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PASCUCCI PRIX-FIXE DINNER SPECIALS

This just in from Pascucci restaurant at 509 State Street:

Hi John
just wanted to let you know we brought back our 3 course prix-fixe dinner specials, with a few change. Diners will get a choice of our famous Caesar salad or unsalaried mista, choice of half portion of 4 entrées -lasagna in Ravioli Sampler chicken piccata with fettuccine Alfredo, or our #1 seller Pasta Pascucci, and a choice of desserts tiramisu cheesecake with a shortbread crust or chocolate turtle tart and will include a glass of wine or beer. All for 26.99! $1 more on the weekends, Everything is fresh and homemade we make all of our dressings, sauces, & desserts from scratch. As you know food costs have skyrocketed, and we’re doing our best to still offer a great meal, in a lovely atmosphere, at an affordable price

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ALISAL RANCH ANNOUNCES “BBQ BOOTCAMP”

The 10,500-acre Alisal Ranch at 1054 Alisal Road in Solvang has announced the return of its “BBQ Bootcamp” experience, which will now be hosted three times a year. The first iteration for this year, held March 5-8, 2023, will be MC’d by Chef Valerie Gordon and offers a “From the Vine” theme, featuring local California wineries pouring their favorite vintages and teaching guests how to pair and incorporate into grilling recipes, in addition to a private tasting excursion. The BBQ Bootcamp experience brings top chefs and grill masters to the ranch, where they will prepare barbecue feasts, demonstrate their approach to grilling (even desserts), and share their barbecue secrets, tips, and tricks.

“It has been exciting to see guests fall in love with our BBQ Bootcamp experience, and return year-after-year to learn from the very best in the industry of food and wine,” shares Alisal Ranch General Manager Kathleen Cochran. “We are starting 2023 with an incredible lineup of talented chefs, who each bring something unique to barbecue, a cuisine that has always been celebrated as part of our ranch’s unique and timeless history.”

For spring’s BBQ Bootcamp: From the Vine, Alisal Ranch’s Executive Chef Craig Riker will be offering a hands-on, interactive steak grilling demonstration. In addition, the ranch welcomes:

  • Valerie Gordon (Valerie Confections) – The celebrated Los Angeles chocolatier and James Beard finalist cookbook author for 2013’s Sweet, founded Valerie Confections in 2004, and eventually guided the confectionery to become one of the nation’s most highly acclaimed boutique chocolatiers. In addition to MCing the bootcamp, Valerie will also be conducting two of her own cooking demonstrations, sharing recipes and tips to grilling desserts.
  • Frank Ostini (Hitching Post II) – Legendary local restaurant owner, chef, and winemaker Frank Ostini—most recognized for his Sidways-famous restaurant in Buellton—returns to the BBQ Bootcamp lineup with a wine tasting and burger lunch.
  • Govind Armstrong (The Lobster) – Raised on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Armstrong’s seasonal approach to cooking and sustainability has resulted in a slate of celebrated restaurants in Los Angeles, Miami and New York (Chadwick, Table 8, 8oz Burger Bar, Willie Jane, Post & Beam). Armstrong is often recognized for his appearances on “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef America,” and is also the author of Small Bites, Big Nights: Seductive Little Plates for Intimate Occasions and Lavish Parties. Returning to the ranch after participating in a California Ranch Cookout last year, Govind will demonstrate and pair grilled seafood with wine – a first for BBQ Bootcamp.
  • Helen Johannesen (Helen’s Wines) – With four locations in Los Angeles, Sommelier Helen Johannesen’s beloved wine shops focus on naturally-driven and organically farmed labels, small production vineyards, wine makers with integrity, lower intervention élevage, and dynamic thoughtful wines. Also celebrated for her “WineFace” podcast, Johannesen will pair up with Gordon for a wine, cheese, and chocolate tasting experience at BBQ Bootcamp.

In addition to the guest chef experiences, participants of BBQ Bootcamp will also be taken to the nearby Folded Hills winery for a private, expert-led tasting. Starting at $945++/night for double occupancy, the adults-only, multi-day package experience includes:

  • Western-themed accommodations for three nights
  • All meals and specialty dinners
  • A selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Demonstrations on grilling methods, equipment, BBQ, spice blending, and more
  • Special event keepsakes
  • Hay wagon ride to the historic adobe for breakfast

Future iterations of the experience this year include “BBQ Bootcamp: Spring Classic” in May and “BBQ Bootcamp: World BBQ” in October, dates and guest chef lineups to be announced. For more information, visit alisalranch.com/experiences/bbq-bootcamp or contact guest services at 800-425-4725.


