The Astronomer and I had no intention of dining at Pea Soup Andersen’s during our stay in the Central Coast. However, the spectacle of a restaurant seemed to beckon us in from the moment we arrived with its cheesy cartoons and garish color scheme. Not to mention that our hotel was located directly next door, which meant that there was really no escaping the allure of a big bowl of pea soup. On our final morning in town, we finally gave in to Pea Soup Andersen’s undeniable mystique and grabbed a table for two.
The restaurant, which Anton and Juliette Andersen opened in 1924, is something of an institution in these here parts. The clientele is comprised mostly of tourists looking for a diversion while traveling from Southern California to points further north, and vice versa. The Pea Soup Andersen empire includes the signature restaurant, a Danish bakery, a gift shop, and an inn where we stayed.
The dining room has held up well considering how long this place as been around. The vibe is a cross between a down-home diner and a medieval castle. Service is efficient, but mostly indifferent.
With plans for a Danish brunch in Solvang later in the morning, The Astronomer and I shared the “Split Pea Soup in a Bread Bowl” ($8.50). Juliette Andersen, one of the restaurant’s original owners, brought the pea soup recipe with her when she immigrated to Buellton from eastern France. It’s been the restaurant’s number one seller from the start.
A ladle-full of green soup filled the sourdough bread bowl to the brim. I appreciated that the bread’s toasty innards were served on the side for extra carbage. The soup tasted more or less how I expected—the flavors were mild and one-note, while the texture was a little gritty and slightly thick. I could see how a warm bowlful might be comforting for travelers far from home.
The soup was served along with a plate of diverse fixins. I dumped the cups of bacon, cheese, and scallions into the bread bowl, while the stale croutons and cold diced ham were left untouched. The various ingredients made the soup a little more interesting to eat.
Has this write up put you in the mood for split pea soup? Here’s the restaurant’s not-so-secret recipe. You’re welcome!
Pea Soup Andersen’s
376 Avenue of the Flags
Buellton, California 93427