Readers Papa John and DeeDee tell me that Greek restaurant Santorini Island Grill opened in January on the ground floor of the UCSB UCen where Domino’s Pizza used to be. To see the menu visit

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I am more than a little late to report this story. Readers tell me that Maria’s Bakery at 4928 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria closed in 2013 and that a new bakery, Casa Don Roge, has replaced it.

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Hillstone, the company behind the Houston’s restaurant chain, has opened The Honor Bar at 1255 Coast Village Road, next to Jeannine’s, in the former home of Turk Hessellund Nursery. Last August Hillstone officially announced that they were opening an R+D Kitchen at this address and I don’t know if those plans are still in the works or if The Honor Bar is a replacement. Honor Bar dishes out their take on classic finger foods, such as burgers, sandwiches, fries and even sushi. Honor Bar has a separate wine by the glass list, cocktail menu as well as draft and bottled beer options. The Starters & Snacks section of the menu features Honor Bar Dips, Deviled Eggs, House-Smoked Salmon and Roasted Nuts & Olives. The Burgers & Sandwiches menu includes Honor Burger, Veggie Club, Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Today’s Featured Sandwich and French Dip Au Jus.



This just in from owner Donna Mudge:


Although the Sojourner has gone through difficult times along the way, most notably the recovery after an arson fire in ’88, the community has always been there. Our neighborhood has experienced several transitions over the last few years with business changes and construction, but I believe our corner will thrive and we would like to remain an anchor here for many more years to come. We are proud to be a part of such a great neighborhood! We are making internal adjustments to serve our customers better and to be a sustainable and viable business, but we cannot do it without the continued support of our long-standing community of “Sojies” along with our new friends and patrons. ‘It takes a village…’ never rung more true for me.

Thank you,
Donna Mudge



This just in from owner Ken Boxer:

Hi John,

Beginning February 12th I lowered all my menu prices across-the-board at Palazzio.  We still will have the same gargantuan size portions, the same high quality ingredients, the only  changes our customer’s will notice will be the significant reduction of our menu prices.  We have dropped our prices by 30 to 35 percent.

The simple reason for the reduction?  I wanted our customer’s to really see  a “value” oriented menu.  I wanted to return to the basics, as to why I opened Palazzio.  It was all about—VALUE.    I  have rolled back our menu  pricing to what our menu pricing was 15 years ago.

It’s a very noticeable difference.  I’m hopeful the first thing our customer’s will notice is how affordable the menu is and the enormous value they are getting for the price.

Thanks, John!!  Hopefully we’ll see you again for one of our Ken Boxer Live shows!!

Best wishes,



This just in from Las Aves Café at the Best Western Plus Encina Inn & Suites, 2220 Bath Street:

“After several years serving Santa Barbara at its’ current location, Las Aves Café has sold their restaurant and it close on February 9th.  Ownership looks forward to taking their wonderful recipes and service to a new location in the future. After a short refresh, a new farm to table inspired restaurant named Live Oak Cafe will open on property. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner to Santa Barbara residents, visitors, and the surrounding professional and medical neighborhood. The restaurant will highlight many of the extraordinary products that Santa Barbara has to offer including: local produce, seafood, wines, and craft beer in an innovative and comfortable atmosphere.”



Reader Steve talked to the manager at Ralph’s Market, 100 West Carrillo Street and was told that they’re planning on having a “wine steward” on site, offering tastings five days a week, probably starting in a week or two.



Relais de Paris at 734 State Street closed in early January and posted a note on the front door saying they are remodeling and will reopen “next week.” Unfortunately it appears that next week never arrived. Several neighboring businesses tell me that they have seen no activity at all at the site for more than a month. The business originally opened in October 2012, replacing long-time tenant Ruby’s Cafe & Spirits Lounge. Should Relais de Paris come to life again I’ll be the first to let you know.



