The square around Downtown Paso feels Norman Rockwell-esque, with a few cowboys and ranchers thrown in for good measure. The food scene, however, has really picked up over the last few years with new bistros, gourmet markets and more. Artisan isn’t new - brothers Chris and Michael Kobayashi opened in 2006 - but it moved to a new location right on the square this past summer, with a sleeker contemporary look, even if the decor is made from a lot of reclaimed materials, a new cocktail bar and creative seasonal small plates from chef Chris. Nibble on pizzas topped with goat salami and pepperoncini, red abalone tostadas, and rabbit stroganoff with pretzel spaetzel, among other things. Brunch is lovely here.
Il Cortile is a fantastic, quiet spot for regional Italian specialties and handmade pastas. And from the same owners, there’s now La Cosecha featuring Spanish and Latin cuisine. Villa Creek is still one of the more bustling spots for locals, especially winemakers who stop in for Margaritas and Mexican-inspired fare. Thomas Hill Organics is a great little bistro and wine bar where most of the ingredients are sourced from local farms, ranches and fishermen.