Reader Annie drove past Nimita’s Cuisine at 508 East Haley Street, which opened in February in the former home of Muddy Waters, and saw that it is now empty. I asked Nimita about this and here is her response:

Hi John,
Thank you for reaching out. I have been flooded with calls on a daily basis regarding our pop up at 508 East Haley. A lot of our community members are wondering why we closed.

The Bike Coalition (the landlords of this venue) had offered us a 3-month pop-up situation for us to open a restaurant with the option to extend the lease, once we had upgraded the place after Muddy Waters closed.

Even though it was a great opportunity to sample our offerings to the community from a brick and mortar venue, it became very challenging for us to offer food at a venue with no kitchen. Nevertheless, we are very pleased to see how positively the community responded to our offerings as well as to all the different events that took place during our time there.

Unfortunately, our community is new to the notion of pop-up restaurants and it is misleading some to think that our business failed or that we are not operating. Quite the contrary, we continue offering our delivery services as well as our catering services. We will continue to have booths at our local festivals, and we are looking for a more adequate venue, with a full kitchen to base ourselves from.

I will certainly keep you posted.
Warm Wishes,

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Reader Primetime let me know that the new Rusty’s Pizza has opened at 111 State Street, the former home of Be Bop Burger. “We are thrilled to call this our new home!” says owner Tyler Duncan. This new location replaces Lighthouse Rusty’s Pizza at 15 E. Cabrillo Boulevard that closed due to bridge replacement work that consumed some of the property. Amenities at the new Rusty’s Pizza includes a fresh salad bar, party rooms (not yet available) with big screen TVs, and classic arcade games. Complementing the dining experience is a wall-to-wall nautical museum including a genuine, restored, rotating lighthouse lamp. Rusty’s Pizza is open daily 11 a.m. – midnight. Friday and Saturday deliveries continue until 1 a.m. Call 564-1111 or visit rustyspizza.com.



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Reader Paul tells me that a coming-soon sign has appeared at 205 Santa Barbara Street for Laplace Wine Bar & Shop. A message on their Facebook page offers a description of the business: “The vision of Laplace Wine Bar & Shop is to offer both the novice and impassioned wine lover a chance to relax in an old world setting with a glass of wine in hand…perhaps to inhale the teasing aromas of Herbs de Provence or to taste something that beckons a sense of place. Henceforth, the twofold meaning behind the name Laplace…pronounced as La-plӓs but feel free to say it anyway you want!” Call 358-9670.

Coming Soon-Laplace BarPhoto by reader Paul



Reader Ted tells me that a sign has been posted at Sams 2 U at 5979 Hollister Avenue in Goleta stating that they are closing. I am told that Sam has been there for almost eleven years. A message to patrons reads:

“To our dear customers: It has been a pleasure knowing and serving all of you special customers for many years. Due to the economy we are closing on June 24th. We regret ending your long-standing support and friendship with us at Sam’s 2 U. We appreciate your patronage and it was fun getting to know you over the years. We wish you all the best and will always remember these good years. Thank you, Sam’s Family”

2016-06-14 Sams 2 U (3)Photo by reader Ted



While visiting my Montecito childhood friend who now lives in Texas, I had the opportunity to try some amazing homemade salsa called “Watermelon Fire & Ice.” Juicy watermelon replaces tomatoes in this salsa that’s simultaneously cool and spicy hot. Flip likes to modify the recipe a bit by using habañero peppers with the jalapeños (and he suggests using gloves when chopping jalapeños or your hands will burn all night). To not have the salsa become too watery, let the chopped watermelon drain in a colander for a while. Mix everything together in a large bowl and you will end up with four cups of delicious, Restaurant Guy-approved salsa. If you want to really go all out, use a hollowed-out watermelon halve as a serving bowl. Here’s the official recipe:

  • 3 cups chopped watermelon
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt.
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Restaurateur Larry Mindel and Chef Peter McNee will be opening Convivo restaurant and bar at the newly remodeled Santa Barbara Inn, 901 East Cabrillo Boulevard. Convivo, whose name means ‘to come together’ and is the root word for the Latin term for ‘feast.’ Convivo recently announced that Larry Nobles will be the General Manager. “Larry’s experience in the hospitality industry makes him the ideal choice for Convivo,” said Mindel. “Beyond his proven ability to successfully manage some of the finest restaurants, his thorough knowledge of Santa Barbara position him to be a strategic force behind the opening of Convivo, and we’re delighted to have him join our team.” Most recently, Nobles served as Restaurant Manager for the San Ysidro Ranch, ranked the #1 Hotel in America by Forbes and winner of Wine Spectator’s 2014 and 2015 “Grand Award.” At San Ysidro Ranch, he was responsible for overseeing its two restaurants (Stonehouse and Plow & Angel), private dining, events, catering and more. Prior to his role at San Ysidro Ranch, Nobles was the General Manager of both Stella Mare’s and Le Café Stella in Santa Barbara. Before that he served as the Restaurant Manager at Holdren’s Steakhouse and was a mixologist at The Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore.

