.  Those things might be healthy for you, but to me, they sounded weird.  And the smoothie personnel was usually too tatted and pierced for me to have any level of comfort.  I just drank milk shakes and left the smoothie shops to the better initiated.

But Jamba Juice was a whole ‘nother thing.  Sure they squeezed a whole lot of oranges and grew some kind of fresh grass on the counter, but it felt wholesome and normal.  The smoothies had names like Peach Pleasure and Mango Madness rather than Ginko Grass and Whey Whirl.  You got a free boost with every smoothie, but they had harmless names like Energy boost, rather than EnchiRibo Burst. Unlike other smoothie stores they had bright white walls, a florescent-hued logo and adequate lighting.

You’re laughing at me, but that’s because you’ve forgotten what smoothie stores were like before Jamba came along. Any guy with a blender could start a smoothie shop and harass you with their nutrition philosophy.  Then Jamba came along and gave smoothie vendors a run for their money.  Thank you Jamba.

By the time we moved back to Dallas, the Cal-Poly kids had sold their concept and are probably somewhere in the world drinking mai tais on a beach – at least I hope they are, because they deserve it after the gift they gave to the world.  Used to be I had to plan my Jamba cravings and find a reason to go to where their shops were, but now Jamba is pretty much everywhere, including around the corner from my house.

And here’s a hint.  Last time I was waiting for my smoothie, a Peach Pleasure, I saw a poster inviting me to join the Jamba Insider Club.  A few taps on my smartphone later and BAM, I had a coupon for a $2 smoothie.  Gotta love it!