Being trapped at home with the exception of the grocery store and one Airstream adventure, life has been less about getting out and more about making the most of being in. Until this month when we ventured up north to Paso Robles on a road trip in the 2021 Buick Enclave Avenir (more on this in our Paso wine country article) and discovered a brand new—as of November 2020—spot called the Paso Market Walk. An open market concept, the space is eye catching from its exterior architecture and design, the layout with one massive tree adorned with lanterns, planter beds, an outdoor nursery housed with succulents and local friendly herbs, plants, and flowers, rustic bistro tables situated on the drought friendly seating area, and cathedral-like glass doors leading to what will be your new favorite hangout.
When you enter in through the massive glass doors you are hit with a wave of the most intoxicating smells from in-house Japanese ramen and California cuisine to vegan cheese, coffee, beer, wine, and the créme de la créme … sweet baked pastry goodness. The space itself is vast with painted murals and reminders generously dispersed throughout the layout giving it an airy, delightful, and creative vibe perfect for those days when you need a change of scenery and want to work somewhere cool. Paso Market Walk also happens to have secret lofts to rent on the top floor that are so beautifully and minimalistically designed, we’re dying to book a floor and tell you all about the experience (don’t worry, we’re on it!)
Founded by Deborah Baldwin, an experienced entrepreneur that co-founded Justin Winery in 1981, Baldwin created Market Walk to offer Paso Robles locals and tourists alike a place to settle in, feel a bit of joy and goodness wrap itself around you through smells, stunning architecture with ample history, and that certain home away from home je ne sais pas essence. With an extensive knowledge of the wine industry, it’s her sophisticated taste and innovative eye for building community, that makes this project one more reason to fall head over heels for the region.
So what are the highlights? We’re so glad you asked! We had the pleasure of touring the Paso Market Walk with Jill Alexender and that was an immediate plus. Her knoweldge and passion, professionalism and likability is truly the face of what hospitality should strive to be.
Paso Robles is a growing wine region on the Central Coast of California that is abundant in some of the best people you’ll likely meet anywhere else. It’s also at the forefront of sustainable practices, insatiable eateries, decadent wines, playful breweries and distilleries, charm, history, and a sense of community that exudes in every part of the area. So when you come here, where you rest your head matters. Paso Market Walk has really gone above and beyond to create a space that feels so warm and inviting, it’s hard not to want to spend an entire trip taking it all in–and a great start to find that place of tranquility and intrigue exists in The Lofts located atop the marketplace.
Take a moment to peruse the rooms and amenities, and we’ll be reporting back later this spring with a full run through of what it’s like to stay there. Book your stay
DINING + MUST EATS
Paso Market Walk has multiple options when you’re hungry, thirsty or looking for a sweet finish. With 13 options to choose from, including several restaurants and bars opening later this Spring, (see descriptions at the end of this article for more), the amount of choices you have in this beautiful space is impressive.
Before getting into the roundups, we have to mention a new local SLO female-founded brand called Slim Sadies beef jerky now available at the Market Walk. Founded by Heidi Negranti, a disabled veteran, mother and wife, Slim Sadie’s is one of those snacks you’ll want to keep around every day. Made with the highest quality ingredients, Negranti has made something pretty phenomenal. Inspired by a childhood memory, Slim Sadie’s Beef Jerky was founded on nostalgia, three generations of women, and a passion for sharing jerky.
I remembered how my mother literally used to make us call her Slim Trim Beautiful Sadie and that she always said that the way she lost the baby weight from us kids was by eating jerky. So, It just came to me and voila! Slim Sadie’s was born.
The story behind the eatery is the first part of why this is such an exquisite laid back dining experience with high end cuisine and a ton of love. Husband and wife team, Justin and Julie, moved from Los Angeles to Paso Robles in 2018 with the goal of investing in the community, setting down roots, and pursuing their passion for wine and food. Be sure to pull up a seat and come prepared to try some amazing local wines, but it’s Justin’s wealth of culinary knowledge and commitment to sustainability and locally sourced ingredients that makes the menu so damn good.
We were there as California began to open up to 25% capacity and it gave us an opportunity to sit down and chat a bit about how much feeding people really means to Justin and his wife, Julie. Coming from Los Angeles where it can often feel like feast or famine for those in the restaurant industry, they were in search of a place that would feel like home, with a community they felt they belonged to, and a great environment to raise their kids. Paso Robles was the perfect fit, and after having worked at Thomas Hill Organics, when the opportunity presented itself to open up a place of his own, Wine Merchant was born.
His cuisine is above par (rustic kale salad was refreshing and the grilled cheese hit it out of the park), the wine selection introduced us to several new wines including Nelle Winery’s Bedlam, and the Morro Bay oysters were some of the best oysters I’ve had in years. But what made those oysters next level is his mignonette made with rice vinegar, cilantro, jalapeno, shallots and lime. You’ll want a bottle to take home (if only they sold it!).