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    Picky vs. Professional: Paso Restaurant Review

    Crimson senior reporters, one picky, one professional, review various cuisines from the Paso Robles area

    Paso Robles’s tourism is a significant industry, spawning a multitude of restaurants to host both visitors and locals alike. With such a variety of options, it can be admittedly hard to choose where to eat next.

    Enter: Crimson reporters Mateo De Alba and Kalani Gaviola. 



    (Note from Gaviola: please do not take my reviews too seriously, as mentioned, I’m very picky and would probably rate a Michelin star restaurant absurdly low.) 

    STOP #1

    Jeffrey’s opened in 2018 and serves various BBQ meat dishes. It is located in an alleyway at 819 12th St suite b, Paso Robles, CA, and has a Google rating of 4.5 out of 5, with 751 reviews. 

    MATEO: I got to try the tri-tip and brisket sandwich as well as the brisket and tri-tip mac and cheese. All the food was good and well proportioned. It lacks complexity which is to be expected from barbeque so that is in no way a negative comment, but it also lacked uniqueness;  none of the food really tasted different from other barbeque places but it was still very appetizing and flavorful. One of the things that really did separate this restaurant from all of its barbeque competitors was the great atmosphere and environment of the restaurant. Most of the seating is outside so you get to sit under the stars at night but there are plenty of heaters to keep you warm even during the cold night, and plenty of canopies to protect from the harsh sun during the day- very welcoming and comfortable. The service was also unique as it was mostly self service. You didn’t have a server taking your order, but instead you would go up to the cashier and order the food from there. They then bring the food to your seat. Even though we didn’t have a server, the customer service was great as everyone was very friendly and constantly checked in to ensure that we were still comfortable. I would rate the food a 8/10, the environment a 9/10, as its one of the best in Paso, and the customer service an 8/10 so overall an 8.33/ 10 would recommend.

    KALANI: I had a Tri-Tip Sandwich (ate bread and meat separately) with no BBQ sauce. The meat was tasty and the bread was too, though, as an entity separate from the sandwich, it lacked some butter. I usually don’t like potato chips, but the ones that came on the side of my meal hit the spot for me. Though you have to walk up to the counter to order, everyone was very friendly while delivering our food and made sure we were comfortable by turning on the heating lamps when we arrived. Overall, a really good restaurant. 8/10. Would definitely recommend it.

    GUEST STARRING – MAXWELL BERRY: I absolutely loved the experience here. Right as you walk in you order at the counter when ready and pay before you are served. This tossed me up a bit but the servers were super kind and turned on heaters for us right as we were seated. I ordered the Brisket Mac and cheese and it was very tasty. It was cooked well and seasoned nicely and the side of potato chips was nice compared to a normal french fry side. We were checked on about 5 times during the experience by workers to make sure everything was good. Jeffery’s has a great atmosphere and great hospitality. Overall I would rate this restaurant a 7.5/10 and would definitely recommend. I have been there before and it is always an enjoyable time.


    STOP #2

    Las Kalaveras is a Mexican restaurant located at 1218 Pine St, Paso Robles, CA 93446, and has a google rating of 4.5 out of 77 ratings.

    MATEO: Las Kalaveras was a little lackluster to say the least. The food was ok as I tried a burrito and the quesabritas again nothing very unique about this food that separated it from other Mexican restaurants. However I still believe that the food here was better than the food at another common Mexican restaurant “La Mexicana”. The environment and atmosphere was also very dull as this may be very picky but some things I absorbed were worn down chairs and the hardwood floor was poorly installed leaving gaps in some areas. It seemed to me that their main focus was putting together the bar as the bar was very well put together and decorated well. The customer service is what you would expect as the server was nice but rarely checked in with us after she took our order, however she was the only one there so I understood that she had a lot on her plate. The food was a 5.9/ 10 the environment was a 6/10 and the customer service was a 6.5/ 10 so overall a 6.2/10 if you are really craving Mexican food I would give it a try.

    KALANI: “2/10. Really nothing against the restaurant, but I don’t really like a lot of Mexican food, so I wasn’t sure what to order. I decided to go out on a limb and get albondigas soup for the first time. Fellow picky eaters will know this is a very risky move, and this time, it did not pay off. Unfortunately, I learned I am not an albondigas soup fan. The chips were good though, and I thought it was decorated well. I’m sure it has plenty of loyal fans, but I am sad to say I am not one of them.”

