Splash Cafe

Splash Café’s clam chowder is a local favorite that consistently reels in clam festival awards, as well as hungry customers looking for their next fill of seafood.

The clam chowder is so popular that the Pismo Beach location serves over 30,000 gallons of clam chowder annually, using three different types of clams to create a flavor profile that is both rich and complex.  Along with clam chowder, Splash Café also offers dishes like ahi tuna tacos, crispy hot fish & chips, and fresh calamari.

Perhaps the most charming part about Splash Café’s San Luis Obispo location is its fully stocked artisan bakery. Here customers can pair their seafood plates with a plentiful selection of freshly baked sandwiches, pizzas, and cakes. 

Both Splash Café restaurants are easily recognizable by their colorful outdoor murals that depict clam-like people having fun at the beach and other San Luis Obispo locations. 

Splash Café  is located at 1491 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo and 197 Pomeroy Ave. in Pismo Beach.

Second Place: Novo Restaurant and Lounge

Third Place: Avila Market


Goshi Japanese Restaurant

Located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, Goshi Japanese Restaurant serves up authentic Japanese cuisine, from sushi to traditional teishoku. Even the non-sushi lovers of the group, they’re bound to find something they will enjoy. 

Goshi is devoted to serving fresh ingredients with skilled chefs to prepare. Some of their most popular dishes include the spicy tuna roll, shrimp tempura, and dinner combos. In addition to food, they offer a wide selection of sake options, from hot to cold to even a sake sampler.

“The restaurant really embraced the Japanese culture and created an exciting atmosphere to dine in and eat some sushi,” Cal Poly student and sushi connoisseur Kailey Ridenour said. 

Goshi is located at 570 Higuera St., Suite #155 in San Luis Obispo in The Creamery Plaza. There is a second location at 722 Pine St. in Paso Robles.

Second Place: Haha Sushi and Grill

Third Place: Sushiya


Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica

In 1988, Giuseppe Dianfranze opened the original Giuseppe’s Cucina in Pismo Beach and later spawned the second restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo through a Cal Poly senior project.

“All the food tastes like grandma’s old homemade recipes,” philosophy senior Bryce Meyers said. 

The menu offers authentic Italian recipes like Nona’s meatballs, which uses an old family recipe to make the most amazing spaghetti and meatballs you could find in the Central Coast to the Pollio Basilisco, which provides a more modern take to a traditional Italian poultry recipe. After dinner, if you are craving something sweet Giuseppe’s offers multiple enticing options from a traditional Italian cannoli to a zesty and sweet Meyer Lemon Cheesecake. 

If you would like to dine-in the restaurant offers a great amount of seating and if you have a bigger group the restaurant does take reservations for groups over ten people. Not to mention, if you are ever craving that authentic Italian style but are just too lazy to go out, Giuseppe’s offers other options such as front door pick-up and delivery to just about anywhere in San Luis Obispo County. The San Luis Obispo location can be found in the downtown area at 849 Monterey St., and the Pismo location can be found at 891 Price St.  

Second Place: Flour House

Third Place: Buona Tavola


Firestone Grill

When you walk by Firestone Grill during a stroll downtown, you’re instantly intrigued by the bustling activity of happy customers enjoying plates of barbeque under shady trees. Then the smoky barbeque smell hits your nose and draws you in to grab a bite. Waiting for you are smiling staff, quick service, and heaping baskets of mouthwatering fries.

Firestone Grill has been voted best fries by Cal Poly Students for multiple years, and for good reason. The massive baskets of thin cut crispy fries are priced low at $2.99 but carry big flavor that will keep you coming back for more. Their fame is proven by the line that usually snakes out the door. However, there’s much more to Firestone Grill that makes it a place worth coming back to.

Established in 1995, Firestone Grill has become a staple of the downtown dining scene and a tasty part of San Luis Obispo’s culture. The family owned establishment is filled with local sports memorabilia, a sense of belonging, and great food. The laid-back atmosphere with endless seating welcomes anyone from college students to SLOcal families to come for a meal. Hal Billingsley, the restaurant owner, attended Cal Poly himself 20 years ago. No doubt, his families ties to the community can be felt in the quality service and award-winning food that is consistently delivered at Firestone Grill. After being voted best fries, barbeque, and even salads for multiple years, this downtown gem is worth a visit. Only a quick bus ride away from Cal Poly, Firestone Grill is a must try!

Second Place: Old San Luis BBQ Co.

Third Place: G. Brothers Smokehouse


High Street Deli

“Good food speaks for itself and when it is accompanied by a great atmosphere and friendly people it speaks even louder,” High Street Deli owner Randy “Doobie” Coates said.

Coates has created the perfect formula for the best sandwich joint in San Luis Obispo. The deli is located on 350 High St. and customers can find a vast array of delicious sandwiches, mouth-watering soups and salads, and their famous Doobie Snacks (a delicious cookie bar). High Street Deli prides themselves on having a staff that truly cares about providing the best quality food and that is reflected in the happy customers that come in and out of their doors. 

Coates purchased the business back in 2000 while he was still attending Cal Poly and has since turned it into one of the most popular places in SLO. The shop offers unique vibes true to its rich history and humble beginnings. The vintage building was originally built in 1927 as a market that offered milk, butter, tobacco, and other necessities to the workers of the old railroad district. High Street Deli has since blossomed into a food haven for students, locals, and visitors alike. 

High Street Deli offers more than just great food to customers: it offers an experience, one that owner Coates wants people to take with them. “I hope each sandwich creates a new memory that you take with you long after you leave.”

Second Place: Lincoln Deli

Third Place: Mr. Pickle’s


Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe

Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café is known to be one of San Luis Obispo’s favorite local gems as far as breakfast restaurants are concerned. With its inviting atmosphere, mouthwatering dishes, and quaint ambiance, it has quickly become a common place to socialize and snack. The cafe, better known simply as Sally Loo’s, stands by supporting local farmers by using them as their main source of organic ingredients. Most of the food on the menu is grown in San Luis Obispo county. Sally Loo’s find a variety of their food options by visiting different local farmer markets on a weekly basis.

Regular customers describe Sally Lou’s as “absolutely scrumptious” and radiating a “healthy vibe.” Many people attribute this to their famous Thursday trivia and burger night for anyone who enjoys some friendly competition. If that’s not what you’re looking for you can always stop in for one of the most popular items on their menu; Sally’s Waffle, which is served with a chocolate spread and homemade butter.

Sally Loo’s is open everyday from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., however, given the COVID-19 restrictions, they are offering takeout everyday from 8:00 a.m.- 2 p.m. With healthy and tasty options, it is difficult to find a restaurant as well loved as Sally Lou’s. Located at 1804 Osos Street, Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café continues to be a favorite among Cal Poly students and San Luis Obispo locals.

