Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lucky for shoppers, part 2

Old Navy has opened!

Ok, I'm not usually a big fan of chain stores, especially in a town as cute as San Luis Obispo, but I have to admit I'm a fan of Old Navy -- with the exception of their annoying commercials, which I hope we are not now subject to more of.

The store has fresh and quite affordable styles, a variety of items for work and play and a lot of the basics (tee, tanks, khakis etc.) that always seem to cost too much at some of the other chains.

Before now, you'd have to drive to Fresno or Gilroy to find one, so I am happy to welcome Old Navy to town.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lucky for shoppers

A common complaint about San Luis Obispo is a lack of shopping. I was even warned about it before I moved here.

And it's true, for those of used to the offerings of a big city, SLO lacks an indoor mall and many of the retailers found nationally.

But downtown SLO features a slew of boutiques that are great for browsing (and buying) -- something that recently caught the attention of Lucky, the fashion/shopping magazine.

Lucky's August issue highlights a number of downtown shops: Ambiance, Contessa S. and Contessa S. Home, French Quarter, Romp, Therapy, Finders Keepers, Paper Sky and The Nest.

Finders Keepers on Garden Street is my recently discovered treasure trove of fashion goodies. It's technically a thrift shop, but one that carries designer labels and only clothes in good condition. I turned in a few expensive purchases I never took to and with the store credit I earned, I picked up almost my entire spring clothing collection.

Therapy, right next to Bubble Gum Alley on Higuera Street, is a fun house for rack browsing and gift items. I've wiled away afternoons poking around the witty and "useless" items you just must have and digging through the racks for treasure like the $10 pair of plaid city pants I got a few months ago.

French Quarter is a newer addition to the scene that I've only window-shopped, waiting for a free afternoon to check it out. And Romp, while nothing there is within my price range, is a great shop for shoe lust.

Lucky definitely identified some top spots. But here are some of my other favorites.

Whenever Mom is in town, we hit Ann's on Monterey Street and never fail to find something for either me or her.

Full Circle
, also on Monterey, is a good choice for more downscale second-hand shopping.

Avanti on Higuera Street, if a little pricey, always has the latest trends and probably has the best selection of women's shoes downtown, especially with the opening of a shoe-only spot next door. Lucky Lu Lu's down the street usually has cheaper versions of trendy items. Dizzi, on Morro Street, is another good spot.

For unique jewelry, I like La Creme, on Morro Street, and LiLi Clever on Garden Street, though other popular jewelers include Studio 718 and Kevin Main on Higuera.

Find the Lucky story here, and The Tribune's take on the piece here.

What are your favorite local shopping spots? Share them here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vintages needs you!

In addition to being the online editor for and writing Discover SLO, I'm also the editor of Vintages, a wine and tourism magazine The Tribune publishes.

I'm starting to plan this fall's issue, and I'd love to hear your ideas for stories and features. A favorite winery or other spot you'd like to see featured? Something you've always wondered about wineries or winemaking? Ideas for a specific type of trip you'd like to plan to the Central Coast and its wine country?

Let me know and we'll try to include something in our next issue, which comes out in September, just before the fall harvest -- which, by the way, is a great time to visit the area's many wineries.

You can leave a comment here or email me at

You can find the spring Vintages at many of the area's tasting rooms or at here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The grapevine isn't always right

Fans of Domaine Alfred wines can breathe a sigh of relief today, as owner Terry Speizer has denied reports that his Edna Valley winery is for sale.

In fact, though he explored another opportunity last year, he is now focusing his efforts on expanding the winery, possibly even to other countries. Read more here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alfred's domaine for sale

Word arrives today that Domaine Alfred, a small Edna Valley winery renowned for its pinot noir and chardonnay, is for sale for $30 million.

DA is one of my favorite stops in Edna Valley, largely because I'm a big pinot noir fan, and they also have a very drinkable and affordable red blend called DA Red.

I mentioned Domain Alfred in the newly relaunched Vintages magazine that came out in March. Here's what I said:

"I was delighted to find the 2004 chardonnay that my mother recently raved about — and paid $80 for in New York’s Gramercy Tavern restaurant — for sale in the tasting room for just $24. As more of a red wine drinker, I was even more delighted to find that I liked it — my mother and I rarely have the same taste in anything. I promptly plucked up a bottle."
If you haven't come across a copy of Vintages in one of the county's many tasting rooms, you can view and dowload a PDF version here.

Read more on the potential Domaine Alfred sale here.

And let's hope that whoever purchases the property keeps what thousands of fans love about Terry Speizer's wines.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We love We Olive

We Olive is one of my favorite shops in Paso Robles for browsing, both with the eyes and the taste buds.

It's an inviting store just off the main square in downtown Paso where you can peruse -- and taste -- all manner of local and California-made olive oils, tapenades, salsas, vinegars and more. There are savory-smelling soaps, ceramics and other gifts. And the store managers encourage rather than frown on frequent taste-testing.

It was news to me the franchises had opened in Riverside and Fresno -- and now there's one coming to downtown SLO, as well as San Francisco. It should make a find addition to all the browsing already available in SLO's visitor-friendly downtown.

You can read more about the expansion plans here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

July in Sunset

Ok, I prematurely promised a look at the July issue of Sunset magazine. That was before I flipped through it and realized -- ooops -- there's nothing about SLO County this month!

There is, however, a look at the close-by "Gaviota Coast," as the magazine calls it, touting the long, unspoiled beaches, hidden canyons and rolling orchards. There are mentions of Gaviota State Park, El Capitan State Beach and Canyon Resort, the Arroyo Honda Preserve and more. Not a bad place to explore if you have to leave SLO County. Find the story online here, with the what/where info here.

If you are down that way, Santa Barbara's El Cielo, atop the Hotel Andalucia, makes the magazine's Top 10 Rooftop Bars.

Sip wine from nearby 
Sideways country against a backdrop of 
the Santa Ynez Mountains, the Channel Islands, and the red-tiled roofs of downtown. The mission-style fireplace at the intimate poolside lounge ups the romantic ante.