DAVE’S DRIP HOUSE COMING TO GOLETA

Reader Don noticed a Coming Soon photo on Instagram for Dave’s Drip House, an ice cream and cereal bar coming to 193 South Turnpike Road near Vons. The new dessert destination will be brought to you by the same friendly guy behind Dave’s Dogs, across the parking lot at 149 South Turnpike Road.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

The Santa Barbara Independent has in Legal Notices for “Abandonment of Fictitious Business Name” the name of Moby Dick Restaurant. What’s Up?
– Reader Des

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CAJÉ OPENS ON HALEY

Reader Eric says he walked by 416 East Haley Street recently and noticed that Cajé has opened. The coffee shop has another location in Isla Vista that opened in January 2009. The Daily Nexxus writes that the Isla Vista location offers bagels, acai bowls and smoothies while the new downtown food menu right now consists of a tortilla española and an avocado toast. I’m told that downtown Cajé has formed a collaboration with Sama Sama Kitchen, an Asian fusion restaurant, to diversify Cajé’s menu.

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SANTA YNEZ UPDATE

Reader SY Foodie says that the people behind SY Kitchen are taking over the space on Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez, formerly occupied by Ranch and Reata Road House, and will develop a second concept. SY Kitchen will continue in its current location.

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CACHUMA LAKE CAFE READY TO SET SAIL

On April 8, 2016 I wrote that Santa Barbara County Parks department is getting set to open a new cafe near the boat marina at Cachuma Lake. Then a few years went by – we had a Presidential election, a horrific fire, a tragic flood – and the space continued to be empty. Now I am hearing from reader Steve H. that the place is partially open now and will fully open in a few months but there are some new details: it will be brought to you by Craig Lingham whose family operated the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area snack shack and marina for years, along with business partner Dustin Farnum. Lingham is a chef and partner at Roost restaurant on State Street. I am told that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors newly approved their concession agreement and that the eatery will offer Cachuma burger, breakfast burritos, and fresh seafood dishes. Word on the street is they may offer delivery to campsites and the pool area.

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SENIOR FROGS UPDATE

There is a rumor circulating that Senior Frogs at 892 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria has leaped into restaurant Heaven. Their web site is gone and their phone number is disconnected but I haven’t had a chance to peek in the window because the eatery is 22.7 miles from my home.

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MERCI MONTECITO OPENS

Reader John let me know that Merci Montecito has opened in (you guessed it) Montecito at 1028 Coast Village Road next to the brand-new Caffe Lux (opened 2 weeks ago) and not-so-brand-new Vons (opened in 1968). Both new venues occupy the former home of Xanadu Bakery. Merci Montecito is a boutique artisanal cafe created by acclaimed pastry chef Elizabeth Colling. Elizabeth earned her degree at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris before working at Spago Beverly Hills and becoming the pastry chef at Bastide. Elizabeth was also a Food Editor of Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, where she developed and styled desserts for both publications. Merci Montecito is primarily an organic homemade food shop at the  Montecito Country Mart, serving lunch, dinner and desserts that are easy to take on the go. Visit mercimontecito.com.

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MALA TOWN OPENS IN ISLA VISTA

Mala Town has opened at 6555 Pardall Road in Isla Vista. The Chinese restaurant occupies the former home of One Piece and HiWi Tropical Fusion. Mala Town offers Mala Tang (hotpots) and Jian Bing (Chinese crepe). The eatery also serves a long list of Chinese BBQ (beef and chicken skewers, chicken wings, chicken heart, Spam, beef balls, fish tofu, crab stick, squid ball, cod fish ball, eggplant, lotus root, needle mushroom, tofu skin, bamboo shoot, potato slices, and corn), as well as Bento Box (teriyaki chicken, Spam with pan fired egg, vegan deep fried tofu). Hours are Mon-Thur 11am-3pm, 5-9pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 12-10pm.

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GROUNDED

Reports are coming in from far and wide that Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 1209 Coast Village Road in Montecito has closed.

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FIRE AT MESA BURGER

Reader Cris saw a posted on the Instagram page of Mesa Burger, 315 Meigs Road, that reads: “Mesa Burger in Santa Barbara will be closed until further notice. We suffered a small electrical fire, and want to thank our friends at the Santa Barbara Fire Department for being here for us! Thank you for your understanding.”