Courtesy

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BEDDA MIA CLOSES

[Updated] Bedda Mia Italian restaurant at 1218 State Street suspended operations “temporarily” last month and posted a sign on the window that they will reopen this week. Reader Steve H. offers an update: “Bedda Mia, the Sicilian restaurant next to the Granada, appears to be closed. For lease sign has appeared. I’ll try to confirm later.” Cuisine at Bedda Mia was strictly Sicilian, with an emphasis on seafood and fresh produce-based dishes and Sicilian wine. The eatery, which opened in February 2022, was located in the former home of Mollie’s, Tupelo Junction Cafe, and Marcello Ristorante, among others.

Update: ” Just CONFIRMED with the management company that Bedda is permanently no mas. – Steve H.”


Photo by reader Steve H.

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GLEASON FAMILY VINEYARDS ANNOUNCES NEW FOOD SERVICE

The Gleason Family Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley portfolio of brands (Roblar Winery and Vineyards, Refugio Ranch Vineyards, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard) has officially announced the launch of food service at the hospitality group’s Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, a 106-acre property in Solvang. Buttonwood’s new food menu was created by Gleason Family Vineyards Executive Chef Peter Cham, in tandem with Buttonwood’s new, proprietary Sous Chef, Lee Gottheimer.

The new Buttonwood Farm Bites Menu debuted last month and will be offered Friday through Sunday of each week. The opening version of the menu, which will expand in the coming months as the fields and orchards begin to produce spring fruits and vegetables, will lend itself to Buttonwood’s family-friendly, American farmland atmosphere.

The debut Buttonwood Farm Bites Menu features shareable starters like sweet and spicy roasted peanuts with chili powder and smoked sea salt, and jalapeño corn bread with whipped honey butter, which joins other regional U.S. favorites such as ‘Fancy’ Pimento Cheese Spread with Dungeness crab, served with Saltine crackers and pickled Fresno chili. A salad straight from Buttonwood Farm entails lettuces and shaved veggies in season, sunflower seeds, and buttermilk ranch dressing, as a nod to ranch dressing’s Santa Barbara roots. Heartier bites consist of rotating grilled cheese sandwich renditions, like a bacon version with aged cheddar, pickled jalapeño, and peach jam made from Buttonwood Farm’s most famous crop; the “Chamburger” (grass fed beef burger, caramelized onions, house pickles, American cheese); and a BBQ half-chicken with apricot barbecue sauce and Buttonwood Farm-sourced cabbage slaw.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, which Gleason Family Vineyards acquired in December 2021, currently comprises a 42-acre estate vineyard, onsite winery facility, tasting room and gardens, a two-acre orchard, small hop yard, and 11 acres of rotated seasonal produce. The property, founded in 1968 on a principle of sustainability, was first utilized as an equestrian operation, followed by the planting of organic fruits and vegetables, and in 1983, the initial planting of the vineyard.

Buttonwood Farm Winery and Vineyard, located at 1500 Alamo Pintado Road, Solvang, CA, is currently open daily for wine tasting experiences and bottle purchases, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Advance tasting reservations are recommended. Buttonwood’s new food menu is available Friday through Sunday, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. More information will be available soon, about the Buttonwood Marketplace (opening February 2023).

Roblar Winery and Vineyards, located at 3010 Roblar Avenue (at the intersection of Roblar Avenue and Highway 154) in Santa Ynez, is open daily for wine tasting experiences and bottle purchases, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Advance tasting reservations are requested. Chef Cham’s weekly lunch menus are offered Monday through Thursday, full farm menus are offered for Thursday Supper, and all day Friday and Saturday, with a brunch menu served on Sunday.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Hi John,

Not a tip, but a request for help. I’m trying to find a recipe or even an ingredient list for a dish I used to enjoy at Hector’s Mexican Restaurant, which was located in Goleta on Calle Real behind the 7-Eleven. The dish was called “Soft Chicken Tacos.” It was a chicken mixture with almonds and raisins, inside tortillas, baked in a creamy sauce with white cheese.

If any of your readers remember this dish or know a way I can find it, I’d be very grateful! I’m living far from Santa Barbara now in a place with almost no Mexican food at all, and have been trying to learn to cook all my favorites.

Thanks!

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THE EMAIL NEWSLETTER IS BACK

The SantaBarbara.com email newsletter debuted in 1995 when I started sending messages out manually every week with Pegasus Mail about a variety of things happening around the South Coast. In 2006 the newsletter was moved to Feedburner and at the same time most of the content was switched to The Restaurant Guy news. All was fine and dandy until Google shutdown Feedburner last fall and my blog posts stopped being delivered to thousands of email recipients. This week I reactivated the newsletter with a new service and ported all email addresses over to it. With luck this message has reached your inbox in addition to appearing in the blog.

Use the signup form to subscribe to the The Restaurant Guy newsletter. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

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HEART-SHAPED PIZZAS AT RUSTY’S

You know Valentine’s Day is near when round pizzas suddenly become scarce. Rusty’s is ready to deliver some serious love to your favorite valentine February 11th-14th! Their delicious Heart Shaped Pizza hits  the spot – outlined with pepperoni and your choice of 2 toppings.

