Reader Ernest tells me that he noticed that Sama Sama Kitchen at 1208 State Street was closed, the sign was down, and that there was a construction crew busy at work. I called the restaurant and their phone message says that the business is closed for renovations.

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A well known politician and activist (who also won an Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize) dined at Crushcakes Café at 4945 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria last Friday. Here is a message about the visit from Crushcakes owner Shannon Gaston:

“Hello, We were so excited today when Vice President Al Gore came to Crushcakes in Carpinteria to celebrate his daughter’s wedding!  They had delicious Crushcakes cupcakes, cakes, breakfast and coffee.  Al Gore was wonderful and sweet to me and all of our staff!  What an amazing celebration, we are honored to be a part of it!!!”


Al Gore in Crushcakes 4-14

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Share your Easter restaurant suggestions by leaving a comment in the blog here.



If you can help reader Jenneil, please leave a message in the blog.

Hi there,

I’m in a bit of a conundrum.  I love my Sunday Bloody Mary’s, especially with a pickled green bean garnish. Normally I buy SB Olive Co. version, but I recently found out they are looking for a new source for their green beans.  Do you or any of your readers know where else I can locally find some of my favorite drink garnish?




If you can help reader John please leave a message in the blog.


Do you have any leads on a part time personal chef? My wife and I have vastly different diets (I am vegan and she is Paleo) which makes cooking a chore.

You help is greatly appreciated.




The sun is shining and the days are longer which means this is patio season. Just in time for guests to enjoy the great outdoors, Arlington Tavern at 21 W. Victoria Street has opened their new front patio (on the sidewalk) for dining. You can dine, enjoy drinks during happy hour or simply watch people checking out the new Santa Barbara Public Market. I walked by recently and the patio was packed. It appears to be an instant hit.

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The nonprofit Santa Barbara Culinary Arts (SBCA) has announced a fund-raising cookbook launch party on Saturday, May 3rd from 1-3 p.m. at the Gourmet Dining Room, School of Culinary Arts & Hotel Management at Santa Barbara City College. Taste the Happy Canyon wines of Westerly Winery and of Santa Ynez’s Refugio Ranch. Sample appetizers prepared by the faculty and students of the School of Culinary Arts, plus selected chefs featured in the SBCA cookbook. Recipes featured in the cookbook that can be sampled at the launch party include Lobster Terrine, Salmon en Croute, Pan-Seared Duck Breast, Mini-French Toast and many others.

The first edition of the cookbook will be on sale at the event for $25 and many of the chefs featured in the book will be on hand to sign them, including Michael Blackwell (Montecito Country Club), James Sly (Sly’s), Greg Murphy (Bouchon), Alessandro Cartumini (Bella Vista at the Biltmore), Pete Clements (Natural Cafe), Denisse Salinas (Le Petit Chef), Leonard Schwarz (Lucky’s), Johan Denizot (Miro at the Bacara), Nimita Dhirajlal (Nimita’s Cuisine), Mossin Sugich (Santa Barbara Yacht Club), Elisabetta Gerli (Sorriso Italiano), Julia San Bartolome (Sweet Arleen’s), the faculty chefs of the School of Culinary Arts: Randy Bublitz (head of the School of Culinary Arts), Stephane Rapp, Sandra Allain, and Roberto Lopez Carrillo, plus others to be added.

The launch party admission price of $25 includes food samples, wine tasting and access to chefs for questions and cookbook signing. To purchase tickets visit

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Georgia’s Smokehouse food truck has introduced bottled sauces and rubs to celebrate their first anniversary. The new offerings include Sweet BBQ, Spicy BBQ and Dry Rub. Chef Brian and Alissa Parks introduced their gourmet BBQ food truck to the central coast area in March of 2013.  In addition to numerous regular lunch and dinner stops around the area, Georgia’s also does catering, family style dinners delivered and special events.  They opened up a second truck after six months and increased their staff to seven employees. For more information visit



Beach Bowl, the much anticipated eatery at 901 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria, announced an April 15th opening, according to Dylan Chappell, the local architect behind the business’s design and floor plan. Beach Bowl serves a variety of acai berry and pittaya bowls, smoothies, and cold pressed juices made on-site from locally grown ingredients. The frozen yogurt is 100 percent certified organic and gluten free and non-dairy options are available. The Santa Barbara Roasting Company is the coffee purveyor.

