If you’re on a journey to find craft beers, televised sports and gastropub fare, mark your map for Milestone Tavern in San Luis Obispo.
The restaurant opened in May 2016 in the newly remodeled University Square at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Santa Rosa Street. A spacious interior sports almost 6,000 square feet of space, and the bright, airy feel is enhanced by high ceilings and glass-paneled roll-up doors that can be opened to the patio. Similar doors inside can be closed to create a private banquet space for events.
Flat-screen televisions are located throughout the eatery, but the soundtrack stays on music unless there’s a big game. In addition to subscribing to a wide variety of sports broadcast packages, Milestone Tavern screens Cal Poly games whenever possible.
Wine and craft cocktails can be ordered from the knowledgeable bar staff, but the drink scene here is dominated by draft beers. Milestone Tavern boasts 72 taps, with approximately 30 that rotate on a regular basis.
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A recent list of suds showed local breweries such as Barrelhouse Brewing Co., Silva Brewing, Dunbar Brewing and Central Coast Brewing well represented. So were the likes of San Francisco’s Almanac Beer Co., Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery and Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co.
Complementing the sprawling beer roster is the focused menu from executive chef Mike Duffy. He’s been on board the culinary team from the beginning, finetuning some of the ideas during a stint at Rooster Creek Tavern in Arroyo Grande before Milestone opened.
Milestone Tavern is the 10th local establishment under the umbrella ownership of ASH Management. It joins Rooster Creek and Mason Bar in Arroyo Grande, Shell Beach Brewhouse, and six other San Luis Obispo locations: Mother’s Tavern, Creeky Tiki, McCarthy’s Irish Pub, Frog and Peach Pub, The Library and Bull’s Tavern.
“All have their own personalities,” Duffy said of the other properties. “I had quite a lot of creative control” in developing the Milestone Tavern menu, he said. “It’s been really fun working in a brand-new kitchen.”
Though the main lunch and dinner menu is only a page long, it offers items for a wide range of tastes. For nibbles, share some artichoke-spinach dip or chorizo con queso. Hearty appetites can tuck into a 14-ounce rib eye steak that’s been cold-smoked before grilling; it’s served with bone marrow butter, mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
For other options, go for shrimp lettuce cups or a shrimp Louie salad, a toasted farro salad or penne puttanesca, ahi poke nachos or short-rib mac and cheese.
A separate menu offers several hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas. Choose from a veggie delight, a Hawaiian or an aptly named Meathead loaded with pepperoni, ham, bacon, chorizo, carnitas and shredded duck. One creation that’s turned out to a surprise favorite, Duffy observed, is a pizza topped with bacon-wrapped dates, leek cream sauce and gorgonzola cheese.
Daily specials have included little neck clams steamed in a tomatillo broth and a jalapeño popper grilled cheese sandwich. On weekends, eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy and a fried chicken and waffle sando join the lineup for brunch.
Milestone Tavern also serves classic pub fare such as wings, burgers, and potato wedges. However, a closer look reveals that even this food is a cut above. The wings come with your choice of three housemade sauces; beef for the burgers is ground in-house and the wedges are topped with house-cured bacon.
“We’re smoking and curing all of our meats, including the pastrami, ham and turkey breast,” Duffy said. Housemade sausage is in the works as well.
Breads and buns come from Back Porch Bakery in Atascadero and Edna’s Bakery in San Luis Obispo — but all the pizza dough is made from an in-house sourdough starter crafted with Firestone-Walker Brewing Co.’s 805 beer.
“We also make all of our desserts, and definitely all the sauces, salsas and dressings,” Duffy said. “There aren’t many things we don’t do from scratch. Anything we can do in-house, we do.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at email@example.com.
972 Foothill Blvd., San Luis Obispo
Hours: Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m. happy hour, 10 to 11 p.m. late-night menu; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. brunch, 3 to 4 p.m. midday menu, 4 to 10 p.m. dinner, 10 to 11 p.m. late-night menu.
The scene: A lively tavern vibe with seating at the bar, on the patio or in the spacious dining area.
The cuisine: Gastropub fare mostly made from scratch. Beer-centric bar also offers wine, cider and craft cocktails.
Expect to spend: Starters, salads and burgers under $15, pizzas $13 to $16, entrées $10 to $30.