Make it an even sweeter gift by including a bottle of local Santa Barbara wine from Fess Parker, J. Lohr, Brander, Kunin or Rabble wineries.

Pick-up & Delivery available all day February 11th – 13th. Limited pick-up at some locations February 14th 4 p.m. – 8 pm. This delicious special is ONLY available by calling 805-564-1111.

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ITALIAN EATERY REPLACING TAMIRA

This just in from reader Steve H.:

Ciao, John,

For the Crystal Ball:

A trattoria will open at 1027 State Street, the former home of Tamira Indian food. This will result in side-by-side Italiano restaurants, as it is next to the relatively new L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. And right across the street from OPPI’Z and Chase, for that matter.

Steve H.

P.S. Here’s a picture of me cooking in a genuine, REAL Italian restaurant on the island of Ischia last fall:


Photos by reader Steve H.

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT LITTLE DOM’S

To celebrate the occasion, Little Dom’s Seafood, the seaside sister restaurant to LA Italian food institution Little Dom’s, is offering a lineup of savory specials created by co-owner and executive chef Brandon Boudet.

Little Dom’s Seafood’s Valentine’s Day specials include a Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with crispy oysters, old bay aioli and pickled celery root ($40); and an Herbed Potato Gnocchi with Butter Poached Spiny Lobster & Smoked Tomato Sugo (M/P). For dessert, beloved pastry chef Ann Kirk is whipping up a decadent Chocolate Cream Pie with Cocoa Nib Brittle ($13). In addition, during the week leading up to the special day, Chef Kirk is once again offering her signature, naughty and nice heart-shaped sugar cookies (pictured below)!

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CRUSHCAKES UPDATE

Reader Annie sent me a photo of Crushcakes & Cafe at 1315 Anacapa Street that shows an ABC license application to serve alcoholic beverages has been posted in the window.


Photo by reader Annie

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT RARE SOCIETY

If Valentine’s Day feels like a fake holiday with just roses and chocolate, Rare Society plans to be the antithesis of that, offering fine dining with the one you love. , Brad Wise’s latest restaurant pays homage to the retro steakhouses that once laid claim to the Las Vegas Strip, but adds modernity including a wood-fired log boiler for meats, a progressive cocktail program, and sustainably-sourced seafoods. Rare Society suggest you start with Oysters on the Half Shell or Shrimp Cocktail and then try cuts of dry-aged ribeyes, Australian wagyu, or filet mignon. Rare Society is open for dinner on Valentine’s Day starting at 5PM. Reservations are recommended.

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DAVE’S DRIP HOUSE OPENS IN NOLETA

In May 2019 reader Don noticed a “Coming Soon” photo on Instagram for Dave’s Drip House, an ice cream and cereal bar that reader Walter H. says has finally opened at 193 South Turnpike Road near Vons. The new dessert destination is brought to you by the same friendly guy behind Dave’s Dogs, across the parking lot at 149 South Turnpike Road.

“We will have 16 base flavors that will rotate based on the season,” says their website davesdriphouse.com. “But better-yet you will be able to customize your ice cream to create thousand more flavors with the cereals and topping that we will have on hand. We plan on keeping your tastebuds and sweet tooth content. Yes, we plan on having non-dairy options available too. Get ready for some fun treats!”

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT FINCH & FORK

Finch & Fork will host a four-course “Wild About You” Valentine’s Day menu in their recently redesigned space within the Kimpton Canary Hotel. The dinner will take place on February 14 with seating between 5-9 p.m., at 31 West Carrillo Street. The menu, curated by the new Executive Chef Nathan Lingle and will feature four courses, an amuse bouche, and a fond farewell, for $110 per person, with the option to add suggested drinks curated by a wine program showcasing the “best of the Central Coast” with a selection of over 100 wines and local beer, along with a curated cocktail menu to complement their dishes.

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VALENTINE’S DAY WITH ACME HOSPITALITY

Acme Hospitality’s group of restaurant and beverage venues including The Lark, Lucky Penny, Pearl Social,  Santa Barbara Wine Collective, Helena Avenue Bakery, Loquita, La Paloma Cafe, and Tyger Tyger celebrate Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, February 14 with holiday specials to suit every romantic and anyone’s budget.  Holiday specials range from $8-15 (café specials) – $30-95 (fine dining specials); cocktails range from $14-18. All specials are in addition to regular menus and offerings.

The Lark: Valentine’s Day cocktails by Natalia Farfan (Brass Buttons, Cupid in Chaps) and Valentine’s Day Specials by Executive Chef Jason Paluska (Santa Barbara Spiny Lobster Risotto, Blood Orange Bombolini).

La Paloma Cafe: Valentine’s Day cocktails by Jorge Báez (Itza, Popo) and Valentine’s Day specials by Executive Chef Jeremy Tummel (Local Spiny Lobster Campechana, Mexican Salted Chocolate Tart).

