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CHOCOLATE TOURS

I recently stopped by Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolates at 428 East Haley Street to buy a 20-pack which pretty much gives you one of everything they offer. I learned that the business offers 1-hour “chocolate tours” several times per week that includes learning about the process of making chocolate and a visit to their demonstration green house at the back of their factory to see what a cacao plant looks like, what a vanilla orchid looks like, plus a demonstration of hand pollination of cacao blossoms. You also receive a sampling of all of their products. I am told that owner Mike Orlando recently opened a green house in Goleta to grow cacao though it is not part of the tour. The Guided Chocolate Factory Tour costs $15 and the Wine and Chocolate Pairing and Factory Tour cost $60. You can make reservations online at twentyfourblackbirds.com.

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RESTAURANT OPENINGS

Here is a list of area eateries that have opened in the last 12 months:

  • February 2024: Best BBQ, 716 State St.; Cookie Plug, 918 State St.; Silvers Omakase, 224 Helena Ave.; Yummy Thai, 5918 Hollister Ave, Goleta
  • January 2024: Bruxie, 12 W De la Guerra St.; Oakberry, 6580 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista;
  • December 2023: Cafe La Fonda, 129 East Anapamu St.; Mister Softee, 935 State St.; Santa Barbara Sunshine Café, 5711 Calle Real
  • November 2023: Azul Cocina, 7 East Anapamu St.; Dang Burger, 5080 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; Juniper on Fourth, 478 4th Place, Solvang; Pueblo Pollo, 6578 Trigo Road, Isla Vista
  • October 2023: Santa Barbara Fish Market, 7127 Hollister Ave. Ste. 18, Goleta; Santa Barbara Pizza House, 515 State St.
  • September 2023: Crumbl Cookies, 5660 Calle Real, Goleta; Pizza Mizza, 1114 State St.
  • August 2023: Asia 101, 903 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Mollie’s Italian Deli, 1039 Casitas Pass Rd., Carpinteria
  • July 2023: Chick-fil-A (reopened), 3707 State St.; Maria’s Tacos, 6545 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Social Eats, 6521 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Terra, 5490 Hollister Ave., Goleta (inside The Steward hotel); The Kitchen (inside Calvary Chapel), 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Ste. 21
  • June 2023: KOZY Craft Coffee, 6560 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Pokewaves, 4791 Calle Real #102, Noleta
  • May 2023: Goodland Waffles and Melts, 1131 State St.; I.V. Pizza and Pub, 6533 Trigo Road Ste. 108, Isla Vista; Kin Bakeshop, 199 S. Turnpike Rd. Ste. 103, Noleta; Los Altos, 5892 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • April 2023: Beast Taqueria, 634 State St. (inside M-Special); Draughtsmen Aleworks, 1631 Mission St., Solvang; Sweet Reef Boba, 620 State St.; Taqueria La Unica, 3771 State St.; Three Pickles Deli, 1436 Chapala St.
  • March 2023: Rascal’s Vegan Food, 432 E. Haley St.; Three Monkeys, 38 W. Victoria St.;
  • February 2023: Dawn Café, 524 State St.; Gala, 705 Anacapa St.; Kaz ToGo Japanese Food, 3613 State St.; Maiz Picante Taqueria, 2714 De la Vina St.


IN PASEO NUEVO: Bruxie opened downtown in January, offering hand-crafted waffle sandwiches, chicken tenders and artisan custard shakes.

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EASTER OFFERINGS AT FINCH & FORK

Easter dining will be available at Finch & Fork located within The Kimpton Canary Hotel, 31 West Carrillo Street. Guests can choose one entrée from a selection of dishes including Bacon and Spring Onion Quiche with Watercress Salad, Kimchi Benedict with Crisp Pork Belly, Potato Gnocchi with Ridgeback Shrimp, Charred Ramp and New Potato Cream, and more. In addition to their main entrée, guests will enjoy buffet-style starters, salads and desserts. Options available at the buffet include Coastal White Fish Ceviche, Finch and Fork Deviled Eggs, Black Garlic Caesar Salad and Latte Crème Brulee, to name a few. Price is $68 for adults and $32 for children under 12. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Reservations are available via OpenTable.

