To finish off the year I made the annual pilgrimage to 1209 E. Quinientos Street, where the Restaurant Kid (15 months old) was able to see for the first time Santa Barbara’s best Christmas decorations and light show. His response was to say “Oh!” while pointing fingers at everything.

Also for the first time, Accidental Santa met Peter Estrada, the man who owns the home that has been the Christmas light tour grand finale for 19 years.

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Word on the street is that Union Ale at 214 State Street will close at the end of 2015 and become a new restaurant named Brewers, and have an all-new menu. I am told that Brewers is going to focus on delivery and remove most of the TVs. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



This just in from the Santa Barbara Public Market:

2016 Will Bring Exciting Change and New Business to The Santa Barbara Public Market. Market-wide beer and wine permitted; new beer garden to open in early spring.

Santa Barbara, CA. (December 2015) – As 2015 comes to an end, the Santa Barbara Public Market is enthusiastically looking towards the New Year and planning big changes for 2016. To cap off 2015, the Public Market is excited to announce that in early 2016, guests 21 and older may now enjoy wine and beer throughout the common areas of the market.   Coupled with this announcement, a new beer garden will open in early spring of 2016 replacing the space currently occupied by Foragers Pantry. Foragers Pantry is slated to close on December 28th to make room for this exciting new addition to the market.

“We are grateful to Foragers Pantry for serving as a convenient one-stop-shop for the downtown Santa Barbara neighborhood, and we want to thank the community for their continued support of the Santa Barbara Public Market,” shared Marge Cafarelli, owner of the Santa Barbara Public Market.  “We are very excited about the beer garden joining our collective, and we look forward to what’s in store for the market in 2016!”

Building off the success of Wine + Beer, the market’s popular wine shop and bar, the Public Market is looking forward to welcoming the new beer garden to its collective. Located off the entrances to the market, this new concept will bring a twist to the traditional beer garden by locating it indoors while opening up a whole new view into the hustle and bustle of the Public Market and maximizing the great window real estate that wraps around the front of the market, offering guests the best views in the house.

The new beer garden will feature an innovative tap system with both craft micro and macrobrews from around the world and the US, big screen televisions for sporting events from around the world, and a comfortable environment that will welcome any crowd, from beer enthusiasts to the downtown business community to families looking to enjoy a casual meal together. A crowd-pleasing menu will be offered, featuring small plates that are perfect for sharing with friends, in addition to favorites like Burgers, Fish Tacos, Fish & Chips and more.

Another exciting perk “on tap” for 2016 is new permitting throughout the entire Public Market that will allow guests 21 and older to enjoy beer and wine in all the common areas of the market. The Public Market has been working since the beginning to obtain a market-wide license, as it would provide guests the opportunity to roam the market, explore the various merchants, and create a convivial environment where people can socialize together wherever they please. As always, guests can order food from any merchant and take it to eat wherever they choose – but now in addition, they can order wine or beer from any merchant that offers it, and take it with them anywhere in the market.

“The Santa Barbara Public Market is a place for discovering new food, new friends and a unique new experience in Santa Barbara,” shared Cafarelli. “Indeed, exciting change is coming to the market, so stay tuned for Santa Barbara Public Market 2.0, and we look forward to sharing it with everyone!”

Over the past year, the popularity of The Kitchen (the market’s special event space) has grown tremendously, with pop-up dinners, cooking classes, community events and more. This past summer, the Public Market launched the popular “Locals Nights” happening every Monday night. Guests enjoy one-night-only merchant specials, games, prizes and pop-up dinners in The Kitchen featuring a variety of local chefs and restaurants. The Public Market continues to be a popular place downtown for locals and visitors alike to meet and gather at any time of the day to feed any cravings – whether it is for coffee or breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just to satisfy a sweet tooth!

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For the first time ever a Restaurant Guy post on Edhat has exceeded 5,000 views. That many clicks on Edhat is usually reserved for a fire or some other type of emergency. In this case the news is about Lure Fish House opening in La Cumbre Plaza.

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Will Ramsone, a local businessman, has purchased Padaro Grill at 3765 Santa Claus Lane from Brent Reichard, cofounder of the popular The Habit Burger Grill.



Mama Lu, which opened at 415 North Milpas Street in September 2009, has closed their doors.



Stone Age Restaurant has opened at 415 North Milpas Street, the former home of Mama Lu. Like its predecessor Stone Age offers Chinese cuisine.