Loquita: Valentine’s Day cocktail by Caleb Childs (La Rosa) and Valentine’s Day specials by Executive Chef Sergei Simonov (Ostion West Coast Oyster, Vieiras Seared East Coast Scallops).

Helena Ave Bakery: Heart-Shaped Cookies and other holiday-themed pastries and candies from the market.

Santa Barbara Wine Collective: “Love You Bunches” from Stoplman Winery and Love Garden from Babcock Winery.

Tyger Tyger: Special Cocktails including Sakes from Japan, and Fried Yuba Sandwich (Fried Tofu Skin, Chili-Maple, Shaved Cabbage, Yuzu Ranch Dressing, Brioche Bun & Taro Chips).

Pearl Social: Valentine’s cocktail by Gus Landeros including Heart-Shaped Box (Creme de Noyeaux & Cacao, Vodka, Lemon, Egg White, Prosecco, Chocolate-Covered Cherry).

Lucky Penny: Valentine’s Frosé, Heart-Shaped Pizza, and Dessert (Straus Organic Soft Serve with Heart-Shaped Sprinkles)

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RESTAURANTS TO PAY FOR PARKLETS

The Santa Barbara City Council is allowing restaurants to continue using parklets on the street but they will no longer be free. Prices range from $3 per square foot per month to $9 depending on configuration. Current businesses may have a variety of parklet styles including but not limited to non-portability, a floor platform, and a roof. Parklets for new businesses must be portable, must have no floor platform, and must have no roof. The City of Santa Barbara reserves the right to remove parklets and clear the right-of-way at its sole discretion but I doubt State Street parades are coming back anytime soon.

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BEDDA MIA REOPENING IN FEBRUARY

Bedda Mia Italian restaurant at 1218 State Street plans to reopen in February. The downtown eatery temporarily closed after New Years.

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AZUL COCINA OPENING SOON

Mexican restaurant Azul Cocina is opening soon at 7 East Anapamu Street, the former home of Arts & Letters Café which closed in April 2015 and was followed briefly by La Cocina, Smithy, and Somerset restaurants.

I stopped by and was told that they had a friends & family night recently and have been waiting for the city inspectors to approve the restaurant for opening. Azul might have an inspection as soon as tomorrow and, if they pass, could open this weekend. It all depends on how the inspection goes. I am told that lunch and dinner offers the same menu but that they might start with lunch-only service or perhaps dinner-only to softening the opening.

“Azul Cocina and Cantina delivers Mexican cuisine and mixology with the finest locally sourced ingredients from Santa Barbara County,” says their website azulcocinasb.com. “Our mission is to deliver an exceptional authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern contemporary twist on flavors and traditions, led by Executive Chef Manny Diaz. Taste the revitalization of Upper-State Street Santa Barbara with lively offerings, fresh local ingredients and incredible seasonal dishes. Pair your cuisine with a unique one-of-kind crafted selection of Tequila and Mezcal flavored cocktails or choose form our array of seasonally selected wines.”

With more than 40 years of experience and mastery, Executive Chef Manuel “Manny” Diaz has worked in acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles including DTLA’s Pacific Grille, Nicola, Nucleus Nuance, Rudolpho’s, and the San Antonio Winery. His work has earned him media recognition including the Los Angeles Times and he was  honored with the Hero Award by the California State Assembly.


Courtesy

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BRASS BEAR OPENS UPTOWN

Last August reader Terry passed the word that the Funk Zone’s popular Brass Bear Brewing Company is opening a second location at 3302 McCaw Avenue, the former home of Café Stella. Reader Matt now tells me that the uptown Brass Bear had a soft opening on January 21. “We met friends there for dinner.. There is a nice kids play space in the back,” says Matt.

“Influenced by the funky vibes in the Funk Zone, we wanted Uptown to be unique,” says owners Lindsay and Seth Anderson. “We took our most beloved Funk Zone classics and added some new flavorful additions to the bunch. We have classy dinner fare, lunch grub, and soon brunch. Get lost in the colorful wallpapers or follow the stripes up the ceiling in the main dining room- Uptown is an unforgettable experience. Our private event space includes a bar, a divided turfed area, and a pool-sized indoor area to fit your event needs.”

The flagship Bear Brewing opened in Funk Zone in February 2016 and features craft beer, rotating guest taps, sparkling wine, cider and a menu that consists of locally sourced charcuterie boards, skewers of tri-tip, chicken, shrimp, occasionally shark, burgers, and hot toasted sandwiches. Visit brassbearbrewing.com.


Courtesy

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CHAPALA SOUTH COAST DELI CLOSES

Santa Barbara Independent writer Callie Fausey reports that South Coast Deli at 1436 Chapala Street, which opened in February 2008, closed January 20th because the landlord did not renew their lease. “At this point we want to focus on the positive,” says South Coast Deli owners Jim and Darlene St. John. “We have three other successful locations in town and we look forward to focusing our efforts on them. Delivery will still be available via DoorDash, and we will continue to deliver our Sammie platters to offices throughout the city. We have had 15 wonderful years at SCD Chapala and are thankful for all the support from the community.”  South Coast Deli at 6521 Pardall Road closed in April 2021 and a new location opened the same month at 3534 State Street.

