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SLO flight for friendly food

San Luis Obispo, California

Going flying with my dad, a CFI and retired F–16 fighter pilot, will always be some of my favorite memories and I try to get up in the air with him as much as I can. This time around we decided to fly the Cessna 182 down to the San Luis County Regional Airport for a quick lunch at the Spirit of San Luis restaurant on the field.

The author and her father flying to San Luis Obispo in their Cessna 182. Photo by Niki Britton.

We met at our hangar at the San Martin Airport around 11 in the morning. I conducted the preflight inspection, then we discussed our route of flight. We weren't looking to spend all day flying down the coast, and because the Hunter Military Operations Area corridors were hot, we opted to fly inland toward Paso Robles then head south toward San Luis Obispo—a 123-nautical-mile flight that would take us a little over an hour each way.

It was a windy day with scattered clouds at 5,500 feet and above. After takeoff, I set my heading, checked in with air traffic control for flight following, and continued my climb to 5,500 feet. ATC informed us that paratroopers would be skydiving along our planned route; I deviated accordingly. As we neared Paso Robles Municipal Airport, we took in the sprawling hills of the Paso Robles wine country and turned toward San Luis County Regional Airport.

The Spirit of San Luis restaurant at the San Luis County Regional Airport. Photo by Niki Britton.

The tower cleared us to land behind a Bombardier Global Express jet and eventually I was lined up on final for Runway 29. The Spirit of San Luis restaurant and parking apron sit just off taxiway Alpha at the intersection of taxiways Echo and Foxtrot. We buttoned up the 182 and passed through the gate separating the airport ramp from the restaurant.

We didn't need fuel or other services on this flight, but the FBO, ACI Jet, is highly rated online for its beautiful facility, friendly crewmembers, and great service.

The Spirit of San Luis features two outdoor seating areas and an indoor dining room. From almost any seat, patrons can enjoy an expansive view of aircraft coming and going. The restaurant was busy and most of the best seats in the house were already occupied. Dad and I were seated toward the inside of the restaurant, and even here, we still managed to have a great view of the runway. The walls are adorned with aviation-themed imagery, featuring photos of pilots and aircraft of years gone by.

The San Luis Obispo Airport parking apron from the deck of the Spirit of San Luis restaurant. Photo by Niki Britton.

The restaurant offers a variety of fare from classic breakfast and brunch offerings to salads, burgers, and more. On my last visit, I enjoyed the Spirit Burger, a classic cheeseburger with bacon onion jam, fried onion strings, chipotle aioli, and all the fixings. This time around, I opted for the Seared Ahi Salad, featuring avocado, pickled onion, farro, and sesame vinaigrette dressing; my dad ordered the same. The salads came out quickly and were delicious!

Our conversation at lunch was all about aviation as we talked about my dad's former airline career and adventures as a fighter pilot. After a quick restroom pit stop, we got the attention of a restaurant manager who was kind enough to escort us back through the security gate, where we completed our preflight, taxied to the runway, and took off for home.

Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: U.S. Travel

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