Second Place: Big Sky Cafe

Third Place: Bon Temps Creole Café


Bliss Cafe

When you’re looking for the best vegetarian option around, Bliss Café is the clear choice. Located in downtown San Luis Obispo, Bliss Café features a variety of plant-based and gluten-free options made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Bliss Café is able to offer a dining experience with a creekside view, providing meals to nourish the body and soul.

While the café is located in downtown SLO, Bliss is also a food vendor at various events, concerts, festivals, and even the weekly downtown SLO farmer’s market. If you’re looking for an any-time-of-day breakfast, Bliss Café’s breakfast burrito is the way to go. Their menu features some other local favorites including the Broccoli Ginger Bowl and Reuben Sandwich. Bliss Café’s menu also offers a wide variety of fresh juices and smoothies such as the Tropical Bliss Smoothie and the PB Chocolate Love Smoothie.

The Bliss Café mission statement reads, “We share the Bliss experience by offering nourishing & loving foods that heal, energize, and empower the individual and community. In all our actions, we are in pursuit of creating the mood of goodness, love, and compassion to share Bliss with as many lives as we can.” David and Palaka, the two owners, first opened Bliss in 2013 and have always advocated for healthy, locally sourced food for each dish. Each menu option is made with a passion for healthy, locally sourced ingredients.

Bliss Café is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are located at 778 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo. For more information call (805) 547-0108 or visit their website at

Second Place: Oki Momo Asian Grill

Third Place: Ziggy’s


Taqueria Santa Cruz

Taqueria Santa Cruz on Monterey Street is one of the most iconic Mexican restaurants in San Luis Obispo. Third-year Ashley Bell says it’s her favorite and most visited restaurant in San Luis Obispo. She still remembers her first experience there as a freshman. 

“Not only does Taqueria Santa Cruz have the best burritos in SLO, but their customer service and prices are great! All of my friends agree.” 

Since 1993, Taqueria Santa Cruz has served their famous burritos to the people of SLO. The restaurant first opened in Santa Cruz, CA and was so successful that a second location was opened shortly after. Twenty-two years later, Taqueria Santa Cruz made its way to San Luis Obispo, opening a location on Monterey Street. Like in Santa Cruz, the restaurant has done so well that in 2019 they opened another location on Foothill Blvd. This family owned and operated restaurant is celebrating 26 years of being in business serving their loyal customers. Taqueria Santa Cruz gives customers many options to choose from and is loved by both meat lovers and vegetarians alike.  

Next time you’re in the mood for Mexican food, you won’t regret checking out Taqueria Santa Cruz. Both locations are open from 9 AM – 12 AM  Monday through Sunday.  To view the full menu, visit: 

Second Place: Tacos de Acapulco

Third Place: Luna Red


Thai Boat

Thai Boat is the place to go if you’re looking for an authentic, delicious Thai food experience accompanied by fantastic customer service. Thai Boat is a family-owned Thai restaurant located near the San Luis Obispo Airport. They’re known for serving Thai classics from fan-favorites such as pineapple fried rice to yellow curry and Pad Thai. 

Thai Boat offers meals for vegans, vegetarians, and meat-lovers alike and is well known for its speedy and accurate service. Customers will often be given samples of Thai Tea as they wait for their meals, and have their order ready to go within 15 minutes. 

 With their diverse menu featuring multiple types of curry, noodles, soup and seafood and  each plate averaging from $11-$13 dollars, this eatery is a local favorite for most students. 

 Cal Poly student and San Luis Obispo local John Balido is a very active individual who values quality food and friendly service and frequents Thai Boat. Like most college students, he values unique food options and quality ingredients. 

“Thai Boat is one of the most authentic Thai places in SLO. Their food is delicious and filling.” 

Thai Boat is conveniently located right off of Broad Street in an easily accessible parking lot with ample parking, and there are tables provided for guests both inside and outside. If you want to order take-out, you can call in your orders to be picked up or you can order in person for equally speedy service. The best way to contact Thai Boat to inquire about orders is to call their posted phone number at  

Second Place: Thai Palace

Third Place: My Thai


Luna Red

Luna Red has something for everyone with their globally-inspired menu that includes everything from craft tacos to craft cocktails. The restaurant, located on Chorro Street, specializes in local and seasonal ingredients, ensuring that customers get to experience the freshest produce available. For this reason, Luna Red’s high quality ingredients come with a cost. Their paellas, which are layered dishes over saffron or black (squid ink) rice, range in price from 35 to a whopping 56 dollars. However, as someone who’s tried them before, I can attest that they are well worth the price and come with lots of food to feed the whole table. 

The food at Luna Red isn’t their only attraction. The atmosphere it creates with its eclectic decor, outdoor cabana bar, bright umbrellas and vibrant patio furniture all add to the casual and eye-catching aesthetic. If it couldn’t get any better, Luna Red is positioned right next to San Luis Creek and historic Mission de Tolosa, which are well within sight of the patio seating. Luna Red supports live music and features local talent on the patio for guests. Its culinary excellence combined with its entertaining atmosphere creates an experience for everyone to enjoy.

Second Place: The Madonna Inn

Third Place: Mestiza Bar y Cocina (Hotel SLO)



When one thinks of the Costco food court, cheesy pizza in a sunny parking lot and no-nonsense hotdogs come to mind. It’s the blueprint for a satisfying meal on a budget. A slice of pizza and a hotdog combined is just under $4!  

It’s the perfect stop at the end of an exhausting shopping trip lifting supersized condiments. Unlike the Costco store, the food court is not exclusive to members; anyone can enjoy a delicious, cheap meal there.  

“Costco is great for feeding large groups of people. Especially for club events or Week of Welcome dinners,” graphic communications sophomore and former Week of Welcome leader Mallory Browne said. “Also, the frozen yogurt berry sundaes are unmatched.” 

Costco’s menu is so well-loved that there are articles and entire websites dedicated to the wholesaler’s food court. claims that its menu boasts “The greatest hotdog ever.” The pizza is also a customer favorite. published a ranked list of everything on the menu, putting the iconic pizza in first place. There are also vegan and vegetarian options like the newly added acai bowl. Next time you are in the mood for a quick, low-cost bite to eat, consider checking out Costco!

Second Place: Splash Café

Third Place: G. Brother’s Smokehouse



Hangovers are bound to happen for college students. When in need of a hangover pick me up, McDonald’s quick serviced food is here for you. McDonald’s offers a variety of food from all day breakfast, salads, and sandwiches, to what they are best known for: their burgers and delicious fries. McDonald’s has their own app for customers to order from as well as ‘McDelivery,’ which makes it much easier for someone who wants to go back to bed.

