Though it may be best known for its vineyards and olive groves, you'll also find plenty of diverse eats in this Central California city, from cozy wine bars to laid-back barbecue joints. To make your selection easier, we've narrowed down the Paso Robles's top restaurants in a range of categories, so all you have to do is decide whether you'd prefer tacos, pizza, or rotisserie chicken.
Best Wine Bar: Somm's Kitchen
For an intimate wine bar experience, nothing beats Somm's Kitchen—a 14-seat restaurant serving up a European-inspired tasting menu of mouthwatering tapas-size dishes and wines to match. Guests gather around the eatery's u-shaped counter to enjoy a mix of hot and cold plates ranging from crawfish étouffée to charcuterie and drink pairings from more than 100 international wine regions, including many Central Coast varietals. There's also an on-site wine shop for those who would like a souvenir to go.
Best Brewery: Firestone Walker
Firestone Walker was founded in 1996 and today is California's fourth-largest craft brewery. The company purchased their Paso Robles location in 2001, and it's now home to the Firestone Walker Taproom Restaurant, the perfect spot for dining on giant pretzels (served with a side of cheddar cheese dipping sauce) and fish & chips while sipping on pints of 805 Blonde Ale and Easy Jack session IPA. This lively indoor space also features an outdoor picnic area prime for pooches. Pair dinner with a brewhouse tour for the ultimate evening out.
Best for Pizza: Paso's Pizza Kitchen
Doing triple duty as a pizza, pasta, and sandwich joint, Paso's Pizza Kitchen is a great gathering space for friends and family, with beers on tap, ample seating, and video games for added entertainment. There are veggie and meat pies piled with a wide range of offerings, like the chicken and spinach Florentine pizza and a shrimp pesto pizza with mozzarella, provolone, and Asiago cheeses. You can also select your own toppings, which include pineapple, feta, and Italian sausage.
Best for Barbecue: Jeffry's Wine Country BBQ
Jeffry's Wine Country BBQ is a fairly recent addition to Paso Robles, opening in 2018, but quickly earned a reputation for delicious wood-smoked eats like its signature smoked tri-tip sandwich, smoked beef brisket, and even a smoked pork banh-mi. Jeffry's makes all of its sauces, like Sriracha aioli and Hoisin BBQ sauce, from scratch, and has custom dry-rubs for its meats. The menu also includes a handful of salads and a macaroni and cheese that took home multiple awards at Avila Beach's Macaroni and Cheese Festival.
Best Italian Fare: Buona Tavola
Founded in San Luis Obispo in 1992, Buona Tavola came to Paso Robles a decade later and is now a landmark eatery, dishing out plates of Northern Italian cuisine such as homemade gnocchi dumplings in a creamy pesto sauce, and veal scaloppine in a marsala wine sauce. Wine is plentiful, and if have celiac disease or gluten-intolerant there's a menu just for you.
Best for Brunch: Brunch
The aptly named Brunch is an ideal place to while away a late weekend morning, over a hearty helping of s'mores French toast or a granola berry parfait. Customer favorites include the Florentine breakfast pizza and veggie tacos, which you can pair with a glass of guava juice or a more daring “build your own” mimosa flight.
Best for Mexican Food: Fish Gaucho
With a lively cantina-like atmosphere and plenty of craft cocktails to sip on, Fish Gaucho is Paso Robles' spirited hot-spot. Enjoy a menu of modern Mexican fare, including daily fresh fish selections; baked enchiladas stuffed with lobster tail and artisanal cheese; and salads with Dungeness crab, roasted corn, or quinoa. Agua frescas are the norm for those not imbibing, though if it's a margarita you're after, you'll find every flavor including charred jalapeño-pineapple, pomegranate, and sage.
Best for Families: Springside Restaurant
Springside Restaurant has been drawing in families with its home-style charm and extensive menu offerings for more than a decade now. This offshoot of Creekside Gardens in Cambria, about a 40-minute drive west (and within an easy distance to Hearst Castle), serves up a wide selection of dishes reflecting California's culinary diversity for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Along with a low-key dining room, the restaurant is home to an outdoor patio where you can sit back and watch the traffic pass by.
Best for Farm to Table: Thomas Hill Organics
For a true taste of California's bounty, you'll want to visit Paso Robles' Thomas Hill Organics which highlights some of the region's freshest cuisine in innovative ways. The bulk of the menu's ingredients come from local farms, bakers, or suppliers so dishes—such as sea bass with cucumber pesto and wild rice, and vegan shepherd's pie—change with the seasons. Choose from a unique array of Central Coast wines, as well as individual beers and ciders, at the bar.
Best for Comfort Food: The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar
This downtown Paso Robles favorite is best known for its rotisserie chicken, along with Southern-inspired dishes and sides like shrimp and grits, pimento mac and cheese, and hot skillet cornbread. Most items are cooked over wood-fire, giving them a smoky flavor that goes well with the bourbon and whiskey-heavy cocktail menu. Occupying a spot in the city's historic Grangers Union Building, the restaurant features a mix of high-top bar tables and banquettes. Daily specials range from fried chicken Mondays to lamb Thursdays and the dessert selection includes sumptuous slices of key lime and banana cream pie.