I'm dying to tell you about Paris. C'était vraiment fantastique! But there is just no way that I can start that until I finish up the story about our little trip up the coast. My compulsive-self simply will not allow it. Just one last meal to mention!
You'll thank me. I'm positive.
So when I was a kid I had braces like so many others. If you check out my somewhat crooked teeth, you'll realize that the braces were hopefully not the best thing that Dr. Julian Singer did for me.
The single best thing that Dr. Singer actually did for me was to turn my family on to Jocko's in Nipomo, California. Far better and less expensive than the braces, to be sure.
Jocko's is an unassuming restaurant that serves meat -- big meat -- grilled in the Santa Maria fashion. The restaurant itself is highly unglamorous. It possesses all of the charm of an eighty-year old bingo hall. The tablecloths are red and white checked oilcloth and the crowd is likely in t-shirts and shorts or cowboy boots and hats, which all adds to a very casual central California feel.
Jocko's has been around in some form since 1926 (the barbecuing began in the '50s), so it's full of history. People love Jocko's, and for good reason. They are incredibly no-nonsense about their meat, grilling gorgeous cuts of beef over flaming Santa Maria-style barbecue pits. Hell, I've even eaten the biggest plate of sweetbreads I have ever seen in my life at Jocko's, some fifteen years ago.
These days, with Fe. in tow, I hardly make it to Jocko's and certainly not for dinner, which is sad, because that is when the grills are fired up. Dinner is the best meal at Jocko's, but don't pass the Tefft Street exit off of the 101 just because it is lunch time!
If it is lunch time at Jocko's, I always order the same thing, the steak sandwich. Now, if you're a big shot, maybe you'll order the Large Steak Sandwich for $16 (comes with fries, beans and a dinner salad). But if you're a person with a normally sizable appetite like myself, just stick with the steak sandwich ($12, comes with beans and a salad). The portions are enormous and a perfect example of why the United States has problems with obesity. But shoot, every once in awhile it is so much fun to make a pig of yourself.
The almost two-inch steak on the over two-inch thick Texas-style toast is a gorgeous, perfectly cooked rib-eye (my all time favorite cut of steak!). A little bit fatty with a just the right amount of chew, this incredibly juicy steak will satisfy all of your carnivorous cravings.
At lunch, you'll miss the wood-fire grilling right outside the dining room. You'll also miss the famous relish tray comprised of raw carrots, celery and radishes and pickled peppers. Thankfully you won't miss the mild salsa (vaguely reminiscent of stewed tomatoes, but far more compelling), the packaged garlic and onion crackers, or the dinner salad full of cold crisp iceberg lettuce and red cabbage. It is good and it will send you back to crunchier salad days.
The dark, slightly divey bar will be open at lunchtime too! We're always mid-drive to or from somewhere in California, otherwise I would partake. Believe me. I hear it can get pretty fun in there, just ask my awesome Mother-In-Law!
I think of Jocko's as a California treasure. If I were younger and slightly more carefree, I'd drive the 3 hours to Nipomo just for dinner. It's that good.
125 N. Thompson Avenue
Nipomo, CA 93444