This is the first retail venture for co-owners Alex Hamadi and Kamel Mehai, who is a nutritionist for the film industry. Nine employees, all Carpinteria residents, have been hired to serve customers. Contractors George Manuras and Gregg Carty built out Beach Bowl, and the Maple Avenue-based Brothers of Industry manufactured the reclaimed and repurposed light fixtures. Chappell showcases reclaimed barn wood throughout the interior and exterior. “We wanted a local beachy vibe,” said Hamadi, describing the refurbished concrete with blue epoxy floor “like walking on water.”

Outdoor seating on Linden Avenue includes five tables and 10 chairs. Indoor seating is for 28. The “shop within a shop” features locally made items such as Beach Bowl’s own chocolate brand handcrafted by Chocolats du CaliBressan. Everything is served in bowls, (no plates) and the bowls are made of bamboo.

Beach Bowls opens at 5:30 a.m. Closing time is 10 p.m. on week nights and midnight on weekends. For more information call 684-6844 or visit



This just in from Wine Cask restaurant, 813 Anacapa Street:

“Rare opportunity to join Wine Cask management team as Sous-Chef and work under Chef Brandon Hughes.  Stoke your creative side, too, with the qualified candidate having the opportunity to design and create the Intermezzo menu.  Interested and qualified candidates should email resume to”

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sb-public-market-bigAs luck would have it, the biggest local food news story of the year happened while The Restaurant Guy is out of town in San Diego.

I’m told Santa Barbara Public Market has opened to big crowds at the corner of Chapala and Victoria streets in downtown Santa Barbara.

Offering handcrafted, regionally sourced and sustainably-made foods, the Public Market is part of the Alma del Pueblo mixed-use development located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s downtown. With an a focus on local farms and artisanal ingredients, the LEED certified Market offers a collection of purveyors, each with a unique perspective. “The inspiration for this market was the public market in Madrid,” said Marge Cafarelli, the developer of the public market and neighboring Alma del Pueblo.

Vendors include Belcampo Meat Co., Crazy Good Bread Co., Culture Counter, Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, Enjoy Cupcakes, Foragers Pantry, Flagstone Pantry, Green Star Coffee, il Fustino Oils and Vinegars, JuiceWell, Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, The Pasta Shoppe, and Santa Monica Seafood.

The market includes “The Kitchen,” which is a commissary kitchen that will feature specialty cooking classes and winemaker dinners. The Santa Barbara Public Market doors open at 7 a.m. daily, though hours may differ for each shop. For more information visit



The Restaurant Gal and I have been in San Diego since the end of March which has slowed the flow of news a bit the last couple of weeks. I will be back at the end of the week.



museum-blog2The Santa Barbara Museum of Art at 1130 State Street has announced that Fire & Ice Events is the new operator for the Museum Café, with a vision that is a celebration of the “Art of Food.” The new eatery is now open with regular hours of Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 1st Thursdays 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. The café at the Museum had been closed for about two months after the previous operator, Brenda Simon, decided to focus more effort on her catering business.

Examples of the Fire & Ice Museum Café menu include salads, soups, sandwiches, (including chicken banh mi, croquet-monseiur panini, and grilled market vegetable), tasting platters that include cheese, hummus, fruits, olives and flatbread, and both savory and sweet pastries. The eatery also offers exclusive single source coffee from the El Imposible region of El Salvador. A full menu is posted on the Museum website at

Peter Sonderegger, Fire & Ice’s Creative Director, comments, “We are so pleased to bring our philosophy of recreating, reinventing, and reimagining artful and flavorful cuisine to the Santa Barbara community, especially via the prestige of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.”



Word on the street is that Crushcakes & Café, with 3 locations on the South Coast, is interested in finding a spot in the Funk Zone. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



Every week my inbox is hit with rumors about possible tenants to replace now-closed Elephant Bar at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta. Recently I was contacted by a business man named Clint Orr who says he would like to replace the E-Bar with a country music dance hall named “Airport Honky Tonk.” Orr tells me that he has no lease but plans to contact the City of Santa Barbara, which owns the property, to see if there is any interest in his proposal. The dance hall would be operated by the non-profit California Country Dance Foundation.

