In April 2016 I announced that Handlebar Coffee Roasters is opening a second location at 2720 De la Vina St. (formerly Sleep Shoppe). To the delight of many Handlebar finally mde good on their promise and are now open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Leave a comment


Serial restaurant entrepreneur William Lam is the owner and chef of several restaurants in town including Saigon at Five Points and on State Street (near the Granada), and Sachi Ramen on Chapala Street. You can now add to that list Sunny Korean Restaurant at 532 State Street, the former home of Zia Café. “I like the food business,” says Lam. “I like to create something different. I started with Vietnamese food then ventured into Japanese Ramen. In downtown Santa Barbara we had nothing close to traditional Korean food, so I wanted to do something different than other restaurants around here.” Lam tells me that he modifies the dishes to make the food a less spicy to satisfy local tastes. He does at the same thing at Saigon. I asked Lam why he opened Sunny Korean Restaurant and not another Saigon or Sachi Ramen. “I love Kimchi!,” he replied. While visiting the newly remodeled downtown eatery The Restaurant Gal and I enjoyed a few dishes including dumplings, stir-fried glass noodles with vegetable, Bulgogi, and Jjigae. It was terrific. Give it a try.



Some things take time to get just right and that’s why the new plant-based Oliver’s restaurant at 1198 Coast Village Road spent 5 years remodeling the former home of Peabody’s into a sight to behold. Oliver’s is the creation of cellular phone pioneer Craig McCaw. A plant-based restaurant typically has no meat, dairy, butter or eggs.

The first thing you notice when arriving at Oliver’s  is that one side of the building is completely open (via accordion doors) to seamlessly connect the bar area with the patio. You can feast under a forest of lighted trees on the heated patio, enjoy your meal in cozy quarters in the dining room or pull up to the large table near the bar.

“Being a plant-based restaurant we try to get as close to the original form of food as we can to get as healthy and healthful and tasteful of a meal that we can give you,“ says Assistant General Manager Phillip Thompson. “There is a lot of hesitance about [plant-based restaurants] in the community and the world at large. Come and taste the food. It’s high end cuisine but not fine dining, you don’t have to feel uncomfortable here. If you come and taste the food you will see what it’s about. It’s delicious. It’s healthful. You feel good after eating it. It’s just good food.”

The Small Plates menu ($7-14) includes Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Avocado Toast, Summertime Hummus, Hearts of Palm Ceviche, Artichoke “Crab Cakes”, and Zucchini Flatbread. Salads menu ($12-14) includes Julia’s Cranberry and Chevre Salad, Chopped Salad, Sunflower Caesar Salad, Chickpea Nicoise Salad, and Citrus, Beets and Avocado. The Entrée menu ($18-22) includes Summer Risotto, Toasted Millet Polenta, Grilled Cauliflower Steak, Lotus Bowl, Carrot Udon Noodles, Veggie Burger, Wild Mushroom Tostada, Roasted Acorn Squash, and Kelp Noodle Pad Thai. Vegetable Sides menu ($7)  includes Rainbow Beets, Long Beans, Bulgogi Carrots, and Truffle Potatoes. For the cocktail menu ($14) Oliver’s partnered with the local juicery Juice Ranch, mixing Oliver’s high-end spirits with a local fresh organic juice.

Oliver’s is open for dinner Monday-Thursday. 5-10 p.m. and the bar stays open until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday food service stops at 11 p.m. and the bar closes at midnight. Lunch is part of future plans and free valet service is available. Visit oliversofmontecito.com.



Oveja Blanca (“White Sheep”) at 30 East Ortega Street closed last month and neighboring restaurant Black Sheep, which is run by the same family as was Oveja Blanca, has expanded into the space.

Leave a comment


Word on the street is that the old El Torito at 29 E. Cabrillo Boulevard will reopen next year as two restaurants. One will be run by Carlos Luna, the owner of Los Agaves, and the other will be run by Tina Takaya from Opal restaurant. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

Leave a comment


This just in from owner Benjamin Schroeder: “Wanted to drop a line that Santa Barbara Cider Company has opened in Old Town Goleta. We are open Thursday and Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 3-9 p.m. We hope to see you here at some point!” The address is 325 Rutherford Street, Suite D. Their web sites sbcider.com describes the business as follows: “Our mission is to locally produce delicious Hard Ciders with simple and real ingredients to deliver a delicious and casual tasting experience. We source fresh pressed juices (nothing from concentrate) and do not add artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. All of our Hard Ciders are Gluten Free and made on dedicated Gluten Free equipment.”



