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“What a view” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Marisol at the Cliffs

Marisol at the Cliffs
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Ranked #25 of 103 Restaurants in Pismo Beach
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$25 - US$40
Cuisines: American, Bar, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Groups, Local cuisine, View, Romantic, Business meetings, Child-friendly, Special Occasion Dining, Bar Scene
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, After-hours, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Valet Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Spy Glass
Transit: The bus stops right in front of the cliffs or down the street at spy glass.
Description: "Marisol" translates to "The Sun and the Sea" and no where is this more evident than through the flavors of the food. The menu at "Marisol" has been developed as New American Cuisine. As the premier choice of Pismo Beach restaurants, all of the dishes at "Marisol" are prepared with a soulful touch by Chef de Cuisine Victor Flores, featuring produce from fields of local farmers, seafood fresh off the boats of local fishermen, and naturally raised meats and poultry. The wine list for "Marisol" is awarded by Wine Spectator and has an amazing wines by the glass page with many local wines from Monterey to Santa Barbara County. For the finest oceanfront dining experience, try our award-winning Pismo Beach California restaurant "Marisol at the Cliffs".
Carpinteria, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
“What a view”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2014

Wonderful food, stiff drinks and great service. The cliffs is amazing place to bring a date and WOW them. Check out the sunday brunch it is to die for.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
Thank Paul B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cliffs_resort, Manager at Marisol at the Cliffs, responded to this review, 23 April 2014
Paul, thanks for letting us know that we truly impressed you and your date! Our staff really aims to make you comfortable to let you relax and enjoy the ambiance, and the Sunday Brunch is a fantastic way to sample everything we have to offer alongside some mimosas and an oceanfront view.

We look forward to seeing you both back again!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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258 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    120
    77
    38
    7
    16
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Alta Loma, California
2 reviews
“Dinner at Marisol”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 March 2014

Everyone in the Restaurant greeted us when we came in. Our waiter was happy to go over the menu explaining different dishes with us. We ordered several different things and then we shared bites with each other. Everything we order was very good. We were enjoying our dinner when Amanda Phillips the shift Manager stopped by our table to check and see if we were happy with our food, and enjoying our time at the Resort. She was very courteous and checked on us several times while we were there. Everyone there was friendly and the food was great.

  • Visited March 2014
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Sherry M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
cliffs_resort, Manager at Marisol at the Cliffs, responded to this review, 23 April 2014
Sherry, I am so happy to hear that all points of service had a chance to shine when you dined with us recently! We try our best to combine a great menu with personalized service, and it's great to hear that you had a chance to meet Amanda so she could make sure your experience was going well. We certainly hope to see you with us again soon, and thank you for telling us about your meal!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Luis Obispo, California
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fabulous dining experience that really wowed our senses.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 March 2014

Everyone in our group agreed that this was a memorable dinner - the food, the ambiance, the service and meeting the chef, definitely a 5 star experience.

I have been to the lounge/bar side of the Marisol a few times in the past to meet up with friends for wine on the patio at sunset, but this was my first experience in their dining room. I was with a large group and we arrived just in time to catch the vibrant sunset that evening. The lighting in their dining room compliments the sunset view so perfectly. It seemed as if there was a beautiful glowing hue around our table (with a scenic view of the ocean out the big window). Very lovely ambiance.

Our server, Marina, was also very attentive, friendly and she did a great job keeping up to pace with clearing off dishes and keeping things coming in a timely manner.

The highlight of the evening for me was getting to meet the Chef, Gregg Wangard. I had heard a lot about him before so it was a treat to meet him that night. We got to ask him questions and he talked to us about all the different ingredients used in the dishes we were eating, where they came from, why he chose them and how he prepared the various dishes. He is very personable and so passionate about local/sustainable food. And clearly, he is good at what he does! I really admire how he takes the time to come out of the kitchen (when he's not swamped) to connect with the people who are there to enjoy his food!

I started with mushroom soup. I was apprehensive, because I have never cared for bland old mushroom soup before, but this was unlike anything I have ever tasted! It had a wonderful rich-earthy mushroom flavor and he told us about how he thickened it with mascarpone cheese and bread instead of cream. Oh my gosh, so good! He pours a little truffle oil on top, which gives it an extra melt-in-your-mouth yumminess in every spoonful. I clearly enjoyed the mushroom soup and hope to go back and get it again!

