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Downtown SLO: Fine dining on a college budget

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By Erin Gabel
Online Editor

Champagne taste on a beer budget? Happy hour is the secret to be able to experience nicer restaurants without breaking the budget, whether you are 21 or not.

The college diet typically consists of rations of Top Ramen and boiled potatoes. Special occasions can call for a fine dining experience however, especially if you need to plan a date with little cash, or impress the parents at the last minute.

Here are a few great options that will fill you up without emptying your wallet.

Luna Red is the most diverse in its options for happy hour in San Luis Obispo. Located across the creek at the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the ambiance is lively– especially if you dine on their patio.

Enjoy everything from bacon wrapped dates stuffed with house made chorizo, to beef short rib tacos served with chimichurri, every day for $5 a plate.

Tuesdays offer more than your typical taco deals. In addition to the beef short rib taco, selections include rockfish and red quinoa tabbouleh tacos. On Wine Wednesdays, oysters are only $1 a piece; served raw or baked.

For the 21 and over crowd, Sangria is the house specialty, and is available for $5 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day, and all day, Thursdays. On Tuesdays, pair your tacos with tequila or mezcal. Wednesdays offer deals on wine and sake.

The restaurant offers a globally inspired menu with specials every day from 3 to 6 p.m. and on Thursdays all day. Luna Red is located at 1823 Chorro St.

Palazzo Giuseppe offers a mix of traditional Italian cuisine and upscale bar items on their menu. Dine on bruschetta caprese and handmade meatballs, along with buttermilk fried chicken for only $5 a plate.

If sitting in the Martini lounge isn’t an option, Giuseppe’s Express, next door to the restaurant, serves some of their great food to go. Get a slice of pizza, eggplant parmesan, or maybe even a gelato for dessert. Seating is an option in front of Giuseppe’s Express, offering people watching in the plaza, or take it to go somewhere special.

Cocktails range from $5-$7. Their selection of beer and wine, including their house wine from Difronzo Vineyards (owned by the proprietor), is $5 as well.

The restaurant has happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day Sunday, offering a separate menu served in the martini lounge. Palazzo Giuseppe is located at 1010 Court St.

Koberl at Blue is another great option that may be overlooked on a student’s budget. You can feast on a variety of unique options for $9 to $16, such as beef filet carpaccio, buffalo and butternut squash empanadas, and veal sweetbread with shrimp among side a vast array of other choices.

If you are looking for a unique and quality burger, Koberl at Blue won’t disappoint. Each burger is made with American Wagyu beef and prices range from $14 to $16.

Pair your burger with your choice of rotating draft beers to go along with your meal for a total of $18, or indulge in a martini served with house stuffed blue cheese olives for $6.

The restaurant is located in the historic J.P Andrews building across from the San Luis Obispo courthouse. Its décor and mahogany bar make it feel like you are stepping back in time. Koberl at Blue is located at 998 Monterey St.

While there are many restaurants to choose from, these 3 have great appetizers and amazing surroundings. All of these choices are located in downtown SLO, so when you are finished indulging you can take an enjoyable stroll through the charming town. Consider trying out their specials and appetizers to get the fine dining experience without breaking the bank.

With the extra savings, pay it forward. Be sure to tip your waiter well since they are probably students too.