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YUMMY THAI OPENS IN OLD TOWN GOLETA

Pattaya Thai restaurant, which opened in Old Town Goleta at 5918 Hollister Avenue in November 2008, closed in November 2023. A new eatery, named Yummy Thai, opened in its place on February 10. I stopped by the eatery and tried the Pad Thai Chicken and can confirm it is equal to the best I have ever enjoyed in Santa Barbara.

Owner Yupha Kaewsri, who worked as a cook and server at Pattaya years ago, later she moved to Palmdale then Hawaii where she continued her trade as a chef. While in Hawaii, she met her business partner Alex Sophqkun, also a cook, who previously worked in New York. Kaewsri was contacted by Pattaya last November about taking over the business right away but it took her a few months to make the transition. Yummy Thai is open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily and is closed on Mondays. You can view the menu at yummy-thai-restaurant.square.site. Call (805) 964-2800.

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THE FALL OF LINDEN HALL

Reader Steve H. let me know that Nick Bodden, who owns Revolver Pizza on the west side of Santa Barbara, has canceled plans to open a second restaurant name Linden Hall in Carpinteria, in the former home of Senor Frogs. The original plan was to open last summer and I am told the equipment had been purchased, employees had been hired, but a delay in receiving permits closed his window of opportunity.

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LOMPOC RESTAURANT WEEK

The Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce has launched a special week-long event: a seven-day celebration of culinary and libation creativity in collaboration with local restaurants, wineries, and a food truck. The event began on Monday, February 19 and runs through Sunday, February 25.  Lompoc Restaurant Week promises a delightful array of dining experiences.

During Lompoc Valley Restaurant Week, patrons can indulge in a prix-fixe meal for one, enjoy a two-for-one dining option, or a tasting experience for $20.24 (plus tax and gratuity). Some establishments may also offer wine or beer pairings for an additional fee as well as additional discounts.

Participating businesses for this year include Johnnys Bar & Grill, Alfie’s Fish & Chips, Mr. Taco, Sanford Winery, Floriano’s Mexican Food, Camins 2 Dreams, Mi Amore Pizza & Pasta, Fiddlehead Cellars, Tom’s Hamburgers, Valle Eatery & Bar, Eye on I, PCH Street, Old Town Kitchen & Bar, Lompoc Kekas, Off Base @ Hangar 7, Savory & Sweet Eats, Capulin Eats & Provisions, and PJ’s Deli.

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SPEAKING OF LOMPOC

A Lompoc eatery’s new owner is thanking the community for the support over the past few months. The Eye at 131 North I Street, closed after co-founder Jeff Olsson died last September. Following his death and the store’s temporary closure, workers created a gofundme account to help keep the business going. After a few months of catering, chef and owner Heather Hovey was able to acquire permits and a business license for the restaurant, which is now back open.

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NEW BEER SPA COMING

Proprietor Mike Boyle tells me that he will be bringing a “beer spa” to Santa Barbara. The business name is “Hop in the Spa.” Boyle says that the idea for a beer spa came from Europe, where only a few of them involve actually dunking oneself in beer. Boyle discovered the concept via a pamphlet a friend gave him and began trying to figure out which hops might have the ideal effect. He once operated what he billed as “America’s First Beer Spa” in Sisters, Oregon, and that business is now closed. I don’t yet know the address of the future South Coast location.


Courtesy photo

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YUMMY THAI APPEARS IN GOLETA

This just in from reader Brendan:

A sign and menu on the window at Pattaya Thai restaurant in Goleta refer to it as “Yummy Thai”. The restaurant had been closed for what seemed like an unusually long “holiday” closure. Not sure if they rebranded or changed hands or what.

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BIKING TO BAKERIES

In April 2022 I did a story on Biking to Bakeries, a local food blog by area resident Lori Cooper, and now reader Don has sent me an update:

Hi John,
Say, I thought you might be entertained by my wife’s latest post on BikingToBakeries.com. Lori has been forever frustrated that HER ideal restaurant does not exist in Goleta/SB. I challenged her to just write about it as if it existed and someone might run with her idea. Her current post is her mock-up of her dream of a local eatery. https://bikingtobakeries.com/2024/01/23/a-dream-loris-9-to-9/

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COOKIE PLUG OPENS

Readers tell me that Cookie Plug at 918 State Street, the former home of The Good Cup, had a huge grand opening bash with festivities spilling out to the sidewalk and beyond. Reader Steve H. took some pics as they were preparing for the event.