I asked Mr. Orr if he knew why people were seen on the property last week. Orr said he spoke with the real estate agent handling 521 Firestone Road and added:

“It was just a maintenance crew out there to get palm fronds away from the place and to clean up some debris after the storm. As of this morning there have been no proposals that have been given to the real estate agent of any sort. So it’s wide open. They showed it to a couple of people but at this moment there are no proposals on the property other than what I am in the process of doing.”



The 2nd annual “Brews at the Beach” is being held on Saturday, April 12 from noon to 4 p.m. (11 a.m. for VIP) at Chase Palm Park soccer field. Patrons are invited to taste unlimited offerings from over 40 brewery and 5 cider companies, as well as listening to local musicians perform. Tickets are currently on sale for $40 for General Admission and $75 for VIP Admission. For ticket purchase and information, visit

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Tap Thai restaurant, which closed their De la Vina Street location last month, has reopened at 3130 State Street, the former home of Brummis.

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I just received this press release about AJAX Refrigeration’s 65th anniversary serving the restaurant industry in Santa Barbara:

Ajax65thFINAL_smallweb_colorYou have probably seen the AJAX penguin van around town at some point. For over 65 years AJAX Santa Barbara Refrigeration has been the local industry leader to many well-known clients in the restaurant/hospitality industry and many other businesses and institutions. Recent projects include work at the Santa Barbara County Bowl and the renovation at the El Encanto Hotel. This heritage company is rooted in serving the local community with old fashioned quality, but with an eye for 21st century technology that has led to upgrades in services and communication. AJAX’s core business is in Commercial Refrigeration, Ice-Making Equipment, Full Service Ice Machine Leasing, and Preventive Maintenance Programs.

Since the company first started in 1949, there have been a few changes, including a name change by adding “AJAX” to Santa Barbara Refrigeration. The company has been located in downtown Santa Barbara for many years and in 1992 Bernard Jean (father of current owner Chris Montigny), purchased the business from the previous family. Fourth generation owner and President, Chris Montigny states: “I am excited to be a part of a long 65 year history and the company looks forward to 2014 with a new website and plans for improving service and expanding new departments that include affordable Full Service Leasing Programs and Preventive Maintenance Programs. We are also excited about creating additional blue collar jobs here in Santa Barbara County. Our apprentice training programs offer a pathway for young hires to become fully trained and certified repair or maintenance technicians with a good paying job.”

Sales & Leasing Manager, Michael Gardner adds: “It is very exciting to be part of the AJAX’s 65th year. We have been making huge changes to the way we operate and communicate in the 21st century. We are using technology to help the company grow and compete, but we will always offer an old fashioned personal touch and customer service that has been a Santa Barbara tradition for 65 years.”

According to long-time customer Martin Gonzales from the iconic, La Super Rica Restaurant, “Ajax Santa Barbara Refrigeration has always provided me with exceptional service throughout the past 22 years, including qualified service professionals, preventive maintenance that has kept my equipment running without breakdowns, and installation of my upgraded equipment and allows me the freedom to focus on my business.”

Ajax Van In ActionAJAX/Santa Barbara Refrigeration will continue to reach out to the community by providing ice and sponsorship for a few select local events. This is in addition to providing charitable giving to the local Waldorf School of Santa Barbara and providing complimentary service technician labor hours to other local non-profits. Finally there will be a big BBQ 65th celebration this summer at the AJAX shop.

AJAX/Santa Barbara Refrigeration, 401 E. Montecito Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (805) 963-1322,



On April 5th, at a closed section of Mason Street between State and Anacapa in the Funk Zone, 10 local eateries gather together to compete in a friendly fork-off competition.Tickets cost $58.74.

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Word on the street is that an Italian eatery might be coming to De la Vina Street, in the former home of a recently relocated Thai restaurant. This would suggest that either Bangkok Palace or TAP Thai Restaurant could be the destination. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



Reader Mike tells me that Nona’s Italian Deli is coming soon to 415 E. De la Guerra Street, the former home of Italian Grocery that is relocating to Carrillo Street. Thanks to reader Jean-Pierre as well.


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Reader Robert says that Rincon Brewery is coming to 5065 Carpinteria Avenue. Previously I referred to this business as an “unnamed brewery.”


