Pismo Beach CA, May 1, 2018
The New La Bodega Tapas
Wow, were we happy and surprised at lunch yesterday! Dan and I had an amazing meal at a new eatery in downtown Pismo Beach. We are always optimistic about new eateries, but that rarely works out well if you visit any restaurant too soon, I like to give them at least a month to get it together. Yet we decided we had to go check out the brand new, La Bodega Tapas—less than one week after they opened last Wednesday! After hearing word of it spread like wild fire at Kennedy Center Fitness in Arroyo Grande (I’m a member who attends almost daily), everyone kept asking if I knew of it. I didn’t, frankly, but I wanted to know so despite my beliefs I couldn’t wait to to check it out. Dan and I were both so glad we did after we arrived at 1 p.m. on Monday for lunch.
Needless to say, we were quite surprised at how good a job they are doing in so little time. Believe me, I worked as a cook and server in restaurants for over 12-years, and I know from experience that’s no easy feat. The owners are John and his partner/wife Teresa Cordeiro (he didn’t tell us their last name, but I didn’t tell him who we were either), and they are active participants in running it. John said he loves being there, even if it’s all day and evening, and said: “I love meeting the people who come in to dine.” In fact he even asked to sit with us to talk about his restaurant. He noted that Teresa, who’s last name is on their webpage, designed the cute wine country decor.
He explained they had a head-start with “two soft openings.” Still, that’s hardly enough for most new restaurants, even when they’re run by chefs who have been in the business a long time. Kudos to La Bodega Tapas!
The funny thing is that I had been told by a local friend that it was an Italian restaurant, yet it’s anything but. That’s a good thing with the reopening of Giuseppe’s Pismo Beach and Del’s doing a soft-opening on the same day just a few blocks away.
La Bodega Tapas is not Spanish cuisine either even though the name, which means “the cellar,” seems to reflect that. The hostess who seated us told us they serve “California cuisine.” While the menu leans to Spanish tapas which means small plates, it also had gnocchi and flatbread, which may have been the reasons our friend misunderstood their style. No matter, it’s mostly California cuisine and we were were not disappointed by any of the various dishes we tried in getting to know their style.
The well-chosen selection of local wines on a very well-priced wine list were impressive. We loved the fact they aren’t over-charging for the wines. John told us if a local rez comes in with a local wine, they don’t charge the usual $15 corkage fee on the first bottle carried in. A wise decision, indeed. I asked John if that was only a soft opening deal, but he said they would wait to see if they could keep offering it. With the super friendly management and staff, very fresh food coming out of the kitchen, and reasonable charges for local wines and beers, you can’t go wrong. But if you come very soon and they are slammed, don’t be too judgmental. Most kitchens, no matter how much talent is in the kitchen, buckle under stress. But the entire staff seems eager to please, and we were very pleased!
John told us they spent a lot of time hand-picking their staff. He also admitted neither he nor Teresa had previous restaurant experience, noting: “We are both very successful business owners, and that counts for a lot. That’s why we spent well over an hour interviewing the people we hired, to make sure they were right for the job.”
Check out their webpage at www.labodegapismo.com, to read the menu and learn more about them. They do have a small parking lot between La Bodega and Scotty’s on Price St., but it only has six regular slots and one handicapped slot. They will be open daily from 11:30 to 9 Sunday through Thursday and open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. By the way, they are seriously looking for professional cooks to join their kitchen team, so don’t hesitate to contact John.
FYI, the food doesn’t come out fast, that’s because this is no cheap chain eatery. I liked the fact they have an open kitchen and the chefs looked relaxed. It’s a sure indication your orders will come out at their best. And in the end, isn’t that why you’re paying a little more for, a great meal?
My photo issue still isn’t resolved so visit my Facebook page as Central Coast Critic to see the delicious photos of La Bodega Tapas fine foods.