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Mint+Craft is all about immediate gratification 

Gourmet+go!

People who live and work in downtown SLO—give me a "hallelujah" here if you think I'm on to something. Doesn't "a quick bite downtown" sometimes feel like an impossible dream? Sure, some poor sap might suggest the idea, but usually the discussion turns into all-out war as hunger quickly turns to hanger.

You could sit down at your favorite table-clothed joint, effectively losing your entire lunch break before your appetizers even arrive. You could go the other way, maybe a so-so chain burger or a decent slice of pizza, but that probably won't appease your foodie friends. And, let's face it. We all know that "pub grub" isn't really meant to be eaten during normal waking hours (unless it's "Sunday Funday" and the beer is flowing). So, that settles that.

click to enlarge SALAD FOR PRESIDENT With seven ever-changing seasonal, fresh salads in the deli case at any given time, Mint+Craft is simultaneously healthy, yummy, and not boring (pictured: a sexy Niçoise salad beckons with tuna and egg). You can also pick up unique gifts and cookbooks, like Julia Sherman's illustrated tome, Salad for President, on your way out the door. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF MINT + CRAFT
  • Photos Courtesy Of Mint + Craft
  • SALAD FOR PRESIDENT With seven ever-changing seasonal, fresh salads in the deli case at any given time, Mint+Craft is simultaneously healthy, yummy, and not boring (pictured: a sexy Niçoise salad beckons with tuna and egg). You can also pick up unique gifts and cookbooks, like Julia Sherman's illustrated tome, Salad for President, on your way out the door.

I'm not saying there's no place to eat lunch in SLO (even I know when I'm being an insufferable drama queen), I'm just saying the options for a speedy quality meal that won't break the bank can sometimes feel limited, especially if—like me—you dream of truly handcrafted food.

Do you want house-cured salmon without a waiter? A fresh-baked roll laden with duck confit, gouda, and mushrooms, with—and this is the trick—a less-than-10-minute wait time?

What about a deli case sprouting with seasonal, fresh salads that require no other prep aside from grabbing the nearest fork and digging in?

At Mint+Craft, you merely have to press pause on your podcast to order up something local and handmade, on the double. Plus, it's not just lunch we're talking about.

You can also stop in for coffee and free WiFi, breakfast sandwiches and "toasties," dinner, or even happy hour. What's even better? Local beer, wine, cider, and artisinal goodies are easy to snag from the cooler case on your way out the door, making your next hostess gift easy-peasy.

Basically, this is your upscale Quickie Mart with a distinctly SLO feel. Located on Monterey Street near the mission downtown, Mint+Craft is an easy walk, too (meaning you and your friends can stop squabbling and just eat, already).

Mint+Craft Cafe and Mercantile is Robin Covey and Shanny Covey's fifth dining operation, after Robin's in Cambria and SLO-based trio Novo, Luna Red, and Cafe Fiero.

All the local produce and inventive, sophisticated flavors you'd come to expect from the pair are on the menu, which—I should add—is shepherded by Brian Parks, corporate executive chef overseeing all five of the Coveys' establishments.

"Mint+Craft is this really cool blend with a cafe, open kitchen, and a simple menu that can go out casual and quick. We want people to be able to sit out on the patio and enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast in the morning or an ice tea at lunch, or you can just grab and go, which we are starting to see so many people gravitate towards," Parks said. "We want you to get value for your meal, but it's not fast food."

click to enlarge SERVE YOURSELF Part gourmet deli, curated corner store, part casual lunch counter, Mint+Craft is offering up quick, quality breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that won't cost your whole paycheck. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF MINT + CRAFT
  • Photos Courtesy Of Mint + Craft
  • SERVE YOURSELF Part gourmet deli, curated corner store, part casual lunch counter, Mint+Craft is offering up quick, quality breakfast, lunch, and dinner options that won't cost your whole paycheck.

For example, a filling breakfast sando with a Cal Poly organic farm's fried egg, fresh baked brioche bun, choice of high quality protein, gouda, and avocado, comes in at about $6.

"That's a simple, healthy breakfast that's not going to hit your pocketbook too hard," the chef added.

A filling lunch bowl with sausage and peppers comes in at under $15 (add a side of sautéed greens with garlic or sea salt roasted peewee potatoes for $4). Salads hover from $6 for the simple greens with shaved radish and preserved citrus vinaigrette to $14 for a more substantial Vietnamese noodle salad with chilled bean thread noodles, spicy pickles, green onions, fresh herbs, and lemongrass chicken.

click to enlarge TASTEFULLY HANDCRAFTED Local beer, wine, cider, and artisinal goodies are easy to snag on your way to your next dinner party or just on your way home. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF MINT + CRAFT
  • Photos Courtesy Of Mint + Craft
  • TASTEFULLY HANDCRAFTED Local beer, wine, cider, and artisinal goodies are easy to snag on your way to your next dinner party or just on your way home.

Whether you choose a gourmet sandwich or wrap made fresh to order, a cheese board to share with friends (with a selection of local cheeses, charcuterie, and artisanal accouterments), or swing by for #getmintygethappy happy hour each Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., you can expect one thing.

Always seat yourself.

And always get down to the good stuff, pronto!

"This is the first restaurant the Coveys have ever opened that isn't full service, so it is a very different entity, for sure," Parks said. "Still, they've kept their standards high. We want everything house made, we want farmers' market ingredients, we want organic products. We want to promote a healthy, quick service option."

All you have to do is take one look at the deli case, filled with glorious seasonal salads—that number is currently at seven to be exact—to understand how fresh and versatile (and swift) "a quick bite downtown" can be.

Testify! Δ

Hayley Thomas Cain thinks a seasonal salad is just the excuse you need to drink a beer at hthomas@newtimesslo.com.

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