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT SCARLETT BEGONIA

This just in from owner Crista Fleming:

Scarlett Begonia [at 21 W Victoria Street] is launching a special three-course Valentine brunch menu you won’t want to miss! Consider inviting your cherished friend, adored grandma, or your beloved sweetheart!

The menu includes strawberry mimosa or cranberry Martinellis, house made coffee cake, shrimp & grits or eggs Benedict, and lemon ricotta chocolate chip pancakes. $45 per person

Add a gift to your special someone with their cuddly Alpaca Teddy. $20

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MAIZ PICANTE TAQUERIA ANNIVERSARY

Office administrator Yukiko Gonzalez let me know that Maiz Picante Taqueria, located at 2714 De La Vina Street, will be celebrating their one-year anniversary on 02/14/2024. They will be celebrating with all day specials: $2.50 Al Pastor Tacos, $8.00 Al Pastor Burritos, $6.00 Micheladas & Margaritas. Visit maizpicante.com

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QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

John,
Trying to remember the name of a restaurant that was in side of a house I think near Cottage Hospital area that served good family meals in various rooms of the house. Has been gone for at least 30+ years. I think it may have been on bath street.
– Barbara

Hi Restaurant Guy,
The Original Habit in Goleta has stopped making their Chile Burger Is there another Burger place in Santa Barbara / Goleta where I might get a Chile Burger?
– Bill

Hi John,
I attended UCSB in 1986 (I know- old). There was this great Italian restaurant in Goleta that served a beautiful 7 (ish) layered lasagne (I think bechamel sauce/spinach?). I was wondering if this rings any bells? Thanks so much, enjoy what you do very much!
– Anne

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RUSTY’S VALENTINE’S HEART-SHAPED PIZZA

This just in from Rusty’s Pizza, available across the South Coast:

Indulge in a romantic culinary delight this Valentine’s season with Rusty’s Heart-Shaped Pizza! Available from February 11th to 14th, treat your taste buds to a heartwarming pizza outlined with flavorful pepperoni and adorned with your choice of two fresh tantalizing toppings. Made from a large size pizza for $29.95, spread the love and enjoy the moment with each savory bite. Make this Valentine’s a flavorful celebration of affection! Available online at Rustyspizza.com or call 805-564-1111.

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ETHNIC BREADS OPENING RETAIL STORE

I received a message from Ethnic Breads owner Peter Zadeh that his wholesale bakery at 137 Aero Camino in Goleta will be soon be adding a storefront:

Hello John,

I wanted to share with you that after 25 years of operating as a wholesale bakery in Santa Barbara, Ethnic Breads has decided to open a retail shop at the front of the building on Aero Camino Goleta. Construction should conclude soon, and we are planning to open sometime in March, offering wholesale prices for our freshly baked products straight from the bakery.

I will keep you posted on the progress.

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT BRASS BEAR

This just in from Brass Bear at 28 Anacapa Street:

“Hey John!

Wanted to pass along that our Uptown location will be hosting a Valentine’s Day four course pre fix for adults ($60) and a la cart menu for kids. For those who cant find a babysitter there will be a supervised kid area with a jumpy house and face painting to allow some alone time for parents.

In the Funk Zone, there will be a Valentines day Makers Market 5-9pm with local artists for any last minute gifts!

Its easiest to make reservations online or of course call 805-869-4014:
https://resy.com/cities/sba/brass-bear-uptown?date=2024-02-14&seats=2

Cheers,
Seth Anderson
Brass Bear, Owner”

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SAN LUIS OBISPO DONUT COMPANY COMING TO GOLETA

Few confections are as comforting as donuts so when a new shop comes to town, especially just a block away from The Restaurant Guy family home, I like to celebrate. The San Luis Obispo Donut Company, referred to as “SLODoCo,” is coming 290-A Storke Road in Goleta, which is the recently-former home of Ortho Mattress. At SLODoCo, you can pick from over 100 (that’s not a typo) different donuts every day, including vegan and gluten-free. A selection of coffees are also available.