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At The Lark restaurant, 31 Anacapa Street, Chef Paluska and the team present Father’s Day (June 19) dining with a trio of specials in addition to the summer menu. Specials include Cornmeal Fried West Coast Oysters with Old Rasputin Aioli, Grilled Meyer Lemon and Lark Hot Sauce and Smoked Beef Brisket with Ancho Chile Cornbread, BBQ Baked Hominy, Beer Braised Greens and Crispy Shallots. Dessert includes a Classic Coconut Crème Pie with Kaffir Lime, Toasted Almond and Chocolate created by Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Haines.



Reader Dick says that Sprouts Farmers Market, coming to 175 North Fairview Avenue, the former home of Haggen (for about 3 seconds) and Vons, has moved the opening date from July 27 to August 24.



Reader Brendan says that a “For Lease” sign is up on the front of India House restaurant at 418 State Street. India House is open for business as usual.



Reader Jeff passed word to me that Subway at 3613 State Street (next to Rudy’s) has closed.

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Reader Jeff let me know that the recently-closed Subway on upper State Street is becoming the new home for Miso Hungry, according to the big sign in front. Miso Hungry is currently located at the nearby Galleria. The Galleria mall on upper State Street is scheduled for demolition and replaced by a four-story, mixed-use project with 85 units of rental housing and 11,000 square feet of commercial space.



Readers Elise and Ray let me know that The Nugget opened for business on Saturday, June 11 at 5096 Carpinteria Avenue, the former home of Cielo Bar & Grill and Cabo’s Baja Grill & Cantina. This is the 4th location for the iconic local eatery that started life decades ago at 2318 Lillie Avenue in Summerland. The Nugget expanded to 5685 Calle Real in Goleta in December 2009 then added a location at 21 West Victoria Street in downtown Santa Barbara last July. Unlike the three other locations, most of the seating at the new Nugget in Carpinteria is outdoors so if you are itching to have a Gold Miner’s Classic Burger during inclement weather, plan on ordering to go! The Nugget is open daily 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Call 318-1016 or visit nuggetbarandgrill.com.

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Last week nearly a dozen cooks participated in the judging round of The Santa Barbara Independent’s 7th Annual Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest. After comparing notes and scores, the panel of judges — which included a mix of Indy staffers and Food & Drink section contributors as well as additional chefs, brewers, and winemakers — have decided to award these four chefs with a slot in our grilling showcase on the evening of June 23 at The Brewhouse:

  • Emily Falke: For her gourmet-leaning “Umami Tri-Tip Tacos” with pickled beets, crumbled cotija cheese, and cilantro horseradish creme, served with black IPA-braised red cabbage and farro with grilled Meyer lemon slices and shishito peppers
  • “Neighbor” Tim Goebel: For an expertly barbecued brisket served with snappy/smoky baked beans and the classic mac ‘n’ cheese.
  • George Levinthal: For his scrumptious “Kick-Ass” burger made with beef, chorizo, and cotija cheese, that was preceded with a grilled watermelon and tomato gazpacho and accompanied by a zesty mustard-infused potato salad.
  • “Texas” Rex White: For a traditionally excellent and overloaded dish of apple-hickory pork, sauteed green beans with bacon, and cheesy grilled squash, accompanied by home-pickled okra and his own mellow yellow and spicy red sauces, finished with a peach cobbler.

And as a bonus category of sorts, the Independent will also be showcasing contestant Tony Figueroa’s dry rub at the Brewhouse. It’s called Figs Dirty Rub. All four winners will be given four free tickets to the June Brewhouse event, which includes a logo glass, a beer, and a sampler plate. To purchase tickets ($15) visit tinyurl.com/indybbq2016.




Founded in 1950 by William Rosenberg in Quincy, Massachusetts, 66 years and 11,000  locations later Dunkin’ Donuts finally rolled into Santa Barbara this week at 3771 State Street, the former home of Taco Bell and Char West. As big as they are, the coffee and donut powerhouse is a small player on the west coast, but growing quickly. In 2013, Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Donuts’ CEO, announced that the Dunkin’ Donuts franchises will be available in California beginning last year and I am told that there are more than 20 locations in California. Several more South Coast locations are planned.

