Passing Through Pismo: Tastes of the Valleys and Cracked Crab

I got a recommendation at the Brew Masters Dinner preview (the real event takes place this Saturday night, FYI) to check out Tastes of the Valleys, a wine bar in Pismo Beach (there’s one in Solvang, too).

Earlier this week (Monday), after we checked out Hearst Castle and learned more about Mr. Hearst, I was in need of a drink.

I swear you could pass right by Pismo if you weren’t paying attention – it’s a little beach town tucked in between the highway and the coast, just south of San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles.

The town is very low-key (granted, it was a Monday afternoon), and that small town feel became evident when we took our seats at the bar at Tastes of the Valleys.  The staff was extremely nice and friendly, and after looking over the thick, extensive wine list (350 wines by the glass, ranging from $5 to $100+), we decided on the 2008 Labyrinth Haka Tempranillo.  Despite the long wine list, it was the only Tempranillo they carried.

Downtown Pismo

I have been a fan of the Spanish grape for some time now and I bought two bottles after sucking down the glass.

Then we were hungry and I asked one of the staff members where she recommended.  Before long, there were four or five menus in front of me and the entire place joined in on the decision, adding their own recommendations and advice (again, that small town flare).

We decided on Cracked Crab.  It seemed like what we were looking for – informal seafood dining.

And that’s pretty much what we got.  The mussels were fresh but the dipping sauce was bland, and I could probably have fit both of the crab cakes (appetizer) in my mouth at one time, although they were delicious.

We passed on the “Crab Special for Two,” which sounded really fun (they dump all the crabs on the table), but not for $70.  Add wine to the bill, and you’re talking over a $100 for lunch in a small town on a Monday afternoon.

Um, no thanks.

More photos:

Interior of Tastes of the Valleys in Pismo Beach.
Entering downtown Pismo Beach (photo out of my sunroof).

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