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NEW MENU ITEMS AT EUREKA

Eureka Burger at 601 Paseo Nuevo has introduced a new menu that includes French Dip (roast beef, whiskey caramelized onions, Havarti, horseradish aioli, au jus), Barbeque Pork Ribs (slow cooked ribs, truffle corn), Chilled Salmon Campanelle Bowl (burrata, broccolini, heirloom cherry tomatoes, pesto aioli), Watermelon Chicken Salad (baby kale, feta, cucumbers, walnuts, dried cranberries, beets, pickled red onion, mint, balsamic glaze, lemon vinaigrette), and Baja Fish Tacos (beer battered white fish, pico de gallo, coleslaw, chipotle mayo, lemon vinaigrette). Call (805) 618-3388

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BACARA INTRODUCES ‘805’ PROMOTION

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara celebrates its neighbors with a new 805 promotion. All 805 area code residents are eligible to receive discounted experiences–priced at $80.50–in The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Spa, both Angel Oak and San Setto restaurants (a prix-fixe menu), and the new Bacara Wine Tasting Room. All offers below are subject to availability, require proof of residence, and expire March 31.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 805.571.4220. The offer is subject to availability and excludes holidays and weekends (Friday and Saturday). Pricing is exclusive of tax and gratuity. 

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VALENTINE’S DAY AT MOBY DICK

This just in from General Manager Miguel Flores: “Hi John, FYI, here at Moby Dick we are doing a Valentines Dinner for two for 89.99 per couple. It is a three course dinner with a bottle of champagne included. Reservations are not necessary but encouraged.”

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VALENTINE’S AT CA’ DARIO

Ca’ Dario will be serving a 4-course prix fixe dinner for $90 per person at their 3 locations (Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Goleta) from 4- 9:30 p.m. on February 14th. The menu can be viewed online at cadariorestaurants.com or by calling 805-884-9419.

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SPECIALS AT FINCH & FORK

Dry January and Black History Month (February) at Finch & Fork: Finch & Fork is having a Zero Proof Mixology class for Dry January, taught by Beverage Director Jazz Moralez, and later will partner with Uncle Nearest for Black History Month with Old Fashioned menu to raise up to $1 million for historically black colleges and universities. For every Old Fashioned sold in February, they will be matching Uncle Nearest’s $1 donation.

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STONEHOUSE WINS AWARD

A Santa Barbara restaurant has joined the ranks of the most celebrated restaurants in North America. The Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRōNA) Award – one of the most prestigious awards for fine dining, has just added 11 new locations to its list of renowned restaurants.

“We are thrilled to have added such an exceptional group of new restaurants to our awarded list,” said Scott Breard, DiRōNA Chairman. “Only 686 restaurants in North America have received the DiRōNA Achievement of Distinction. This year’s establishments represent the best in dining excellence and can be found in many beautiful small communities including Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin, Roanoke Indiana, and Kemah Texas!”

The 2023 Newly Awarded Restaurants Include: The Stonehouse Restaurant – Santa Barbara, CA; 2941 Restaurant – Falls Church, VA; Bistro de Margot – Burlington, VT; Diplomat Prime – Hollywood, FL; Double Cut Steak House – Wisconsin Dells, WI; Eculent – Kemah, TX; Edgewater Manor – Stoney Creek, ON; Epic Restaurant – Columbus, GA; Joseph Decuis – Roanoke, IN; Lucciola – New York, NY; and The Kitchen Restaurant – Sacramento, CA.

Founded in 1990, DiRōNA was established to promote the fine dining industry and offer recognition to award winners across North America including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. DiRōNA has become the authority for excellence in distinguished dining.

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SETH SAYS

Reader David P. showed me an Instagram post by actor, comedian, and filmmaker Seth Rogan where he displayed a picture of the cover of the 2022 end-of-year issue of the Santa Barbara Independent. Rogan highlighted where it says “New Year’s Events and Restaurant Guy” and wrote “I ASSUME THEY MEANT ‘GUIDE?’”


Photo by Seth Rogan

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STORM HITS LOCAL RESTAURANTS

This is part of a batch of news from early January:

Reader Primetime tells me that The Ellwood, formerly Beachside Bar – Café, was pounded by the recent storm: “Waves that hit with a ‘boom’ damaged a restaurant under construction at Goleta Beach and left the parking lot and recreation areas badly swamped. It happened early Thursday morning when the explosive mix of a high tide and a relentless storm surge arrived without much notice. Debris went flying into the windows at the former Beachside Bar – Cafe being converted into the Ellwood restaurant in a prime spot next to the Goleta pier. Some of the windows were broken apart and salt water found its way into the building from several locations. That dunked construction plans, supplies, kitchen equipment and turned a dining room into a lake. The building is leased by the county to the restaurant operator who hopes emergency funds can help with the recovery.”