    GUEST STARRING – JACK TOBIN: Immediately after sitting down here I was honestly disappointed with the way that the restaurant was laid out, our table was slanted, the chairs were ripped, but still comfy. While the appearance wasn’t amazing the bar looked cool. I ordered the Carne Asada Burrito. It was honestly a 6.9/10. When I order a burrito from a Mexican restaurant I expect a huge burrito, and Las Kalaveras did not disappoint. While the atmosphere was not incredible the service was decently quick, given that we were the only table in the restaurant. The atmosphere of the restaurant is getting a 4/10 from me. Overall Las Kalaveras had my rating of 5.3/10.


    STOP #3

    Umi Sushi and Sake is a Japanese restaurant on 1108 Pine St. Paso Robles, CA 93446, and has a google rating of 4.1/5 

    MATEO: Umi tends to be one of my go to places because of the fact that their food is always so good with a pretty large variety of food and plated in a way that really captures the eye. They specialize in sushi. As I had several different rolls such as the cowboy, angry lobster, rose roll, etc… but they serve more than that so even if sushi is not your thing they have other great options as I have also had the teriyaki chicken, gyoza, yakisoba and more. However I don’t eat sushi often enough at other restaurants to compare Umi’s sushi to anywhere else but it is a great restaurant. However the service is not on par and is usually very poor as it often feels like they neglect you once you ordered your food they never checked in after that even though my glass was empty they never once came by and it seems to me that even the online reviews agree. Yet I have never had a rude server here so although they may be a little neglectful they are always very kind. The environment wasn’t anything special either. It felt like there was a clash of ideas when designing Umi and a few flickering lights but I do like the option to sit outside in the balcony overlooking paso’s downtown park, however they lack any outdoor heating so it can get cold especially during the winter. I would rate the food a 9/10 the service a 5/10 and the environment was a 7/10 making it a 7/10 overall. If you are ok with the lack of customer service this is an excellent place to check out and I would recommend it.

    KALANI: I had a teriyaki chicken bowl. The rice was as good as it could be but the teriyaki was definitely not the best I’ve had. The vegetables inside, however, were perfectly suitable and prepared well. A good go-to for people on the pickier side, though it was nothing special for me, a very mid-tier teriyaki bowl. Service was alright, and the atmosphere was perfectly suitable to get in the good for Japanese food. 5/10.

    GUEST STARRING  – BENNETT REED: At the start of the experience I was surprised with the service that they were providing because usually when I go the service is not very good. Overall for the service I would give them a 8/10. They sat us and I noticed that the light above us was blinking between dim and bright which was kind of disappointing. I started with the edamame which was pretty good. We ordered three rolls to share and they were all really good, definitely some of the best food that you can find downtown. It was basically perfect. I would give the food a 9/10.  The overall atmosphere of Umis was really nice, however the booths we sat at felt a little cheaply made and put together, the biggest thing I noticed was how easy it was to move the booth seat and the table. For that reason I would give it a 7/10 Overall I will definitely recommend Umis and will be going again sometime soon. Overall score 8/10

    STOP #4

    Stokehouse Grill is a  New American restaurant  on 1114 Pine Street Paso Robles, CA 93446, and has a google rating of 4.6/5 

    MATEO: I got to try the seafood pasta, the Ribeye, calamari, and coconut shrimp. We had the calamari and the coconut shrimp as our appetizers, and they were not disappointing, especially the calamari as it was a great portion for an appetizer with a satisfyingly crunchy crumb on the outside and a soft yet not chewy inside. However the ribeye was very under seasoned making it super bland and the fries that were paired with it were also obviously frozen. However that was a side that wasn’t offered on the menu so I understand why they might use frozen fries. The Pasta was good though as it was not only a great portion plated with a variety of seafood infusing that flavor into the pasta while not completely overpowering the creamy flavor of the sauce on the pasta. The environment was also very lacking as it just felt like I was eating in the middle of a living room with very dim lights and a strange party light in the corner of the restaurant. Although for most of my experience it smelled fine towards the end it began to smell like a floor cleaner with a very strong artificially made floral smell. The  customer service was just about what you would expect from a restaurant, nothing that really stood out to me. They made sure our glasses were never empty and they would regularly check in on us. I would rate the food a 7/10, the environment a 6/10, and the customer service a 7/10 so overall a 6.7/10

