San Luis Obispo is known for its wine bars serving up eclectic flavors at steep prices. But for college students looking to try gourmet flavors while not breaking the bank, I'd recommend The Vegetable Butcher. A fairly new restaurant to downtown San Luis Obispo (established in 2017), the Vegetable Butcher brings flavors of the Southwest to the Central Coast. Despite its veg-centric name, they're serving up a wide array of local vegetables with a twist, as well as dishes for any meat lover. 

Madelyn Gagnon


I've now dined at the Butcher twice and have to say that I've never had a bad experience. For starters, I'd recommend the Skillet Fundido (shown above) made with queso fresco, squash, corn, poblano, red pepper, and lime. It's served with a side of their salty homemade blue corn tortilla chips, which are a great accompaniment to the cheesy and veggie packed skillet. This dish is rich, creamy, and a crowd favorite amongst everyone who I've eaten with at The Vegetable Butcher. If you aren't a cheese lover though, I'd try the Forbidden Sesame Cauliflower (shown below). Deep fried and tossed in a tangy sauce, this cauliflower is transformed into a crispy and meaty snack. It is served over a bed of forbidden rice and is perfect for a larger group looking to share a filling appetizer. The price tag on both starters is $12, which is fairly reasonable for a group dining together.  


The Vegetable Butcher's menu is very simple, consisting of share plates, vegetable side dishes, a la carte tacos, and market enchiladas (with the exception of their Tamale Tuesdays). Each time I've gone I've tried new dishes, including a variety of their tacos and the vegan market enchilada. Of the three tacos I've tried—the Tennessee Hot Fried Chicken taco, Market Fish taco (which was mahi mahi), and steak taco— the fried chicken taco stood out as my favorite (each are typically $6-8). The fried chicken was perfectly fried, and topped with a carrot habanero salsa, radish, gold pea shoots and Napa poppy slaw. Their Market Enchiladas ($13 for a single) on the other hand, are typically offered two ways, with either a meat option or vegan option. I've tried the vegan enchiladas, which are butternut squash, quinoa and poblano enchiladas with ancho chili mole, cilantro crema, and red onion served with black rice (shown below). Their tacos and enchiladas are all very complex, including a variety of intricate flavors and unique ingredients. 

Madelyn Gagnon

Both times I've dined at the Butcher, I've been greeted by one of the many owners who have each given me a warm welcome. The chefs moved to San Luis after owning multiple Arizona based restaurants, and have truly transported the flavors from that region. This is a restaurant that cares about each element added to a dish, focusing on locally sourced, seasonal farmer's market vegetables and premium meats. As a person who loves great food, I can attest to the distinctive flavors and authenticity of The Vegetable Butcher. 

#Spoon Tip: They also offer a Happy Hour and Sunday brunch specials!