At first glance, Custom House is your typical bar and grille. What makes it stand out however is its magnificent view of the Pacific with a panoramic stretch from Port San Luis to Pismo Beach. Located on the boardwalk in Avila Beach across from the pier, this is a surprisingly large restaurant for the tiny cluster of buildings and sandy cul de sacs that make up this one stoplight town.
The menu is typical grille fare, naturally weighted towards seafood. Our group started with some appetizers, quesadillas and potstickers. The quesadillas had a generous amount of avocado and Hatch green chiles in them (yay for picking season!) but otherwise were fairly generic. For the main course, most of our party opted for seafood, but being a landlubber, I went for the pork chops. Nicely seasoned and grilled, these were very tender and flavorful. There was nice sear lines from the grille (instead of your usual pan-fry) but overall this was an uneventful dish, and overpriced. In fact, looking through the menu, everything was overpriced, and beach-front-dining wasn’t enough compensation, as picturesque as the view was.
The one thing that did stand out was dessert. I opted for the Olallieberry pie. Olallieberry is a berry grown primarily in the San Luis Obispo area, and I’ve never seen products made with it sold anywhere else. It’s like a giant boysenberry, but a little less dark, a little lighter in flavor, and a little more tart. It makes for a great pie, especially when served with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream.
There are other sources for pies in the area, namely Avila Valley Barn, an expanding farm stand / agritourist stop off the 101 just south of San Luis Obispo. I made sure to stop by and pick up a whole pie on my trip home. The pies are light in flavor, and a little runny, but definitely worth a taste. Skip Custom House though unless you can’t drive back to San Luis Obispo, and pick up your pie at Avila Valley Barn.