On the edge of Old Town Orcutt stands Far Western Tavern, housed in a two-story building, illuminated by romantic twinkling lights on the corner of E Clark Avenue and S Pacific Street.
Enter in the high-ceiling double doors to be greeted by a friendly hostess, a dimly lit bar to your immediate right. The atmosphere in here is clear in intent and executed to a single purpose — the trademarks of a classic Steakhouse with a California Ranch twist.
Dinner begins with a quintessential steakhouse starter, a cool veggie tray of pickles and fresh chopped carrots and celery. The dinner menu is small, yet focused. A single page of appetizers, a sprinkling of soup and salad and the main event, 1958 oak-grilled dinner classics.
Given Far Western Tavern’s proximity to the city itself, the influence of Santa-Maria style barbecue is a natural, welcome introduction to the menu selections.
We started with the proscuitto-wrapped jalapenos, stuffed with cream cheese and served with a delectable salsa verde. The jalapeños were pleasantly spicy complemented by the salty prosciutto and the much needed cool creaminess of melted cheese.
Other appetizers on the menu include an equally appealing artichoke dip, or, for the more adventurous, a plate of pan-fried sweetbreads.
Each dinner classic entree begins with Bay Shrimp situated in a small bowl, covered in a house-made cocktail sauce.
Choose from green salad or farmer’s market soup for the second course. The green salad (our choice over the soup) was simple and satisfying, full of fresh baby lettuces, a mild shredding of carrot, cherry tomatoes and croutons with the perfect crunch.
For entrees, we went big. The special Surf and Turf for him, a 6 oz lobster tail atop an 8 ounce sirloin served with a baked potato.
For me, a 10 ounce filet and the grilled polenta.
The entrees are rounded out Santa Maria style, served with a bowl of pinquito beans, salsa and garlic bread.
The steaks were cooked to perfection, both as ordered.
Decadent and buttery, the lobster was equally well-executed. While the baked potato lacked adornment, the grilled polenta provided a wonderful complement to the filet mignon. A crispy charred outside held the creamy, smooth polenta balanced deliciously.
Dessert proved a pleasant surprise, seeing one of our favorites on the menu. Affogato is an Italian dessert, a shot of espresso served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To eat, pour the espresso over the ice cream. The sweet cool of the ice cream swirling in the bitter espresso is one of my palate’s favored contrasts.
Far Western Tavern features McConnell’s on its dessert menu, a Santa Barbara-based company known for its high-quality ice cream. (Check out their new shop in downtown SLO!)
At Far Western Tavern, each dish is well-portioned and despite the potentially overwhelming amount that is served, we left full, but not over-stuffed.
Though perhaps the most notable feature of Far Western Tavern is not the steaks — but the service.
Greeted with a smile upon entry, every employee that passed our table, to fill a water glass or to clear a recently emptied dish, was friendly, accommodating, and genuinely seemed happy to serve. Our waitress was quick and even offered creative non-alcoholic substitutes for the liqueur shot typically served with the Affogato.
While certainly upscale, Far Western Tavern maintains the atmosphere of welcoming hospitality you’d receive in a ranch kitchen, that serves up fresh cuts of meat. Cattle brands adorned the dishware in clear homage to the humble origin of the cuisine and the food itself.
For high-quality Santa Maria-style barbecue in an intimate, comfortable atmosphere, take the drive out to Orcutt to visit Far Western Tavern. If a lavish weekend brunch or hearty lunch is more your speed, they offer menus for both as well.
Far Western Tavern
300 East Clark Avenue
Tuesday – Thursday 11 AM – 10 PM
Friday & Saturday 11 AM – 12 PM
Sunday 10 AM – 9 PM