Reader Steve H. says that Mosto Crudo is a wine and raw tapas bar opening soon at 7 West Haley Street, the former home of The Champagne Room. I’m told that they will at first serve only raw, cold tapas, nothing cooked.”Mosto” means “must” (a wine word) in Spanish, and “crudo” means raw. Steve H. says the business is run by an Italian and Peruvian couple.



Mattei’s Tavern Restaurant, built in 1886 as a stage coach stop by Felix Mattei, has been purchased by Brian and Shamra Strange, with the restaurant leased by Chef Maili Halme. Halme hopes to open in December. Halme comes from a family with a background in the food industry. She used to run a catering company while her sister and mother operate Solvang Bakery.



Reader Paige says that Dave’s Dogs has opened at 149 South Turnpike Road in Goleta, the former home of Rusty’s Pizza which moved across the parking lot to Hollister Avenue.



The long-awaited opening of Hotel Californian, as part of the waterfront “La Entrada” redevelopment project, has arrived and along with its primary restaurant Blackbird. Call 882-0100. The official description of the restaurant is as follows: “Classic meets contemporary at Hotel Californian’s signature restaurant, featuring exquisite Mediterranean-influenced cuisine with an emphasis on Santa Barbara-sourced, hyper-seasonal ingredients. With the Pacific Ocean and the Funk Zone as a backdrop, Blackbird offers a sleek, yet approachable and wholly unpretentious atmosphere with a pulse on contemporary Santa Barbara.” Blackbird joins Hotel Californian’s street-facing café, named Goat Tree which offers a bakery and meals with a slight Moroccan flavor. Thanks to reader Peter for the tip.



A new restaurant named Basil’s Santa Barbara has opened at 608 Anacapa Street, the former home of Arch Rock Fish and Melting Pot. Basil’s offera Italian cuisine and it is the sister restaurant of Fabrocini’s Italian Kitchen at 18608 Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana. Both eateries are owned and operated by Rosemary Klein and Basil’s offers nearly the same menu as Fabrocini’s. The dinner menu includes salads ($6.50-$11.50), entree salads ($10.25), antipasti ($7.50-$11), pasta ($12.50-$16.50), seafood ($25-$28), chicken ($16), veal/steak ($14-$28) and pizza ($10.50-$18.50).

“We are a family establishment,” says Brett Klein, son of the owner. “My mom opened it and I come in work any time she needs anything. My sister comes up from our Tarzana location and works shifts if need be. My son is a server here as well. Head Chef Joey Fabrocini is helping is get everything going.” I quickly discovered that nearly everything is made from scratch, and while I stopped by for a visit, I tried the fresh (not frozen) calamari which is probably the best I ever had. Breakfast at Basil’s part of future plans. Basil’s is open daily 11 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. Thanks to readers Steve H. Primetime, Jeffrey, and Annie for the tips.

Owner Rosemary Klein at the new Basil’s restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara



Reader Jonathan says that Somerset at 7 East Anapamu Street has a sign outside that says they are offering happy hour from 5- 6 p.m.

1 Comment


Reader Elise tells me that Starbucks will be opening in October inside Ralphs grocery store on Hollister Avenue in Magnolia Plaza.

Leave a comment


James Siao, the chef for the last five years at Finch & Fork, 31 West Carrillo Street, will be taking on a dual role as head chef at The Outpost at The Goodland Hotel, 5650 Calle Real in Goleta. Siao will continue to oversee the menu at Finch & Fork.

1 Comment


Readers Steve H. and Peter T. tell me that The Goat Tree, which offers a bakery and meals with a slight Moroccan flavor, has opened inside the Californian Hotel at 120 State Street. The breakfast menu includes juices, smoothies, cereals and a variety of egg offerings. The all-day menu includes veggie dishes, humus, goat fries, soups, toast, fritters, lamb meatballs, along with a variety of sandwiches, salads and entrees. Entrees include sustainable salmon $22, market fish $24, chicken breast $20, skirt steak $28, Hope Ranch mussels $17, fish-stew-Bernard $28, rabbit + squid $26, short rib $28, chickpea-feta gnocchi $21 and whole heritage chicken $48. Hours are 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

  • View Steve H.’s photo of the menu.