With a restaurant system that is famous for providing food of consistently high quality and quick service, McDonald’s is one of the most popular fast food chains in America. In 1955, Ray Kroc founded McDonald’s System Inc., a predecessor of McDonald’s Corporation. While McDonalds began as a small restaurant run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, it did not take long for McDonald’s to explode into popularity as we know it today. Just three years later in 1958, McDonald’s had sold its 100 millionth hamburger. 

McDonald’s has several locations in San Luis Obispo County: one in Pismo Beach, one in San Luis Obispo, one in Morro Bay, several in Arroyo Grande, and several in Paso Robles. For Cal Poly students, the closest spot is the one located on 275 Madonna Road.

Second Place: G. Brother’s Smokehouse

Third Place: Bon Temps Creole Café



Voted as the best burger, it’s no surprise why Eureka is able to live up to the excitement of its name. The restaurant touts the definition of “eureka,” meaning to express delight upon finding or discovering something, in their menu of high-quality, specialty burgers and locally sourced beers and spirits.  

One of their most well known burger choices, The Original, is topped with lettuce, pickles, red onion, tomato and Eureka’s own signature mayonnaise-based sauce. For the more adventurous, the menu offers the Bone Marrow Burger, served with bone marrow shiitake butter, charbroiled onion, roasted Roma tomato and finished with horseradish aioli. Another bold choice is the Bison Burger, topped with bacon-infused jalapeño jam, charbroiled tri-color peppers, grilled red onion and smoked mozzarella. If burgers aren’t your craving, Eureka also offers unique sandwiches, salad entrées and a weekend brunch menu.

Eureka’s cozy, industrial atmosphere welcomes you to their location in downtown San Luis Obispo. Dedicating their space to innovation and creation, the establishment embraces the college community and goes to a multitude of efforts to support the local community. To view Eureka’s full menu and learn more, please visit their website at

Second Place: The Habit

Third Place: Five Guys


Firestone Grill

When you walk by Firestone Grill during a stroll downtown, you’re instantly intrigued by the bustling activity of happy customers enjoying plates of barbeque under shady trees. Then the smoky barbeque smell hits your nose and draws you in to grab a bite. Waiting for you are smiling staff, quick service, and heaping baskets of mouthwatering fries.

Firestone Grill has been voted best fries by Cal Poly Students for multiple years, and for good reason. The massive baskets of thin cut crispy fries are priced low at $2.99 but carry big flavor that will keep you coming back for more. Their fame is proven by the line that usually snakes out the door. However, there’s much more to Firestone Grill that makes it a place worth coming back to.

Established in 1995, Firestone Grill has become a staple of the downtown dining scene and a tasty part of San Luis Obispo’s culture. The family owned establishment is filled with local sports memorabilia, a sense of belonging, and great food. The laid-back atmosphere with endless seating welcomes anyone from college students to SLOcal families to come for a meal. Hal Billingsley, the restaurant owner, attended Cal Poly himself 20 years ago. No doubt, his families ties to the community can be felt in the quality service and award-winning food that is consistently delivered at Firestone Grill. After being voted best fries, barbeque, and even salads for multiple years, this downtown gem is worth a visit. Only a quick bus ride away from Cal Poly, Firestone Grill is a must try!

Second Place: Eureka!

Third Place: Five Guys


Taco Bell

Taco Bell’s Cheesy Gordita Crunch and Crunchwrap Supreme has helped satisfy students’ late-night cravings time and time again. This year, students voted for Taco Bell as the best late-night food. Taco Bell provides excellent Mexican-inspired choices for you and your friends to enjoy, from traditional tacos, burritos and quesadillas to specialty items like the Doritos Locos Tacos and Spicy Tostada. They also have a value menu where everything is only $1. 

“Their menu options are so affordable, which is really important as a college student,” senior RPTA major Lily Shindle said. “I usually order it at night after a long, busy day of studying because sometimes I run out of time to cook.”

Recently, Taco Bell added a new at-home taco bar that feeds any party of six for only $25, allowing you to create your own Taco Bell experience in the safety of your home.  

“Our food has always been a catalyst of bringing people together, and we’re finding new ways to do this from a safe distance until we can all be together again,” the senior vice president of brand marketing and consumer insights said. 

 If you’re not into meat, Taco Bell offers an entire vegetarian menu, just for you. Certified by the American Vegetarian Association, the menu includes Cheesy roll-ups, Veggie Bowls and a selection of vegetarian burritos and sides. Make sure to pair your food with a refreshing drink. The infamous Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze is made with natural fruit flavors and Starburst. It’s the perfect way to end your day.

The menu options at Taco Bell are endless. You can dine in or order online to skip the line from 9:30 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. Stop by 397 Santa Rosa Street, no matter how late it is.

Second Place: Jack in the Box

Third Place: Insomnia Cookies



There aren’t many ways to make a pizza unique, but Woodstock’s Pizza has been able to successfully do that with their renowned sauce stuffed baked crust. Since opening in 1980, their pizza has stayed consistent in quality and taste. With carefully hand- tossed dough topped with flavorful marinara sauce, Woodstock’s leaves customers looking forward to their next time back.

Throughout the years, they have collected numerous awards including being named #1 Independent Pizzeria in the Nation by Pizza Today. It is no surprise that Cal Poly students have personally ranked them as their number one for pizza. After a long night of studying or going out, Cal Poly students can conveniently ride the bus to satisfy that late night pizza craving. They are located in downtown San Luis Obispo, where Higuera and Osos St intersect.

Not only does Woodstock’s pride themselves in the quality of their pizza, but they aim to foster an enjoyable and memorable experience for all customers. Their large venue is split into two rooms, where the back room is decorated to mimic a typical college party environment. This allows them to hold over 300 guests and host weekly events such as Tuesday pint nights- where all pints are half-priced, and Wednesday night trivia- where teams of up to 6 have a chance to win a multitude of prizes. 

You’ve probably seen a flyer promoting a fundraiser at Woodstock’s, or students handing out free slices of pizza in the UU. Giving back to the community is one of Woodstock’s mission values, and they do this through working with local students, nonprofits, and more. For example, earlier this year, Woodstock’s hosted a fundraising event where a portion of their proceeds would go towards the Kristin Smart Scholarship. These fundraisers help raise awareness and money for important causes, while providing high quality pizza and allows them to truly give their customers the ultimate pizza experience.

Next time you’re craving a slice of pizza, don’t hesitate to order online at:

Second Place: Blaze Pizza

Third Place: Domino’s Pizza



No matter what time of day it is you can always expect a crowd of students in front of Chick-fil-A. Located in The Avenue in the University Union, it serves as a go-to for students and faculty alike. Even though the Chick-fil-A on campus is an express restaurant, it still provides its famous chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and waffle fries for those on the go, and also allows guests to make special orders of various chicken items on its menu. 

