I am hearing that construction has started at 403 State Street, the former long-time home of Esau’s Cafe, before they moved to 721 Chapala Street. The space has been vacant since Esau’s departed. I don’t know what type of business is coming to that address.


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Reader Cathy tells me that Napoleon’s Macaron’s at 305 Paseo Nuevo, formerly Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, has closed. The business opened in February of this year. Here is a message from their web site:

Unfortunately, today is our last day in Santa Barbara. We wanted to thank everybody in town for making us part of their community. We will be back very soon. We promise!

In the meantime, you may still order our macarons to be shipped overnight on

And if you ever get a chance, you can still visit our other stores in California Napoleon’s Macarons Americana Napoléon’s Macarons Napoleon’s Macarons Valley Fair and Napoleon’s Macarons San Francisco Centre




This just in from reader PrimeTime:

There was a fire at the Indigo Hotel and Blue Tavern restaurant at 11:30 today linked to equipment on the roof. It is located at 119 and 121 State St. near Mason. The hotel is open tonight but the restaurant will be closed about a day while repairs are made.


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A new Mexican eatery named Tacos El Rey has opened at 5 W. Haley Street, the former home of Magic Pita Café and Greek House Café. I am told that the restaurant menu offers only tacos and that each cost about a dollar. In a previous write-up about this business it was suggested they might also sell burgers but that did not turn out to be true.

Reader Ryan describes his experience this way: “I gotta say, the tacos are fantastic! I got all three meats they were serving that day and a veggie (mushroom) and they were on hit! The salsa bar was tasty as well. They need some interior tables and the ability to take credit cards but those are small things I’m sure they will iron out. I also asked about the menu and they said they are going to keep it simple for now and sell only tacos which I think is great. Focus well on those little beauties and you’ve got yourselves a hit!”

For more information call 963-5758. Thanks to readers Ryan, Brendan and Karl for the tips!




Reader Brendan tells me that Taqueria El Pastorcito is coming to 2009 De la Vina Street, the former Los Gallos restaurant. I’m told the place doesn’t seem to be open yet. A few months ago I spoke with the family that operated Los Gallos, as well as both Daily Grind coffee shops, and they told me that they planned to reopen at a restaurant at 2009 De la Vina.



rosnerWine Cask has a new top chef in the kitchen. The locally renowned, Santa Barbara landmark restaurant at 813 Anacapa Street has welcomed Executive Chef David Rosner to Wine Cask and Intermezzo.

Chef Rosner brings an extensive culinary background from across the globe, including work from Europe, New York City, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara where he was Executive Chef and Director of Operations for Café Luck in 2008.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chef Rosner to the Wine Cask team,” said Mitchell Sjerven, Co-Owner of Wine Cask. “His culinary expertise and passion for sustainable, organic produce allows him to employ a unique, modern approach with classic techniques to each dish – which we believe is the perfect blend for the Santa Barbara palette.”



Sal’s Pizza at 900 N. Milpas Street is celebrating its 10th year in business on Santa Barbara’s Eastside. The small, unassuming pizza shop opened its doors on August 7, 2004. Celebrating a 10-year anniversary on the Santa Barbara restaurant scene is no small feat, especially with the ups and downs of the local and national economy over the last few years. Owner Sal Esquivel credits customer loyalty, great food and excellent service as keys to thriving in such difficult times.

“The past 10 years have been a dream come true,” says Esquivel. “I have seen generations of students from Santa Barbara High School graduate and enter college, and I have seen the neighborhood grow and become a destination for all Santa Barbara residents. Times have been tough occasionally, and many people didn’t think I would make it past my first year. But we never doubted it, never gave up, and did all the hard work needed. I thank God, my family and my staff for that. I’m one lucky guy.” The restaurant is open Monday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information call 568-0222.



Chef Leslie Thomas will demonstrate how to make Nutella and Mousse on Sunday, August 31, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. in The Big Kitchen at the Santa Barbara Public Market, 38 W. Victoria Street. Both recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free. Dessert ingredients kits available for purchase at end of class. Limited seating available. First come, first served. Samples and recipes provided. For more information call 770-7702.


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Angry Wings restaurant at 6530 Pardall Road in Isla Vista is closed for the summer and will reopen in the fall.

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A new café named Boochies opened on August 11th at 113 W. De la Guerra Street, the former home of Bella Dolce Bakery and Saffron. Owner Rebekah Winquest, a nutritionist who runs the restaurant with her husband Shawn, tells me the eatery is 100% organic and include juices, gluten-free baked goods, raw desserts, Matcha tea and Pâté of the day. The café is also a “health and nutrition hub” offer cooking and nutrition classes.