SLODoCo is owned by husband-and-wife duo, Jesse and Jacob Pickering. Jesse, who is Cambodian, grew up in a family with a long history of donut making. SLODoCo’s first location opened in SLO on Higuera Street in 2010, a second location opened in Atascadero on El Camino Real in March 2019, and a third location opened in SLO on Foothill Boulevard. Their Goleta location, sandwiched between Target and Camino Real Marketplace, will be their fourth outlet.

Remodeling has just started and the space is so large I wouldn’t be surprised if the dessert destination takes just half of it when completed. Thanks to reader Dara who saw their sign while passing by. Visit slodoco.com

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COOKIE PLUG OPENS SATURDAY

Cookie Plug, first announced here last August, opens this week at 918 State Street, the former home of The Good Cup. The grand opening is Saturday, February 10th at noon through Sunday, February 11th at noon. “We are ready to open our doors for a delicious new unique downtown cookie store that is family-friendly and includes Keto & Doggy Cookies!” says owner Annette Rodriguez. “There’s nothing cookie-cutter about Cookie Plug! We sell the most unique cookie stacks that anyone has to offer. Part cookie, part cake, and part brownie – our warm cookie stacks are baked fresh daily and will also be available for delivery. Delicious flavors, combinations, and additional goodies that are a must try.” The first 50 customers will receive freebie swag/cookies when they open doors for the grand opening and ribbon cutting. During the grand opening, when you buy 4 cookies, you get 8 cookies for free. The dessert destination will be open 7 days a week. Cookie Plug is the sister business to Double Down Delivery. Visit cookieplug.com

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TACO TOUR SANTA BARBARA LAUNCHES

Taco Tour Santa Barbara roars to life this week, coinciding with the much-anticipated 39th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. “Guided by passionate locals well-versed in the city’s history and vibrant tapestry of events, the Taco Tour Santa Barbara offers more than just a culinary adventure,” says founder Georgiene Rotman. “Participants will be regaled with intriguing facts and stories about Santa Barbara, enriching their understanding of the city’s unique charm.” The heart of Taco Tour Santa Barbara lies in its focus on original, authentic, family-owned taquerias scattered throughout Santa Barbara. Each stop on the tour offers a distinct taco experience, showcasing local traditions. “Participants will also have the opportunity to savor perfectly crafted Margaritas, complementing the savory journey with a touch of festive indulgence,” adds Rotman. Call (805) 665-3725 or visit tacotoursantabarbara.com

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ALMA FONDA FINA HIRING

This just in from reader Steve H.: “You’ve predicted that Alma Fonda Fina will be coming to Coast Village Road in Montecito. They’re currently advertising on Craigslist for ‘an experienced Chef to assist with the opening of a brand-new restaurant,’ so maybe that’s about to become a reality.”

Alma Fonda Fina restaurant is coming to 1024 Coast Village Road near Vons, in the former home of Little Alex’s which is opening next month in Five Points Shopping Center where Fresco Cafe used to be. Work on the eatery had been proceeding at a furious pace last summer until a stop-work order was issued. Sounds like they restarted.

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BEST BBQ OPENS

Last December I announced that Best BBQ is coming to 716 State Street, the former home of Mokutan and Choppa Poke. The eatery’s flagship location is at 915 East Harvard Boulevard in Santa Paula. Readers Brendan and Steve H. tell me that the restaurant has opened. The sandwich menu includes tri-tip, chicken, and hotlinks for $13-$14. The dinner menu offers tri-tip, beef rib, pork rib, chicken, and hot link for $17-$19. Family deals are available for $115-$150.


Restaurant photos by reader Steve H. Menu photo by reader Brendan.

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SILVERS OMAKASE OPENS

In August, 2022, I broke the news that Silvers Omakase would be coming to 224 Helena Avenue in the Funk Zone, the former home of Seven Bar & Kitchen. Reader Steve C. says that the sushi restaurant, helmed by chef Lennon Silvers Lee, has opened. Silvers Omakase is Chef Lennon Silvers Lee’s long-awaited signature restaurant, offering a Japanese tasting menu. “Not only is Silvers Omakase a place where he can work with like-minded partners who share a common drive for excellency, but a space to showcase the work of master craftsmen, farmers, fishmongers, potters, glassblowers, sake brewers, wine makers and countless others,” says their website silversomakase.com. “Just as we have a duty to serve our guests, we also believe we have the responsibility to showcase the work of those who devote their lives to making a restaurant like Silvers Omakase possible.” Reservations are required and the cost of dining is $185 per guest. A $25 deposit per guest which will be taken and applied to your bill after dining. They do not accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan options at this time. The eatery is open Tuesday – Saturday.


