‘OrCutt’ Above the Rest

A Guide to Old Town Orcutt

Story and Photos By Nicole Leonetti

As a first-time visitor to Old Town Orcutt, I had no idea just how much was truly packed into the five blocks of Clark Avenue. Tasting rooms, breweries, shops, and restaurants — it’s got a little of everything that makes this region so outstanding! The Old Town Orcutt Revitalization Association has worked hard to make the community feel intentional to visitors and locals alike.

Founded in 1904, this small Santa Maria Valley town is a super convenient destination right off Hwy 101. And, ideally, it’s situated in the heart of my personal favorite wine region! Perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Old Town Orcutt is a must-see stop along the Central Coast.

 

EAT

Kicking off your morning in Old Town Orcutt, you will find plenty of breakfast options. I recommend Jack’s in Old Orcutt. An Orcutt landmark for over 50 years, it’s open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their breakfast items are available all day, and the Chorizo Scramble is amazing. They also have a mouthwatering selection of pies. Don’t miss it for dinner either — I enjoyed one of the best patty melts of my life at Jack’s!

Another tasty option is Kay’s Orcutt Country Kitchen. This family-owned restaurant is open daily for breakfast and lunch. If you are ravenous, try their Orcutt Hash with ham, pork belly, sausage, home-fried potatoes, and melted cheese topped off with bacon and sausage gravy! They also have Mimosas and Bloody Marys if you want to get the party started a little early. And don’t forget dessert, like the decadent Ice Cream Waffle Sandwich. When the sun goes down on Friday and Saturday nights, Kay’s converts to R Bar, which is open for drinks and dinner.

A tempting breakfast or lunch option is Cubanissamo Coffee House & Café. Situated right off the 101 on your way to Old Town Orcutt, it is absolutely worth a stop. It’s authentic Cuban cuisine, right in Orcutt! Jumpstart your morning with a Café Cubano or a Cortadito alongside one of their delicious breakfast items. For lunch, they serve favorites such as Cubano and Medianoche sandwiches, as well as Tostones and Yuca fries. I’m a big fan of their Cuban Chorizo served over yellow rice.

Two things I adore are burgers and falafel, so naturally I love Charlies King Falafel Restaurant for lunch. My plan going in was to order the Falafel appetizer, followed by the Super King Burger. That proved a tad ambitious, and I ended up with the Junior Burger with a side of their signature crinkle fries. They also offer a variety of sandwiches, but don’t forget to try a milkshake!

If you’re looking for baseball and beer, catch a game at Blast 825 Brewery, where you can try house brews such as Bohemian Pilsner and Hazy IPA. Add in favorite dishes like the 825 Nachos and Cowboy Mac & Cheese with tri-tip if you’re hungry.

For sweet treats throughout your Orcutt visit, I recommend stopping at Gina’s Piece of Cake. While they specialize in cakes, I love it for a mid-day coffee and cookie break. They have a cozy little seating nook inside where you can enjoy your selection. Orcutt Bakery is another special place for cakes, cookies, brownies and more. They make custom cakes for special occasions, but the pro move is stopping in for one of their mini cheesecakes!

While exploring Old Town Orcutt, nearly every person I met suggested Pizzeria Bello Forno. I’m happy to report that they were all correct! Originally from Los Angeles, chef/owner Bob Spallino moved to Orcutt 37 years ago. Bob has been catering in the area for 16 years and opened the pizzeria in 2017. Pizzeria Bello Forno is all about wood-fired pizza — and they have the perfect oven for the job, direct from Naples (technically, it was shipped to New York in pieces before making its way to Orcutt). While the pizza is obviously the star, other popular items include their Bello Forno six-layer Lasagna, their Famous Angus Beef Meatballs, and the Garlic & Brandy Mushrooms.