Photos by reader PrimeTime

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I have been on vacation in Redwood National Forest for awhile and Internet is almost non-existent so the food news has trickled to a crawl, as you can probably tell. I’ll be home soon. I have a bunch of good stuff piled up ready to share with you. See you soon.

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blindtigerA new entertainment venue named Blind Tiger Restaurant and Bar is having a pre-opening Fiesta celebration at 409 State Street, the long-time home of Savoy Theater, with a grand opening set for Labor Day weekend. The Fiesta schedule: Thursday: Moonshiner Collective 9 p.m., DJ Nagai 11 p.m.; Friday Rey Fresco 9 p.m., DJs Wizkid, Katashtrophy and Valid all evening; Saturday DJ ID3X 9 p.m., Well Groomed 11 p.m. A limited menu includes cheese and charcuterie plates, flatbreads, sliders, tacos and snacks.

Blind Tiger’s web site describes the venue:

“Whether you’re a Santa Barbara local or just passing through the area, we invite you in to enjoy everything Blind Tiger Restaurant & Bar has to offer. Enjoy an open and relaxed atmosphere with stylish décor, craft beers, delicious bites, signature cocktails and wine. Offering some of the best live performances, live music, guest DJ’s, themed parties and a high definition projection TV, Blind Tiger has it all.

“Blind Tiger Restaurant & Bar occupies one of Downtown Santa Barbara’s most historic buildings, dating back to 1889, exuding all the stimulation and excitement of a multi-level, vibrant venue. In exploring the three levels, the main bar, the mezzanine, and the balcony, you’ll find an array of entertainment − full bars, dance floors, spots to unwind, and seating throughout. There is something for everyone ~ perfect for corporate receptions, watching the game, happy hour and social celebrations.”

For more information call 957-4111 or visit Thanks to reader Gary for the tip.



A new café named Boochies is opening in the first few days of August at 113 W. De la Guerra Street, the former home of Bella Dolce Bakery and Saffron. Owner Rebekah Winquest, a nutritionist who will be running the restaurant with her husband Shawn, tells me the eatery will be 100% organic and include juices, gluten-free baked goods, raw desserts, Matcha tea and Pâté of the day. The café will also be a “health and nutrition hub” offer cooking and nutrition classes.

“Everything is made from scratch,” says Winquest. “For example the muffins are made from my own gluten-free blend of almonds, chia seeds, raw coconut. My ingredients are not cheap but we really worked on keeping the prices down. Every single ingredient is very specifically researched and hand chosen. If I’m not going to put it in my body I am not going to create it in a recipe. We have a little bit of everything. We have vegetarian. We have vegan. We have raw. Everything we have is Paleo and gluten-free. There is no flour and nothing that is not easily digested. Everything I use is sprouted and 100% organic. Everything is made fresh and can be taken out including pizza, wraps, and veggie burgers.”

For more information visit (.co not .com)

Owners Shawn and Rebekah Winquest at Boochies. Photo by Perry White Photography.



While attending a Boochies pre-opening party I enjoyed a unique pizza crust made by Outer Aisle Gourmet. Owner Jeanne David tells me she just developed a proprietary cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower veggie bread. “There is no flour, no carbs at all besides the cauliflower,” says David. “It includes a little bit of Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese. It’s high protein with two carbs and two grams of fat. We will be selling them locally first then hopefully building a national distribution model.” Outer Aisle Gourmet products will be available September 1st at Isabella Gourmet Foods, 5 E. Figueroa Street. For more information call 448-5805 or visit



On July 21st I received this message from reader Steve:

Hi John,

Here’s the scoop: The Nona of Nona’s [coming to 415 E. De la Guerra, formerly Italian Grocery] is none other than Tino’s former wife, Edith! That’s the lady who was at the checkout counter of the old Italian Market. Other family members are opening up the other Tino’s Italian deli in the old Carrow’s location on Carrillo.




Reader Marianne let me know that Chef Kim Schiffer is offering an Old Spanish Days pop up dinner, featuring local seafood and organic produce from Marshall, BD and Tom Shepard. Date is August 3rd from 6-10 p.m. The nine-course Tapas menu is available for $95. BYOB. For reservations send an email to

Update: I am hearing that this event might be sold out.

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


You did a poll in 2011 on your blog about “What was your favorite local restaurant that closed?” and there was a string of people who discussed the Flightline restaurant which was out at the airport. I am working on a video for the airport about the history of the Santa Barbara airport and several people that we interviewed talked about the Flightline, but nobody has any pictures. Actually I have 1 picture, but could use more. I would love to contact them to see if there are any photos out there somewhere. I interviewed probably 50 people for this project and asked everyone (even a woman who used to work there) to no avail. I was only able to find the one picture.




jpReporter Ethan Stewart at The Santa Barbara Independent has a front page story this week on the life of John Palminteri and there is an event being held downtown Thursday, July 24th, in his honor.