The husband-and-wife team of Laxman Perera and Keiko Miyata, who operate many popular local food businesses including Sushi Teri (with three South Coast locations plus Lompoc), Nikka Fish Market & Grill, Nikka Japanese Market, and Nikka Ramen, have launched their latest venture: Craft Ramen, which just opened at 436 State Street, the former home of Bucatini. Craft Ramen is a joint venture with Nikka Ramen head chef Mitsu Kusuhara. The menu includes SB Craft Tonkotsu Ramen, Shoyu Ramen, Vegan Ramen, Pork Chashu Bowl, Chicken Chashu Bowl and Spicy Tuna Bowl. A variety toppings are available in addition to salads, sides, beer, and wine. Craft Ramen is open daily for dinner from 4-10 p.m. and will begin offering lunch in October. Call 770-2170. Thanks to reader Steve H. for the tip.

STATE & H: Wesley Tom (left) and Dymon Taylor from Phoenix, Arizona, dine on the patio at the new Craft Ramen at the corner of State and Haley Streets.

1 Comment


The popular Worker Bee Café at 973 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria now has a sister location at 5599 Hollister Avenue in Goleta, the former home of Sage & Onion Café, XO coffee shop and The Deli Planet. Sage & Onion Café closed last July. “If people know of us from Carpinteria it’s basically the same principle,” says co-owner Rick Mancilla. “We still do almost everything in house. Everything is made to order, everything is fresh. There are a couple of small differences in the menu from the Carpinteria location. All our specialties came over, but we don’t have the custom omelets and scrambles.” Unlike Carpinteria restaurant where the coffee options are regular or decaf, the new Goleta location has all the popular drink styles. On the breakfast menu specialty items include Homemade Corned Beef Hash, Worker Benedict, Potato Skin Hash, Grilled Biscuits & gravy, Breakfast Burrito with Homemade Salsa, Breakfast Croissant and Lox & Toast. Also available is French Toast, Pancakes, Waffles, Oatmeal, Grits, two eggs any style, Bacon/Sausage, Ham Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, Grilled Chicken Breast and Slices Tri Tip. The lunch menu includes a variety of cold sandwiches, grilled sandwiches and salads. Mancilla and a business partner purchased the restaurant in Carpinteria five years ago and started the expansion to Goleta earlier this year. The tables at the Goleta location have with a chalkboard finish so kids and can dine and draw. Currently when you drive by The Worker Bee Café II you might not see a large sign for the business as might be expected. Mancilla is waiting for owners of the Kellogg Square, where his restaurant is located, to complete a new, formal sign guidelines program that will apply to all tenants. Hours are 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily.

Co-owner Rick Mancilla and the new Worker Bee Cafe in Goleta



Reader Don let me know that Tale O’ The Pup (apparently a hotdog place) is coming to 956 Embarcadero Del Norte in Isla Vista and will be sharing the space with The Original Grilled Cheese Truck, also opening soon at that address. From what I can tell there will be no actual truck at The Original Grilled Cheese Truck. The business will be inside the building at 956 Embarcadero Del Norte which is former home of Santa Ymez Burrito, Kogilicious, Korean BBQ House, Sushilicious, and Berrilicious.

Leave a comment


Say thank you to reader Brendan:

At the corner of Embarcadero del Norte and Seville in Isla Vista (formerly Kogilicious and briefly Santa Ynez Burrito), a sign is up for “The Original Grilled Cheese Truck“. It appears to be this business: http://www.thegrilledcheesetruck.com . The website has a section for “retail locations” that says “coming soon” so perhaps this will be such a location.

1 Comment


Reader Steve H. says a new sign posted at 432 East Haley Street, next to Ah Organics Juice, says that Crush Tasting Room and Kitchen will be the next tenant.

Leave a comment


Reader Steve H. says a new sign for Beautiful Beverage LLC, a beer and wine wholesaler, has been posted on the window at 329 Motor Way which is next to the Santa Barbara Roasting Company.

Leave a comment


The 36th Taste of the Town, a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation, takes place this Sunday, September 10. Here are the details:

WHAT: The 36th Annual Taste of the Town, Santa Barbara’s signature culinary event featuring tastings from the finest local restaurants breweries and distillers plus live jazz entertainment and dozens of impressive food/wine/lifestyle silent auction items to be offered.

WHEN: Sunday, September 10, 2017 from Noon to 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: Riviera Park, 2030 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

WHO: Public Invited (Must be age 21+ to taste alcoholic beverages).