During my visit, their Italian Chopped Salad was the perfect lead-in, but let’s talk pizza. You can’t go wrong with their Pepperoni Pizza, but I am fond of the North Beach Pizza with Genovese pesto sauce, mozzarella and fontina cheeses, roasted plum tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. Bob visits Italy often for inspiration and told me about a new pizza he’s working on with burrata, mortadella, and a pistachio cream. I’m booking another trip to Orcutt to try that! The restaurant also includes a cozy front patio that my dog, Frankie, thoroughly enjoyed.

Bob told me his favorite thing about Old Town Orcutt is that it is “Small Town USA.” He has very loyal customers, he said, and he loves the size of Old Town where he can get to know everyone. He shared, “it’s close to the ocean, close to Santa Barbara. Not to mention … wineries galore!”

I must say that I was thrilled by all the phenomenal Italian options in Old Town Orcutt! Trattoria Uliveto, a lovely, sit-down establishment, is open for lunch and dinner. I recommend starting with the Crostino alla Romana, toasted bread topped with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and sage. There are a multitude of pizzas and pastas to choose from, including the Orecchiette alla Pugliese with sausage, broccolini, garlic, and chili flakes. They also have nice patio seating to enjoy the beautiful Orcutt weather.

If you are searching for a taste of that famous Santa Maria Style Barbecue, you must have dinner at the Far Western Tavern. Established in the 1950s by the Minetti family, today the tavern attracts locals and visitors alike with its legendary barbecue and welcoming atmosphere. Santa Maria Style Barbecue is rooted in native ingredients and methods first popularized by 19th century rancheros. Far Western Tavern’s menu blends that local barbecue style with other dishes that reflect their family’s heritage in the Santa Maria Valley’s Swiss-Italian ranching community. The menus include fresh flavors from local farms, ranches, and vineyards. You can enjoy craft cocktails, draft beer, and a wine list featuring local gems. Menu highlights include the World-Famous Bullseye Steak, Oak Grilled Tri-Tip, and the 1958 Steak Sandwich.

By now it’s time to work off all that incredible wine and delicious food at a few select walking trails in Orcutt. Orcutt Hills Trail and Rice Ranch Trail are great options. Both are a little over three miles long with fabulous views and are suitable for all skill levels — perfect for a novice like me! Bonus: they’re dog-friendly (on leash)!

 

PLAY

 

Take advantage of the Santa Maria Wine Trolley, which runs every weekend from late spring to early fall. The trolley stops at a few wineries and includes two convenient stops in Old Orcutt. You can book your tickets in advance or at one of the trolley stops. The round trip is approximately 70 minutes.

Looking to unleash your creative side? Wine & Design is the perfect place to unwind and have fun. They offer a range of affordable public and private paint-and-sip parties for all ages and talent-levels, excellent for a girls’ night out, birthday party, date night, and more. Bring your friends or come by yourself and meet new friends while you enjoy a glass of wine during one of their two-hour classes. They provide the canvases and paintbrushes while a local artist guides you through the evening. You can also bring your own snacks to the classes. Their themed classes include opportunities to paint all kinds of items, from jean jackets to pint glasses!

If your visit falls during the week, the Old Town Orcutt Farmers Market starts in June and falls every third Wednesday of the month through October. These fun events offer fresh local produce, vendors, live music, food trucks, and kid-friendly activities.

If you’re planning a trip a little further along into the year, mark your calendar for the Taste of Old Town Orcutt in mid-September. I am looking forward to this event, which includes small bites, beer and wine tastings, shop discounts, and more. It is a perfect way to experience what Old Town Orcutt has to offer.

 

DRINK

 

Now on to my favorite part of the trip: Enjoying the local beverage options! During my Orcutt adventure, I fell in love with Steller’s Cellar, a wine and beer shop and bar that will celebrate its 2-year anniversary this June. Grab a seat at the bar, relax in their lounge area, or enjoy their dog-friendly patio — all while munching on light snacks including a lovely charcuterie board. Owner Mark Steller is an Orcutt native and shares that his hometown “is like walking into the past.”