Reader Mike shared some wisdom about the closing of El Rincon Bohemio restaurant at 298 Pine Avenue in Old Town Goleta. He passed the word that a new Mexican restaurant named La Hacienda opened in its place in January. For more information call 683-0456.



High Sierra Grill House was  approved by the Santa Barbara City Council today for a 10-year lease, with additional options, to take over the former home of The Elephant Bar.

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Hayes Commercial Group has posted this message on the City of Carpinteria web site about Tony’s Restaurant at 699 Linden Avenue:

“The best central corner location with four stop signs on Linden Ave three blocks from the beach in Carpinteria. This restaurant has been a local favorite for many years. All furniture, fixtures and equipment (less personal items) are included in the sale. The restaurant’s name, logo, menu, and recipes may be negotiated in the sale. This is a Trust sale of the real property.”



Lease negotiations are underway for Jane restaurant to open a second location at 6920 Marketplace Drive in Goleta, the former home of Pastavino and Smoke N Barrel BBQ Shack. I contacted Jane restaurant at 1311 State Street and was told that no contracts have been signed yet. The two businesses that used to occupy that address shared a kitchen and I am hearing that remodeling will involve installation of a second kitchen so that two free-standing restaurants can occupy the building. Pacific Coast Business Times reports that Holdren’s Grill, the former neighboring tenant, will be replaced by another popular downtown Santa Barbara restaurant. More information coming soon.




Readers DJ, Jeff and Justin let me know that Cabos Baja Grill and Cantina at 5096 Carpinteria Avenue has closed, and after a quick remodel inside and out, was replaced by Cielo Bar and Grill which opened February 6th. I am told that the new General Manager is Molly Quigley with new Executive Chef Jean-Paul Luvanvi. Cielo has a new menu with Tex-Mex cuisine, while retaining some of the Cabos favorites. Hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. For more information call 684-5507.

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Reader Jon informed me that Café Luna at 2354 Lillie Avenue in Summerland has closed. The business had been open since April 2006. A note on the front gate reads: “To our cherished friends, family and loyal customers: we’re sad to report that there has been a lunar eclipse. Café Luna has closed. We’ve enjoyed 5 awesome years of Luna ownership and we owe it all to our customers and staff. Thank you for your support.”



Blue Tavern at 119 State Street closed last December. Reader Iceman tells me he spoke with the assistant chef for the new operators of the old Blue Tavern location and was told that it will be replaced by Nuance, to be headed by a known chef. I am told they are planning to open as Nuance in about a month.



Reader Elizabeth tells me that Los Agaves at Camino Real Marketplace started serving breakfast on January 31st. Elizabeth says that mimosas, coffee, and Mexican Hot Chocolate are included with their variety of breakfast offerings. I don’t know if other locations offer the same.



Here is a list of local restaurants that have closed in the last year:

  • January 2015: Gina’s Pizza, 7038 Marketplace Dr., Goleta; Xanadu French Bakery, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito.
  • December 2014: Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill, 202 State St.; Blue Tavern, 119 State St.; Coffee Bean SBA, 500 Fowler Rd., Goleta (now Le Mission Café); Killer Shrimp, 416 State St.; Miro at the Bacara Resort, 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Pita Pit, 971 Embarcadero Del Mar, Isla Vista.
  • November 2014: Adama, 428 Chapala St.; Angry Wings, 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Firehouse Subs, 6530 Seville Rd, Isla Vista; Kahuna Grill, 12 De La Guerra Pl.; Norton’s Pastrami and Deli, 226 S. Milpas St.; Pace, 413 State St.; Tri Tip Company, 214 State St.
  • October 2014: Hot Spots, 36 State St; Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro, 516 State St.; Quizno’s, 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta.
  • September 2014: Cafe Del Sol, 30 Los Patos Wy., Montecito; New Baja Grill, 7024 Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta (now Los Agaves).
  • August 2014: none.
  • July 2014: none.
  • June 2014: All India Café, 431 State St. (now Himalayan Kitchen); Harold’s Caribbean Kitchen, 731 De la Guerra Plaza (now Killer B’s); Montecito Confections, 1150 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (now Wayne Kjar Cakes).
  • May 2014: Holdren’s Grill, 6920 Marketplace Dr, Goleta.
  • April 2014: D’Vine Café, 205 W. Canon Perdido St. (now Barbareno); Mad Dogs, 505 State St. (now Ana’s Taco Bar); Magic Pita Café, 5 W. Haley St. (now Tacos El Rey); Smoke N Barrel BBQ Shack, 6920 Marketplace Drive, Goleta.
  • March 2014: Bangkok Palace, 2829 De la Vina St.; Betos Subs, 731 De La Guerra Plaza; Brummis, 3130 State St. (now TAP Thai); The French Table, 129 E. Anapamu St. (now Piano Gastrolounge); Sunnyside Market & Deli, 436 E. Gutierrez St.
  • February 2014: none.
  • January 2014: Museum Cafe 1130 State St. (now Fire & Ice Museum Café); Rusty’s Pizza,15 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (moving to 111 State St.); The Pan, 18 E. Cota St.; Wahoo’s Fish Taco, 511 State St. (now Barbarian’s Pizza); YoYumYum, 5915A Calle Real, Goleta (now Pizza Hut).
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Mario and Lani Medina have owned and operated Mulligans Cafe & Bar at 3500 McCaw Avenue since December 1993. In mid-December I called Mulligans and was told that the Medinas are in final lease negotiations to take over the space at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta, the former longtime home of Elephant Bar & Restaurant which closed in August 2013. Word on the street is that the new restaurant will be called High Sierra Grill House, a joint venture with co-owner Manuel Perales who already runs a High Sierra Grill House in Fresno. The business has been approved by the Airport Commission and is awaiting approval from Santa Barbara City Council on February 10th. High Sierra Grill House will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner including a Sunday buffet. Menu will include BBQ, burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, and more. Opening is planned for sometime between August and the end of the year. Thanks to readers Gary, Carol, JM and Anonymous.




While I was ordering the “Island Bowl” at a local Backyard Bowls location, I asked if they had any news to share. I was told that Backyard Bowls is expanding beyond the South Coast and will be opening a new location in West Hollywood later this month. Backyard Bowls opened their first location at 331 Motor Way in downtown Santa Barbara in November 2008 and since added outlets in La Cumbre Plaza and on Calle Real in Goleta.

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This spring the locally owned Shalhoob Meat Co. at 220 Gray Avenue in the Funk Zone will be opening an on-site café named “Shalhoob Meat Co. Patio.” Their web site offers the following description: “Shalhoob proteins are all natural, hormone and antibiotic free, and smoked over oak wood. Our hand pressed burgers are a special grind of brisket, tri-tip and chuck. All ingredients from our ‘scratch kitchen’ are locally sourced. Every aioli, sauce and dressing is made in house with only the freshest ingredients.”

The menu will include:

  • SALADS: Assorted greens, Cherry Tomatoes & Toasted Sunflower Seeds with Choice of Dressing $6. House made Ranch, Balsamic or Sherry Vinaigrette. Add Grilled Chicken $3, BBQ Chicken $3, or Tri Tip $4.
  • SMOKED TRI TIP PLATE with Fries or House Salad $12
  • BBQ CHICKEN PLATE with Fries or House Salad $10
  • SMOKED TRI TIP SANDWICH choice of Pico de Gallo or BBQ Sauce $10
  • SHALHOOB’S SPECIAL GRIND CHEESEBURGER White Cheddar, Lettuce & Tomato $8 with Bacon $9
  • PORK BACK RIBS Choice of BBQ Sauce Bourbon or Chipotle $13
  • SMOKED TURKEY CLUB Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado & Chipotle Aioli on Sourdough $9
  • BBQ CHICKEN SANDWICH White Cheddar $10
  • SANTA BARBARA STYLE CHEESE STEAK Provolone, Onions, Peppers & Whole Grain Mustard Aioli on Ciabatta Roll $11
  • BACON JAM CHEESEBURGER Bacon Jam, White Cheddar & Black Pepper Aioli on Brioche Bun $10

All sandwiches and burgers are served with choice of fries or salad. Kids menu, which includes fries, offers a cheeseburger for chicken tenders for $6.



