A Brief Prologue
I last dined in at Industrial Eats in February of 2020, before the lockdown. Since then, so much has changed for our local restaurants, including a slew of constantly changing Covid-19 health standards. Because of this, I pushed the publication of this review back month after month, waiting for things to “go back to normal” before sharing it. Now, five months later, I’ve decided it’s now or never. Our local restaurants need our support now more than ever, and that’s why I am sharing this review.
While some of the content of the review may not apply at the moment (see: dining indoors), what hasn’t changed is Industrial Eats commitment to serve the community incredible food made from locally sourced ingredients. Currently Industrial Eats is offering limited outdoor dining and take out. Visit their website or their Instagram page for current information.
Industrial Eats Restaurant Review
If you’ve driven any length of the 101 up from Santa Barbara or down from beyond Paso Robles, you’ve seen them. The great overbearing billboards, advertising, “Everything for the traveler!” Anderson’s Split Pea soup, seemingly the only landmark in Buellton putting the small town on the map. And it may have been, until 2014, when a small restaurant opened just down the road from the famous Anderson’s on Industrial Way.
Where an old warehouse once stood, Industrial Eats made its home. Though it may be in its name, the food here is anything but industrial.
The restaurant is located in a small open space, with high ceilings and two wood-fired pizza ovens in the back. The tables are large, with open seating, community-style. Everything about the welcoming atmosphere seems casual, laid-back and open. That may be why the food, which combines fine dining ingredients and techniques stands out so brightly against the overtly casual come-as-you-are vibe that permeates throughout.
If this is your first time here, and the seats are available, I recommend sitting at the bar seating facing the ovens. On the counter in front of you, you’ll find a diverse array of cookbooks on topics from bread baking to how to use the whole animal, nose to tail. While I find these books fascinating, and admire the confidence required to put such a book on a restaurant table, the real amazing feats are happening at those wood-fired ovens.
Yes those ovens, and the cooks working in their smoke and flames to produce miraculously tasty pizza, and churning out so much more.
One stand out wood-fired dish is the White Shrimp, cooked in the oven with copious amounts of butter, garlic and herbs, finished with a perfectly toasted hunk of crusty bread. The dish seems simple written on paper but the quality of ingredients and finesse with which its assembled proves anything but. This is the Industrial Eats experience codified: what seems straightforward on the menu arrives on the plate an impossibly complex layering of flavors and techniques. These are the dishes that make you say. “That is so good,” out loud, without a thought, as a simple instinctual reaction to the seemingly impossible tastiness on your tongue.
For so long, I struggled to quantify the exact unique quality that embodies every aspect of dining at Industrial Eats. There’s nothing quite like it that I’ve seen anywhere else, so without a comparable counterpart, I struggled to define it. It left me, for lack of a better term, speechless.
Here you will not find abstract names of any dish. The menu items are described and identified solely by their featured ingredients. That’s all you have to base your order on, and here, that’s all you need.
It’s common to encounter an ingredient that makes you go “What is that?”. And while you’ll feel wholly uncool asking the person behind the counter to describe Vadovan to you, you should. Because if an unidentified ingredient is what holds you back from ordering an intriguing dish, you are missing out.
Take for example, the Smoked Pheasant Salad. Have I ever ate pheasant before Industrial Eats? No. Could I find it again elsewhere? Maybe. But like this, with the freshest local ingredients, a perfectly balanced dish of rich smokiness, bright citrus and crisp greens? No way.
This is food with attitude. Not a bad attitude — a rebellious one. Where traditional fine dining says, “You can’t do that,” Industrial Eats says, “Watch me.”
This is the indescribable trait of the restaurant and it permeates every corner. From the Mall Rats poster in the restroom to the purposeful absence of structure on the menu. It is this quality that abruptly jolts you from your culinary comfort zone and propels you into a dining experience wherein anything is possible.
There is an acute lack of pretentiousness in Industrial Eats, every aspect of the experience solidifying their philosophy to create a restaurant where they would want to eat, where everyone is welcome, no matter your palate or budget. In its inclusively rebellious way, Industrial Eats pioneers the theory that good food should not require an unlimited budget, or a dress code and should always be accompanied by a sense of humor.
Good food is not defined by the starchiness of the table linens or whether or not your server is wearing a tie. Fine dining here is instead about feeding the community exquisite food, sharing the same values held so near and dear to us all on the Central Coast. That food is about bringing people, all people, together at the same table, enjoying local, organic products, feeding not only our palates (starving for culinary adventure) but satisfying our souls.
181 Industrial Way
Buellton, CA 93427
(805) 688-8807 | Website: www.industrialeats.com
Online ordering is currently available. We recommend browsing the Clipboards and Small Plates sections of their menu online — this is where you will find the Smoked Pheasant Salad and White Shrimp mentioned in the review.
However, if you are simply looking for a delicious way to feed your family, Industrial Eats also offers Family Meals. Add a Pizza to your Bolognese or Meatball family meal for an extra Industrial experience!
All opinions shared in this review belong to the author, Lauren Harvey. No compensation was received for this review and is solely based on the author’s previous experiences.