Din­ers sing praises as Taco Tem­ple opens SLO lo­ca­tion

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY NICK WIL­SON Nick Wil­son: 805-781-7922, @Nick­Wil­sonTrib

The long-awaited San Luis Obispo open­ing of Taco Tem­ple in the old Margie’s Diner lo­ca­tion fi­nally has ar­rived.

The pop­u­lar Cal­i­for­nia fu­sion eatery, es­tab­lished in Morro Bay more than two decades ago, opened its doors about 11:30 a.m. Wed­nes­day at 1575 Calle Joaquin.

San Luis Obispo res­i­dent Su­san Polk waited out­side with a friend for sev­eral min­utes just to get in.

“My fa­vorite is the fish tostada,” Polk said. “I’ve eaten at the Morro Bay lo­ca­tion many times. Peo­ple like Taco Tem­ple be­cause the fish is so fresh.”

Al­fred Leal of Atas­cadero said he works in SLO and saw the new sig­nage for Taco Tem­ple from the High­way 101 free­way a cou­ple of weeks ago. The busi­ness is sit­u­ated be­tween the Rose Gar­den Inn and Hamp­ton Inn & Suites.

“I used to eat at Taco Tem­ple in Morro Bay with my boss, but it’s a bit of a drive out there, so I’m happy there’s a new lo­ca­tion close to my work,” Leal said. “I just drove by to see if it was open to­day, and I’m happy to see that it is.”

Gen­eral Man­ager Pa­trick Lynch said that the busi­ness in­ten­tion­ally didn’t ad­ver­tise the open­ing to al­low its staff to ad­just, brac­ing for a flood of cus­tomers once the word got out.

The res­tau­rant serves about 1,000 cus­tomers per day in Morro Bay (at 2680 Main St. in the Spencer’s shop­ping cen­ter), Lynch said, spe­cial­iz­ing in fresh seafood tacos, bur­ri­tos and tostadas.

“We didn’t want the rush to be too over­whelm­ing,” Lynch said. “We just wanted to make sure the staff could han­dle the crunch.”

Taco Tem­ple Head Chef Peter Ir­win said that the menu, which ranges from about $8 to $28, will re­main much the same as in Morro Bay. Pop­u­lar dessert items in­clude car­rot cake and flan.

“So many peo­ple stopped by as we were ren­o­vat­ing, ask­ing about when we’ll open,” Ir­win said. “There has been a ton of buzz, and we can’t thank the com­mu­nity enough.”

Lo­cal work­ers and vis­i­tors of nearby ho­tels such as Court­yard Inn were among the first to pa­tron­ize the venue Wed­nes­day — now open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“I live in Or­ange County and work at Mind­Body, and so I’m here in SLO ev­ery other week,” said Alex So­ria, who was stay­ing at the Court­yard. “I saw there’s a new res­tau­rant here. I thought I might as well go.”

City of SLO building in­spec­tor Paula Fro­jae also in­cluded a Taco Tem­ple lunch in her work­day, de­cid­ing to stick around for a chicken bur­rito af­ter some fi­nal in­spec­tions of the newly re­mod­eled building.

“It’s so busy at the Morro Bay one, I rarely go,” said Fro­jae, seated at a booth seat near the front door about noon, with the res­tau­rant about a third filled. “But I wanted to stay to­day.”

Taco Tem­ple is jointly owned by Gretchen Ross, her husband Michael Fos­ter, Jim Leage and Deb­o­rah and Jack Franklin.

The new SLO lo­ca­tion has been ren­o­vated with the busi­ness’ tra­di­tional red, white and green col­ors, its large sign fac­ing High­way 101.

Server Tonya Austin said she heard about the planned open­ing of SLO Taco Tem­ple in Oc­to­ber and has eaten reg­u­larly at the Morro Bay res­tau­rant for the past few months to study the menu.

“I’d en­joyed eat­ing at Taco Tem­ple pre­vi­ously,” Austin said. “But I wanted to re­ally know the menu re­ally well be­cause I love the place so much and was hop­ing to work here.”

The new SLO res­tau­rant is an op­por­tu­nity for growth, which could also in­clude other new lo­ca­tions in the fu­ture, though no spe­cific com­mu­nity has been iden­ti­fied, Lynch said.

Though the res­tau­rant has a Mexican theme, it in­cor­po­rates a Cal­i­for­nia fresh food tra­di­tion and packs its dishes with large por­tions, ac­cord­ing to res­tau­rant of­fi­cials.

Menu items in­clude sweet potato en­chi­ladas, scal­lop bur­ri­tos, cala­mari tacos, an ahi poke ap­pe­tizer and the killer Alaskan cod bur­rito.

JOE JOHN­STON jjohn­[email protected]­bune­news.com

Taco Tem­ple has opened its new lo­ca­tion in San Luis Obispo in the for­mer Margie’s Diner building. Its original res­tau­rant is in Morro Bay.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP dmid­dle­[email protected]­bune­news.com

Taco Tem­ple serves up big por­tions of Cal­i­for­nia fu­sion food.

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