Starting January 26th Costco closed their food court and deli for remodeling. The deli is closed for five weeks and during that time rotisserie chicken, wings and ribs will not be available. The deli will continue to service a limited entree menu. The food court is closed for three weeks. No pizzas will be available for Superbowl Sunday.



Here is a list of local restaurants that have opened in the last year:

  • January 2015: La Mission Cafe (Airport Downstairs), 500 Fowler Rd.; Lilac Patisserie, 1017 State St.
  • December 2014: Kyle’s Kitchen, 5723 Calle Real, Goleta; Patxi’s Pizza, 515 State St.; Pizza Hut, 915A Calle Real, Goleta
  • November 2014: Tino’s Italian Grocery, 210 West Carrillo St.
  • October 2014: Aladdin Café, 938 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista; Barbareno, 205 W. Canon Perdido St.; Los Agaves, 7024 Market Place Dr., Goleta; Tri Tip Company, 214 State St. (now closed)
  • September 2014: Café 154, 4151 Foothill Rd.; Taqueria El Pastorcito, 2009 De la Vina St.; The Outpost at The Goodland Hotel, 5650 Calle Real, Goleta.
  • August 2014:   Boochies, 113 W. De la Guerra St.; Tacos El Rey, 5 W. Haley St.
  • July 2014: Benchmark Eatery, 1201 State St.; Mesa Verde, 1919 Cliff Dr.; Papa Johns Pizza, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta.
  • June 2014: Himalayan Kitchen, 431 State St.; Spudnuts, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista.
  • May 2014: C’est Cheese Café, 825 Santa Barbara St.; Caribbean Kitchen, 731 De la Guerra Plaza; Jersey Mike’s, 1213 State St.; The Black Sheep, 26 E. Ortega St.
  • April 2014: Ana’s Taco Bar, 505 State St.; Beach Bowls, 901 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Belcampo Meat Co., 38 W. Victoria St.; Crazy Good Bread Co., 38 W. Victoria St.; Deli Express, 7398 Calle Real, Goleta; Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.; Enjoy Cupcakes, 38 W. Victoria St.; Fire & Ice Museum Café, 1130 State St.; Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.; Green Star Coffee, 38 W. Victoria St.; Juice Well, 38 W. Victoria St.; Lovin Oven Mediterranean Bakery & Café, 6578 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Pasta Shoppe, 38 W. Victoria St.; Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, 38 W. Victoria St.; Santa Monica Seafood, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • March 2014: Betos Subs, 731 De La Guerra Plaza (now closed); Blaze Pizza, 6546 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Firehouse Subs, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista (now closed); Jimmy John’s, 909 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Olio Crudo Bar, 11 W. Victoria St.; Piano Riviera Lounge, 129 E Anapamu St.
  • February 2014: The Lovin’ Spoonful, 2028 Cliff Dr.
  • January 2014: Barbarians Pizza, 511 State St.; Wok on the Wild Side, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista.
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Two weeks ago I reported that a yoga studio was opening at 108 Pierpont Road in Summerland, the former home of the Big Yellow House restaurant. It appears that they will be occupying just the upstairs portion of the property. Kelly Mahan with the Montecito Journal reports in the January 15-22 issue that the downstairs section will be occupied by a farm-to-table Italian restaurant named Pace (pronounced PAH-chay). This business is not related to the recently-closed Pace restaurant at 413 State Street.