Reader Primetime says that Shoreline Beach Café had a close call: “By inches, the Shoreline Beach Cafe survives the storm surge. at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara.  Customers can still watch the action with their feet in the sand or from an elevated deck.  A close call.  In 1983 it was swamped and palm trees were down all over.”


The Ellwood photo by Primetime

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OFF TOPIC

I have been taking care of a family member which has limited the amount of time I had to post restaurant news. A new batch is coming.

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PLAZA DELI CLOSES

This just in from reader Mark P.

I found out the Plaza Deli at La Cumbre Plaza is closed. Larry (the owner) and who operated this business for 40 years, told me a couple of weeks before Christmas, that he planned on one day just locking up and walking away. He wanted to retire and trying to sell the business fell flat. This closing happened shortly before Christmas. The place looks like just that, he locked up at the end of the day and retired. You can see lights in the soda cooler still on, cases of stacked sodas and the same selection of chips just sitting there gathering dust. Ran into a security guard there a few days ago and he said the place hasn’t been open for a few weeks. Sad to see it go. I’ve been a customer there since 1988.

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2022 YEAR IN REVIEW

My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. Undoubtedly this was a difficult year for many local restaurants as we emerge from the COVID-19 epidemic but some eateries came back with a bang like the days of yesteryear were just a bad dream.

BOOM TIMES: I started covering the local restaurant scene in 1994 with the launch of the SantaBarbara.com Restaurant Guide but I only started keeping track of restaurant statistics when this column debuted 15 years ago, so that’s how far back my records go. Though 2021 saw the lowest number of restaurant openings on record, 2022 experienced a big comeback and nearly achieved the highest number of openings on record. In 2022 there were 52 openings (record high is 54) and 35 closings (record low is 30).

WELCOME BACK: Two huge reopenings occurred on the South Coast this year: Dutch Garden restaurant, an icon for more than 75 years, opened under new ownership and with a huge remodel. Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant, a favorite in Goleta since 1958, reopened after experiencing a kitchen fire in 2020.

BIG MOVES: South Coast institution Fresco Cafe moved from their longtime home in Five Points Shopping Center to 23 East Canon Perdido Street downtown. Little Alex’s Cantina, formerly of Montecito, will be taking over their now-vacant uptown spot. Saigon, also formerly in Five Points, moved to 721 Chapala Street where it now shares space with their sister eatery Sachi Ramen. Popular Black Sheep restaurant moved from longtime home at 28 East Ortega Street to 18 East Cota Street while giving their menu a French makeover. Saturday Farmers’ Market announced plans to move from the Cota Street parking lot (where a new Santa Barbara police station will be built) to Carrillo Street between Anacapa and Chapala and crossing with State Street.

FALLEN ICONS: Marty’s Pizza, a local icon since 1984, closed because its building had to be demolished as part of a bridge replacement project. Goleta Coffee Company closed after 25 years in business. Kai Sushi Shabu-Shabu downtown said goodbye after the serving the South Coast for decades.

FLASH IN THE PAN: Restaurants that both opened and closed in 2022 include Beans BBQ (6 months, catering is still alive and well) and Texas Tacos (7 months)

RESTAURANT OPENINGS: December: Black Sheep, Corazon Comedor, Elena’s Kitchen, Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant (reopened), Saint Remy (inside Marriott), We Want The Funk; November: Brass Bird Coffee, Caya Restaurant, IHOP Goleta, Jersey Mike’s Subs, L’antica Pizzeria da Michele, Mattei’s Tavern, Oat Bakery; October: Augie’s Tequila, Fresco Café downtown, Kyle’s Taproom, Thai Bistro; September: Campo del Sol, Checo’s, Saigon; August: Mokutan; July: AMA Sushi (inside Miramar), Anchor Rose, Lao Thai Restaurant, Rare Society, Santa Barbara Food Connection, Sweetie’s Ice Cream Shop, Vons Chicken (reopened); June: Lighthouse Coffee, Taza Mediterranean Street Kitchen; May: Carp Moon Café, Finch & Fork (reopened), Hummus Republic, Mangione’s Italian Ice, Mariscos, Rodeo Room Whiskey Lounge; April: Casa Comal, Hook & Press Donuts, Lighthouse Coffee, Local, Matty’s Hot Chicken, Montecito Deli (reopened), Saint Bibiana Pizzeria, Sazon Latino, Zocalo; March: Beans BBQ (now closed); Goodland BBQ, Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar (reopened), Shalhoob’s at the Market, Wingman Rodeo, 235 West Montecito St.; February: Bedda Mia, Little Heart Cafecito, Soul Bites, Starbucks De la Vina; January: Broad Street Oyster Company, El Patio Evening, Texas Tacos (now closed)

