Locally Owned, Pismo Beach Eats

When visiting Pismo Beach California, you will want to try these locally owned casual restaurants and bakeries, etc. that have been around for years. Here are some of my favorites.

Splash Cafe; behind the counter; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG;

If you love clam chowder, you have to pop by the Splash Café. This place has been around for more than thirty years. They began with just clam chowder and have won every conceivable award at every county fair, food festival, clam festival, etc. I had the chance to meet co-owner Joanne Curry, a down-to-earth friendly woman who was busy working and getting orders ready. When I arrived there was a line around the corner. I decided to wait, but each time I returned, that line was still there. So I bit the bullet and waited in line. To my surprise it was pretty quick. I could tell by the length of the line (which was consistently long throughout the day BTW), the clam chowder must be amazing. I was correct.

Diners waiting in line, Splash Cafe: photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG

 I opted for the all-time favorite bread bowl, filled with luscious creamy thick clam chowder and topped with the seafood add-on. This was recommended by a gentleman in line ahead of me. I’m glad I took his advice. It was the perfect choice. I sat next to a couple from Northern California. They have dined here many times and said every time they come to visit Pismo Beach, they make a point to stop and have their clam chowder. I met lots of new friends on the line and in Splash…the bread bowl was undoubtedly the most popular item on the menu. After I left, I decided to take a long walk on the pier. I had to walk off that clam chowder after all. The view up and down the coast from this vantage point was amazing. There were several families eating at the available picnic tables along the pier, and I spotted at least two families chowing down on that same bread bowl special from Splash Cafe. 197 Pomeroy Ave., Pismo Beach, CA 93449; https://www.splashcafe.com

Mo’s BBQ, inside view; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG;

If you like BBQ, be sure to stop at Mo’s BBQ, a casual order-and-seat-yourself type of place. Mo’s opened over twenty years ago and has three locations… San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Chico. It also has its own line of BBQ sauces available for sale. Depending on how hungry you are, the menu has something for everyone. If you are super hungry, here are some selections: MO’s Memphis Pork Ribs, Philthy Phil’s Pork Ribs, Sweet Carolina’s Pork Ribs, BBQ Rib Combo, BBQ 1/2 Chicken, MO’s Chipotle Lime Chicken Tacos (Chipotle-pineapple marinated chicken breasts on flour tortillas with shredded cabbage, tomato, cilantro, and sweet and spicy); Sandwiches are also available: Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken, Shredded Beef, Tri tip, Louisiana Hot link, burgers (including a veggie burger).

Mo’s BBQ Sampler; photo by Richard Bilow; courtesy of ETG;

We decided on the BBQ sampler, which featured some of everything…Philly Phil’s Ribs, ¼ BBQ Chicken and Shredded Pork, with fries. It was plenty of food for both of us. We even took food home, along with some of that delicious sauce. Mo’s BBQ, 221 Pomeroy Ave. Pismo Beach, CA 93449; https://mosbbq.com/

There are all kinds of yummy sweets in downtown Pismo Beach like a local candy store called Hot Lix, which offered every imaginable type of candy…some classic choices, plus new ones too. Another great place to stop for sweets is the Pismo Beach Candy Company.

Pismo Beach Candy Company; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG;

There were so many nifty options…fudge, suckers, chocolates and all kinds of unusual taffy flavors…s’mores, popcorn, green caramel apple, mango chili, and more.

If you like cinnamon rolls, you will not want to miss your chance to stop at Old West Cinnamon Rolls. They offer hands down the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had. The recipe was created by Betty Clemens in 1972 in her home in Shell Beach. The business is still family operated (as of 2019). It is very much a community hub.

An Unbelievably Delicious Cinnamon Bun from Old West Cinnamon Rolls

Just around the corner from the cash register there is a bulletin board…which is no longer visible due to all of the comments posted by happy customers. Locals and tourists alike write comments on napkins about the baked goods and how much they love them. One of the notes read “I like big buns and I cannot lie.”

Napkin praise wall at Old West Cinnamon Rolls; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG;

Old West Cinnamon Rolls, 861 Dolliver Street, Pismo Beach, California 93449; https://oldwestcinnamonrolls.com/

Finally – if you have kids, another great option is Pismo Bowl – Established in 1939, the front room features pinball games and skee-ball, in a 50’s style diner, complete with red vinyl swivel stools. The back room housed a bowling alley. Bowling lessons are available, plus it’s a great place to host birthday parties and other events.

Pismo Bowl; photo by Kathy Leonardo; courtesy of ETG;

Most of the local eateries that were mentioned are featured in my California Coast: Santa Maria Pismo Beach article in the Stories Section as part of ETG’s ongoing series about the California coast.

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