Steller’s Cellar carries about 40 California beers, including beer on tap, and over 600 wine labels (mostly local). They even have their own wine label! I was lucky enough to try a flight of their Old Town White (Chardonnay), 
Old Town Red (Pinot Noir), and Sangiovese, which were all exceptional. For beer people, the Liquid Gravity West Coast IPA from San Luis Obispo is a popular choice. They also offer non-alcoholic options including NA spirits by Lyre’s. Visit all week long to experience their winery tastings on Thursdays, local live music on Fridays, and bottomless mimosas on Sundays. They also host special events throughout the year (I’m especially looking forward to their Pinot Party in November). When I asked Andi Keblesh from Steller’s Cellar what she loves about Old Orcutt, she shared, “Knowing I can walk into any of the businesses here and catch up with an old friend.” That community spirit was palpable in Old Town Orcutt!

I am a huge wine nerd, so I was excited to check out El Viñero Tasting Room. Owner/winemaker/grower Jordan Crabtree, a first-generation wine maker, was born and raised in Santa Maria. He studied viticulture at Cal Poly, then attained his Master’s in viticulture in Switzerland. He works mostly with organically farmed vineyards and believes in being a good steward of the land. El Viñero started in 2018 and their tasting room opened in 2022. I recommend their cool climate Syrah or the 2019 Super G, which is named for not only the unique Graciano/Grenache blend, but also in honor of the family nickname for Jordan’s grandmother. While enjoying a wine flight, you can order from Pizzeria Bello Forno to be delivered to the tasting room. Pizza and wine — heaven!

El Viñero hosts special events throughout the year and has a wine club, so you can be among the first to try their fantastic wines. When asked about his favorite thing about Orcutt, Jordan said, “There is a great sense of community here and the community is working together to make it even better.”

A short walk around the corner, Lark + Sparrow is a vibe! Owner Micaela Buchanan, a seventh generation Santa Maria native, vows to “protect that vibe at all costs.” She shared that she traveled around for a while but found herself back in Orcutt, enjoying the “lack of weather” and that it is in the “best wine region in the U.S.” You will find diverse wine and beer options from all over the world on their menu, alongside unique small-production local wine options. They have great non-alcoholic options too (it is important for them to create an inclusive experience).

Opened in December 2022, Micaela’s goal was to create a place where she would want to hang out. Popular events at Lark + Sparrow include trivia on Mondays and live music on Fridays. On April 20, they will hold a Dolly Parton Look-Alike and Lip Sync contest. The (rather risqué) artwork and furniture in the bar are all for sale, so you may walk away with more than just wine when you leave! They do not have any TVs/screens in the bar and discourage the use of devices; they want your experience at Lark + Sparrow to be about communication.

Our next stop is Old Town Wine & Brew. Owners Aimee Snyder and David Alvarado bought the place in mid-2022 and then opened and rebranded as Old Town Wine & Brew in December 2022. It is a bar and bottle shop featuring local wine from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. You can find rotating beer options focusing on micro and craft breweries and highly sought-after beers that you will not find at the grocery store. They have snacks, too, including their popular charcuterie board.

Special events abound here. They host events throughout the week, including live music on Friday nights, karaoke on Saturdays, and Sunday Funday Happy Hours. They offer both wine and beer clubs, and hold monthly beer tastings the third Thursday of every month, as well as “Meet the Maker” events for wines and beers. And I can’t neglect to mention their dog-friendly outdoor patio!

Aimee is an Orcutt native who shared that in the past 5-10 years, she has seen it just get better and better. “It has been great to see the growth and it is awesome to see where it is going,” she said.

Another fantastic Old Town Orcutt beer joint is the Naughty Oak Brewing Company. It’s a great place to enjoy beer flights or pints. They have 12 beers on tap, all brewed on-site. I’m a fan of the Chela, their Mexican Lager. They have trivia nights on Wednesdays and food trucks throughout the week.