“JP” has been a big supporter of this blog since it launched in 2007 and supplies The Restaurant Guy with a never ending stream of news tips, that often become my lead story. I always try to return the favor and send news his way but 9 out of 10 times he already knows about it.

I first met Palminteri during the 2005 La Conchita landslide while he was, of course, covering the story. At the time I was running a web site to help raise funds for survivors and families of the victims. When I approached him to talk about the tragedy I was surprised by how nice he was, even while the cameras were turned off, and by how deeply the events had affected him. I had wrongly assumed that reporting stories was just a job for him, and that someone so well-known would be dismissive of people around him. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have had the good fortune of being invited to many events with JP and repeatedly see him take a genuine interest in people around him. When an event is over, and most people have left, John is invariably still there talking to, and listening to, locals young and old.

Come have a drink and share a laugh with Santa Barbara’s most beloved newsman. The Independent will be hosting a “Primetime” Happy Hour today, July 24, at one of the Palm’s favorite haunts, Joe’s Café. The fun starts at 6 p.m. at 536 State Street.

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140724b-himialayan-kitchenReader Brendan let me know that a new restaurant named Himalayan Kitchen, serving Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan cuisine, has opened at 431 State Street, the former home of All India Café. The eatery offers a large vegetarian selection along with a variety of lamb, seafood, chicken and Yak dishes. Been craving Yak dumplings? Your dreams have come true.

I sat down with owner Karma Bhote who told me that he, along with partner and Executive Chef Karma Tenzing Bhotia operate the award winning Tibet Nepal House of Pasadena, and Himalayan Kitchen locations in both Santa Barbara and Durango, Colorado. Bhote is from the remote village of Chyamtang in Northeast Nepal near the Tibetan border.

Himalayan Kitchen offers a very large menu so I asked Bhote if he could recommend some specific dishes. From the Starters menu he suggested you try the Mo-mo. The most popular dish for Nepalese and Tibetans, momos (steamed dumplings) are filled with your choice of vegetable, chicken or lamb, and served with achaar.

From the Nepalese Daal Bhaat section of the menu Bhote recommends the combination plate Daal-Bhaat Tarkaari, a Nepalese traditional dish eaten by 90% of the population, which includes lentils, rice and curry.

From Chef Karma’s Specialties Bhote suggested you try the Mixed Grill Platter which is a feast of chicken breast, drumstick, and thigh, along with lamb and shrimp, seasoned with a variety of marinades overnight and then roasted in a tandoor. He also recommends the Kathmandu Sekuwa (chicken, mint, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and yogurt) and Sherpa Stew (chicken, lamb, vegetables, ginger, garlic, timboor and rice) which is popular in the high altitude regions.

The Vegetarian menu includes 22 dishes and Bhote highlighted Indian favorites including Saag Paneer (spinach, cheese, celery, mushroom, cilantro and jalapeño chili), Motor Paneer (peas, cheese, onion and fenugreek) and Paneer Masala (cheese, onion, tomato and fenugreek), both popular in India. A Nepalese favorite is the Vegetable Sekuwas (vegetable skewers marinated in yogurt sauce and roasted in a tandoor oven). Tse Phing is a Tibetan favorite featuring pan-fried mung bean noodles, sautéed with mushroom, cabbage, carrot, celery and onion.

I am told that Yak meat is new for Santa Barbara and Bhote mentioned Yakisha Thenthuk (authentic Tibtan Yak dish cooked with radish, potato, pasta, onion, celery, timboor, ginger, garlic amd chili) and Yaksha Mo-Mo (Tibetan steamed dumplings stuffed with ground Yak seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro and served momo achaar).

Kheer is a traditional Nepalese dessert. Kheer is a South Asian rice pudding made by boiling rice, broken wheat, or vermicelli with milk and sugar; it is flavored with almonds, walnuts and raisins.

Bhote’s partner, Chef Karma Tenzing Bhotia, was born and raised in the remote Mt. Makalu region of northeast Nepal and has traveled extensively throughout the Himalayas. His travels helped him to learn the nuances of Himalayan cooking; a cuisine that utilizes black and white cardamon, jimbu, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, star anis, timboor, chili, turmeric, saffron, sesame and mustard seed. Bhotia spent several years as a chef in Austria, enabling him to combine the bold flavors from his homeland of Nepal with the subtleties of European cuisine. Karma uses his expertise in Himalayan and European cooking along with fresh herbs and spices to create unique flavors in every dish.