Chef Lennon Silvers Lee. Courtesy photo.

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TAZA CLOSES

Reader Brendan let me know that Taza Mediterranean Street Kitchen, which opened at 413 State Street in June, 2022, has closed. “We are permanently closed,” a note on the window reads. “Thank you to everyone who enjoyed our food. Ya’ll made working here so much fun. We love and appreciate all of you so much! Hope to see you soon. PS. If you want to buy our sauces, follow on instgram @_tenoso710_ or @mymylong.” Taza served  shawarmas, gyros, kebabs, and wraps in the former home of JJ’s Diner, Onus Donuts, Urkeb, The Mex Authentic, Pace, Momma Donna’s, Billie’s, and Lettuce B. Frank.

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NEW TASTING ROOM

This just in from reader Larry:

Hi John,
I enjoy your ‘crystal ball’ readings and I wanted to share a new tasting room with you!  The place is High Seas Mead and it’s located in the Railroad Square commercial condominium project located in the Baja Funk Zone at 138 Powers Ave in SB. It’s off the beaten path but it is a very cool spot serving hand crafted mead and cider. It’s crafted by Austin Corrigan, a local fellow with a degree from the CIA and his wife Anne. They just opened and have done everything themselves. Here is their website https://www.highseasmead.com/home. Check it out and I hope it will make your recommendations list.
Thanks for your attention to the local food scene.
Best,
Layne
Independent reader

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LITTLE ALEX’S TO OPEN NEXT MONTH

Little Alex’s is coming to upper State Street in the former home of Fresco Café. The eatery closed in Montecito in 2021 after 32 years in business.

“We are excited to announce that Little Alex’s will be reopening soon,” says co-owner Josh Briner. “Come see us at our new location at 3987 State Street in the 5 Points Shopping Center.  We expect to open in early March. Lynette and the Briner family along with the Santamaria family will be working together again to provide the same great food and service that they have provided for years.  We are maintaining our family friendly atmosphere with an elevated look. We miss our old home of 30 years in Montecito and all of the great customers and friends that were created, and we’re excited for the opportunity to serve our local community again. We can’t wait to see all our valued customers at our new central Santa Barbara location.”

They are keeping all of the original breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu items that customers enjoyed for three decades in Montecito as well as some new items including a number of draft beers from local craft breweries and their famous chicken soup, taco salad, rajas tacos, and chile rellenos.

If you would like to be notified of future events, and the grand opening date, you can fill out a form at littlealexs.com. There is also an employment link on the website where you can fill out an application.

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PRESS ROOM TO CLOSE

Serving Santa Barbara since 1995, the Press Room at 15 East Ortega Street will be forced to close after losing final appeal to City Council despite the building being over one hundred thirty years old, reader Alhambra Kathy tells me. “I know for a fact (my son worked there for more than a decade) the owner was unable to make any physical changes such as another exterior door because the building was deemed historic,” she added.

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VIA VAI TO CLOSE

Reader Schoepp says the lease for Via Vai restaurant at 1483 East Valley Road in Montecito is not being renewed. This is a surprise since the place has always been hopping every time I have dined there and what landlord would kick out a popular tenant? The restaurant opened 30 years ago and should remain in business through at least the spring.

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT LITTLE DOM’S

Here is a message from Little Dom’s Seafood in Carpinteria:

Created by Co-Owner and Executive Chef Brandon Boudet, indulge in Spiny Lobster Spaghettoni made with tomato, white wine, garlic, lemon, olive oil and basil or Smoked Beef Carpaccio with Horseradish, crème fraiche and California caviar. End off your romantic dinner withValentine’s Zeppole’s with hot chocolate sauce made by Pastry Chef Ann Kirk.