Though you might think that donuts is their claim to fame, newbies quickly figure out that the Dunkin’ part of the name is where much of the action is. Coffee accounts for 50% of their business on the west coast and 70% on the east coast. Dunkin’ Donuts offers a full assortment of coffee drinks – think Starbucks with an in-house bakery. And the list goes on: the eatery also offers an assortment of breakfast sandwiches. Though McDonald’s recently rolled out all-day breakfast, I am told that Dunkin’ Donuts has been offering all-day breakfast for decades.

Santa Barbara is just the first stop on the South Coast. I am told that future locations are being considered for Goleta, Isla Vista and “to the south.” Dunkin’ Donuts is open daily 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.. Thanks to readers Ashley and Josh for the tips.

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In February I wrote that Cielito restaurant at 1114 State Street (still open for business as usual) would be replaced by a new eatery named Tu Casa. Reader Wade says that a Facebook page for the new restaurant now refers to the business by a new name: Viva Modern Mex.



This just in from the Restaurant Connection:

“Hi John, I just wanted to inform you and everyone else that we are now open for delivery on Saturday and Sunday for weekend brunch / lunch. Now, people can get brunch delivered. Operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We are then open again for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. We are also offering new restaurants for delivery: Andersen’s Bakery & Restaurant and Ca’Dario. We will also begin delivering from Galanga Thai Restaurant starting in June. Visit RestaurantConnectionSB.com.”

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This just in from reader Laura:

I thought you might like to share this with your readers: From my sources in Solvang, the Food Network TV show “The Great Food Truck Race” is filming in Solvang today. 4 Food Truck Contestants are in Solvang right now and serving until about 5pm (or when they run out) at: Sweet Southern Soul on Mission Drive at Solvang Park. Hawaiian Leiaway Ladies: On Alisal Road in front of Birkholm’s Bakery. Carretto’s Sicilian on Mission Drive in front of The Olive House. Grilled Cheese All Stars on Copenhagen Drive & Second Street across from Solvang Visitors Center. No word on their plans for Saturday at this point.

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If you have any suggestions for reader Linda please leave a message.

Hi John,

I was wondering if you could help me find a personal chef that does catering in private homes.  I  live in SOCAL so I am not familiar with the area.  We will be in a vacation rental in Santa Barbara. We are looking for someone who will take care of the table and flowers for the dinner.  I was just hoping you could give me some suggestions.

Thank you,



Executive Chef James Siao of Finch & Fork is gearing up for his second Chefs Cycle, where he’ll ride alongside other culinary greats to raise awareness and funds for No Kid Hungry. The 300-mile ride down the coast of California will start in Carmel on June 27, and end in Santa Barbara on June 29. Chefs Cycle is a fundraising endurance event featuring award-winning chefs fighting hunger outside the kitchen. In an effort to put an end to childhood hunger, riders are being asked to raise money for their ride. The community can get involved and participate in Chef Siao’s ride by ordering one of the special dishes and cocktails on Finch & Fork’s menu. A portion of the proceeds from these designated dishes will go towards Chef Siao’s $7,500 goal.

In addition to Chef Siao, folks can also visit Outpost restaurant in Goleta, where General Manager Joseph Adamczak is riding for team Kimpton. Outpost will also be offering special dishes and donating a portion of the proceeds to team Kimpton’s fundraising page at tinyurl.com/kimptonteam. For more on Chef Siao’s personal fundraising efforts visit tinyurl.com/teamsiao. For more information on the west coast Chefs Cycle, visit chefscycle.org.

160602-GroupChefsCycleLocal Chef  James Siao (front row, third from right) and other riders stop at The Lark in Santa Barbara in 2015 as part of the Chef Cycle fundraiser.

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Pascucci Restaurant at 729 State Street has raised more than $7,000 for the Solstice Parade as part of their 16th annual Celebrity Dine-out Event held on May 5th.

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Hollister Village shopping center in Goleta, the recent home to Smart & Final, has welcomed a new tenant: Zizzo’s Coffeehouse & Brew Pub at 7060 Hollister Avenue which had a soft opening last week. This is the third location for Zizzo’s which has two outlets nearby on Storke Road, including one inside Ice in Paradise. Coffee and beer are available now (6 local beers on tap, to be increased to 10) and the full menu will be available soon including nachos, a pub burger, breakfast sandwiches, paninis, and more. When Zizzo’s is fully up to speed they will be open daily 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

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Originally opened in 2002 by Dana Walters at 211 Helena Avenue in the Funk Zone, Reds might be singing the Blues, though nothing I have heard is definitive. Here are a few pieces of the puzzle: Readers George and Richie tell me the business is closing. Reader Mitchell says Reds has been sold to The Good Lion at 1212 State Street and will reopen in a month. Reader Olivia says she was there recently and spoke to Walters and was told that Reds is closing Memorial weekend. Reader Jonathan says that he heard that Reds is going to be closing and reopening as some type of new format tiki bar. The only thing I know for sure is that the name of the ABC applicant posted in front of Reds is “Test Pilot Cocktails LLC.”

