Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pismo Beach: So Much More than Sand!


When I think if Pismo Beach, the only thoughts that I can conjure are of what I know.  Camping on the beach while my TH hits the dunes with his quad.  Granted, I also think of the beautiful ocean, colorful sunsets and fresh air, but for some reason I never thought to inquire about what was beyond the dunes...until my most recent trip.

Our little home away from home
My TH loves to camp, as do I, but to me camping does not a vacation make.  So, instead of making trips to the tropics whenever possible (which is what I would prefer), we make getaways to Pismo.  My TH gets to ride his quad and relax while I get to enjoy the beach I love so much, run and read.  Since we have a nice little home on wheels, we have some luxuries that make camping that much more enjoyable. 

This past month we had a near week long stay at the beach.  We had never gone for so long and I was starting to question what on Earth I was to do with all that time.  There is only so much you can do before you are forced to just sit...I'm good at this for about an hour and then I get rather antsy.  I was PUMPED when my Cousin-in-law suggested we leave the beach and go get some clam chowder in town.  Town..? What town?  What was he talking about?  Was there something beyond the street that we drove in on?  I quickly grabbed my things, hopped in the truck as my mind raced with what was out there.  How did I not know about this?!

As we left the sand dunes and off road vehicles behind, I was simply astounded (and slightly annoyed at my TH) at all there was to be seen.  How had he not told me of this downtown Pismo?  I had a hard time staying with the group as I wanted so desperately to explore.  So, I made plans with my cousin-in-law's wife...we were coming back tomorrow..alone!

But first, we had to get what we came for, this clam chowder that was apparently all the rage.  We found a parking spot and walked to The Splash Cafe.

We stood in a short line and ordered the famous clam chowder in a bread bowl to go.  Now, I usually don't eat meat of any kind, including fish, but I decided to break my vow and do it.  I loved a good bread bowl and this treat used to be a favorite of mine.  I promised myself to avoid the large chunks of clam if possible but still enjoy the creamy-bready goodness!  As we waited for our food order to come up, I tried to stay focused and not run away from the group to check things out.  Before I knew it, the line had gotten out of control!

Dang, that clam chowder must be better than I expected.  Would this put my childhood memories of the San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf bowls to shame? I'd soon find out...

As we got back in the truck with the warm bags of food, my CIL's wife, A. and I chatted about our plan for the next day.  The husband's would drive as far as they could down the beach and then we would walk the rest of the way into town. We were so excited for our man-free day of exploring we couldn't wait!

As we drove back into camp, we scrambled out of the truck and to the nearest table to unwrap the amazing scents creeping from those bags.  And then I saw it...

As if a regular bread bowl isn't good enough, Splash goes above and beyond and not only takes out the "top hat" but TOASTS IT!  It is the most amazing texas-toast like thing that I had ever had.  Dipped into the almost nauseatingly good cream chowder and I was DONE!  Not to mention, they give you all kinds of sides to add to your soup.  Crab, onions, cheese, bacon..the works!  Soon, we had all eaten a bit too much and needed to lay down for a minute or two...WOW, now I see that line down the block was totally warranted!

A few hours later I was tucked into bed and dreaming of my big day unveiling even more local secrets!

After a long morning run, light breakfast and sun snuggle with my big dog Handsome, we were ready to head back into town to really get down to business. 

We drove down the beach, hopped out of the truck and made the rest of the way by foot. Soon, we spotted the pier signaling to beach goers they had arrived.

As we made our way closer into town, I already laid out our first stop.  I needed to grab a map and determine my plan of attack.  On our way out of town the day before I had seen a hoppin' bar and I knew that was the place to take in some local people watching and get organized.  So, to Harry's Beach Bar we went. Any sign that boasts of live music and dancing is basically begging me to come in...and I always do.

As we passed a lovely biker gang and saddled up to the bar, I politely ordered two Bailey's and coffee (my favorite mid day drink) and pulled out my map.

Not getting too much info from the map despite an overall lay out of the streets, I decided to just get out and start walking.  We finished our drinks, said our goodbyes to the biker gang and headed back out into the sunshine.  As we made our way down the main drag, it didn't take me long to start pulling A. inside shop after shop to look around.  The street had it's fair share of tourist/crap stores (we both commented on the fact it seemed very Hawaii like with a wanna-be ABC store on each corner), but soon I had found another hidden gem...Chipwrecked.

I love a good potato chip, so the mere thought of having these chips hand made to order was almost too much for this salt loving girl. I had to go inside and I had to try them...NOW! When we walked into this tiny little chip den we were quickly greeted by a nice looking young man who was ready to answer all my chip related questions.  As I glanced at the chalkboard menu I wasn't even sure where to start.  That and the people that were eating at one of the four tables had so much food in front of them I had a hard time concentrating on the task at hand.  We decided to not be super boring with the USS Constitution (just salt) and sass it up a bit with La Belle (truffle and Parmesan).  There were so many innovative and interesting kinds to try I wish they had a featured sampler!

While the wait was a little longer than I would have liked, good food is worth waiting for and I knew this would be good!  From where we sat I was able to spy into the tiny kitchen and see them literally slicing the potatoes as they were being is that for fresh!  Once they came out we could barely stop ourselves from devouring each bite!


When we had finished every last morsel my head said more but my tummy said no.  We had to move on or I feared I would turn into the chip I had so quickly just inhaled.  This is a MUST VISIT if you make it to Pismo.  I didn't even get to try the sandwiches, but they looked AMAZING!

As we headed back out to the street to get moving and digesting it wasn't long before I felt the need for something sweet.  We passed a yogurt shop, but when I peeked in the window I didn't think I was quite ready for more food.  I needed more of a walk before my next feeding, so we decided to head to the famous Old West Cinnamon Rolls bakery.

I had had the pleasure of tasting these decadent treats on more than one occasion, but since someone had always brought them into our camp, I never realized there was an actual poppin' store front to be found.  I realized that I was the one who had closed my mind off to there being anything beyond the sand...that was so unlike me!  Since we were in the area, I was eager to see where these tasty rolls came from, so we stopped by for some deep sugary breaths.

I took a look in the cases and while I did really want one, the churning in my stomach told me to slow down there cowgirl, now wasn't the time.  So, I again, took a deep breath and just imagined biting into an ooey gooey roll.

I knew what all the fuss was about with these guys, so I wasn't surprised that they were slowing down after a busy morning.  They really are wonderful and quite filling at that!  We soon found our way back outside and continued to pop into stores as we made our way back to the beach.

The day had turned out to be quite an adventure.  A. and I had a great time and had tasted even more local fare than the day before.  As we decided to make our trek back to camp, we both agreed it was about time for that something sweet.   So, we made our way to the local ice cream shop and each got a scoop to go.  That Doc Burnstein sure makes some killer concoctions and I was IN LOVE with my "motor oil" flavor filled with chocolate, ribbons of fudge and Kahlua...oh yeah!  It was just what I needed to power through our walk back on the beach.

Soon we found ourselves back at camp, full of new experiences and enjoying another sunset on the beach.  I can't wait to go back again soon and explore even more areas I never knew existed!

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  1. So fun Em! I love exploring new little towns - especially ones with yummy food!

  2. April,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Yes, it was such fun to explore and eat my way across town. I can't wait for my next mini vacation!

    Strive to thrive,


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