One of my favorite reasons to visit California’s Central Coast is to experience some of the world’s best ingredients. Great additions in the past decade include Full of Life Flatbread. In 2013, chef Brian Collins left Clark Staub’s restaurant in Los Alamos to open Ember Restaurant with wife Harmony in nearby Arroyo Grande. This rustic restaurant features copper-topped tables and bar, decorative window frames, a hearth that kicks flames, a wood-burning oven coated in aqua and white tiles, and some serious culinary flair.
The menu is highly seasonal, primarily starring local ingredients. Yes, Collins and his crew still make pizza, but some of the other wood-fired dishes are even more interesting. For instance, Collins serves Grilled Rib-eye ($32), which cooks over red oak in classic Santa Maria style. The rosy slab of beef contains a healthy fat content, so the meat stays nice and juicy. Caramelized rectangles of bracero-roasted potatoes and singed broccolini join the steak. On top, you’ll find chunky garlic confit and avocado chimichurri, which packs a punch.