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The Naked Fish
Paso Robles, California
The Naked Fish is a fun, funky sushi restaurant in downtown Paso Robles. One of 2 locations owned by local entrepreneur Daniel Cardinale. I spoke to him recently when my family celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday there. Her first legal drink was a $5 sake bomb! Cardinale shared a bit about his desire the bring the experience of his South Lake Tahoe location to his hometown.
He grew up in Paso and wanted to create a space that honored the history and culture of the area. The restaurant is intimate, but feels roomy. The wood paneling on the east wall is repurposed from a local residence that was built in the 1840’s. Single panel mirrors from Paso Robles Glass bring about space in the intimate setting, opening it up and making the restaurant feel roomier than it actually is. The mirrors also create a reflection of the custom designed lighting in the center of the room. Looking up from the high top seating along the opposite wall, it’s like the entire ceiling is underwater in a bubbly sea of beautiful jelly fish which were hand create by local artist, Dale Evers. In warm weather, the patio is a great vantage point for checking out all the beautiful people exploring the lovely downtown.
Service here is friendly and prompt. I wasn’t surprised that Cardinale mentioned that The Naked Fish aims for consistency. We have dined here many times and the food is consistently good, the quality excellent. I would consider the sushi menu traditional with Hawaiian influences, such as the Maui Wowie roll. A futomaki roll filled with soft shell crab and topped with ahi and yuzu aioli. My daughter loves the Tsunami roll which is a spicy version of the former. I am a sushi purist and usually have sashimi or hand rolls. The chef made me a delicious spicy scallop hand roll with spicy mayo and toasted garlic chips. Everything was fresh and the cut roll slices fit in one bite (which is essential).
I already mentioned the $5 sake bomb, but as far as drinks go, they have something for everyone. For the spicy dishes, choose one of many draft beers or sweet nigori sakes. We had the Four Vines Naked “unoaked” chardonnay that paired well with our entire meal. The cocktail list consists of many classic drinks such as Margaritas, The Naked Mule and Lemon Drop. The cocktails are made with soju vodka, so they will have a bit less of a bite alcohol-wise. (Is that a word? Well, it is now). This is the perfect place for a celebration. Reservations are recommended.
Paso Robles, California
Tin City is an area of rural Paso Robles, just south of the city limits off Ramada Drive. It started out as an industrial area for construction materials and a custom playground manufacturer. Barrel House Brewing Company, which opened in 2013 was the original anchor. Currently, over 20 tasting rooms and craft beverage specialists make up this little “city”. Tin Canteen is a full service restaurant that opened about 2 months ago. Until then, there weren’t many food options other than weekend food trucks (but really good ones), sheep’s milk ice cream at Negranti and the small pasta factory, Etto, which is located next door. Their fresh made pastas are featured here and there’s a view into the store from the window.
The vibe is casual and the noise level is a little high, but somehow we feel really relaxed there. Service was surprisingly very good, even on our first visit, which was right after they opened in October 2018. It was a pleasant surprise, as most new places need to iron out kinks. Tin Canteen’s operation runs smoothly and to me, it indicates a well trained staff. They have an extensive selection of beer and imported wine by the bottle. They have draft beer serve local wines on tap, including some great Italian blends from Giornata by the carafe. We have visited their tasting room (also located in Tin City) many times. The wines pair perfectly with the wood fired pizzas. Another menu item not to miss is the spaghetti and American wagyu meatballs. The meatballs are melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavorful and the tomato sauce is simple, with not too much dry spice and stuff going on. You pretty much can’t go wrong with either of these dishes.
If you are a more daring diner like I am, go for the seafood. I’ve had the lovely grilled octopus as well as the whole shrimp. The shrimp left such an impression on me. I found myself craving it and I had to go back for it a week later. Whole head-on shrimp with caramelized onion in an olive oil butter sauce, served with crusty bread for dipping. Spectacular.
They are currently open Wednesday through Sunday, for lunch with dinner service Thursday through Sunday. It can get a bit crowded, but once the weather warms up and the patio seating is available, I suggested heading out there. It’s a darling patio and with the water feature it’s going to be so relaxing, you won’t want to leave.