 

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT CAYA

Here is a press-release from Caya restaurant at The Leta hotel in Goleta

Indulge in a captivating Valentine’s Day dining experience at CAYA, the signature restaurant at The Leta in Goleta – with a special 3-course “Dinner for Two” menu. Priced at $150 per couple, it features main courses such as a savory Wild Mushroom Risotto with garlic, shallots, and Parmesan cheese; a tender 6oz Filet adorned with brandy demi-glace, roasted potatoes, and grilled asparagus; Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut, Fresh squid ink pasta with seafood, or a Korean Ribeye with a sweet Korean marinade and house onion rings – among others. Dessert choices include a decadent Chocolate Soufflé, luscious Raspberry Crème Brûlée or the classic New York Cheesecake.

When: Valentine’s Day – Wednesday, February 14th

5-9 p.m.

Where: CAYA at The Leta – 5650 Calle Real Goleta, California 93117

Cost: $150 – 3 course dinner for 2 (does not include wine)

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT CA’ DARIO MONTECITO

Here is a message from Ca’ Dario Montecito:

Greetings John,

I would like to inform your readers that Ca’ Dario Montecito will be serving a 4 course Valentine’s’ Day Prix Fixe for $95/person on Feb 14th. Our other locations (Ca’ Dario Ristorante, 37 E Victoria St, and Ca’ Dario Cucina Italiana, 250 Storke Rd Goleta)
will be serving the regular menu with specials tailored for the occasion.

As always we are grateful for the service you provide to our community.

Best Regards,
Fernando Gomes

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VALENTINE’S DAY WITH ACME HOSPITALITY

Here is a press-release from Acme Hospitality, owner of The Lark, Lucky Penny, Helena Avenue Bakery, Loquita, and La Paloma Cafe”

Acme Hospitality’s group of restaurant and beverage venues celebrate Valentine’s Day on Wednesday, February 14, 2024, in Santa Barbara with holiday specials to suit every romantic and anyone’s budget.

loquita’s kumamoto oyster on the half shell & besame cocktail – photo ali beck

The Lark

Valentine’s Day Cocktail by Natalia Farfan

Call Me Rose

martin miller’s gin, rose, bonal aperitif, lemon, egg white, rose petal garnish

and

Valentine’s Day Specials by Executive Chef Jason Paluska

à la carte menu in addition to holiday specials of:

West Coast Oysters on the Half Shell

sparkling champagne mignonette, finger lime, pink peppercorn

Goat Milk Ricotta Agnolotti Pasta

early spring garlic, english peas, lemon breadcrumbs, wild arugula, marigold

Grilled Santa Barbara Spiny Lobster

meyer lemon garlic butter, crispy sunchokes, tarragon & chili gremolata

Dark Chocolate Pot De Crème

rose-poached strawberry, whipped creme fraîche, salted cashew praline

For reservations, visit The Lark on RESY or call 805.284.0370

***

La Paloma Cafe

Valentine’s Day Cocktails by Jorge Báez

Zapopan

nosotros reposado, grapefruit infused sweet vermouth, amaro di angostura, house chocolate bitters, with grapefruit expression and luxardo cherry

Sierra Madre

nosotros blanco, atos, chiles, prickly pear lime and rosemary

and

Valentine’s Day Special by Executive Chef Jeremy Tummel

(in addition to the à la carte menu)

Spice-Crusted & Oak-Smoked Chateaubriand

herbed amarosa fingerling potatoes, grilled chicory, red chili-truffle sauce

$69.95

For reservations visit La Paloma Cafe on RESY or call 805.966.7029

***

Loquita

Valentine’s Day Cocktail by the Loquita Bar Team

Bésame

bloom gin, passionfruit-vanilla syrup, lemon, chareau, peychauds bitters, fee foam &rose water

and

Valentine’s Day Specials by Executive Chef Sergei Simonov

Ostión

kumamoto oyster on the half shell, sangria granita, micro red shiso

Mar y Tierra

a5 new york, galician style lobster tail, tempranillo beurre rouge, pimenton

Pavlova

spiced mexican chocolate pavlova, passion fruit curd, charred blood orange

For reservations, visit Loquita on RESY or call 805.880.3380

***

Helena Ave Bakery

Valentine’s Day Treats

Heart-Shaped Cookies and Other Holiday-Themed Pastries and Candies from the Market

DIY Cake-Making & Charcuterie Class

Saturday, February 10, 2024, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Celebrate love and creativity with this pre-Valentine’s Day DIY class with Helena Avenue Bakery’s Chef Emilie Sandven and her husband, Alisal Ranch’s Executive Chef, Eric Sandven. Experience a hands-on DIY cupcake decorating and charcuterie board arrangement class.