I also had an arugula salad with poached pears, yellow beets, caramelized pecans, blue cheese crumbles with a thyme vinaigrette dressing. I have had this same type of salad 100 times over but this one really stood out. Let me just say, if they start bottling and selling that thyme vinaigrette dressing, I would buy a case!! Also, I am usually not a fan of the stinky cheeses, but Chef Gregg is clearly a cheese connoisseur (naturally, the guy is from Wisconsin). This blue cheese was so creamy and didn't have the typical hearty stink that turns me off. Instead it had a really delicate flavor that nicely complimented the cinnamon spice of the juicy poached pears and the crunchy sweet pecans and the peppery arugula, instead of overpowering the salad. Again, another great dish!

Finally, there was the salmon dish, a perfect marriage of textures and flavors. Farm raised salmon with a crust of thin sliced potatoes on top, served over rice infused with lemon. In one bite, you get the crunch of the potato crust mixed with the juicy, buttery fish, followed by the pop of lemon in the rice. There was also a balsamic glaze on the plate to dip into, which gave an extra zing to the overall bite.

Yum. Seconds please!

  • Visited February 2014
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank SLORosemary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pismo Beach, California
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“The Death of an Arrogant Idiot & The Birth of a Foodie”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 February 2014

As a kid, I was a bit of an arrogant turd. I found it easy and pleasurable to make fun of people who talked to their pets with a funny voice. Of course, with perfect karma, I then grew up to be one of those blubbering people.

Now, as an adult, I must admit I’ve heard myself (in my sometimes noisy mind) making fun of the “foodies” – people who claimed and behaved, in my view, with excess enthusiasm for the culinary experience. So, when my wife dragged me (with loving exuberance) to a wine and food experience at Marisol, I was not expecting much. In fact, I’d get new ammo to with which to undermine kind, food-loving folk.

First, here’s the end of the story: My ignorance was magnificently highlighted by an extraordinary food experience. I now stand humbled, well fed and, yes, transformed.

Here’s how I got to that surprising end…

I entered Marisol as sunset was beginning. As I strolled in, I found myself inside a Church of Food and Beverage. The late afternoon light was relentless as it bathed us through the giant, ocean-facing windows. The stained glass kept increasing in intensity. I was having an out-of-drug experience…and I hadn’t even sat down.

After being graciously greeted and then seated, I was immediately presented with a most unusual drink – a whiskey that had the dry, smooth smoke-filled liquid running through it. It was new to my palate…and stunning. Who knew one could take slow, deep drinks of smoky, liquid air. It didn’t even make sense. I was beginning to awaken.

As I listened to our teacher and guide - the passionately joyful, Teri Bayus, dish out culinary knowledge, another delicacy, Foie Gras, was placed before me. A splash of Spanish sherry came with it. I had a conflagration in my mouth. I now have intimate knowledge of how fire reacts when gas is poured on it. My transformation into a foodie was accelerating.

Other highlight and takeaways from my birth of a foodie evening…

-LIFE AS A WOMAN? I more deeply understand the meaning of “awakening my senses.” I think I may have more insight into how a sensuous woman experiences life. Lucky me!

-An HONORABLE AFFAIR: I learned a well-designed food and beverage can be like having sensuous and satisfying affair with an exotic and gorgeous woman (her name would be Marisol, of course!) And the best part? I can thoroughly enjoy the affair with my wife. Gosh, this is sounding odd! Well, no one ever said rebirth was clean and orderly.

-GETTING PRESENT: The experience at Marisol showed me there is a new universe in every bite. Especially if that bite is paired with a perfectly mated beverage. When PRESENT, the past is dead and the future is an eternity away. No therapy or meditation required. Just brilliantly conceived and prepared food and beverage.

My experience at Marisol was one of the better deaths of my life.

Zazz Daniel

  • Visited February 2014
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank ZazzDaniel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Maria, California
1 review
“7-course Dinner at Marisol”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 February 2014

I arrived at Marisol by the Cliffs in Pismo beach about five minutes after dinner had started. Those in our class were the only people at the restaurant, though a few sat at the bar, and the sherbet sunset was coming through the picture windows aiding in my transportation from an evening as a a bedraggled young working mom of a toddler, cramming in study-time wherever possible, to a sophisticated, almost well-dressed young woman, sitting down to a be pampered by a relaxed, 8-course gourmet dinner, complete with impeccable wine pairings.