Even though Chick-fil-A has a pretty extensive breakfast menu, its busiest time is early to mid-afternoon. The convenience of always having food ready is perfect for a typical college student. Chick-fil-A has remained a constant for students in this pandemic, as it is one of the only places on campus still serving food. “It is a fresh place to eat on campus, the chicken is prepped and cooked daily, and the sandwiches are made on the spot because the lines are always so long. The food is simple, great, and fast,” said Brianna Archibeque Perez, a fourth year business major and former Chick-fil-A employee.

Chick-fil-A’s spring quarter hours are currently 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed every Sunday. Though there is no indoor seating in The Avenue at this time, you can order your favorite foods from Chick-fil-A through GrubHub. 


Second Place: Starbucks

Third Place: Shake Smart



McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream has been serving up frozen treats to San Luis Obispo residents since December 2018. However, the company started almost 70 years ago in Santa Barbara by husband and wife Gorden “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell. The company is now in its third generation of ownership.

The ice cream shop’s sweet treats make them a staple not only in San Luis Obispo, but in Los Angeles and of course, Santa Barbara where the company started.

The ice cream company focuses on using local, sustainable and organic ingredients and prides itself on not using any stabilizers, fillers or preservatives.

Unlike traditional ice cream, their constant churning process limits the amount of air whipped into the ice cream with an industry low of 10% air, while other artisan ice creams contain more than 40%.

Also, McConnell’s ice cream base contains an industry high of more than 18% milkfat, giving it a richer and creamier taste.

Located at 868 Monterey St., their classic flavors like Mint Chip or fruity flavors like Eureka Lemon and Marionberries can curb any sweet tooth. They even have dairy free options, like their Mango Sorbet or Dairy Free Toasted Coconut Almond Chip.

McConnell’s is offering curbside pickup at their shop located at 868 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo. If you’re craving something cool for the summer but you’re not in SLO, you can get a pint shipped right to your door!

Second Place: Doc Burnstein’s

Third Place: Nite Creamery


Insomnia Cookies

Late-night cookie cravings? Insomnia Cookies has you covered. 

Insomnia Cookies offers anything, from giant cookie cakes, triple chocolate chunk cookies, simple sugar cookies, ice cream sandwiches and even cold milk. 

Open for delivery daily until 3 a.m., Insomnia Cookies is the answer to all of your snacky prayers. They offer event catering services with boxes of up to a hundred cookies and also ship their “Cookie Magic” all across the country via FedEx. 

The brand was founded in 2003 by Seth Berkowitz in his dorm room at University of Pennsylvania. The first brick and mortar shop opened in Syracuse, NY in 2006. Since then, Insomnia Cookies has grown to over 100 locations. The shop in San Luis Obispo opened in early 2019. 

True to its college roots, Insomnia Cookies maintains late hours to fit the odd appetites of a student community. 

And as if that wasn’t enough, they also offer a Cookie Dough loyalty program. For every dollar you spend, you receive a point (bonus points if you spend more than $20 in one order). 100 points gets you $10 to spend at Insomnia Cookies.

The shop is located at 22 Chorro St. Easy delivery can be accessed via their website

Second Place: Cowboy Cookies

Third Place: Batch Old Fashioned Ice Cream



Open for 24 hours each day, the San Luis Obispo Donut Company, also known as SloDoCo, offers over 100 different types of donuts daily, including vegan and gluten free options. In addition to unique offerings like their marble glaze donuts, you can always count on seeing classics like old-fashioned donuts, raised and filled donuts, bars, twists, pillows and bear claws on the menu. Every month their bakers invent new donut creations to add variety and keep things interesting. 

Now if this isn’t enough, the local establishment also gives their patrons the opportunity to make their own donut dreams a reality by allowing them to make custom orders online and even to make the donuts themselves at a design bar in store. 

SloDoCo is not your typical donut shop. Aside from their myriad of donut offerings, they make the perfect study spot and … concert venue? Yep, concert venue. Not only do they cater to every donut craving and all-nighter college students need to pull, but they also book musicians to perform for their customers, once again setting themself apart from any other donut shop in SLO. 

SloDoCo has two locations — one in San Luis Obispo on Foothill boulevard and one in Atascadero on El Camino Real — and can be contacted for donut orders, musical bookings, and other inquiries through their website at 

Second Place: Sunshine Donuts

Third Place: Surfside Donuts


Boba Stop

Stop for Boba at the Boba Stop! Only a few minutes from Cal Poly, The Boba Stop is a convenient and easy place to go for a late night snack or to help fulfill your boba craving. Not only do they offer a large variety of boba drinks, including milk tea, tea, snow bubble, and slushies, they also serve popcorn chicken and delicious crepes, perfect to pair with your drink.

The Boba Stop offers hot, cold, blended, and fruity options with many different flavors to choose from. One of their most popular flavors is Strawberry Snow Bubble, which is both sweet and refreshing. Some of the other local favorites are the Thai Milk Tea and the Taro Boba.

In addition to their great selection of items they have on the menu, the Boba Stop has amazing service and really kind employees. Second Year Cal Poly student Makayla Diaz, a frequent customer, loves how the shops closes late, plays movies, and offers so many different options to choose from. Whenever she goes to The Boba Stop, she always gets her go-to drink: the Honey Milk Tea Boba.

Currently the Boba Stop has one location, located at 578 California Boulevard. During COVID-19, the Boba Stop’s temporary hours are 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, seven days a week. 

Second Place: Milk In It

Third Place: Sweetie Cup


The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood Acai and Juice Bar is a fresh and local San Luis Obispo cafe that offers a versatile selection of delicious plant-based foods and drinks. They are the most acclaimed for their acai bowls. Their convenient and accessible location less than a mile from campus makes the Neighborhood a very popular spot with Cal Poly students. 

At the Neighborhood, you can find a plethora of locally-sourced juices and smoothies in addition to their acai bowls. A local favorite has proven to be the “SLO Bowl” which is a blend of acai, strawberry, blueberry, and apple, topped with hemp granola, blueberries, banana, and strawberry. “I love the Neighborhood’s acai bowls because they have the perfect amount of sweetness and when I eat them I can feel healthy while also enjoying delicious flavors,” business administration sophomore Emily Sarber said.

This healthy and delicious cafe is the product of two Cal Poly alumni’s desire to stay involved in San Luis Obispo after graduating and give something of great value back to the community. Chris Herrera and Doug Wells discovered the Acai Bowl on a trip they took to San Diego and wanted nothing more than to share their own version of the delicious superfood with their college town. Their name, “The Neighborhood,” reflects their passion for using local ingredients, promoting local art, and using environmentally friendly products to maintain their beautiful San Luis Obispo community.

