Welcome to San Luis Obispo! It's time for breakfast, so we're going to skip the small talk and get right to it.
This cafe was one of the very first I tried in SLO when I moved here for college. My mom and I shared two of the scones - if you could get me to eat and enjoy a scone during that rigid-eating time in my life, you were doing something right. Sally Loo's, you got it right. Walking into this space feels like walking into both a home and a restaurant at the same time. Pick up a menu for the items always served, but don't miss the specials board - that's where you'll find some of the most delectable dishes in town. If the definition for hand-crafted could be told through food, it would be a Sally Loo's special.
I ordered the Big Al's Avo Toast special this time, after much contemplation over that versus a burrito, and now I know - if I'm ever stuck between a special here and a regular menu item, I should probably go with the special because 1) it's only offered for a limited time and 2) DANG it's good. The avocado toast was piled high with... well, avocado - there will be no skimping on this creamy favorite toast-topper. And because I was in a treat-myself/why-not mindset, I added the optional smoked salmon on the side. I'm still here actually, at Sally Loo's typing this up (because this is a study-friendly spot!) and I'm tempted to never leave, so that I can order something for lunch later and keep absorbing the light-hearted, community-centered atmosphere. It's one of a kind here and you will regret absolutely nothing about coming here and ordering anything on the menu.
If you aren't in the mood for avocado toast or come when the specials menu has changed, my other recommendations include the Breakfast burrito (veggie for me), the San Louie Bagel, and anything from the bakery case - it's all made in house! And don't forget to grab some coffee, too, while you watch the barista craft your drink. It's just cool to watch, and the drinks here beat those at some of the other coffee shops in town (that good!).
My first thought when walking into Louisa's: "my dad would love it here." And he does! During my freshman year, I brought my parents here for breakfast, not knowing at the time that it was voted one of the best breakfast spots in all of SLO county. To this day (three years later) I hear locals talk about Louisa's with more genuine adoration than many restaurants I've visited. Each weekend, when I'm outside walking or riding my bike during the quiet mornings, I see locals perched inside Louisa's at the counter reading the paper, sipping some coffee, and digging their fork into omelettes and pancakes and breakfast burritos I can smell from outside. And then I drool.
We ordered omelettes - Vegetable Medley for me and Guacamole & Bacon for my friend. Of course, we both chose the homemade biscuits (did you hear that? homemade biscuits) on the side and could not stop talking about them alllllllll day. The omelettes were large, but large and delicious! Omelettes are a breakfast dish I always appreciate because I just can't make them well enough at home, and Louisa's made them beyond well enough to convince me that I don't need to learn how to make them - I'll just head down to Louisa's when the craving hits. And as for the homemade biscuit... it is a must. An absolute must.
This is a spot I would take my dad. Diners are his favorite - those people I see when I pass by on weekend mornings would be my dad everyday at Louisa's Place if he lived nearby. The portions are big, so come hungry, with friends, and/or ready to bring home leftovers. Don't expect green juices and refined-sugar-free paleo breakfast pastries here - come for home-cooked meals made with real food and served in an atmosphere that feels like a home away from home.
This is a relatively new spot in downtown SLO, quaintly nestled in between between a couple of my favorite stores on Monterey Street. Since the day it opened, it's been calling my name and drawing in several other customers, too. Mint + Craft screams downtown SLO... in a really good way. If you're feeling like a light, vegetable-forward breakfast Mint + Craft is your spot!
Grace and I spontaneously chose this for breakfast one day and could not wait to get our hands on some toast, which seems to be the focus of their breakfast menu. And, like, I'm cool with that. We walked in and ordered at the counter immediately, but if we hadn't been so hungry, we probably would've spent some time browsing the shelves stocked with anything and everything that could distract me (again, in a really good way) - from cookbooks to homemade jams and jellies to cute linens to artisan chocolates. Oh, and if you aren't looking to sit down and eat, you can head over to the refrigerated section for packaged wraps and salads, bottles of juice and kombucha and even wine and beer! Or, grab something sweet from the bakery case - might I suggest the lemon bars or caramel brownies or giant chocolate chip cookies?
Anyway, onto our breakfast - The Obispo for Grace and The SLO Market for me! We ordered and chose a table outside, and our food came in under five minutes, which was good on their end because, my goodness, were we hungry. First things first - the flavors. So many of them, and they all worked together to make an incredibly tasty and unique slice of toast. Grace certainly enjoyed hers, too. She's picky about her bacon and wants it exxxxtra crispy, and they delivered to her liking. We recommend both! One more thing - Grace ordered a cup of coffee, for which they offer free refills, and she grabbed another cup to go because it was so darn delicious.
It's time to introduce you to a favorite since my year in college here - Big Sky Cafe in downtown SLO. Most of my meals here have been for lunch or dinner, with the occasional happy hour/appetizer hangout with friends, so after looking at their breakfast menu and holding their food and service in high regards, I knew this was a must. We spent a fair amount of time reading through the menu because everything - e v e r y t h i n g - sounds good. Eventually, I went with the Greek Spinach, Feta, Mushroom & Tomato Omelette.
Oh my word. It was unbelievable. Served with breakfast potatoes and sauteed peppers and onions, this plate filled me to the brim, so I was glad I came extra hungry, especially for the complimentary basket of cornbread as an appetizer (ask for some to-go!).
Big Sky Cafe doesn't skimp on anything. Flavors are abundant, freshness is impossible to miss, and seasonal, local produce are a main component of each dish, so they're clearly speaking my language here. This is a place I can bring anyone - when Mom and Dad come into town, we come here for drinks and a food we know will be delicious and service that welcomes them into town. When my friends and I can't decide where to eat, Big Sky offers a variety of options to satisfy each of our cravings - whole-grain pancakes or shakshuka, omelette or beignets, breakfast burrito or crab cakes benedict.
And last but most certainly not least, take this recommendation as encouragement to treat yo'self. Lido at Dolphin Bay (yes, I brought Grace again because she is my partner in all things, especially eating, if you haven't noticed) is everything I want for brunch and then some more. We have a friend who works here and suggested we come in, and he definitely knows what she and I like when it comes to food - most importantly brunch - so we trust him. A Sunday morning at Lido is a stunning view of the ocean + friendly, welcoming service that makes you feel like royalty + food that might very well be my ideal definition of brunch - and by that I mean kinda' healthy, kinda' not, and completely whole-platedly delightful.
Grace and I ordered two plates and split each one - eggs scrambled with spinach and white cheddar and served with sweet potato fries (which we asked for instead of the home fries) and a half-order of the thickest, fluffiest French toast I've ever tasted. Bottomless mimosas were most certainly involved here, too. Duh. We left feeling like princesses more happily satisfied than we can ever remember, and not just because of the mimosas.
I will, without a single doubt, be back to Lido for more. Like I said before, it's a place treat-yourself-kind-of-place, so plan accordingly. Most importantly, enjoy every minute and every bite because this is a special restaurant with unmatched service, unbeatable food, and a breath-taking view.
And that's a wrap (or should I said breakfast burrito? or should I not because maybe that would have been a weird joke?) for my favorite breakfast spots in SLO! As you may have noticed, I prioritize restaurants and cafes that emphasize local food and community, and offer some nutritious options as well as some... well, some other more (let's just say) "fun" foods. I hope you have the chance to try each of these places, and when you do, tell them Haley sent you :) happy eating!