Well, almost. I was a wine critic for the evening only with my nose and eyes, as I am four months pregnant. As the evening unfolded and I learned about each wine – many of which were extremely expensive and rare – I wished many times that I both enjoyed wine and didn't have to waste the fine specimens before me, but I consoled myself with the idea that few others review food and wine pairings based on smell, and perhaps that almost gives me an edge, especially if you're also a social pariah on the Central Coast, like me, due to your dislike for wine. Thankfully, several other classmates offered to help me drink my wines once I had finished sniffing them.

The opening appetizer was already being served as I arrived and the other students/guests were mingling. I put down my bag, overflowing with diapers, and stared longingly at a smoke-infused Johnny Walker and coke reduction cocktail, garnished with in-house beef jerky. The level to which I am uninterested by wine can be rivaled only in the level at which I am enamored with fancy cocktails. Alas, I can speak only for the sweet meat - and full disclosure, beef jerky is a weakness of mine – which was delectable. The description of the cocktail and the experience of the sweet meat has had me dreaming of a seat at the Marisol bar several times this week.

I am generally a food scarfer, but the quality and pacing of this meal impressed upon me an involuntary limited-time-only desire to savor each bite slowly. I found almost every aspect of this meal was cooked to perfection, though if I had one over-all criticism, I think the creativity of the food pairings and flavors could be pushed to the next level.

Before I get into my reviews of the actual food, I must thank four special people. First, my dear best friend, Michelle, for gifting me this entire experience – I love you so much, and I hope everyone can find a friend like you in their life. Secondly, Chef Gregg Wangard, for his generosity, warmth, and talent in providing the meal. Thirdly, the extremely knowledgeable sommelier Jeff Chaney, who continued to pour me wine, despite probably noticing that I wasn't fully appreciating his carefully curated collection. Also, he looked like Ira Glass and wore yellow pants, and I have nothing but love in my heart for both of those things. Finally, I must thank the lovely Teri Bayus for her expert coaching on food writing, and her clear enthusiasm for her job.

1. Seared Foie Gras with reconstituted black mission figs and buttered white toast, garnished with sherry and honey glaze, coarse salt, and a sprout sprig.

Controversy in a bite. For the last 18 months, foie gras has been illegal to sell in the United States, but fear not, the chef is not under arrest. It is still legal for foie gras to be “gifted” along side something paid for (hypothetically the sherry I “drank” with it). Furthermore, this was Hudson Valley duck liver, which is sustainably raised and naturally - not forcefully - grain fed. And for the record, it has been proven that ducks and geese will over-stuff themselves given the opportunity, without human intervention.

With that aside, this was the first time I'd eaten foie gras, and definitely my most delightful experience with liver thus far in my life. I have stayed far, far away from liver since taking a big bite out of a lamb liver as a child, assuming it was an especially luscious piece of dark meat. My mistake. This foie gras, however, did not taste gamy, and melted away in the mouth. It was decadent, layered with the multiple textures from the toast and chewy, candy figs. The seeds of the fig stuck in my teeth, leaving a lingering sweetness.

Wine pairing: NV Bodegas Dios Baco Amontillado Sherry, Jerez, Spain

This sherry was described as an oxidated one, made from Palamino grapes. It was the color of amber, with an ombre affect to colorless at the top of the liquid. The smell reminded me of Chinese Black Vinegar which is made from rice and described as “malty, woodsy and smoky” in flavor.

2. Three-Mushroom (shitake, button, and portabella) soup thickened with sourdough bread and mascarpone cheese, garnished with a drizzle of truffle oil.

This is the one exception I could (and a little bit did) make to my evening of slow paced dining, which may have had something to do with the fact that this was my favorite course. It was one of the simplest of the evening, but I would get down on my knees and beg if I thought that would get me this recipe. I would guzzle this soup to the point of being as engorged as a Hudson Valley duck liver myself, given the chance.

I could taste the celery in the soup, which was a homey and unexpected touch, and though not excessively strong in the mouth, the notes of garlic lingered. I am not usually a fan of truffle oil, but it was perfect with this soup.

Wine pairing: 2005 Louis Latour Nuits-Saint-Georges, Cote de Nuits, France

The color of this “old world” wine was described as “brick” red, but I thought it looked like the color that young Russian women in China prefer to dye their hair; a dead, deep, blood red mixed with purple. The flavor was described as an “earthy pinot noir, with savory clove and leaf notes”, perfect for drinking alongside food because the expected sweetness of fruit has dissipated with age. I smelled less of a bite in this specimen than other wines, and it reminded me faintly of the scent of nail polish remover.