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Sources tell me that the family behind Brophy Bros. restaurant, who have acquired or are in the process of acquiring 3 businesses this year (Maggie’s, Arch Rock Fish, Farmer Boy), have announced their 4th purchase in as many months: the historic Mission Santa Barbara. The Mission and Brophy’s were founded exactly 200 years apart: 1786 and 1986. Sources added that the 228 year-old landmark and popular tourist destination will soon start serving fresh seafood and clam chowder. I’m told that dining staff will wear uniforms reminiscent of a brown-robed friar.



This just in from Pierre Lafond:


I just wanted to give you the heads up that we are opening our new tasting room for Lafond Winery in the next two weeks. It is adjacent to its sister winery, Santa Barbara Winery. Lafond produces wine primarily from our vineyard in Santa Rita Hills and all of the production is from Santa Rita Hills.

Santa Barbara Winery has been in its current location since 1965. We are very excited to have Lafond Winery tasting room coming to town! Customers will have a great view of the actual production. We have a glass door that leads to our bottling warehouse so they will be able to get a view of what goes on behind the scenes!

Michelle Lafond



Santa Barbara’s only Brazilian restaurant, Brasil Arts Cafe, 1230 State Street, is celebrating its 1 year anniversary with free capoeira and dance classes, free food samples and samba at its “Customer Appreciation Day” this Saturday, March 29th, from 9am-5pm. To celebrate the community’s support over the past year, Brasil Arts Cafe plans to infuse all things Brazilian into a day of thanks by offering organic juice and smoothie samples, Brazilian coffee samples, mini acai bowls, pao de queijo, tri tip, and more:

  • 12:30pm-Capoeira master, Professor Chin, will be teaching an intro to capoeira class for everyone to try
  • 1pm- Nadra Erdman will be teaching her regular Afro-Brazilian dance workshop $20.00
  • 2pm- Pandeiro class- Learn the basic rhythms on the panderio (tambourine)
  • 2:30pm Forro class- Brazilian couples dance
  • 3pm- Free Samba dance class with Vanessa Isaac.
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Today Taco Bell launched their new breakfast option nationwide. Here is the full press release:

media_breakfast-coming_2014The Waffle Taco and A.M. Crunchwrap Will Go Nationwide as Part of the Largest Menu Expansion in Taco Bell History

IRVINE, Calif.,  – Taco Bell Breakfast, which will offer the highly anticipated and revolutionary Waffle Taco, the all-in-one A.M. Crunchwrap, and the already loved Cinnabon Delights, will be available in restaurants nationwide starting March 27, 2014 from 7am to 11am, or earlier.

After breaking through and successfully introducing a variety of platforms and products – including FourthMeal, Doritos Locos Tacos and Cantina Bell – Taco Bell is launching the brand’s largest, most extensive menu since it first opened its doors more than 50 years ago. Taco Bell Breakfast comes as a change to the traditional quick service restaurant (QSR) breakfast routine, bringing the brand’s distinctive approach to a crowded breakfast sandwich market. Taco Bell will not just deliver but will bring a little más to morning time, offering consumers a break from the usual.

“Fans already like to come to Taco Bell for lunch and dinner, and they share with us their love of late night. Now they’re not just asking, but telling us they want Taco Bell Breakfast,” said Taco Bell President, Brian Niccol. “To give customers the great-tasting food and Live Más experience, with value in mind, we have invested in our most extensive training ever for Team Members and will not require any major new equipment for operators – making for a holistic effort our teams are proud of and our owners are confident to execute.”

Taco Bell Breakfast is classic breakfast tastes (eggs, sausage, bacon and hashbrowns) with a Taco Bell twist – products uniquely wrapped up and portable for consumers’ “on-the-go” lifestyle. Fans are already taking to social media to buzz about their appetite for the Waffle Taco – a warm waffle wrapped around a hearty sausage patty or flavorful bacon, with fluffy scrambled eggs and cheese, and served with a side of sweet syrup. For an all-in-one breakfast solution, the A.M. Crunchwrap offers a morning twist on the iconic Crunchwrap featuring classic breakfast tastes of fluffy scrambled eggs, a golden crispy hash brown, melted cheese and flavorful bacon (or a hearty sausage patty or premium thick cut steak), all wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla.