Chef Emilie will guide each guest through the art of decorating beautiful cupcakes while Executive Chef Eric Sandven curates an exquisite charcuterie experience.

Ticket includes a complimentary glass of sparkling wine with additional options available for in-store purchase. Limited seats are available.

Tickets at Ticketsauce: Here

For more information visit, www.helenaavenuebakery.com or call 805.880.3383

***

Lucky Penny

Valentine’s Frosé

Valentine’s Day Special

Cheese or Pepperoni Heart-Shaped Pizza

Dessert

Straus Organic Soft Serve with Heart-Shaped Sprinkles

For more information, visit www.luckypennysb.com

WHEN:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Check restaurant websites for specific hours

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VENTURA.COM SOLD

Some readers know me only as “The Restaurant Guy.” Others know me as the guy who has run SantaBarbara.com since the dawn of the world wide web. What only a few locals know is that I have also been running Ventura.com since the 1990s, sharing things to see and do in Ventura County. As luck would have it, I get asked to sell these domains all the time, which I am always open to doing if the price is right. Usually the offers can be classified as “bad,” “fair,” or “good.” Last week I unexpectedly received an offer for Ventura.com that can only be classified as “can’t refuse” so my dear friend and I departed after 25 years of friendship.

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ORIGINAL BLACK SHEEP RETURNS (FOR A NIGHT)

This just in from Ruben Perez, owner of the The Black Sheep restaurant at 18 E Cota Street:

Hi John, Hope all is well. Was hoping we could post this:

Throwback Wednesday at the sheep. Chef Robert Perez former chef of the original black sheep restaurant is coming back 1 night only Jan 24th at 5pm till close to show case all the classics menu items at the new black sheep location 18 east Cota street. Reservation highly encouraged by calling Ruben at (805) 319-2498 We will be offering this as family style tasting menu where you will get 9 different dishes ($72pp), or you can enjoy a la carte.

Hope to see you there. Here is the menu:

Black Sheep 1.0 Greatest Hits
Family style tasting menu, 4 courses 9 different dishes $72pp

Uni Shooter, salmon roe, ponzu sake ginger liqueur, negi…$14

Boqorones, marinated white anchovies on a crostini with Italian parsley and orange zest…$10

Roasted Beet Salad, goat cheese panna cotta, pickled persimmon, pistachios, malt vinegar powder…$18

Oysters & Beer, ginger gelee, salmon roe, negi, beer foam…$21

Tuna Aquachili, a dressing of aji amarillo, ginger, mirin, white soy and ginger, tomatoes, avocado, pickled red onion, yucca root chips and micro cilantro…$18

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, a la “Pho,” fish sauce infused broken Vietnamese beef jus vinaigrette, shallots, mint, micro cilantro, Thai chili…$18

Frites Special, curry fries, curry ketchup, shallot, aioli…$10
Roasted Carrots, roasted in duck fat with garlic and rosemary…$10

Papas Taco, purple Peruvian potatoes, green cabbage slaw, tomatillo salsa, crème fraiche, cotija cheese…$11 (2X)
Steamed Salt Springs Mussels, coconut curry tomato sauce, cilantro, grilled baguette…$18

Gambas a Ajillo, sautéed Hawaiian prawns in a garlic chili white wine sauce on grilled baguette…$18

Uni Mazemen, ramen noodles, eggplant togarashi sofrito, salmon roe and negi…$21

“Bacon & Eggs,” slow braised Niman Ranch pork belly served with a poached egg, Dutch waffle, licorice syrup…$20
Broken Arrow Ranch Wild Boar Spareribs, Asian-style red cabbage slaw, caramelized fish sauce accented with ginger and sriracha…$20

Sautéed Sweetbreads, glazed in teriyaki sauce, summer truffles, sautéed wedge of green cabbage…$24