RESTAURANT CLOSINGS: November: Cold Stone Creamery, Here’s the Scoop, The Outpost; October: Black Sheep (moved to Cota St.); Cafe 154; September: Cafe Stella, Fresco Café (moved to Canon Perdido St.) Mesa Burger, Saigon 3987 State (moved to Chapala St.), Tap Thai Cuisine; August: Hustle & Grind Coffee, IHOP Calle Real (moved to Hollister Ave.); Kyle’s Chicken House, Marty’s Pizza (say it ain’t so!), ParadICE Shave Ice, Pizza My Heart, Seven Bar & Kitchen; July: Kai Sushi, McDonald’s 1213 State, Texas Tacos; May: Daniel’s Mexican Bakery, La Salsa; April: Rockin’ Yogurt, March: Little Kitchen; February: Brasil Arts Cafe, Chomp on the Rocks, Goleta Coffee Company, Modern Times Beer; January: Embermill, JJ’s Diner, Juice N Things, Open, Phoevermore, Rockin’ Yogurt, Saigon 1230 State, Su Casa Fresh Mexican Grill, Tea Tea IV, Vons Chicken (reopened in July)

MOST READ STORIES: Based on the analytics from The Restaurant Guy blog at SantaBarbara.com, here are the top-ten most read news stories of the year:
#1: “Dutch Garden update”
#2: “Mariscos Tita’s Mexican seafood coming to Old Town Goleta”
#3: “Rodeo Room whiskey lounge opens next week”
#4: “Shalhoob’s Coming to Noleta”
#5: “Goodland BBQ coming to Goleta”
#6: “Goodland BBQ opens in Old Town Goleta”
#7: “Vons Chicken closes”
#8: “Montesano buys Montecito Deli, opening Oye Vey Maria’s next door”
#9: “Thomas W. Dickson 1929-2022”
#10: “Broad Street Oyster Company coming to downtown”

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

I’m 78 and lived in SB until graduating from Westmont in 1965. I returned 20 years ago and now live in Montecito. Can you confirm that a restaurant was on the south side of the 101 frontage road near State Street in the 50s? I thought the name was Kerry’s but I can find anything online. I do realize there was a Kerry’s on State near the Granada in the 60s but that’s not the one I’m looking for.
Thank you.
Cliff

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CIELO LOUNGE

My family was looking for a way to burn off our Christmas prime rib lunch so we decided to go in search of Santa Barbara’s funky “Cielo Lounge.” And exercise we did as it was nowhere near where I thought it would be. The hiking eventually paid off and we enjoyed the afternoon there. The weather was crisp so we didn’t need to use the provided umbrella. The panoramic views were indeed spectacular.


Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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CAYA RESTAURANT OPENS IN GOLETA

Caya Restaurant has opened at 5650 Calle Real in Goleta in the former home of The Outpost Restaurant which closed last November after 8 years in business. AWH Partners has purchased the property where the restaurant resides and Spire Hospitality is the new management company of this facility formerly known as the Kimpton Goodland and now known as Leta Santa Barbara. “Leta” is an abbreviation for Goleta. Leta Santa Barbara is part of the “Tapestry Collection by Hilton” brand. Did you catch all that?

“Inspired by the fresh coastal flavors of Santa Barbara, CAYA restaurant invites everyone to ‘Come As You Are’ for a modern culinary adventure paired with a mood as relaxed and inviting as a California sunset,” says their website cayarestaurant.com. “Embark on a delectable journey through the West Coast with Chef Philip Stein’s seasonal menus influenced by sustainably sourced local ingredients and global cuisine inspirations. From social gatherings to intimate dinners, indulge in the relaxed and inviting indoor and outdoor atmosphere while your taste buds savor the culinary traditions of the west through nostalgic homemade dishes and signature craft cocktails.”

Chef Stein graduated from the Western Culinary Institute and interned for Emeril Lagasse at MGM Grand where he mastered the art of butchery and homemade sauces. He later worked at The Cheesecake Factory, The Tower Club, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, and Spire Hospitality where he launched the new Caya Restaurant.

Restaurant hours: Breakfast: Monday-Friday 7-10:30 a.m.; Brunch: Saturday-Sunday: 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Happy Hour: Monday-Sunday: 4-6 p.m.; Dinner: Monday-Sunday: 5-9:30 p.m. Bar hours: Wednesday-Thursday: 5 p.m.-midnight; Friday-Saturday: 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Call (805) 964-1288 or visit cayarestaurant.com.

View the menu

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SEAR STEAKHOUSE LAUNCHES WEEKEND BRUNCH + HAPPY HOUR

Chef Nate Peitso, chef/owner of Solvang’s Sear Steakhouse at 478 4th Place in Solvang has expanded the restaurant’s service and hours with the introduction of a weekend brunch and a weekend happy hour, the latter offered only at the bar. The new weekend brunch runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; $50pp includes a three-course menu (choose one item from each menu section), coffee and a glass of sparkling wine or rosé, plus the option of a $40pp add-on of bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and/or SYV Sangria Blanca. Chef Nate also introduced a new happy hour promo, served only at the steakhouse bar, Saturdays and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. Happy hour includes drink deals (such as $5 beers) plus bar bites like a signature double smash burger ($12).