Taco Bell’s full breakfast menu will be offered at more than 5,500 participating restaurants nationwide and will feature the following unique items, all with the great value Taco Bell can provide: the Waffle Taco, the A.M. Crunchwrap, Cinnabon Delights, Breakfast Burrito – Bacon, Breakfast Burrito – Sausage, Steak and Eggs Burrito, A.M. Grilled Taco – Bacon, A.M. Grilled Taco – Sausage, Sausage Flatbread Melt, Hash Brown, Premium Hot Coffee and Tropicana Orange Juice.

“Breakfast is the fastest growing day part in QSR, and after years of the same old thing, we’re confident our breakfast will wake up customers’ morning routine,” said Taco Bell Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Brandt. “Taco Bell will bring them a classic breakfast experience, leading with the Waffle Taco and A.M. Crunchwrap, but also offer a menu of breakfast burritos, tacos and value offerings plus a pipeline of new products to continue waking up breakfast options and connecting with our fans.”

The campaign will be supported with television and radio advertising led by Deutsch L.A., in-store POP and packaging by Draftfcb, as well as digital, social and public relations support from DigitasLBi and Taylor respectively.

“Taco Bell Breakfast will be one of the brand’s priority initiatives of the year, along with a vigorous development plan to increase accessibility of restaurants and a mobile platform that puts the Taco Bell menu board and payment in customers’ hands,” said Niccol. “These key initiatives will continue momentum for the brand’s strong and growing relevance with Millennials, while working towards the aggressive goal to double revenue and add 2,000 restaurants by 2022.”



Matthew Jameson-Chrestenson, owner of Union Ale Brewing Co., 214 State Street and American Ale, 14 East Cota Street, contacted me on Facebook recently to send me a tip, or should I say “tri tip.”  This summer he will be opening Tri Tip Company BBQ and Bar in the Funk Zone. It’s not clear what the exact address will be but a page posted on Facebook suggests that the new home might be next to his popular Union Ale business.



After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of locations appearing in your future:

  • Anacapa Seafood raw bar, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Beach Bowls, 901 Linden Ave., Carpinteria
  • Belcampo Meat Co., 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Benchmark Eatery, 1201 State St. (formerly Maggie’s, opening May)
  • C’est Cheese Café & Marketplace, 831 Santa Barbara St. (formerly Our Daily Bread)
  • Crazy Good Bread, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts, Santa Barbara
  • Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Enjoy Cupcakes, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Full of Life Flatbread, near 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Green Star Coffee, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Himalaya Kitchen, 431 State St. (currently All India Café)
  • Italian Grocery & Deli, 210 W. Carrillo St. (formerly Carrow’s)
  • Jersey Mike’s, 1213 State St. (formerly Quizno’s Subs)
  • Juice Well, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • La Ancla Taqueria, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Lovin’ Oven Mediterranean Bakery & Café, 6578 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista (formerly Cafe Int’l)
  • Lure Fish House, Upper State St.
  • Mesa Verde (vegan), 1919 Cliff Dr. (formerly Cliff’s & Co.)
  • Papa John’s Pizza, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta
  • Pasta Shoppe, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Patxi’s Pizza, 515 State St. (formerly Territory Ahead)
  • Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Santa Monica Seafood, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Silvergreens, Goleta
  • Starbucks, 101 Milpas St.
  • Sublime, 901 N. Milpas St.
  • Taco Bell, Hollister Ave. at Pacific Oaks Rd., Goleta
  • Tri Tip Company, 214 State St.
  • Villa Pizza, 618 Anacapa St.
  • Unnamed cheese and charcuterie shop, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • Unnamed brewhouse/restaurant,5065 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria


Reader Carla let me know that the folks at Edhat are discussing the recent sighting of cleanup crews at the former home of Elephant Bar. One commenter says “I heard from some of the folks working on the site that Red Lobster plans to take over that location as they are somehow connected to the former Elephant Bar franchise.” There is no official word about what business will take over the spot.



Reader DeeDee let me know that Starbucks plans to turn some of its cafes into a destination for beer and wine in the evenings. The coffee company says it is looking to expand alcohol sales to thousands of select stores over the next several years. I don’t know if their future plans include the South Coast.

Starbucks first offered beer and wine after 4 p.m. at one of its Seattle cafes in 2010. “Starbucks Evenings” is now available in 26 cafes, with plans to reach 40 by the end of the year. The cafes also serve a variety of small dishes ranging in price from $3 to $5, such as bacon-wrapped dates, truffle macaroni and cheese, and flatbreads.