You can visit the Neighborhood in two locations; 973 E. Foothill Blvd., Suite 107, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, and 811 13th St., Paso Robles, CA 93446. For questions about any of their products, you can contact them: Email: Phone:  805-439-4033 (SLO), 805-369-2119 (PASO).  They are open for modified hours at both shops due to COVID-19, but they will return to full operating hours as soon as circumstances allow.

Second Place: Kravabowl

Third Place: The Acai Project



Mother’s Tavern

On a typical Thursday night, it is far more common to find Cal Poly students flooding the downtown scene, instead of the Robert E. Kennedy Library. One bar in particular that receives a great amount of attention is Mother’s Tavern, also known as “Mo-Tav.” A favorite amongst the San Luis Obispo community, the atmosphere is electric, and you can feel the energy upon minutes of entering.

At 725 Higuera St., Mother’s doubles as a restaurant and sportsbar. With an array of options, Mother’s prides themselves on their gourmet burgers, craft brews and spectacular cocktails. Whether it’s catching up with friends, watching a game on TV or a newly 21 year old drinking their first “AMF,” you will be easily entertained here. They provide a great happy hour from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, consisting of nachos, sliders, quesadillas, beer battered fries and so much more. The two-story layout allows for a bar on both downstairs and upstairs levels, with people contiously switching off between floors, mingling and dancing. 

Some of Mother’s most popular events are: bottomless mimosas (Sunday), karaoke (Sunday/Monday), pint night (Tuesdays), wino Wednesdays ($4 wine glasses), thirsty thursdays ($3 off all drinks),  and live music/dj sets throughout the weekend. With these events, you are surrounded by good company and guaranteed to never go thirsty. A local favorite that has been around since 1994, you will always have a great time at Mother’s!

Second Place: Barrelhouse Brewing Co.

Third Place: Creeky Tiki


SLO Brew Rock

SLO Brew Rock just celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and is continuing to show why it is the best brewery in SLO. SLO Brew has two locations. One in the heart of downtown on Higuera St. named The Carissa which was revamped in 2019. The other is SLO Brew Rock which is located near the airport on Aerovista Ln. which opened its doors in 2017. 

SLO Brew Rock features a 30-barrel brewhouse, canning line, and taproom restaurant. The famous SLO Brew Rock offers a trendy, relaxing ambiance for summer days or an exhilarating ambiance for the nighttime concerts. While trying one of their famous beers Mustang IPA, you can play a game of yard pong right in the courtyard. If you are feeling bloated from the amazing BBQ food or tacos and can’t take on another beer then you’re in luck because Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills opened last year.

“Whether it’s for a lunch or concert, SLO Brew Rock never fails me with good time,” said industrial engineer senior Tim Meagher, “The beer is off-the charts, and the Sunday brunches are unparalleled.”

One thing about SLO Brew Rock that can’t be compared with other breweries is the customer loyalty. Even during COVID-19, customers still keep SLO Brew Rock on their toes by ordering take-out and a case of beer.

Second Place: Barrelhouse Brewing Co.

Third Place: Libertine Brewing Company


Scout Coffee

Scout Coffee is a local, family-owned coffee company started by Jon and Sara Peterson in 2014. After planning for over 10 years, their dreams came true when they opened the first Scout Coffee in Downtown San Luis Obispo on Garden Street. Two years later they expanded their business with a second Scout location closer to Cal Poly on Foothill Boulevard.

In between the openings of the two Scout locations, the Petersons started their own roasting company, HoneyCo Coffee Roasters. HoneyCo pays well above Fair Trade prices to ensure Scout brews the best quality coffee for their customers. HoneyCo offers Scout a wide range of quality roasts and styles for every coffee drinker by sourcing from the top 10 percent of Arabica coffee beans. Scout Coffee prides themselves in roasting coffee that’s quality is considered to be in the top one percent of the world. 

Not only does Scout roast high-quality coffee, they also make all of their syrups and almond milk in house which contributes to their belief in serving the finest coffee. Scout’s family-oriented company attracts people from all over the Central Coast to visit and have a taste of their top-notch coffee.

To keep up with updates on Scout Coffee, be sure to visit their website or follow them on instagram @scoutcoffee. 

Second Place: Linnaea’s Cafe

Third Place: Big Sky Cafe


Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards

If sipping wine, listening to the sounds of a babbling creek, and breathing in the fresh ocean and mountain air sounds like your perfect day, then Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards is the winery for you. Their award-winning wines highlight fruit-forward notes, full mouthfeel, and a finish that leaves you wanting more. If wine is not your beverage of choice, don’t worry! Kelsey Wines also makes hard cider which is refreshingly tart with a crisp apple finish. 

The winery is nestled among apple orchards which they put to use to make their 2 Fathoms cider as well as their unique apple wines. Their 2019 Red Delicious is a blend of apple juice, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir which results in a wine similar to their Rosé with a hint more sweetness. Their 2018 Golden Delicious consists of apple juice and chardonnay creating a slightly sweeter and crispier version of their Estate Chardonnay. 

 Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards was founded back in 1999 by Dick and Dolores Kelsey as a retirement project. It is now a successful family-owned and operated business with three generations of Kelseys currently working at the winery. Anyone who visits the winery can feel that the values of family, fellowship,  genuine human connection, and of course the wine are of the utmost importance to the Kelseys. 

More than opening their tasting room for you to come and enjoy wines, Kelsey Wines hosts many events for friends and family to attend. One of which is their Summer Concert Series which takes place on Sundays during the summer months. They ask you to join them for an afternoon of live music, wine, and some Central Coast sunshine in the beautiful canyon. Visit them at their tasting room located at 1947 See Canyon Road, San Luis Obispo, any day of the week from 12-5 p.m.. 

Second Place: Epoch Estate Wines

Third Place: Stephen Ross Wines


Milestone Tavern

Milestone Tavern swept the competition as the Best Sports Bar in San Luis Obispo this year.

Managing partner Earl Olson believes they won this title because they play “all of the sports games.”

This is due to the fact that they have two cable packages, including the Major League Baseball (MLB) as well as a weekly Sunday Football brunch that Milestone Tavern hosts weekly.

As well as a variety of games to watch, Olson said they have a menu that is very conducive to a sports bar environment and the bacon-wrapped date pizza is their big seller.

In honor of Cal Poly, Milestone Tavern has a “Mustang Burger” with lettuce, tomato, onion, and “secret sauce” on a brioche bun.

For those 21 and older, they also have the largest selection of draft beer in SLO County, according to their website, with over 60 beers available on tap as well as a selection of cocktails.

As of now, they are closed due to regulations surrounding COVID-19, but Olson said they are waiting for the shelter in place order to be lifted and he hopes to open back up for the Fall quarter.