  • Lead Vintner: Doug Margerum, Margerum Wine Company
  • Honorary Lead Chef: Mark Strausman from Freds at Barneys New York
  • Youth Honoree:  Lilly Trautwein, 7-year-old juvenile arthritis victor from Santa Barbara
  • Medical Honoree: Dr. James Zmolek, Orthopedic Surgeon, Sansum Clinic and Cottage Center for Orthopedics

HOW MUCH: $125 per person if purchased by Saturday, 9/9/17 at Noon. $140 per person if purchased on Sunday 9/10/17 only at the event entrance. Call the Arthritis Foundation at 805-563-4685 or reserve online at www.arthritis.org/tasteofthetownsb

WHY: All proceeds from Taste of the Town Santa Barbara events support the programs and services of the Arthritis Foundation. The Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of 53 million people (including nearly 300,000 children) with arthritis through health education, advocacy, research, and local juvenile arthritis support. More than 50,000 Santa Barbara County residents and children have been diagnosed with one of the 100+ forms of arthritis—and look for help and hope from the Arthritis Foundation.

Leave a comment


Reader Jonathan C. let me know that Guichos Eatery, offering “Fresh Italian Take-Out” has opened 901 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria, the former home of Beach Bowls. Unlike Santa Barbara where an eatery opens nearly every week, in Carpinteria a restaurant ribbon-cutting  is a rare event, averaging just 2-3 year per year. Guicho’s Eatery is the first restaurant to open in Carpinteria in 2017.

The pasta at Guicho’s is cooked to order. When visiting a restaurant people can usually tell whether a dish is fresh, and Guicho’s emphasizes fresh ingredients. The owners Luis “Guicho” Alvarez and Jim Donahue seem to take pride in what they are doing. Alvarez lives in San Clemente where he owns two other Guicho’s locations. His in-laws have owned a home in Carpinteria for more than four decades and he visits them often. Donahue is a UCSB graduate and has spent a lot of time on the South Coast. Alvarez opened the first Guicho’s in San Clemente in 2001 and Donahue partnered with him for their second location in 2010.

The restaurant has a clean, spacious design and there are a few tables, but Guicho’s is pretty much catering to a take-out crowd and they encourage people to order in advance. Meal preparation takes about 10 minutes.

The menu includes salads (mixed green, arugula, heart of palm, chopped, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp and fusilli pasta – all priced $5.25 – $9.95), sandwiches (eggplant, chicken, turkey, meatball, sausage, cheesesteak – all priced $7.95 – $10.95), and pastas (penne, penne w/eggplant, spaghettini, spaghettini w/meatballs, ravioli 3 cheese, jumbo ricotta cheese ravioli, tortellini, farfalle, fusilli, fusilli w/pesto, tagliatelli, fettuccini, linguine and lasagna w/sausage – all priced $7.50 – $12.95). You can substitute whole wheat penne or fusilli in any pasta dish for $1 and substitute gluten-free penne for $1.50. Fresh soup of the day with complimentary piece of garlic bread in a 24 oz. container costs $7.95.

Hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., closed Monday. Call 334-1008 or visit guichos.com.

1 Comment


In January 2012 Rudy’s Fresh Mexican Food exited the downtown area when they were replaced by Pickles & Swiss in Paseo Nuevo. Reader Steve H. passed the word to me that Rudy’s has made a triumphant return, this time to 138 East Canon Perdido Street, formerly Julienne, Le Bon Café and Dish. I originally reported that it would be a “Rudy’s Express” which would have offered a limited menu but it turns out plans changed. “It was going to be Rudy’s Express then we looked over what’s ordered on the menu and saw what people really wanted and we couldn’t condense it ,” says owner Andrea Steward, daughter of Rudy’s founder Rudy Alvaro who founded the business. “Everybody’s excited that we are back downtown.”