 

 

SHOP

 

In between your food, wine, and beer stops, make sure to check out the shopping scene in Old Town Orcutt. I have not crocheted since I was a child but was inspired to take it up again after visiting Old Orcutt Yarnery. I had the opportunity to meet the owner, Lisa Long, who moved to Orcutt in 1988 and “never looked back.” Old Orcutt Yarnery opened in early 2022 and now sees a steady mix of locals and visitors who come to get everything they need for their knitting, crocheting, or weaving projects. In addition to yarn, they have a wide variety of books, patterns, hooks, and needles. The store sells gift cards for the yarn lover in your life and ships their yarn, so you can order directly from their website.

The Yarnery has become a favorite for knitting and crocheting enthusiasts visiting the Central Coast. Lisa has honed the inventory of the store to exceed customers’ expectations with popular items including yarn from brands such as Berroco and Malabrigo. 
Yarn comes in a range of price points, and they have local hand-dyed yarn that you cannot find anywhere else. They even carry yarn from Feederbrook Farm, which is high quality, hand-dyed yarn from Maryland. You can join their “Wool Gatherings” on Fridays and Sundays, which are informal sessions where you can bring your latest project and meet new people. They also offer private lessons, group lessons, and classes — including sweater classes in the colder months. You’ll find people of all ages joining these events, from 11 to 90 and everywhere in between.

While in the crafting mood, you can head over to the Old Town Quilt Shop. Fun fact: I was super cool in high school and took a quilting class. While my quilting career sadly came to an end after only making a few squares, Old Town Quilt shop makes me want to give it another try! You can find anything you would ever need for quilting – fabrics, patterns, batting, and quilting kits, and they also have classes and retreats. Old Town Quilt Shop is even a stop on the Central Coast Quilt Shop Trail.

If antiquing is more your speed, be sure to check out Déjà Vu Antiques. It is owned by Wendy Steller (yes, her husband, Mark, is the owner of Steller’s Cellar) and is truly a piece of Orcutt history. Déjà Vu Antiques is located on “The Loading Dock” that was built in 1906 as the original oil dock for Orcutt. Antique dealers from all around the Central Coast are here, and you can browse the clothing, furniture, jewelry, décor and more. You are sure to find a few treasures!

Need to find a gift for a friend, a host, or maybe for yourself? Head over to Company’s Coming, which has something for everyone. You can also check out Wildflower Women & Sandbox Kids, a women and children’s boutique, or Deasee’s Boutique, which carries stylish clothing as well as pajamas, shoes, accessories, and handbags. You can buy your whole wardrobe for your next Orcutt trip right in Old Town.

I’m the kind of person who must find the crystal shop in any town I visit — and I found it in Living Energy Crystals & Metaphysical Shop. They have crystals, jewelry, and divination tools. They also offer classes and readings to satisfy all of your mystical needs.

 

STAY

 

If staying in Old Town Orcutt for a few days (which I highly suggest), then Wine Stone Inn is your spot. Opened in 2019, the Wine Stone Inn is a boutique hotel with 12 well-appointed king and double queen rooms. Hotel amenities include complimentary WiFi, Comphy Co. linens, free parking, afternoon wine tastings for hotel guests, and live music. Vintage Room is their bar, with a delightful selection of local wine and beer along with light bites.

When staying at Wine Stone Inn, you are within walking distance of everything in Old Town Orcutt. They have a private event space in their wine cellar, and guests can enjoy their outdoor terrace. I spoke with the general manager of Wine Stone Inn, Jason Gentry, and he shared that his favorite thing about Old Town Orcutt is “the quaint nature of the people in the community and history of Old Orcutt.”

Outside of Old Town Orcutt, there are a few other lodging options, such as the historic Santa Maria Inn (which is rumored to be haunted!) and the Skyview Los Alamos, a boutique luxury, dog-friendly property that is less than 20 minutes away.

What struck me during my visit to Old Town Orcutt was how much everyone I spoke with genuinely loves their community! Many of the businesses I visited highlighted their exciting future expansion plans. I am confident you will want to visit Orcutt again and again and will find more to discover with every visit.

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