Update: Reliable sources tell me that Reds will indeed become a tiki bar owned by The Good Lion.



Reader Brendan, Wade, and Shelby passed word that China Pavilion at 1202 Chapala Street is closed for remodeling until June 6th. Owner Shannon tells me that after 8 years in business Crushcakes Cafe at 1315 Anacapa Street has finished remodeling. They have expanded the dining room and made it easier to order with just one counter.  Wi-Fi is available and Crushcakes is serving their full menu of breakfast, lunch, coffee bar and cupcakes all day, every day.

crushCrushcakes in Santa Barbara recently completed a remodel


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Outpost at the Goodland (5650 Calle Real in Goleta) has selected a new chef to lead the eatery. Chef de Cuisine Nick Bajal will helm the heart of the restaurant after working as Outpost’s Executive Sous Chef since 2015. A Midwestern chef who likes to push the culinary limits, Bajal  new menu features Braised Pork Belly with shaved white asparagus, green curry purée and peanuts, Roasted Bone Marrow with salmon rillettes and cilantro chimichurri, and Pan Roasted Rock Fish with maitake mushrooms, sunflower seed-kumquat relish, crème fraîche and sprouts.

The Belmond El Encanto (800 Alvarado Place) has announced the appointment of Johan Denizot as Executive Chef. Denizot is French born, raised, and trained. Denizot garnered nearly a decade of culinary experience before beginning his successful career in the United States, where he launched the pastry and bakery program at Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro in San Francisco. Denizot went on to implement creative menus and elevate the overall level of cuisine and plate presentation at Alisal Guest Ranch’s Root 246, and most recently Miro at Bacara Resort & Spa, where I am told that he was instrumental in the restaurant earning its Forbes Four-Star rating.

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The Burger Bus first rolled out onto the streets of Santa Barbara 7 years ago. Owners Michael and  Cheryl Gardner sent me an update about the business:

“We wanted to give you the lowdown on how we have changed things up and what direction we are taking as we roll into our 8th year of business. We have expanded the burger menu on The Bus to include some more delicious options.  As always, we still offer a great pulled pork and amazing Falafel!  We have increased our full scale catering (2 – 200+, just ask!) and added several options to our appetizers, sides and salads.  As well, we are now able to offer made-to-order food on a small scale at private events with our new Cart. We are still maintaining our usual high standards utilizing Shalhoob meats, Mamas Preserves, The Berry Man produce and Melrose bakery.” Visit theburgerbus.com.



This just in from reader Annie:

“Hi, John, I went to Globe at 18 East Cota Street last night and there are some cool changes there. A few tables and chairs have replaced some of the lounge furniture so there’s room for lots more people. It looks like they needed it – the place was crowded! There is a nice patio in the back and a quiet spot upstairs. Long-time local bar guy Andy Davis is managing and behind the bar. We had great food and drinks.”

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Reader John Paul says Café 154 at 4151 Foothill Road has reopened, but only offering snacks and drinks for now, no sandwiches yet. Reader Cris sent me a press-release: “Café 154 announces its grand reopening with new manager, Chef Brenda Simon. The café offers fresh casual fare with a focus on healthy, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Menu items include made-from-scratch favorites such as sandwiches, healthy wraps, pressed juices and freshly baked breads, cupcakes and pastries. Our grab-and-go counter offers diners delicious, healthy options with swift, friendly service.”

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Reader Steve H. tells me that Nona’s Deli, coming to 415 East De la Guerra Street (formerly the  Italian Market, which moved to 210 West Carrillo Street and is now named Tino’s Italian Grocery) is at long last almost ready to open. Steve thinks they will open in a week or two. He adds that they are stocking the shelves now and will now have indoor dining space.



Readers Christie, Bob & Annie tell me that long-time Isla Vista restaurant The Cantina at 966 Embarcadero Del Mar has a sign up for a Public Notice of Application For Ownership Change. It says that it will be replaced by a place called Dumpling King. The transition might begin in June.

cantinaPhoto by Christie



Reader Shelby tells me that Sushi Café at 28 West Figueroa Street now has a sign that says the business has been renamed Sushi Café Poke Bar.

sushicafePhoto by Shelby