What's Up in Downtown Paso Robles

With each passing month, a cozy cosmopolitan vibe is growing through the streets and alleys of downtown Paso Robles. This friendly farm community is filled with fine people who stand by and support their neighbors. And now the town's center is seeing an influx of wineries, restaurants, places to stay, and inviting things to do. Downtown Paso Robles is no longer simply a square you pass when heading to the wine trails east and west of Paso proper; it's a place to stop, check out, and maybe even check into.

When Steve and Steffanie Anglim opened the Anglim Winery tasting room at the Paso Robles train depot in 2005, it was the first and only tasting room in downtown Paso Robles. For a few months, that is. "After that, there was kind of an explosion," Steffanie recalls. At last count, wine tourers can discover more than 16 brands in 14 tasting rooms without going more than a few blocks from the Paso Robles town square. Nearly all are family operations with limited case production.

"Our goal is to introduce people to small producers and do it walking and to explore downtown Paso Robles and its history," Steffanie explains. She even produced a postcard-size map of the downtown Paso Robles tasting rooms to help visitors find their way. Steffanie's map is certainly helpful, but if you can't find one, don't worry. There are folks all over downtown who'll be happy to show you the way.

Spots to Discover
Hotel Cheval
1021 Pine Street --This stylish 16-room boutique luxury hotel is a little world unto itself. Located a short block from the town square, it gives you an ideal spot to tie up and spend a night or two while you explore downtown. The property's equestrian theme is tastefully interpreted throughout the rooms and intimate stone terraces with grand fireplaces that are lit at dusk each evening. Whether you're staying there or not, be sure to stop into the Pony Club before or after dinner and enjoy a drink at the horseshoe-shaped bar. There's live music on weekends, and if you're there on Thursday you can enjoy meeting a local winemaker who's happily pouring his own wines.

Powell's Sweet Shoppe
840 11th Street --What was your favorite candy in bygone days? You'll likely rediscover it when you stop into this captivating ice cream and confectionary store. The shelves are packed with colorful candy wrappers, games, and novelty items. There's something for everyone, from the Pez candy junkie to the chocolate connoisseur. There are approximately 18 Powell's Sweet Shoppes in the western United States, but this one seems like a one-of-a-kind original with its town square location. You can even stroll over to the gazebo with your double-dip cone.

Studios on the Park
1130 Pine Street
--Witness a masterpiece in the making, talk with an artist while she cleans her brushes, or take in a class or a seminar at this unique downtown Paso Robles emporium dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of the visual arts. You can arrange to take an individual or group tour through the studios and watch eight or more artists in action at any given time. Visitors can sign up for a one-session workshop. And, if you live near enough, you can enroll in an ongoing class.

Vinoteca Wine Bar
835 12th Street --The full-glass storefront of this cozy wine bar promises little to passersby during daytime hours, but Vinoteca awakens at 4p.m. each day and gradually comes alive with light hors d'oeuvres, local wines and desserts for the after-dinner crowd. Wednesday is winemaker night, and many locals make it a point to attend, taste, and catch up with their neighbors. Evenings with local artists and musicians also highlight the calendar.

Vivant Fine Cheese
840 11th Street --As a perfect complement to the more than a dozen wine tasting rooms on Paso's downtown streets, this sun-filled shop invites you to taste its cheese. Owner Danika Bowler has carefully gathered a succulent variety of premium, local, and imported handcrafted artisan cheeses for your consideration. Her mother opens the shop daily, filling the air with the scent of her fresh-baked scones and other bakery treats. Besides gourmet cheese, Vivant carries fresh bread, charcuterie, wine and beer pairings, local olive oil, and plenty of tips for Paso Robles visitors.

We Olive
1311 Park Street --If you've never truly tasted olive oil, here's a great place to start. This charming establishment encourages customers to "belly up to the bar" and explore the wide range of olive oils made in Paso Robles and beyond. There's a knowledgeable crew on hand, anxious to take your nose and taste buds on a tour to identify the fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency of a variety of oils. Their selection stretches clear down the bar, and no one is going to rush you. Regulars come back with empty oil and vinegar containers for refills. Chances are, you will leave with a more discerning palate and a bottle or two of your favorites.

Restaurants
Artisan
1401 Park Street
--Inspired by the fresh produce and proteins from organic farms and local markets, Chef Chris Yokashobi presents innovative cuisine, American Bistro style. Monday-Saturday: lunch and dinner, Sunday: brunch.

Villa Creek
1144 Pine Street
--Taking his cue from the padres of the early California missions, Chef Tom Fundaro prepares local, organically or sustainably farmed products in simple rustic preparations. Tuesday-Sunday: dinner.

Bistro Laurent
1202 Pine Street
--French-born chef and owner Laurent Grangien applies his expertise with local wines and ingredients in this highly acclaimed bistro featuring a la carte fare, as well as four- and five-course tasting menus. Tuesday- Saturday: lunch and dinner.

Matthew's
1215 Spring Street
--Chef Matthew Riley's lifelong passion for cooking is evident in his namesake restaurant, where he transforms locally grown ingredients into culinary works of art. Monday-Sunday: dinner.

Panolivo
1344 Park Street
--This popular breakfast and lunch spot has recently opened two nights per week for dinner. Tempting pastries, salads, entrees, and a relaxed atmosphere. Sunday-Saturday: breakfast and lunch, Friday and Saturday: dinner.

Level Four
1216 Park Street-- Paso goes underground at this gathering place and restaurant offering classy cocktails and California cuisine highlighted by organic produce. Tuesday-Sunday: dinner.

Buono Tavola
943 Spring Street --Italian dishes cooked with love and as many local ingredients as possible by chef and owner Antonio Varia. Monday-Friday: lunch, Monday-Sunday: dinner.

Downtown Tasting Rooms:
Anglim Winery
740 Pine Street (at the depot), 805.227.6813

Arroyo Robles
739 12th Street, 805.226.5454

Asuncion Ridge
739 13th Street, 805.237.3780

Bear Cave Cellars
1227 Park Street, 805.238.4329

Clayhouse Wines
849 13th Street, 805.727.4720

D'Anbino Cellars
710 Pine Street, 805.227.6800

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines
1220 Park Street, 805.239.8915

Kaleidos
1032 Pine Street, 805.226.2976

Kiamie Wine Cellars
1111 Riverside Avenue, Suite 102, 805.2266.8333

Orchid Hill Vineyard
1140 Pine Street, 805.237.7525

Ortman Family Vineyards
1317 Park Street, 805.237.9009

Paso Robles Wine Club
800 Pine Street, 866.238.6400

Pianetta Winery
829 13th Street, 805.226.4005

Vihuela Winery
1307 Park Street Alley, 805.226.2010

Vinoteca
835 12th Street, 805.227.7154