As fun as sit-down restaurants are, nothing beats a simple meal at a local café. One of those gems that I had the pleasure of visiting was Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe, just one of many small, organic restaurants in town that aim to serve healthy, local and organic coffee shop goods to the railroad district and greater San Luis Obispo area.
Located at 1804 Osos St., Sally Loo’s is near a railroad station and across the street from Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. As a Bay Area native, it looked familiar to the quirky San Francisco sidewalk cafés that I had come to know so well. With eccentric touches of color on its exterior, piles of books and mismatched furniture, this coffee shop was the perfect place to spend a relaxing Friday afternoon.
For any college student, proximity and quality are top priorities when considering where to eat. At Sally Loo’s, both of those requirements are fulfilled effortlessly because of its close location to the Downtown Transit Center and the hard work put into each dish. With just a five-minute walk from the bus stop on Osos Street, this restaurant is easily accessible for those who don’t mind the distance and are in the mood for satisfying-yet-affordable comfort food.
Because they serve so many different items, it was hard to pick just one thing to eat. It would take me weeks to attempt to dine through the entire menu, so I knew my choices had to count. I ended up ordering a small iced caramel latte and a sandwich humorously nicknamed the “killer grilled cheese,” with the total coming out to just a little less than $15.
I received my drink quickly and sat down at a small table in the middle of the restaurant to await my fancy grilled cheese. As I looked around, I noticed that because of the small interior, Sally Loo’s has an intimate atmosphere that is perfect for hangouts, a quick snack or even studying. Students with coffee in hand and open laptops took up much of the restaurant.
I took my first sip of the iced caramel latte and enjoyed the refreshing contrast to the warm weather outside. There was just the right amount of ice in the cup — not too watered down. All it needed was a little stirring to bring out the delicious caramel and coffee flavor. My waiter arrived shortly after with my grilled cheese sandwich, conveniently cut in half and paired with a small side salad. The various cheeses in the sandwich included mozzarella, raw cheddar and Brie, all melted together into a delicious medley that oozed out from between the two pieces of crisp sourdough bread.
I immediately fell in love with this dish, not just because of my cheese obsession, but also because of the intense flavor in every bite. The sandwich was accented with just the right amount of pesto and garlic aioli, tying it together nicely. My first bite into the sandwich was delightfully crunchy, leaving my fingers oily and smelling just a little bit like fries. The firm bread was also complemented nicely by the thick, rich cheesy filling.
My only complaint with this dish is that it was a bit too oily for my liking, leaving me feeling bloated after finishing off both halves. Although it was not the healthiest choice on the menu, it was definitely not a regretful experience — especially for a cheese lover like me.
One of my favorite parts of Sally Loo’s is the rustic interior design and many knickknacks that adorn the establishment. The menu itself is merely a roll of brown paper hung from the ceiling that features many of the items that can be ordered for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The seats in the restaurant also add a certain personality, with some of them being merely “up-cycled” theater seats and worn out vintage red leather chairs. Even the minute details such as the font used for the drinks menu and the ornate frames surrounding them bring about a classier feel to the restaurant.
I can tell that I’ll be a frequent visitor of Sally Loo’s in my next few years at Cal Poly because of its friendly atmosphere, cozy appeal and tantalizingly good food. I can’t wait until the next time I come back with my study materials or a friend to justify spending more time here.
Kristine Xu is a journalism freshman and Mustang News food columnist.