This just in from reader Gina:

Hi John:

I was in Santa Barbara Public Market today for lunch, and noticed they had shut down the pantry/grocery store at the front of the store.  Looked like they were taking stuff off the shelves and closing the area.  Any idea if it is closing for good?  One more nail in the coffin of the public market?  Although I have to say the it was very crowded in there for the few spaces left in there.  There were a group of official-looking people with clipboards assessing the space and all unoccupied spaces, one of them possibly the owner.  It’s a shame because I own a business very close and my staff and I frequent there quite a bit for lunch, and enjoy the wine bar after work.  It would be hard for me to adjust to it shutting down for good.




On August 15, 2013 I published a rumor that Lure Fish House was coming to upper State Street. After writing 18 follow-up stories since then, I am very happy to report that Lure Fish House opens Tuesday, December 29th in La Cumbre Plaza, in the space formerly occupied by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Lure offers lunch and dinner though the first 5 days it will be dinner-only as staff comes up to speed. Santa Barbara is Lure Fish House’s 4th location following openings in Ventura, Camarillo and Westlake.

Lure Fish House was created with the goal of providing a top tier seafood experience featuring fresh and sustainable seafood from trusted sources. The restaurant strives to provide locally caught seafood, organically grown local produce, and wines from local vineyards whenever possible. Lure also features a full bar with specialty cocktails, and an oyster bar serving a variety of fresh items that can vary daily. Lure specializes in Mesquite charbroiled seafood while also providing prepared selections by their chef. Menus are printed daily to reflect availability and guarantee freshness.

The menu typically includes Wild Rock Fish, Wild Yellowtail, Wild Pacific White Sea Bass, Wild Ono/Wahoo, Wild Mahi-Mahi, Loch Etive Steelhead, Icelandic Arctic Char, Scottish Salmon, Wild Local Halibut, Wild Pacific Swordfish, Jumbo Wild Gulf Shrimp. The menu also includes a variety of oysters (Kumai, Chef Creek, Lure Charbroiled, Hama Hama, Blue Point, Fanny Bay, and Crystal Point), pastas (Linguini & Clam Sauce, Spicy Seafood, Spicy Tequila Lime Shrimp, and Lobster Ravioli) along with soups, bread bowls, salads, crab cakes, calamari and more. The lunch-only menu includes tacos, sandwiches, and fish & chips. A kids menu is available.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to close, usually around 10:30 p.m. Thanks to reader Travis for the tip.

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Santa Barbara’s popular bartender and server Nate Curteman, who worked at American Ale and Union Ale, and who also helped to open The Black Sheep Restaurant last year on Ortega Street, passed away in December. I took these photos of Nate on May 2, 2014 on opening day of Black Sheep.





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

  • 805 Boba, Paseo Nuevo.
  • Bree’Osh Bakery, 1150 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (formerly Crushcakes)
  • Cito Street Café, 305 W. Montecito St.
  • Corazon Cocina, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (formerly Xanadu French Bakery)
  • Del Taco, Santa Barbara (2 locations)
  • Dickey’s BBQ Pit, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • Dunkin’ Donuts, 3771 State St. (formerly Taco Bell)
  • Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen, 718 State St. (formerly Killer B’s)
  • Ike’s Place, Isla Vista.
  • Jane, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (formerly Smoke N Barrel BBQ Shack)
  • John’s Burger, Turnpike and Calle Real
  • La Bella Rosa Bakery, 7127 Hollister Ave. (formerly Café Zoma)
  • Lure Fish House, 3815 State St. (formerly Ruth’s Chris)
  • Nona’s Italian Deli, 415 E. De la Guerra St. (formerly Italian Grocery)
  • Norton’s Pastrami and Deli, Goleta.
  • Ocean House at Bacara Resort, 8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta (formerly Miro)
  • Oliver’s, 1198 Coast Village Rd. (formerly Peabody’s)
  • Pace, 108 Pierpont Rd., Summerland (formerly Big Yellow House)
  • Pascucci, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (formerly Holdren’s Grill)
  • Pickles & Swiss, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 111 State St. (moving from 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd.)
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland (Stacky’s Seaside)
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 5934 Calle Real, Goleta (formerly Takenoya)
  • Rusty’s Pizza, 4880 Hollister Ave., Goleta (moving from 149 S. Turnpike Rd.)
  • Santa Ynez Burrito,956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (formerly Kogilicious)
  • Smart & Final, 3943 State St. (formerly Haggen)
  • Smart & Final, 850 Linden Ave. (currently Haggen)
  • Sno-Crave Tea House, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • Sprouts Farmers Market, 175 N. Fairview Ave. (formerly Haggen)
  • Subway, 1936 State St.
  • The Drunken Crab, 416 State Street (formerly Killer Shrimp)
  • The French Press, 250 Storke Rd., Goleta (formerly Bicycle Bob’s)
  • Third Window Brewery, 412 E. Haley St. (formerly Tileco)
  • Vons, 163 S. Turnpike Rd. (formerly Haggen)
  • Vons, 2010 Cliff Drive (formerly Haggen)
  • Wahoo’s Fish Taco, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • Which Wich, 5 South Coast locations
  • Zizzo’s Coffee, 7000 Hollister Ave., Goleta (Hollister Village Plaza)
  • Unnamed, 901 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (inside Santa Barbara Inn)
  • Unnamed, 7 E. Anapamu St. (formerly Arts & Letters Café)
  • Unnamed, 17 W. Ortega St. (formerly Nardonne’s Pizzeria)
  • Unnamed Asian-Fusion, 5892 Hollister Ave. (formerly The Natural Café)
  • Unnamed Bakery & Cheese Shop, 131 Anacapa St.
  • Unnamed Pizzeria, 699 Linden Ave., Carpinteria (formerly Tony’s)