The concept for the eatery is “Bohemian, artisitic, and artisan, featuring locally sources produce and products and house-made everything,” reports Mahan. “Summerland Pace will be a casual and organic twist on refined Italian cuisine: think house-made pasta, locally sourced seafood and meats, pizza made with farmers’ market veggies and more.”

Owner and chef Sandy Gendel owns a second Pace restaurant in Laurel Canyon. Summerland Pace will be open for breakfast lunch and dinner. For more information visit Thanks to reader Jim for the tip.




150122-inn-crowdPopular local cooking show The Inn Crowd is now hosted by Chef Michael Hutchings. The Inn Crowd is aired Saturday nights on the ABC affiliate KEYT channel 3 and it can also be seen on the Santa Barbara News Press web site The show will has notable guests from the area to assist and learn from Chef Michael. All the recipes will be posted on the In addition to learning new dishes, The Inn Crowd will be shown the relationship between food and wine and suggested wine parings to enhance the dining experience. Produced by Craig Case, the Foley Food and Wine Society continues to be a major sponsor for this well received show. The culinary action is filmed at Foley’s Crossroads Victorian estate in Santa Ynez Valley. The production team YTS is continuing with Season 5, including Will Conlin, Harlene Conlin, and Gary Conlin.

Photo: Guest Archie McLaren (left) and Chef Michael Hutchings on The Inn Crowd cooking show.



Reader Hugh tells me that Vietnamese sandwiches and Pho are now available from Mama’s Bakery at 5342 Hollister Avenue in Goleta:

“Hi John, Mama’s Bakery on Hollister across from Cottage Hospital is now serving a variety of Vietnamese sandwiches. They come with pickles, cilantro, grated carrot, and thin sliced jalapeños. Monday’s special is with steak, Tuesdays with chicken, Wednesday chicken pineapple meatball, Thursday Pork, and Friday a 3 meat combo. Pho is also available daily in 2 sizes.”



Whether or not your New Year’s Resolution is to eat less meat, Chipotle Mexican Grill is giving its customers a special opportunity to try its new vegan menu item, Sofritas, this month. On Monday, January 26, 2015, customers who purchase a Sofritas entrée item at any Chipotle restaurant can redeem their receipt for a free entrée of their choice any day between January 27 and February 28, 2015. Sofritas is organic, non-GMO tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblano peppers and a blend of spices. Sofritas was first tested in spring 2013 in several markets after which the vegan offering became a permanent addition on Chipotle’s menu.

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Reader Primetime tells me that a restaurant named “Montecito” has opened in Toronto, Canada. The Montecito Restaurant is a partnership between Toronto-native and Hollywood director, (and Montecito resident,) Ivan Reitman and Master Chef Jonathan Waxman. On the menu you might note a dessert which is a version of baked Alaska, called the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, one of the characters from Reitman’s hit movie “Ghostbusters.” The restaurant is also decorated with video screens which show scenic videos shot from Montecito’s foothills, giving diners a taste of Santa Barbara County. For more information visit

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I recently stopped by McDonald’s in Camino Real Marketplace to refuel with a quick regular hamburger. While there I noticed something interesting about their Dollar Menu: most things cost more than a dollar. Of the nearly 20 entrées and sides on the Dollar Menu, only one item, a cone, cost a dollar. All other entrées and sides on the Dollar Menu cost more than a buck, up to $9.59. A few offerings of tea are available for $1.



Reader Brendan tells me that Lilac Patisserie, a “dedicated gluten-free bakery and cafe”, has opened at 1017 State Street.

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Here is a message from the new Yellowbelly restaurant at 2611 De la Vina Street:

“Hi John,

My name is Alex Noormand. I own Yellowbelly on De la Vina Street. I just wanted to let you know that we are open for dinner, with a full menu. We are also a craft beer and wine bar. We also just changed our name to just Yellowbelly and took off the ‘tap sucker.’

- Alex Noormand and Tracy Clark”