3. Arugula Salad with medium poached pears, candied roasted pecans, blue cheese crumbles and thyme dressing.

Chef Gregg's trick to perfectly candied pecans is to cook them in powdered sugar and salt. You're welcome. The Paradise blue cheese, made with top cream, is something that I generally shy away from, but this variety was heady, spicy, quite salty, and perfect, despite hinting at the usual dirty notes of blue cheese. It was smooth as butter, compared to the harder more crumbly variety I am used to. The poached pears provided a soft, cidery crunch, and when everything was tossed with arugula – which I often find too biting for my taste – it was a scrumptious little salad.


Wine pairing: NV Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley

Though cliché, the word that came to mind to describe the appearance of this champagne was “bridal”, complete with an excited veil of bubbles upon being poured that simmered down while resting in my glass. The flavor was described as bone dry, with lean, minerally, soapy, floral, citrusy, and bitter almonds notes. To me it smelled light, and of just barely souring fruits.


4. Farm raised salmon encrusted with potatoes on a bed of lemon infused jasmine rice, garnished with meyer lemon balsamic dressing and sprouts.


I may have had salmon flavored to rival this before in my life, but never have I tasted salmon, taken on its own, cooked to such perfection. It was fatty in the best possible way, as if the membranes between each flake of fish were made of butter. By the last few bites of the dish, the fish had cooled down enough to lose that heavenly quality. I thought the hair-thin potato slices that made up the salmon “crust” were decent, but perhaps not my favorite pairing. The strong, almost heartburn-inducing balsamic glaze garnishing the plate was the perfect acidic tang to tie together each bite of salmon and rice, as were the peppery green sprouts atop the salmon. The creamy bed of green rice had a rice wine jalapeno kick to it, which was a nice addition to the flavor pallet.

Wine pairing: 2009 Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

This selection was shinier, pinker, and clearer than the previous red (paired with course 2) with a color that I would describe as crisp magenta. A “new world” wine, it smelled of sweet vinegar that I would actually like to taste, and the smell left a tiny burn in my nose and throat.

5. Breast of duck with spaghetti squash on a parsnip puree.


Cooked in the sous-vide style (in a cryogen bag to assure it's evenly cooked), the duck was tender and not unpleasantly chewy. I don't recall it having a huge flavor presence of its own, but I very much enjoyed the addition of the crunch of the spaghetti squash flavored with red pepper, and the cool turnip puree with a hint of vanilla. Though not strong, the flavors lingered in my mouth and gave me the overall impression of comfort food.


Wine pairing: 2010 Sinor La Vallee Syrah, Les Galets Vineyard, Arroyo Grande Valley

Another deep fuchsia colored wine, reminding me of a sumptuous shade of lipstick. Described as “spice driven”, it definitely did smell spicy to me.

6. Crostini with Brillat Savarin cheese wedge, quince paste and a castelveltrano olive.

Apparently I am not a very adventurous cheese eater, because I found this dish to be the only one I struggled to enjoy. The brie, around 83% milk fat (compared to butter's 84%), was described as “soft and ripened”. Even after cutting off the rind, which packs the most flavor, I found the cheese pungent. It smelled faintly sour, and tasted very salty and rich, almost exactly like a highly concentrated Kraft Mac n' Cheese. The olive was nutty and briny, and tasted the way wine smells. I did not find the quince paste to be spectacular either, though there was nothing wrong with it by any means. Not my cup of tea, but I know many who would have gobbled up this pairing.

No wine pairing

7. Banana foster with Doc Burnstein’s vanilla ice cream and mint leave, on a corn flake bed.


The thing I enjoyed most about this dish was incorporating the fresh spearmint leaves into each bite. The “crust” around the banana tasted of cinnamon, and was slightly gritty, sticking to the mouth. I did enjoy the additional crunch of the corn flake garnish. Again, not my favorite part of the meal, but I imagine my son would jump at the chance to eat it.

Wine Pairing: 2011 Tatomer Riesling Beerenauslese, Kick-on Ranch Vineyard, Santa Barbara County

Served ice cold, I thought this wine looked almost oily when poured. Described as a “noble rot, late harvest wine”, the main thing I smelled in it was raisins.

  • Visited January 2014
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank karissa_mt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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