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Set the bar high



OOH LA LA! :  General Manager Annie Bourg (left) and owner Carolyn Fagnani run Broad Street Tavern, a new downtown establishment with a European café twist. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILER
  • OOH LA LA! : General Manager Annie Bourg (left) and owner Carolyn Fagnani run Broad Street Tavern, a new downtown establishment with a European café twist.

Forget your passport. Experience tasteful European art, food, and libations from the comfort of downtown San Luis Obispo. Broad Street Tavern officially opened its doors for business a couple of weeks ago, but its concept has been years in the making.

When John and Carolyn Fagnani decided they were retiring to the Central Coast a few years back, they bought some commercial properties between Big Sky and the Wild Donkey Café on Broad Street in SLO. Then they decided to live out their longtime dream of opening their own restaurant—despite never having worked in the industry.

“This is my first venture in this business; I have never done this before,” Carolyn admitted. “We decided we were going to jump in with both feet and try running a restaurant.”

She spent the past 30 years running a top soil business with her husband in Northern Virginia.

What the Fagnanis lack in service industry experience, they more than make up for with refreshing options. From the moment a patron enters this art nouveau-inspired eatery/bar hybrid, it’s very clear it isn’t a typical downtown SLO college bar and eatery.

“We’re a restaurant with a bar, not a bar with a restaurant,” Carolyn said. “We enjoy having everyone, but we want to cater to more of the professionals.”

The architecturally interesting 49-seat interior has a high decorative tin ceiling, light wood flooring, and custom tables and features original artwork—all of which makes for an airy and artistic ambiance. A patio with seating for 10 welcomes customers and provides the option for outside dining and people watching. A large bar features 16 draft micobrews, a variety of wines, and fine spirits. But what sets this bar apart from the others in SLO is attention to absinthe—a highly alcoholic beverage with ties to the historical French art scene.

“Our idea was turn-of-the-century French café,” Carolyn said. “People used to go to the French cafes and drink absinthe. We do the whole ritual of taking the fountain and dripping [water] through a sugar cube and into a glass.”

Also making the must-have list is Van Gogh’s Ear ($11), a cocktail comprised of chocolate liqueur, vanilla vodka, Kaluha, and cream, garnished with a chocolate ear from Tropical Chocolates. Or try Henry the VIII ($8), a bloody mary with a choice of peppered vodka or Maker’s Mark whiskey, rimmed with bacon salt and garnished with beef jerky. Pitchers of mimosas during Sunday brunch come for $15.

The kitchen is led by chef James Voisenet and distinguishes itself with Southern and French inspired foods for every meal. Breakfast favorites include homemade eggs benedict ($10), burritos ($9), and fresh berry crepes ($10); top-selling lunch items are the hot corned beef Reuben ($9), French dip sandwich ($9), and curry chicken salad sandwich ($8); and dinner must-haves are spicy Southern fried chicken ($13), filet mignon with sautéed mushroom, fresh greens and mashed potatoes ($21), and the seafood crepe with crab meat and shrimp ($15).

Broad Street Tavern offers a welcoming, casual yet sophisticated aura. Stop in and satisfy all your senses Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 787-0571 or visit their Facebook page and receive a 25 percent coupon.

Fast fact

Stunning cars will roll through South County as the 26th annual Classic at Pismo Beach, one of California’s largest car shows, brings thousands of classic cars and hotrods to the SLO County beach city June 16 through 19.

This show, held annually on the third full weekend of June, pulls in 1,000 classic cars and street rods and more than 125,000 spectators over three days.

For more information, call 1-866-450-7469 or visit

Intern Kai Beech compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send items for consideration to [email protected].

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