Olson said they are lucky because Milestone Tavern is big enough to function at not full capacity if need be.

“We can’t wait to get back open and functioning as the number one sports bar in Cal Poly’s heart,” Olson said.

Second Place: Blast 825 Taproom

Third Place: Charlie’s Place



Avila Beach Resort

Avila Beach Resort opened its beautiful 18-hole golf course in 1969. Designed by Olin Dutra and Desmond Muirhead, the course is located in the town of Avila, right off Highway 101 and is a short 15 minutes from Cal Poly’s campus. It sits right near the water just south of San Luis Obispo and just north of Pismo beach. 

The Avila Beach Golf Resort offers a par-72 championship course. The first nine holes offer smooth greens and sit in hilly but beautiful oak-lined valleys. The back nine offers more of a challenge. Some holes are split by water and the greens are known to test your skills. All golfers, regardless of skill level, can have the opportunity to test their abilities and take in beautiful scenery while playing at this resort. 

Beyond just golf, the Avila Beach Golf Resort hosts events ranging from weddings to concerts. Guests can enjoy stunning ocean views while dining at Mulligan’s Bar & Grill or roasting marshmallows at the fire pits. Whether it is for golf or a getaway trip, Avila Beach Golf Resort has something to offer to everyone. 

Amidst COVID-19, Avila Beach Golf Resort is still open for golfers to enjoy the game. The restaurants, lounging areas and pro-shop are temporarily closed due to the Shelter-in-Place Order. Golfers who are interested in playing at the scenic and welcoming Avila Beach Golf Resort can find more information on the resort and measures being taken in response to COVID-19 on their website:  

Second Place: Dairy Creek

Third Place: Morro Bay


Body Pump

For the second year in a row, BodyPump has been recognized by students as Cal Poly’s favorite recreation center fitness class!

BodyPump is a class the recreation center offers as part of the strength and tone series to challenge students looking for a rigorous and upbeat exercise routine. Participants use barbells and combinations of squats, presses, lifts, and curls to challenge major muscle groups throughout the entire body for a high intensity workout. 

“It’s challenging but a good full body workout and I always leave feeling good,” said philosophy and enthnic studies double major Zoe Heil. 

Students interested in the class should arrive a few minutes early for equipment set-up and should wear closed-toed-shoes and comfortable clothing. 

Under traditional circumstances, reservations for group fitness classes are offered up to 24 hours before the start of each class. If classes fill, an option to be added to the waitlist is available. 

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the Cal Poly Recreation Center is closed to students and has been transformed into a coronavirus care site. BodyPump and other group fitness classes are not being held in person, but will be back in session and available as soon as it is safe. 

Second Place: Zumba

Third Place: PlyoJam


Moondoggies Beach Club

Moondoggies Beach Club is a surf and skate shop that offers high-quality surfboards, skateboards, and accompanying gear. Moondoggies has two retail locations, one in Pismo Beach and one in downtown San Luis Obispo on the corner of Chorro and Monterey Streets. They also provide excellent clothing options featuring name brands such as Volcom, Vans, Billabong, RVCA, Quiksilver, and more. 

MBC employees are incredibly friendly and open to any questions customers may have regarding the skate/surf communities. You can also rent surfboards and wetsuits at reasonable prices, book a private lesson with one of their experts, or sign up for the Moondoggies Surf Camp! Customers can also buy their products from any location as they offer online merchandise that can be shipped to your door. Cal Poly students and SLO locals can often be seen wearing Moondoggies sweatshirts and other merchandise.

Their outstanding service and products have been around since 1986, and their relaxed and welcoming reputation remains strong!

To visit their store and check out their products, stop by 837 Monterey St. in downtown San Luis Obispo or 781 Dolliver St. in Pismo Beach. For more information about Moondoggies, head to their website at, or follow their Instagram @moondoggiesbeachclub. 

Second Place: LuLu Luxe

Third Place: Blackwater Clothing


Fred and Betty’s

Founded in 2013, Fred and Betty’s Thrift Store has been a top destination for San Luis Obispo residents to fulfill all their thrifting needs. Open Monday’s through Saturday’s from 10 am to 5 pm, this shop has offered all sorts of nicknacks for residents. 

Hidden on Higuera st., Fred and Betty’s Thrift Store has offered customers deals almost every week this year. From the seniors to the students in town, those who qualify find it hard to not come in. And with their dedication to helping the community, it’s easy to understand why. 

“Fred and Betty’s has the cutest displays and a wide range of selection. I like that they give back to local education. Plus it’s clean and everyone working there is very helpful,” says former Cal Poly student, Janie Mendosa

Fred and Betty’s Thrift Store is a non-profit shop that donates all proceeds to the SLO Classical Academy. The organization is a school aimed to foster a love of education in students, which is a passion of owners, Fred and Betty. 

They have kept their doors open by accepting donations of clothing, furniture, and appliances from the community. With Cal Poly close by, it hasn’t been too hard to find volunteers to help run the store. 

Fred and Betty’s Thrift Store stared with a couple wanting to help the community they lived in. They decided to turn their empty land into a thrift store that has now won 3 Poly Picks Awards for Best Thrift Store. Fred and Betty’s Thrift store will continue to serve the community as long as they can. 

As of March 18th, the store has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is no known reopening day.  

Second Place: Goodwill Central Coast

Third Place: Mission Thrift


Traditional Tattoo

Traditional Tattoo, located on Higuera Street, just outside of Downtown San Luis Obispo has been providing the community with quality tattoos and piercings for the past 20 years. Their services are available by walk in or appointment and they focus on providing customers with expert attention and a comfortable experience.  

“Every tattoo created by our artists is personal and customized. We offer a clean, comfortable environment so that you have a memorable experience, every time,” the Traditional Tattoo website reads. 

In addition to having a minimum of 10 year of experience, all Traditional Tattoo artists and piercers are professionally licenced and certified. Cameron Wyman, a second year Animal Science major is one of the many Cal Poly students who has trusted Traditional Tattoo for their piercing experience. 

“I got my septum pierced there in October and my piercer explained the process and made sure I felt comfortable the whole time,” Wyman said. 

Tattoo pricing starts at a base cost of $80 and according to the Traditional Tattoo website, price estimates for tattoos can be done over email, text, or in person at their Higuera location. Additional information about piercing and tattoo pricing, as well as aftercare recommendations can be found on their website,

Second Place: San Luis Tattoo Company

Third Place: Apothecary Tattoo


Avila Beach Resort

Avila Beach Concerts at the Cove was voted the best spot for outdoor concerts in San Luis Obispo.  It is located at the Avila Beach Golf Resort and has been a destination for big concerts for 20 years.  The resort hosts yearly concerts that span May-October with all types of music including, rock and roll to rap to electronic.

