Pluto’s – Fresh Food For A Hungry Universe – San Luis Obispo


Rarely am I greeted so warmly at an eatery that the adoration I feel for it is established before I take a bite. This was the case at my new find in San Luis Obispo at Pluto’s Restaurant, named for the outermost planet, (and not Popeye’s hamburger swilling companion). They provide fresh food for a hungry universe, especially in college towns and feature a revolutionary concept in dining satisfaction. Pluto’s has a special homespun distinction and serves as an extension of your mom’s kitchen.

Like its namesake, Pluto’s strives to be truly out-of-this-world via the food station, as advanced as the space station of planetary exploration where you get what you see and see what you get. Pluto’s started in 1995, filled a much needed niche in the vast nothingness between fast food and full service restaurants. This is the 9th restaurant in the empire and I believe we will see many more. 

I asked the nice young gentlemen, Preston King who greeted me if he was the owner and he told me, “No, but I take ownership of your good experience while dining with us”. I was very impressed. Pluto’s mission is to offer quality, American style fresh food in an inviting setting. On the counter before me I saw a large juicy whole turkey, succulent roast beef and all the side dishes waiting to be pick in your version of the perfect home style meal. 

But first I was excited about the salad bar. I love when I can create my own rabbit food masterpiece from the pre-chopped and washed ingredients fabricating my version of the unadulterated salad. Preston assured me that the produce Pluto’s uses is purchased daily and each salad is tossed to my satisfaction by the salad chef. Salad tastes better when washed and chopped by someone else.

I cherry-pick a mixture of romaine and baby spinach with all the toppings that I believe make the textbook salad. They included broccoli, red onions, carrots, sunflower seeds, plum tomatoes, green beans, garbanzo beans, croutons, Parmesan cheese and crumbled blue cheese. I added grilled herbed chicken breast and topped it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. There was 20 other items to choose from all looking garden-fresh and tasty. Each salad comes with your choice of freshly baked sourdough, wheat, or focaccia bread; I choose the focaccia and was impressed by the texture, flavor and wholesomeness. 

I moved on to the next station to decide my main course and side dishes. Every day they prepare carve-to-order oven-roasted turkey and roast beef. You can choose to have it sliced on a plate or as a grilled sandwich on freshly baked bread. I selected to go for a traditional pre thanksgiving meal with carved Herb Roasted Sonoma Turkey, gravy, smashed potatoes, Neptune’s stuffing and the Martian Mac N’ Cheese. These dishes are presented to you like your grandma made them in sturdy pans that scream this is going to be delectable. Each was a testament to the mission statement with a sense of comfort food created from the freshest ingredients. I especially like the Mac N Cheese, as they elected to keep it simple and cheesy.

Portobella Mushrooms
My companion choose the Grilled Portobello Mushroom with Roasted Red Peppers and goat cheese with Mushrooms of the Moment and Saturn’s Garlic Potato Rings that were light years better than fries. These vegetarian medleys were superb in there flavoring and interesting combinations. 

They had a nice selection of local wines and beers and the desert section made me long for my missing husband (he had a meeting), so I scooped up a huge peanut butter cookie, two Carmelitas Lemon Bars and a pecan bar to take home to him. I am a good wife, after all.

I liked the layout and that you enjoy the best of all worlds in dining. Instead of having to cope with all of the uncertainties of a wait staff, guests are served at individual food stations where they make their selections and oversee their preparation in a refreshing one-on-one process. You are encouraged to dine at your own pace (a selection of daily newspapers is available for those who wish to linger) and partake of that good neighborhood feeling. Pluto’s has erased the annoyance of poor service, unidentifiable entrees, and the added expense of tipping.

Louis Kimball and Gerry Bugas
The manger/owner Gerry Bugas came to chat with us and we complemented every dish. He told us that Pluto’s is absolutely committed to wholesome fresh food, and the use of the latest healthful cooking techniques in its food preparation, such as steaming, char grilling and roasting. These places has everything you need if you are missing family or want a home cooked meal without having to clean the dishes after (unless you loose your ticket, then you do have to wash the dishes). 

Pluto’s fresh food for a hungry universe is located at 1122 Chorro Street in San Luis Obispo, you call call them at 805.439.3200. They are open seven days a week from 11:00 am until 10:00 pm.