The Restaurant Guy’s business line happens to be one digit off from 1-800-SantaClaus and each December my phone line gets thousands of calls from kiddies all across the country trying to reach Old St. Nick. Since Christmas 2006 volunteers help me answer the phone. The “Accidental Santa” call center starts today through Christmas Eve 2pm – 8pm. Have your children call 800-726-8222. Visit AccidentalSanta.com.




A prominent restaurant building in Old Town Goleta, known for being the home of The Natural Café, has sold to a new owner. The same family had owned 5892 Hollister Avenue property since the 1930’s. The building was marketed for lease when the owners received an offer to buy the building and decided to sell. The space will become and Asian-fusion restaurant.

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Nectar Eatery & Lounge, at 20 E. Cota Street, completely transformed from its prior existence as Blue Agave, is now offer multiple reasons to dine out during the week, not just on Friday and Saturday eves. On Sweet Sundays, you can indulge in a free dessert for every two entrees ordered. On Meatless Mondays, enjoy one of several specially-created vegetarian dishes, in addition to the full menu which also contains many vegetarian items. On Tequila and Tamale Tuesdays, all tequila drinks are 20% off, and Nectar offers a rotating selection of tamales from SB Tamales to Go. Lastly, on Wine Wednesdays, for every entree purchased Nectar waives the corkage on a bottle of wine. So be their guest on a different night of the week each time to experience all that Nectar offers. Hours are 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m. daily, with a special late night menu. Call 899-4694.

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Readers Brendan and Cherise let me know that a Mexican eatery named Fernando’s Churros & Restaurant has opened in the former location of the Honduran “Cinco Estrellas” restaurant. This is a small space that opens to the parking lot behind House of Laundry at 316 North Milpas Street. A sign in the parking lot advertises menudo, tacos, and more.

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Reader Steve let me know that Gandolfo’s Deli at 718 State Street, the former home of Killer B’s, Kozmo’s, California Crisp and Fat Burger, plans to open January 15th.



