Travel File: Centrally Grown

I’ll warn you now:  I’m going to be all over the map for the next few weeks while I share photos and stories about our road trip from Texas to California.  I’m not going to follow any sort of order because, well, that’s not how I generally roll.  My last post was about the Grand Canyon, so why not go in the complete opposite direction and share a really cool restaurant/garden/shop/art space on the central coast of California?

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_3Before I go any further, let me show you where the CENTRAL COAST is.  Most people (other than Californian’s) don’t know where I am talking about when I say I was born and raised on the central coast.  I usually say, “Well, it’s halfway between LA and San Francisco on the coast.”  Still a lot of blank looks.  So check it out:

Central_Coast_MapThe left shows in general where the central coast of California lies.  The inset map shows where I grew up, in Cambria.  The town population when I lived there was roughly 6,000 people.  I am guessing it is around 8-10 now.  So...Morro Bay is about 20 minutes away, San Luis Obispo about 40 minutes (just to get your bearings.)  LA is about 4-5 hrs south, and if you travel north for that long, you’ll end up in the San Fransisco area.  We spent the majority of our trip on the central coast, where both my husband and I lived for the first 30-ish years of our lives (hubby originally from Fullerton, in SoCal).  We moved to Texas almost 7 years ago.

Ok, onto this cool new spot in Cambria.  My mom raved about it, and being the gardener that she is, insisted we check it out.  (If Mom likes it, we know we’ll like it too!)  It used to be one of my favorite restaurants as a kid (formerly known as The Hamlet).  Now, although still a restaurant and garden, it has been transformed to include a gift shop & specialty market.  They pride themselves on being a sustainable establishment with locally grown food.  Did I mention the indoor diners have an ocean view? (Regrettably I did not take any photos inside of the restaurant, but it is totally cool and eclectic with a stunning view).

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_2 Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_SignThey have kale, chives, nasturtiums…all growing in their gardens.  There is funky stuff everywhere you look.  Benches, tables, doors and the like have been built from re-purposed metal and wood from around the property.

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_ChivesHere’s the establishment’s mission statement: To create transformative experiences for individuals and communities, inspired by nature, rooted in history, cultivated by curiosity and advanced by simplicity.

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_collage Driftwood arches and fencing are scattered throughout the property along with cobb style seating structures.  Seating areas are scattered everywhere for people to sit back and enjoy the grounds.  One couple sat in wooden chairs, sipping wine from the bar and waited for their wood-fired pizza to arrive. We chose to shop at the market & deli and hang out in the middle of a kale garden, sipping local beers and people-watching.

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_gardens Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_groundsThere was the cutest little gift shop, Off The Grid, with tons of locally made treasures (at all price ranges!)  I picked up several gems while there (thanks Lady Tie Di!).

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_Off_the_Grid_GiftshopIt was a great way to spend an afternoon in Cambria.  The fog hung around for a minute, but soon burned off.

Centrally_Grown_Cambria_California_garden_1I’m not going to lie; at first I was like, “this place is kind of expensive.”  We dropped about $50 on a sandwich, a few deli items and a 6-pack of local beer.  I reminded myself that the food was local and organicMy husband so kindly reminded me, “We’re not just paying for the food; we’re paying for an experience.”  Well put Matt, well put.  It was definitely worth the experience.  Centrally Grown was magical and SO Central Coast.  It totally sums up the vibe of Central California;  think Big Sur, Jack Kerouac, wine, fresh local food, succulents, driftwood, cruising at a snail’s pace… 🙂  I’m always up for that!

You should definitely make a pit stop if you are driving Hwy 1, along the coast.  If for no other reason that inspiration.  Actually, I just saw that there is a trail from San Simeon State Park that leads to Centrally Grown.  How about a cheap night’s stay camping and a nice upscale dinner with an ocean view?  Doesn’t sound too shabby to me!

Here is more info about Centrally Grown on their website:  Centrally Grown

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