  The venue is large enough for hundreds of people and has a stunning view of the ocean and beach.  The quality of the music is pristine and the stage has sound equipment set up to reach a large audience with speakers and technology that is made for the outdoors.  There are many vendors at the concert with food and drinks for many tastes.  Cal Poly sophomore Casey Lundberg told of her experience at the Cove this October when she watched one of her favorite artists, Gryffin perform.  

“It was actually amazing, the outdoor environment totally added to the music and amplified the sounds,” Lundberg said. 

In terms of how this venue is handling the current times with COVID-19, there are no concerts here or to be scheduled here anytime soon.  Obviously a concert venue holds a lot of people and with the social distancing orders it probably can’t open for a while.  The regular golf course is still open for business, but on their website Avila explained that they are taking extreme measures in safety and encouraging COVID-19 procedures.  This concert venue is a beloved place where many have shared fond memories and enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere.

Second Place: Fremont Theater

Third Place: SLO Brew Rock


Cider Bar

Cider Bar is a unique bar and restaurant created by Kevin McLaughlin and Roy Bruder in May 2018. Located in Downtown SLO, Kevin and Roy came up with the idea sitting in a local bar, wondering why it was so hard to find Belgian and German beers in a craft-beer loving town like San Luis Obispo. 

Wanting to use all the knowledge he had from wine-making in Paso Robles, McLaughlin became the head wine and cider maker. 

After traveling and tasting all the world had to offer, they curated their ideal selection for their business: 25 taps, 100 types of wine, and 160 beers and ciders. McLaughlin stated, “80 percent of what we have chosen is either weird or special or something we have always had our eyes on.” Their cider is created using kiwis, white peaches, asian pears, cherries, and pluots along with the typical apple. This creates a dry cider with more complex flavors, similar to the way wine is made.

These unique ciders and beer are available on tap by the glass or in flights (4 smaller pours rather than a glass), as well as hundreds of international bottles for you to try. Here you can also find an array of tapas and plates to share to go along with your drinks. Crostini, charcuterie (a cheese and fruit board), skewers with meat and cheese, and tarte flambée (toasted flatbread with different toppings) include some of the options. 

Cider Bar is located at 570 Higuera Street, Suite 101 in The Creamery in downtown SLO, and is open Tuesday through Friday 4 p.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 1 p.m.- 12 a.m., Sunday 1-10 p.m., and Monday 4-10 p.m. 

Second Place: Central Coast Kayaks

Third Place: Liquid Gravity Brewing Co.


Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort

Sycamore Minerals Spring Resort and Spa is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.  

Tucked away in the hills of Avila Beach, Sycamore offers a number of spa facilities, as well as a restaurant and hotel. 

There are 23 private hillside hot tubs and an oasis waterfall lagoon that can accommodate up to 20 people. The spa waters, which are filtered through 100 acres of underground springs, contain sulfates and minerals that can help with circulation and stress reduction. If that’s not enough, guests can also achieve zen through the spa’s numerous body treatment programs that offer seven different facials and massages. 

Sycamore’s hotel offers luxurious guest rooms and suites and a fresh garden cuisine at The Gardens of Avila Restaurant. From happy hour to weekend brunch, The Gardens provides a relaxing and intimate environment for dining. Just make sure you book a reservation — this popular spot often becomes full. 

The resort is located at 1215 Avila Beach Dr. and is open 24 hours a day, Monday through Sunday.

Second Place: Madonna Inn

Third Place: Fremont Theater



Spark Yoga

Located on Foothill Boulevard is San Luis Obispo’s best yoga studio: Spark Yoga. Spark Yoga offers yoga, core and cardio, barre, and Pilates classes in heated rooms for all levels.

Spark Yoga is founded on the principles of integrity, curiosity and pure joy. Spark builds an environment free of judgement and negativity allowing their clients to let go of self-doubt. Spark supports each individual’s journey throughout their growth process.  

Many of Spark’s clients include Cal Poly students and other yoga-lovers in the San Luis Obispo area. One client says, “Coming into Spark feels like receiving a big hug from the Universe”. Spark Yoga has been voted the best yoga studio because of its welcoming and inclusive environment. The instructors are friendly and the environment is positive, uplifting and peaceful.

Many classes incorporate props such as weights, straps, blocks and mats and clients come out of the classes feeling stronger both mentally and physically. Another client says that Spark has allowed her to push herself “to exceed mental barriers to strengthen the body, mind and self-awareness.”

Spark Yoga was founded in 2013 by two Central Coast natives, Steph and Nick Young. After graduating from Templeton High School, the two moved to Long Beach, CA. While Nick was building his information technology career, Steph was in nursing school and decided to take a yoga class one day. She developed a newfound love for yoga and the way it transformed her body and her mind. She became a certified yoga instructor and she and Nick moved back to the Central Coast, where they decided to open a hot yoga studio.

Spark Yoga offers a complimentary first class! To sign up for a class, head over to 977 E Foothill Blvd, Suite 111. For more information about Spark Yoga, check out their website at

Second Place: Cal Poly Rec Center

Third Place: The Yoga Standard


Kreuzberg Coffee Company

Once again, Kreuzberg has been selected as the best off-campus study spot for Cal Poly students. Located at 685 Higuera St in historic downtown San Luis Obispo, Kreuzberg offers caffeinated beverages, a lunch menu, and a relaxing ambiance perfect for studying with friends.

Step inside and you will be transported to a rustic, charming cafe scene complete with edgy wall art, overgrown plants, and comfy study nooks. Inspired by the vibrant cafe culture of Berlin, founder James Whitaker sought to combine this culture with the easygoing atmosphere of San Luis Obispo by opeing Kreuzberg in 2010.

“I love going to Kreuzberg to study,” biological sciences sophomore Nicole Tribelhorn said. “It just has a relaxing hipster vibe and always smells like coffee.”

Whether you’re in need of a caffeine boost to get you through your finals week studies, or simply seek to unwind with friends in a lowkey setting, Kreuzberg provides a fun and iconic space to bring people together.

While we are all sheltering in place, you can still enjoy Kreuzberg’s coffee at home by ordering their signature coffee beans online for 25% off until June 30th. You can pick up your order at Kreuzberg or get it delivered with free shipping for San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach.

Second Place: Nautical Bean

Third Place: SloDoCo


Mustang Village

Located less than a 10 minute walk to both Cal Poly’s campus and to grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants, Mustang Village is a convenient home to many students.

There are 17 different, fully-furnished floor plans, from spacious studios to four-bedroom apartments, with the choice of shared or individual rooms. Anyone can find a comfortable home in Mustang Village. 

Leases are signed individually, and Mustang Village has made it easy by giving the option of completing the leasing process online. 

If you are looking for people to live with, a roommate matching service is available. Pets are also welcome!