  • December 2015: Marmalade Café, 3825 State St.; Taco Bell, 3771 State St.
  • November 2015: Beach Bowls, 901 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Bistro 1111, 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (now Marbella); Boochies, 113 W. De la Guerra St.; El Torito, 29 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Kogilicious, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista
  • October 2015: Blue Agave, 20 E. Cota St. (now Nectar); Crazy Good Bread, 4191 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; Culture Counter, 38 W. Victoria St.; Fresh & Easy Market, 336 N. Milpas St.; iGrill Korean BBQ, 3132 State St. (now Kimchi)
  • September 2015: Arch Rock Fish, 608 Anacapa St; Crazy Good Bread, 38 W. Victoria St.; Las Brasas Mexican Grill, 5915B Calle Real, Goleta (now China King); Muddy Waters Coffee House, 508 E. Haley St.; Sojourner Café, 134 E. Canon Perdido St.; Wings Restaurant, 4427 Hollister Ave.
  • August 2015: Sublime, 901 N. Milpas St.; Crushcakes & Café, 1150 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Crushcakes & Café, 6533 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista (now Kol’s Café); Simply Pies, 5392 Hollister Ave., Goleta (now Crushcakes)
  • July 2015: Barbecue Company, 3807 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria (now Borrello’s Pizza); Boca del Rio, 318 N. Milpas St. (now Los Altos); Fresco Cafe North, 5940 Calle Real, Goleta (now The Fig Grill); Panera Bread, 700 State St.; Taqueria Buen Gusto, 4835 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria.
  • June 2015: Albertsons, 2010 Cliff Dr.; Albertsons, 3943 State St.; Cajun Kitchen, 865 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Juice Well, 38 W. Victoria St.; Pasta Shoppe, 38 W. Victoria St.; Santa Monica Seafood, 38 W. Victoria St. (now I’a Fish); Tony’s, 699 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Vons, 163 S. Turnpike Rd., Goleta; Vons, 850 Linden Ave., Carpinteria.
  • May 2015: Arlington Tavern, 21 W. Victoria St. (now The Nugget); Esau’s Cafe, 721 Chapala St. (now Sachi Ramen); Killer B’s BBQ and Bar, 731 De la Guerra Plaza; Nardonnes La Famiglia Pizzeria, 17 W. Ortega St.; Roll a Lot, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta. Yo a Lot, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta.
  • April 2015: Arts & Letters Café, 7 E. Anapamu St.; Vons, 165 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta.
  • March 2015: Beachbreak Cafe, 324 State St. (now Dawn Patrol); Denny’s, 5677 Calle Real, Goleta; Fresh Market, 222 N. Milpas St.; Hennings Cake Boutique, 28 W. Figueroa St. (now Sushi Café); Los Tarascos, 5915B Calle Real, Goleta (now China King); Steve’s Patio Cafe, 3007 De la Vina St. (now Terraza Café).
  • February 2015: Cafe Luna, 2354 Lillie Ave., Summerland; Las Aves Cafe, 2220 Bath St. (now Live Oak Café).
  • January 2015: Cabo’s Baja Grill & Cantina, 5096 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria (now Cielo Bar and Grill); Domino’s, UCSB Ucen (now Santorini Island Grill); Rincon Bohemio, 298 Pine Ave, Goleta (now La Hacienda); Gina’s Pizza, 7038 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (now On the Alley); Xanadu French Bakery, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito.
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Readers Primetime and Kerry let me know that Marmalade Cafe at 3825 State Street in La Cumbre Plaza has closed. I called the business and they confirmed that their last meal was served last night. Sadly it appears that many people are out of work just before Christmas. Marmalade Cafe opened in December 2007. As reported last May, Marmalade’s liquor license has been purchased by neighboring business Lure Fish House which will be opening in early 2016.



My main business line, 800-SantaBarbara, just happens to be one digit off from 800-SantaClaus. Since December 2006, when I got the phone number, I have received thousands of phone calls from misdialing kiddies trying to reach Old St. Nick. Fortunately many volunteers from around the South Coast come to my home to help answer the calls. Have your children call 800-726-8222 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. December 22 – 24.

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This just in from reader Brendan:

“A Mexican eatery appears to have opened in the former location of the Honduran “Cinco Estrellas” restaurant. This is a space behind Milpas Liquor and House of Laundry, facing a back parking lot and totally invisible from the street. I didn’t go in, didn’t see any signage with a name for the restaurant, but signboards outside and out front by the liquor store advertised menudo, tacos, etc.”



High Sierra Grill & Bar has opened at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta, the former home of The Elephant Bar. My wife and I attended a pre-opening dinner event on Friday and we enjoyed a wonderful meal. She had the Rib Eye and I had the Prime Rib.

Owners Mario Medina, Manuel Perales, and Paul Ybarra have been in business together for 30 years and have opened four Yosemite Falls Café restaurants in Fresno as well as their first High Sierra Grill in Fresno. Medina, who also owns Mulligans Cafe at Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Course, says that new restaurant serves American and Mexican breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and most items on the menu cost $8 to $22. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 6 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday 6 a.m. – midnight. Call 845-7030 or visit highsierragrill.net.

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Readers tell me that Mama Lu at 415 N. Milpas Street is closed. When I called a representative answered the phone and said that they are reopening December 16th. My ability to speak Chinese is limited so the phone conversation resulted in me not knowing exactly what is going on. They might be opening under a new name with new ownership, or perhaps are reopening under the old name, under new ownership. We’ll see.

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This question from reader Annie:

Hungry Cat is adding a Health Care Surcharge to the bill.  Can a patron refuse to pay this added tax?”



Readers tell me that a sign at Sachi Ramen, 721 Chapala Street, the former home of Esau’s Café, says the eatery opens today.



Justin West, co-owner of Restaurant Julienne at 138 East Canon Perdido Street, has opened Wildwood Kitchen at 412 East Haley Street. Wildwood Kitchen is part of a new 19,900 square-foot food-and-drink hot spot called The Mill being constructed by owners Darrell and Kirsten Becker. Wildwood Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner. West’s plans to open another, smaller eatery named “Wood Shed” at The Mill are on hold.