Gourmet lunch buffet is served daily 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and Happy Hours are from 3 – 5 p.m. The dinner menu is served Sunday – Thursday from 5 – 10 p.m. and from 5 – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Himalayan Kitchen offers free delivery within 4 miles with a minimum order of $30. Catering is available. For more information call 882-1000 or visit

140724a-himialayan-kitchenA FAMILY AFFAIR: Son Tenzing Bhote, along with husband and wife team Diki and Karma Bhote have opened a new State Street restaurant offering Himalayan cuisine.



The 41st annual Greek Festival is being held Saturday and Sunday July 26-27 at Oak Park in Santa Barbara. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. you can enjoy live Greek music, authentic Greek food, traditional Greek folk dancing, a kid’s fun zone, homemade Greek pastries and the Agora marketplace with art & jewelry. Admission is free.



Max’s restaurant at 3514 State Street is celebrating their 30th anniversary July 22 – 27. Breakfast specials are available at 1984 prices: July 22, cup of coffee 99 cents; July 23, short stack of pancakes $1.99; July 24, any omelet $5.99. A special Italian dinner will be held on July 25 for $60 plus tax/tip. On July 27th Max’s will hold an open house celebration from 5-8 p.m.

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140717-benchmark-logo“A simple and honest product with a genuine commitment to service,” is the business mantra of a new downtown dining destination.

Reader Steve tells me that the Bennett family, who operate a variety of local restaurants including Brophy Bros. at the harbor, is having a soft opening today for Benchmark Eatery at 1201 State Street, the former home of State & A and Maggie’s. Benchmark Eatery offers a variety of choices on the menu including burgers, flatbread pizzas and vegetarian options.

“I am going to return the space to a casual eatery with high quality, value driven food and generous drinks,” says owner John Bennett. “Our menu will focus on casual American fare with local relevance. Our price point will be similar to Brophy’s allowing everyone to join in on the experience. I am confident we will be introducing something new to the area ultimately bringing more traffic to surrounding businesses.”

In addition to Benchmark Eatery, The Bennett family operates On the Alley at the harbor, the Cliff Room on the Mesa, Arch Rock Fish downtown and is remodeling Farmer Boy restaurant uptown. They plan to open a second location for On the Alley in Goleta in or around Camino Real Marketplace, and will be launching a new restaurant in 2015 inside Santa Barbara Inn, 901 E. Cabrillo Boulevard, which is currently being remodeled.




This just in from reader Matt: “John, I saw some work happening in the recently closed Magic Pita Cafe at 5 W. Haley Street so I stopped and asked the new owner what he was planning. I’m told it is a Taco & burger shop/stand.”

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On Wednesday, July 23rd at 6 p.m., Ken Brown, a pioneer winemaker in Santa Barbara County, will be offering a supper club at La Marina restaurant inside the Four Seasons Resort at the Biltmore. Enjoy Brown’s wines paired by Executive Chef Alessandro Cartumini and Chef Grant MacDonald. The cost is $110 for five courses—all wine, taxes and gratuity included. Confirm your reservation online or call 698-3426.

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On Saturday, July 19th from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The Center for Urban Agriculture at 598 North Fairview Avenue in Goleta is presenting the 2014 Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. This all-ages experiential one-day festival celebrates the art of making traditionally fermented foods and beverages such as kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles, beer, sauerkraut, wine, cider, cultured vegetables, and sourdough bread, and empowers attendees to make these foods at home. For more information or to purchase tickets (adults $21.99, teen $6.24) visit Thanks to reader Don for the tip!

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SOhO at 1221 State Street, in Victoria Court, will be the site of a wine tasting offered by The Winehound. From noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 19th, there will be numerous wines plus hot appetizers, cheese and charcuterie to graze on. Tickets are $35.00 per person and must be purchased in advance. Call Winehound at 845-5247 to reserve. Tickets are not available through SOhO.

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From July 17 – 19 the California Wine Festival is being held at 236 E. Cabrillo Boulevard. Enjoy hundreds of California vintage wines plus gourmet foods samples and live music.

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Today is 7-11-14 which means you can go to any 7-Eleven and pick up a mini Slurpee for free.

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Reader Primetime let me know that Consumer Reports has ranked Santa Barbara-based Habit Burger Grill as the #1 burger in the nation. National news outlets like Business Insider have picked up the story about how “an obscure burger chain was just named the best in America.”




The 26th annual Santa Barbara French Festival returns to Oak Park, 300 W. Alamar Avenue this weekend to celebrate Bastille Day and all things French. Admission is free. Enjoy food, wine, mimosas, crepes, pastries, music, dance, the Poodles & Pals Parade and Femme Fatales Drag Revue.


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