Shoyu Ramen, slow-braised pork belly, roasted shii-take, bean sprouts, green onions, ajitama egg, sambal…$20

Chicken Ballantine, re-constructed free-range chicken stuffed with dried apricots and walnuts, with crushed olive oil Yukon potatoes, barley infusion, chicken short jus…$21

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SHALHOOB’S UPDATE

I stopped by Shalhoob’s restaurant, coming soon to Magnolia Shopping Center in the former home of Woody’s BBQ, and saw that a lot of progress has been made. The build-out of the main restaurant space is nearly complete and the kitchen appliances are in the process of being installed. My estimate is that the eatery will open this spring.

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RECIPE REVEALED

Earlier this month I broke the news that Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton is closing. Fortunately, the property is being renovated and plans are to have the iconic eatery reopen in the future. After hearing the news, reader Joan contacted me and said she often enjoyed Andersen’s Famous Split Pea Soup in the 60’s-70’s. I’m told her mom always added sliced hot dogs to the soup! Joan kept a copy of their original recipe she received from the restaurant way back when and I share it with you today: 8 bowls of Andersen’s Famous Split Pea Soup: 2 quarts. soft water, 2 cups split peas, 1 branch of celery, coarsely chopped, 1 large carrot, chopped, 1 small onion chopped, 1 clove garlic minced, 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme, 1 pinch cayenne, 1 bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Boil hard for 20 minutes, then slowly until peas are tender. Strain through a fine sieve and reheat to boiling point.

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SHAKE SHACK COMING TO FUNK ZONE?

Reader Steve C. says that there is a rumor going around that the Shake Shack plans to open somewhere in the Funk Zone. Shake Shack is an American fast casual restaurant chain based in New York City. It started out as a hot dog cart inside Madison Square Park in 2001, and its popularity steadily grew. Since its founding, it has been one of the fastest-growing food chains, eventually becoming a public company filing for an initial public offering of stock in 2014.  Shake Shack Inc. owns and operates over 400 locations globally.

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GIOVANNI’S MOVING TO THE GOOD PLOW SPACE

Reader Primetime tells me that Giovanni’s Pizza at 5003 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria in moving to nearby 5205 Carpinteria Avenue, the current home of The Good Plow which replaced Fosters Freeze in August 2021. I called Giovanni’s and was told that the move will probably happen in April and that their current building was sold and is scheduled to be demolished. I have not directly confirmed what the future holds for The Good Plow though the Giovanni’s rep suggested that the end might be near for the eatery.

“Hi John, We have had an amazing run at our current location,” says Shawn Noormand, owner of Giovanni’s in Carpinteria. “Giovanni’s has been there since 1988, I’ve been the owner/operator since 1997. Our lease is up. The land owner has been a regular customer and supporter of Giovanni’s since inception. I don’t know what plans they have for 5003 Carpinteria Ave. I do know that they get regular offers on the property. My only hope is that it stays local. I am very excited about our move a few blocks down. I look forward to serving the amazing community of Carpinteria for many years to come, with the help of my children.”


Photos by Primetime

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INDIAN TANDOORI KINGDOM TO REPLACE OPPI’Z

Reader Skip says that there is an ABC permit sign for “Indian Tandoori Kingdom” at 1026 State Street, the former home of Oppi’z Bistro and Natural Pizza which closed last year and Palazzio which closed in 2015.

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MARDI GRAS FEAST AT LITTLE DOM’S

The Restaurant Guy is happy share that Little Dom’s Seafood at 686 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria is hosting their annual, multi-day Mardi Gras Feast from Sunday, February 10 – February 13 (Fat Tuesday). The event will feature iconic Cajun and Creole dishes from Co-Owner & Chef Brandon Boudet, a New Orleans native, alongside Mardi Gras desserts from Pastry Chef Ann Kirk. Available during dine-in dinner service, Little Dom’s Mardi Gras menu includes: Shrimp, Chicken & Andouille Gumbo, Pork Cracklins with Steens Cane Syrup Hot Sauce, Soft Shell Crab Po Boy, Jambalaya Rice Balls with Creole Mustard, BBQ Oysters, Bread Pudding with hard sauce, Beignets, and King Cake Slice.

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