Using the pots and pans from their kitchen, Rudy and Alma Alvaro opened the original Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant at 305 West Montecito Street in 1976. With his mom, Evangelina, prepping the ingredients in the back, Rudy cooking in the kitchen, and Alma cashiering in the front, Rudy’s began to develop a menu based on familial influences and customer preferences.  Beginning with a basic menu of burgers and burritos, their menu has now expanded to include such items as the popular crispy tacos, enchiladas, and chimichangas. Continuing the legacy are his three children, Rudy, Claudia, and Andrea, who advance the mission of what Rudy and Alma established 41 years ago: fresh ingredients coupled with daily, handmade products that ensure continued success. Rudy’s is open daily 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. with the breakfast menu available until 11 a.m. Call 845-5446 or visit rudys-mexican.com



Here is a list of area eateries that have closed in the last year:

  • August 2017: Barbarians Pizza, 511 State St.; The Cantina, 966 Embarcadero Del Mar, Isla Vista (now Dumpling King); Downey’s, 1305 State St.
  • July 2017: Giovanni’s, 6583 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Rincon Brewery); Papa John’s, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta (might reopen); Rebar Coffee, 214 State St.
  • June 2017: Burger Bus, mobile; Rusty’s Pizza, 149 S. Turnpike Rd., Goleta (moved to 4880 Hollister Ave., Goleta);
  • May 2017: The Mex Authentic, 413 State St. (now Urkeb); Stacky’s Seaside, 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland (changing to Rusty’s Pizza); Zizzo’s Coffeehouse & Brew Pub, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta (changing to Choppa Ice Cream)
  • April 2017: Blush Restaurant and Lounge, 630 State St.; Bucatini, 436 State St. (changing to Craft Ramen Bar); Mama’s Bakery, 5342 Hollister Ave., Goleta (changing to 7-Eleven); Silvergreens, 791 Chapala St. (now Kyle’s Kitchen)
  • March 2017: 18 East, 18 E. Cota St.; I’a Fish Market and Café, 38 W. Victoria St. (now Big Eye Raw Bar); Kol’s Café, 6533 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Santa Ynez Burrito, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista
  • February 2017: American Ale 02, 214 State St.; Terraza Café, 3007 De la Vina St. (now The Patio Café)
  • January 2017: Aldo’s Italian Restaurant, 1031 State St.; American Ale, 14 East Cota St. (now Foxtail Kitchen and Bar); Caffe Primo, 516 State St.; OTaco, 6530 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Lao Wang); Paloma Restaurant and Tequila Bar, 5764 Calle Real, Goleta (now Los Arroyos)
  • December 2016: Hungry Cat, 1134 Chapala St. (now Bar 29)
  • November 2016: Ahi Sushi, 3631 State St. (now Sun Sushi); Globe, 18 E. Cota St.; Julienne, 138 E. Canon Perdido St. (changing to Rudy’s Express); Mac’s Fish & Chip Shop, 503 State St. (now Hana Kitchen)
  • October 2016: Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen, 718 State St. (now Goa Taco); Montecito Café, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (changing to Scratch Bar & Kitchen); Ralphs, 2840 De la Vina St. (now Grocery Outlet Bargain Market)
  • September 2016: Alchemy Spa and Café, 430 Chapala St.; Georgia’s Smokehouse, food truck; Relais de Paris, 734 State St.
Leave a comment


It was reported recently on a local news site that PokeCeviche had opened in Paseo Nuevo. I stopped by and it appears that they are still in the tear-down phase of removing the previous business so my guess is that they won’t open until next year. I also stopped by the PokeCeviche coming to 901 Embarcadero del Mar Isla Vista (formerly Jimmy Johns) and it appears that construction is complete and that they are ready to go.

Leave a comment


In April 2016 I announced that Handlebar Coffee Roasters is opening a second location at 2720 De la Vina St. (formerly Sleep Shoppe). I have had no new news since then. Last week I stopped by their 128 East Canon Perdido Street location to order my wife a iced decaf vanilla latte when the kind lady at the register told me that the second store will be opening this month.



Word on the street is that Jim Mishler, who I am told is the General Manager at Paradise Café, will be opening a restaurant at 1305 State Street, the former home of Downey’s restaurant, which closed recently after 35 years in business. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



Based on a tip from reader Steve H. I stopped by 134 E. Canon Perdido Street, the former home of Sojourner Café. That space was scheduled to be transformed into a Mexican restaurant and a new location for Miso Hungry. It appears that Miso Hungry is still a go but the Mexican restaurant, that was to occupy the left side of the building, will instead be a Jake & Jones clothing store. Mexican food fans should have no fear because Rudy’s Express will be opening one door away in the former home of Julienne.



Reader BBH (an acronym for a nickname that is too vulgar to print here) was recently in the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria Street and saw that the empty space next to Rori’s Ice Cream is boarded up with a sign announcing that another Ca’ Dario Pizza location will be opening there soon.