poly picks 2021

21 and up

Best Bar

Mother's Tavern by Gabriella Salibo


It has been a difficult year for bars in San Luis Obispo, and since the initial outbreak of COVID-19, the ability to enjoy these social environments has fluctuated over time. Nonetheless, since their initial reopening, Mother’s Tavern has been fully operational offering new outdoor and indoor dining options, a family-friendly environment during the day and a high-energy nightlife experience. All of these features are compliant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.


The two-story establishment is the epitome of a perfect trinity serving as a restaurant, bar and club. “My favorite thing at Motav [Mother’s Tavern] is its ambiance,” environmental management senior Rachel Blumer said. “It has a very open bar concept with two stories, so there are very different types of bar experiences between the upstairs and downstairs areas.” 


Mother’s Tavern offers a variety of custom cocktails for affordable prices, and there are lunch and dinner options for any type of appetite. Beyond the food and drinks, the staff is known to create a welcoming atmosphere for everyone that stops by.


“I would say the reason this bar stands apart from others is one hundred-percent the family environment that our staff embraces,” bar manager Jacob Moore said. “And that trickles down to each and every guest, because we try to make them feel welcome.”


This vintage Chicago-style bar, located in the heart of downtown, has been a part of San Luis Obispo’s community for more than two decades, and it’s no secret that Mother’s Tavern has a reputation for its vibrant nightlife. Although the Coronavirus pandemic has altered their usual nightly scene, their bar is still open Tuesday through Sunday until  2 a.m. for good music, drinks and friends. 


“I think that they have navigated COVID-19 pretty well because the wait time can be really long, but you know that they are strictly adhering to protocol and listening to CDC recommendations,” Blumer said. “It is pretty hard being a bar during a pandemic and still trying to stay afloat, but they are definitely doing their best.” 



Best Winery

Tolosa by Tessa Hughes


Tolosa Winery was just voted San Luis Obispo’s Best Winery and is waiting for you to visit for your next tasting experience. Tolosa is located in Edna Valley, right along the volcanic hills of San Luis Obispo County. They pride themselves for being “the frontier for the most complex cool-climate varietals in California,” according to their website.


Being so close to the beautiful ocean, the winery’s microclimate is perfect for Tolosa’s grapes, particularly their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offerings. According to Tolosa, these selections “rival any in the world.”


Not only does the surrounding climate make Tolosa Winery the perfect place to create their drinks, but the passion of vintner and owner Robin Baggett truly shines through as well. Forty years ago, Baggett’s dream of owning a cattle ranch brought him to San Luis Obispo, and once he realized how remarkable the valley was, he began on his journey to build “complex, nuanced and balanced wines of distinction.”


Visiting Tolosa Winery in person adds a whole new layer of appreciation for their wines as they offer an exceptional wine tasting experience. They “strive to always create an optimal environment for the investigation of our region and wines with all the senses,” according to their site. The winery also offers a hospitable and knowledgeable staff and a tasting flight which are samples of their flagship Primera and Single Vineyard wines. 


Virtual wine tasting experiences can also be scheduled on their website. Tolosa covers everything for this, from shipping to sending out invites to your guests. The virtual tasting includes three wines, personalized tasting mats, optimal serving suggestions, tasting notes and an additional special surprise!


To experience Tolosa Winery in all of its glory, reservations can be made online at tolosawinery.com and questions can be answered over the phone at 805-782-0500. You can also find them at 4910 Edna Rd. in San Luis Obispo, where they are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.



Best Craft Cocktail

Finney's by Lauren Walike


With 14 craft cocktails on the menu, the question at Finney’s Crafthouse and Kitchen isn’t “should I get one?” but rather “which one should I choose?”


For Cal Poly Environmental Management senior Kelly Chu, the answer is simple.


“My go-to is the Watermelon Smash right now because I enjoy sweet drinks and it's one of the drinks that has the perfect balance of sweetness and alcohol,” Chu said.


The Watermelon Smash is a refreshing cocktail made with Haymaker vodka, cucumber, mint and muddled watermelon. 


Finney’s offers unique twists on classic cocktails including options like the Spicy Berry margarita, with El Jimador reposado tequila, jalapeño, strawberry, lime and agave; a passion fruit mojito, with Plantation rum, fresh lime, strawberry, mint and agave; and a Kauai mai tai with Plantation rum, grand marnier, pineapple, passion fruit and dark rum.


The drinks pair complementary ingredients creating bold flavors with a smooth finish that will thrill guests’ taste buds. If you prefer the classics, you can’t go wrong with their old fashioned or their pineapple margarita.


It’s not just the drinks that keep customers coming back, it's the welcoming atmosphere that is perfect for a relaxing day in San Luis Obispo.


Finney’s brings its distinct charm to the city with brick walls, reclaimed wood accents, an antique copper bar and vintage photographs displayed on the walls.


Located at 857 Monterey St., Finney's is open for outdoor and indoor dining from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. They also host a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call them at 805-439-2556.


Finney’s opened Jan. 27, 2020 in San Luis Obispo and is only one of five locations. Finney’s founder Greg Finefrock opened his first restaurant in Westlake Village, California in 2016 and now has restaurants in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Porter Ranch.



Best Happy Hour Deal

Finney's by Evan Pettingill


If you’re looking for an amazing happy hour, look no further. Finney’s Crafthouse delivers the best happy hour in town. Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Finney’s offers a variety of great deals on some of their signature dishes. Everything is made from scratch and inspired by food across the globe. They have plenty of beer on tap, including some of the best American craft beers and 30 of the most popular local beers.


Finney’s provides an indoor seating area with a stunning bar and plenty of TV sets so you won’t miss any sports games. They also have an amazing outdoor seating area that puts you right in the middle of downtown San Luis Obispo.  


Whether you are in the mood for seafood, tacos, pizza or burgers, Finney's has you covered. For only $6, you can take your pick between chicken tacos, a chicken quesadilla, a pretzel and a pepperoni pizza. For just $1 more, you can choose between mini Finney sliders and a sausage garlic pizza. 


But what is a happy hour without drinks? For customers over the age of 20, Finney’s has some of the cheapest drinks in town. All 30 of their craft draft beers are just $5. You can also get their house cabernet, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for $5 each. Their cheapest cocktails also start at $5. Arguably, the best deal on their happy hour menu is their burger combo. The $15 combo comes with a Finney burger, fries and your choice of a beer or soda.


Finney’s is located at 857 Monterey St.in downtown San Luis Obispo.