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LITTLE ALEX’S CONFIRMED

Reader John P.S. says the landlord for Five Points shopping center has posted Little Alex’s business name on their tenant list. And the map he sent me indeed shows that the former Fresco space is the destination.

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LITTLE ALEX’S COMING TO SB?

This just in from reader Gary S.

Little Alex’s is open or opening at Five Points, where Fresco used to be.

Little Alex’s closed this year after decades in business in Montecito. I have not confirmed with the business or landlord that this actually happening.

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BLACK SHEEP OPENS

The Black Sheep “SB Brasserie” had a soft opening at 18 East Cota Street tonight to give the place a test drive and the years of experience by management and team members made for as perfect an evening as one can hope for. Food and service was excellent and the new California French pub was packed with a lively crowd. Black Sheep built a cult following on Ortega Street over the years and when the building they were in was sold they were forced to relocate and their new home around the corner from Joe’s Cafe is stylish and welcoming.

Guests arriving on this opening night tried the Tasting Menus which includes a 4-course menu with multiple dishes with each course. It is served family-style for $65/person. Tonight’s offering included Vegan Pumpkin Soup with Apples; Oxtail Ragout over Panisse with Remoulade and Tapenade; Tuna Crudo with radish, orange, tobiko and tamari; Hand Made Cavatelli with Mushrooms and Sherry; Pork Belly Choucroute with Sausage; Steelhead trout with beluga lentils and red wine jus; Steak Frites; Chocolate Decadence torte with Mousse and Kumquat; and Olive Oil Cake with Rhubarb and Stracciatella cheese.

View the full menu


Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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SAINT REMY TO OPEN THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Saint Remy, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant inside the new Courtyard Marriott at 1601 State Street near Arrellaga Street, is opening on Monday, December 26th. It will be available for dining seven days a week for breakfast, and offers small bites the rest of the day. You can access the restaurant by entering through the main hotel entrance on State Street and walking through the lobby to the pool area. The restaurant is next to the pool. After your meal feel free to journey up the stairs to their rooftop deck to enjoy the view.

The breakfast menu includes Churros Waffle (cinnamon and sugar pancake, dulce de leche, dark chocolate sauce, churro crumble), Caramelized Fig Waffle (buttermilk pancake, figs, toasted almonds, vanilla Anglaise, whipped honey butter), Nutella Crunch French Toast (Nutella stuffed French toast, bananas, amaretti and hazelnut crumble, vanilla Anglaise), French Toast with Berries (French toast, berries, whipped cream, maple syrup), Choco Chip Pancake (chocolate chips, buttermilk pancake, whipped butter, maple syrup), Blueberry Pancake (blueberries, buttermilk pancake, whipped butter, maple syrup), Frittata (market vegetable, goat cheese, Calabrian chili hollandaise), Shakshuka Benny (sourdough, red pepper sauce, feta crumble, poached egg, cream cheese hollandaise), Farmhouse Sandwich (brioche, baked egg, cheddar, bacon, arugula, hollandaise), and Three Eggs Anyway (with potatoes, toast, jam).

“Saint Remy features the freshest locally-sourced ingredients, delivered with a Mediterranean coastal twist.,” says their website saintremysb.com. “From breakfast through dinner, every meal is uniformly inventive and crafted with the rich history and culture of the coast. Our cocktail menu offers the familiarity of classics like the Old Fashioned while introducing signature sippers like our debut, Bad Entropy. Our wines are sourced from local vintners such as One Stone Cellars, as well as from Argentina, Spain, and Oregon. With an easygoing and retro-inspired design, Saint Remy makes private parties, date nights, a gathering of friends, and even business meetings comfortable and noteworthy with a relaxed sensibility and palate that is uniquely Santa Barbara.”

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TEXAS TACOS LEAVES LAKE PARDALL

Last January, Texas Tacos opened on the shores of Lake Pardall, at 910 Embarcadero del Norte, and unfortunately the eatery has set sail for calmer seas. Lake Pardall is a popular recreational facility in the heart of Isla Vista, California, known for swimming, boating, and fishing, during the rainy season. However, neighboring businesses like Campus Cuts, Dublins, and Precious Slut Tattoo & Body Piercing, would prefer that it remain in its natural state, a parking lot, year round so their customers can use it. But their pleas to landlord U.C. Santa Barbara for more than a decade, to fill in the hole with asphalt, have fallen on deaf ears. UCSB should consider fixing it soon because if endangered species like the Snowy Plover start nesting there, its parking lot days could be gone forever.


Seasonal Lake Pardall in Isla Vista. Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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