Within the complex there are two heated pools, a fitness center, a private park and multiple study lounges. A 24-hour maintenance team and evening security patrol are on site to respond quickly to any concerns. 

In a review on the website, a resident said, “Mustang Village provides a great environment and an ample amount of amenities! Very close to campus and convenient. I highly recommend living here.”

The Mustang Village staff keeps residents connected to the community with information about events at Cal Poly, Cuesta and around San Luis Obispo. Activities for residents, such as game nights and resume building workshops, are held to support students and help residents get to know one another. 

To apply for an apartment, or for more information, visit the Mustang Village website at, and follow @mustangvillage on Instagram.

Second Place: Valencia Apartments

Third Place: de Tolosa Ranch Apartments


Bluebird Salon

Bluebird Salon is a fashion-forward hair and makeup studio located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. The salon offers a variety of treatments, including haircuts, coloring, skin care, waxing, lash extensions and bridal services. With its aesthetically pleasing interior and personable stylists you’re made to feel like the center of attention during each visit. 

For the last two years, Bluebird Salon has been voted best salon in San Luis Obispo county by the New Times along with many other awards in past years. With 15 hair and makeup artists on staff, there’s bound to be a stylist to create a look you’ll love at a wide range of price points.

Liberal studies sophomore, Julia Pennington, recalls her amazing experience at Bluebird Salon.

“I was having a real treat myself moment and couldn’t believe the level of quality service I got from Bluebird,” said Pennington. “From the complimentary drinks to the perfect re-creation of my dream haircut the whole experience was total luxury.”

Bluebird Salon is open Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. To schedule your next appointment, call (805) 593-0234 or go online to

Second Place: Twig and Arrow Salon

Third Place: Tigerlily Salon and Spa


University Barber Shop

University Barber Shop has been open and serving San Luis Obispo locals for 52 years. Located on 888 Foothill Blvd, this shop can be spotted by the bright orange bench sitting right outside the building. With services for men, women and children, anyone is welcome to come to this downtown spot. 

The shop has five barbers on staff and is open Tuesday through Friday every week. Striking up a conversation with the barber will be easy as the shop prides themselves on their exceptional customer service skills. They are also known for being family-friendly and will even give you a “My First Haircut” certificate to remember your child’s first haircut there. 

University Barber Shop’s goal is to help everyone achieve that “just right appearance” for any occasion they might have, according to their website. They use only the best quality tools and supplies, while also offering affordable prices. They take walk-ins, so feel free to stop by between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. After getting your haircut, you can walk to the numerous restaurants neighboring the shop for some pizza, coffee, or Sprout’s for a healthy snack. 

With affordable prices, a great location, and welcoming staff, University Barber Shop is a favorite among Cal Poly students. If you haven’t already, make sure to check them out next time you need a new cut.

Second Place: Mike’s Barber Shop

Third Place: The Ritual Barber Shop


Certified Auto Repair

What sets Certified Auto Repair apart from its competitors is their dedication to their customers. Serving the San Luis Obispo community for 30 years now, they offer quality auto repairs and vehicle maintenance, all while ensuring top notch safety and reliability for their customers. As a company that truly prioritizes their customers, Certified Auto Repair is known for providing them with cost-effective solutions when working on their cars and for keeping the cars in the best condition possible to avoid any further major auto repairs. This is something that sets them apart from any other overpriced dealership in town!

Certified Auto Repair outdoes its competitors by  using high quality automotive diagnostic equipment and hiring some of the best auto repair technicians available who are trained and qualified to service import and domestic vehicles, including hybrid and electric vehicles. These qualities allow Certified Auto Repair to offer the best service to their clients. 

They were voted best auto repair shop by Cal Poly last year and have won yet again for their dedication to students and out-of-town parents. They are conveniently located at 393 Marsh Street downtown and all of their information — from services to specials — can easily be found at their website

Second Place: Villa Automotive


Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s, nicknamed “TJ’s”, is a staple for college students. They have everything you might need from fresh meats and organic produce to easy-to-make frozen meals to a wide selection of beer and wine.

Courtney Basden, a TJ’s crew member, says that their produce and frozen items are more affordable compared to other stores in SLO like Vons, with quality still remaining high. This is what makes students love TJ’s so much, according to Basden, “as well as the free samples of course,” she says.

Basden and her fellow crew members love where they work. They whimsically think of themselves as “traders on the culinary seas” and make it their top priority to be kind and helpful to customers.  You can feel the uplifting atmosphere as soon as you walk through the door. There are hawaiian-shirt-wearing representatives in almost every aisle waiting to help you with a smile on their face. 

At TJ’s, grocery shopping is a delightful activity rather than a chore. Stop by anytime from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 3977 South Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo.

Second Place: California Fresh Market

Third Place: Sprout’s


Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort

Sycamore Minerals Spring Resort and Spa is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.  

Tucked away in the hills of Avila Beach, Sycamore offers a number of spa facilities, as well as a restaurant and hotel. 

There are 23 private hillside hot tubs and an oasis waterfall lagoon that can accommodate up to 20 people. The spa waters, which are filtered through 100 acres of underground springs, contain sulfates and minerals that can help with circulation and stress reduction. If that’s not enough, guests can also achieve zen through the spa’s numerous body treatment programs that offer seven different facials and massages. 

Sycamore’s hotel offers luxurious guest rooms and suites and a fresh garden cuisine at The Gardens of Avila Restaurant. From happy hour to weekend brunch, The Gardens provides a relaxing and intimate environment for dining. Just make sure you book a reservation — this popular spot often becomes full. 

The resort is located at 1215 Avila Beach Dr. and is open 24 hours a day, Monday through Sunday.

Second Place: Madonna Inn

Third Place: SLOCO Massage and Wellness Spa


@ Nails

@ Nails was voted the number one nail salon in San Luis Obispo because of the relaxing experience guaranteed to each customer that steps foot inside. This locally owned business offers a wide array of amenities that pamper and soothe the soul including various mani and pedi treatments, reflexology, lotion massages, gel scrub exfoliates, and Sola Acrylic nail polish services. All of these are available in a comforting and clean environment where guests can unwind and enjoy their services. They also take walk-ins and provide an inclusive space with gender-neutral bathrooms and wheelchair accessibility. With these services and provisions, it’s no wonder every client walks away from @ Nails feeling properly taken care of. 

They have two locations in San Luis Obispo: one on Foothill Boulevard in the University Store shopping center and one on Froom Ranch Way in the Irish Hills Plaza. They are open from 9:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., so they may fit into everyone’s busy schedules. They can be contacted by phone at (805) 543-2268 or through their website at, where customers can schedule and manage appointments, access the salon’s social media, and purchase gift cards. 

Second Place: The Polishery

Third Place: T Nails