    KALANI: I ordered the 14oz Ribeye with sauce on the side and fries instead of grilled scallion mashed potatoes. First of all, I enjoyed our waitress very much. She was friendly and attentive to how quickly we devoured our bread side, which, I must warn, does come with a charge on the bill if you eat past your first basket. The atmosphere was a little disjointed, and it seems like they were still getting their aesthetic together, with a professional environment but also party style lights flash in one corner? My food originally came out without my adjustments, which was understandable, but when sent back it was returned correct very quickly, which I appreciate. The steak, by itself with no sauce, lacked a little flavor but tasted good regardless and was cooked well. 7/10. 


    STOP #5

    Etto is a pasta bar on 3070 Limestone Way, Paso Robles, CA 93446, and has a google rating of 4.7/5

    MATEO: Etto was a restaurant that seemed to be an amazing straight out gate, as you walk in you are greeted by their glass display showing off their desserts. However the first person that greeted us looked to be uninterested in working as she seemed very upset to even be there and was kind of rude as she ushered us to a table. But once we were seated I began to notice how well put together the restaurant was. I really enjoyed their open kitchen as it faced the rest of the restaurant without taking away from the environment. Their  outdoor seating is also a great option as you walk into an open environment surrounded by rocks as water pours down them. Etto is similar to Jeffrey’s in that they are both self service restaurants which took away from the customer service experience but not necessarily in a negative way, that would be based on personal preference and the rest of the staff seemed very friendly. I got to try the ribeye, mighty cap mushroom pasta, the lasagna, and the garlic bread. The Mighty Cap Mushroom pasta was so well put together as their creamy white sauce paired well with the mushroom without totally overpowering their natural taste. However the steak wasn’t anything outstanding as there was no real complexity to the steak making it no different than any other steak. The food was good but not outstanding so I would give it an 8.5/10, that somewhat rude encounter drops the service score to a 4.5/10, but the environment was also very pleasant 8.5/10 so overall 7.1/10 

    KALANI: I love pasta so I knew this was going to be good. I really enjoyed my spaghetti Bolognese, and the bread beforehand was good as well. Shoutout also for letting me order extra sauce. service was fast, but not super friendly. Overall7.5/10

    GUEST STARRING  – ELISE MATHERS:  Before going to the restaurant I headed up Etto’s shop next door where I was happily greeted by the employee at the front desk as well as a second employee who was organizing around the shop. Walking into the restaurant people were lively, and there were many employees hustling to serve the full dining room. Once we were seated I noticed that the restaurant did have an open kitchen which was interesting but that did not take away from the overall ambiance and if anything – made the service faster. Servers were grabbing their food right from the kitchen counter and taking it directly to the tables, which was much quicker given that they were already in the dining room. Several times before we got our food employees were circling, refilling our waters, asking how we were doing, etc. I tried the focaccia with green olive tapenade, the kale and walnut pesto, and a chocolate dessert called Theobroma. The focaccia was nice and warm when we got it. The bread alone was light and buttery, and the tapenade added a saltiness that matched perfectly, but didn’t overpower. The combination of kale and walnut made for a really interesting flavor profile that I thought complimented each other really well. The two components were not battling with each other which made the pasta delicious. The Theobrama was a small sponge cake made with mousse and chocolate shards. It wasn’t my favorite because of the thick consistency and I felt the flavor was too chocolatey – which are mostly preference related complaints anyway. Overall, it was a really good experience. I’d rate service and food both a 9 for a strong 9/10 overall. 



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    About the Contributors
    Mateo De Alba, Photographer
    Mateo De Alba is a senior and photographer, currently in his first year of Crimson. In school, he participates in Leadership and volleyball. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, taking photos, hiking, and working.
    Kalani Gaviola, Editor-in-Chief
    Kalani Gaviola, senior, is one of the Editor-in-Chiefs of Crimson Newsmagazine, as well as co-InDepth Director. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief and InDepth Director, and her third year in Crimson. Outside of Crimson, she is a varsity Cross Country and Track athlete, ASB Staff and Student Director, and an enjoyer of creative writing, reading, and drawing.
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