This just in from Finch & Fork restaurant:

Join Finch & Fork for a three-course Christmas dinner by Executive Chef James Siao featuring a menu of seasonal dishes. The meal includes starters like House Smoked Salmon with leek puree, egg, black pepper, beets, dill, and grilled artisan bread and signature entrees like Prime Rib with all the fixings, Sea Bass and Braised Pork Cheek. Chef Siao has also created desserts like Caramelized Banana Cake with toffee sauce, salty pecans and McConnell’s ice cream and Crème Caramel with toasted hazelnuts and orange whipped cream to end the meal. Dinner is $80 per person and will be served on Christmas Day from 2:30pm to 8:00pm. 31 W Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 | (805) 879-9100 | finchandforkrestaurant.com



This just in from SY Kitchen at 1110 Faraday Street in Santa Ynez:


Owners Mike and Kathie Gordon, Luca Crestanelli, Executive Chef/Partner of S.Y. Kitchen and Emily Johnston, Sommelier and Wine Director


S.Y. Kitchen presents a Christmas Eve dinner that even old Saint Nick would make time to enjoy on Christmas Eve. Inspired by the rich bounty of Central Coast ingredients, Chef Luca and his brother, Sous Chef Francesco, present a stunning five course tasting menu.

The Christmas Eve Dinner will commence with Seared Diver Scallops with White Polenta, Crispy Black Kale and Pioppini Mushrooms, followed by Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Orange Duck Ragú and Taggiasca Olives. The third course is Cedar Planked Wild Salmon with Asparagus, Black Truffles and a Whole Grain Mustard-Mayo. A Venison Filet with Burned Baby Carrots, Braised Swiss Chard and a Fresh Herb, Pomegranate Reduction provides an elegant main course. Finishing the evening is Francesco Crestanelli’s Pear Crostata served under Irish Coffee Sauce and White Chocolate Gelato. Pricing is $85 per guest;menu only. The Christmas Eve menu items will be offered à la carte to be enjoyed alongside other seasonal offerings and signature dishes from S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu. Wine pairings curated by Sommelier Emily Johnston will be available by the glass or bottle.

S.Y. Kitchen will be also be open for lunch on Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. with an à la carte menu by Chef Luca. Please note that the restaurant is closed on Christmas and New Years Day but will be open for New Year’s Eve with dishes to make ringing in 2016 memorable.


Christmas Eve:
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. – closing


S.Y. Kitchen
1110 Faraday Street
Santa Ynez, CA 93460



This just in from  Los Agaves Restaurant:

¡Feliz Navidad from Los Agaves Restaurant! Happening only once each year, Los Agaves is taking special orders for their famous tamales, starting now through January 8th. Customers can special order their favorite tamales by the dozen from all four locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Westlake.

“Christmas is our family’s favorite holiday, and we love sharing our special traditions with our customers, and celebrating our Mexican heritage,” said Carlos Luna, owner of Los Agaves. “It wouldn’t be Christmas without tamales, so this is something we do once a year to give our customers a taste of what’s on our holiday tables!”

Los Agaves tamales all are handmade with your choice of chicken, pork, beef, or vegetables, and served with roja (red), verde (green) or crema sauce. If you’re feeling sweet, try the dulce (sweet) tamale, filled with pineapple and cinnamon. Pricing is $44 for 12 large tamales, and $33 for 12 small.

Wrapped in tradición since pre-Columbian times, tamales are a Christmas Eve custom in Mexico celebrated with family gatherings, preparing the labor-intensive dish at a Tamalada. This old tradition has given way to a new one – ordering tamales from your favorite restaurant to serve and savor at holiday dinners. To place an order, please call (805) 682-2600.



This just in from Santa Barbara Tamales To Go:

Good morning, John…

Here is a food-related note for your readers who know a creative student or two…

The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region is sponsoring a logo design contest for high school, college, and university students who reside in Santa Barbara County. The contest is to find a logo for National Tamale Day, which was created this year as a result of a successful campaign supported by Santa Barbara area tamale fans.

Members of the chamber will provide gift cards for the winner, and two runners up valued at $550. The contest rules are posted online at


Thanks so much for letting your readers know about this contest, John.

Richard Lambert
Santa Barbara Tamales To Go

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Reader Cris informed me that Pickles & Swiss, which opened a location in Paseo Nuevo in October 2012, is joining Smart & Final Extra!, Sno-Crave, Zizzo’s Coffee, Dickey’s BBQ Pit and Wahoo’s Fish Tacos as tenants in the new Hollister Village shopping center.