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RESTAURANT OPENINGS

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

  • May 2019: Caffe Luxxe, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Ike’s Love, 1936 State St.
  • April 2019: Alito’s, 509 State St.; Caruso’s at Miramar, 1759 South Jameson Ln., Montecito; Cubaneo, 418 State St.; Hanamura Cantonese Dim Sum, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Malibu Farm at Miramar, 1759 South Jameson Ln, Montecito; Sushi|Bar at Montecito Inn, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
  • March 2019: The Little Things Bakery, 2018 Cliff Dr.
  • February 2019: Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 North Milpas St.
  • January 2019: California Tacos and Taproom, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Masala Spice, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta; Soul Cal Smokehouse, 38 West Victoria St.; Sup and Jus, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • December 2018: Cafe Ana, 1201 Anacapa St.; Jersey Mike’s Subs, 1054 Casitas Pass Rd., Carpinteria; Online Pizza Company, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta; Rockfire Grill, 6583 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • November 2018: Khao Kaeng, 1187 Coast Village Rd. Ste. 9, Montecito
  • October 2018: Bettina, 1014 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Chicken in a Barrel BBQ, 5711 Calle Real, Goleta; Dart Coffee, 121 E. Yanonali St.; Monkeyshine Ice Cream, 121 E. Yanonali St.; ParadICE Hawaiian Shave Ice, 11 W. De La Guerra St. Unit A; Tyger Tyger, 121 E. Yanonali St.; Uniboil, 5599 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Vicenta’s, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta
  • September 2018: Crush Tasting Room & Kitchen, 432 E. Haley St.; Hanamura, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; La Guerrerita, 5698 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Lighthouse Coffee, 1819 Cliff Dr. Ste. C; Los Arroyos, 1992 Old Mission Dr., Solvang; Mezza Thyme, 20 East Cota St.; One Piece, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • August 2018: Due Lune Ristorante and Bar, 1 State St.; Night Lizard Brewing Company, 607 State St.; Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro, 1187 Coast Village Rd. Ste. 7, Montecito; The Middle Child, 18 E. Cota St.
  • July 2018: Creamistry, 935 State St.; Louise’s Kitchen Table, 1210 Mission Dr., Solvang; McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, 120 State St.; Old Town Coffee, 5877 Hollister Ave., Goleta; The Monarch, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
  • June 2018: 212 Hot Pot, 6533 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Ca’Dario Veloce Pasta, 38 W. Victoria St. (now closed); Lilsey’s Wood-Fired Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St.; Locavore Kitchen, 21 West Victoria St.; Mizza, 1112 State St.; Mollie’s, 1218 State St.; Sunshine Cafe, 3514 State St.
  • May 2018: Roost, 1305 State St.; Starbucks inside Albertsons, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Vegan Green GO, 3613 State St.

SEASIDE SPECTACULAR: Caruso’s Italian restaurant opened last month as part of the new Rosewood Miramar in Montecito.

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THE SPACE FORMERLY KNOWN AS SOJOURNER UPDATE

Reader SBMizzou passed the word that  the space at 134 East Canon Perdido Street, the former homes of Sojourner Cafe and Miso Hungry, is being renovated. Rumor has it  that it will be a French Bakery/Eatery.

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IKE’S GRAND OPENING

Ike’s Love and Sandwiches started serving customers last week at 1936 State Street, in the former home of Subway next to 7-Eleven. I stopped in and spoke to founder Ike Shehadeh, who is personally serving customers for the next week or so, and was told that his namesake eatery will be having a grand opening on Monday, May 20th, and that the first 100 people who also follow the restaurant online on Facebook or Instagram will receive a 100% discount on one sandwich. Who ever said that there is no such thing as a free lunch? If you don’t follow them online, or show up after the freebies have been exhausted on Grand Opening day, there will still be a great discount: sandwiches are for sale for $3.

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MJ CAFE GRAND OPENING

Reader Nick let me know that MJ Cafe,  the new restaurant at Ice in Paradise at 6985 Santa Felicia Drive in Goleta has their grand opening scheduled for May 19th. They are advertising food and drink specials as well.

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RED PEPPER CLOSES

Reader Cris let me know that Chinese restaurant and Goleta dining institution Red Pepper at 282 Orange Avenue, that started serving customers long before I this column was born, has officially closed. Last November I wrote that their voicemail announced a temporary closure and that they hoped to reopen soon. They have now posted this message to for you: “Dear Customers,
After 17 years we are regrettably to inform you that Red Pepper is closed indefinitely due to family health issue. Both Sue and David of Red Pepper wants to thank you for your patronage year after year. Red Pepper maybe gone but the food and the love will live on forever. – Daughters of Red Pepper”

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SMITHY CLOSES

Readers David D., Stephine, and Bernard tell me that Smithy restaurant at 7 East Anapamu Street is permanently closed. Apparently the windows are papered over and there is a note on the wall outside the restaurant that indicates they are closed, and that a new concept is slated to open in June. I tried calling Smithy and the phone number disconnected. Reader Byard says they ate at Smithy on the eatery’s final night, May 5th, and was told it will re-open as a Mexican and Spanish tapas-style restaurant from the same owner with a different chef. Smithy opened in December 2017, replacing Somerset, an earlier concept from the same ownership that occupied the space for 10 months.

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LOS ANGELES’S CAFFE LUXXE EXPANDS TO SANTA BARBARA

Artisanal coffee roaster Caffe Luxxe, currently serving westside Los Angeles with five neighborhood caffes, has announced the grand opening of its newest location in the Montecito Country Mart, located at 1028 A Coast Village Road, next to Vons in the former home of Xanadu Bakery. Regarded for its Northern Italian-style espresso, Caffe Luxxe will offer complimentary cappuccinos and americanos to the public all day (from 7am-5pm) on Saturday, May 11 at its new caffe. In conjunction with the opening, Caffe Luxxe will launch a limited edition “Montecito Blend” coffee. The Montecito location is the first venture outside of the Greater L.A. area by owners Mark Wain and Gary Chau since opening their first caffe in 2006.

“There’s an atmosphere about Montecito that’s so essentially California, yet charmingly unique. It’s a sense of approachable luxury, which is exactly the sentiment behind why we started Caffe Luxxe: to offer the highest quality espresso and coffee, with a friendly, genuine attitude,” said Wain. With many of Caffe Luxxe’s Los Angeles patrons choosing Montecito as a weekend destination – and some even residing in town for part of the year – moving in to serve the neighborhood was a natural choice for the coffee and lifestyle brand.

To celebrate the grand opening, Caffe Luxxe has released a new limited-edition coffee named the “Montecito Blend,” that is “inspired by the well-balanced, crisp climate of the Central Coast’s rolling hills and the neighborhood’s serene and welcoming atmosphere.” The medium-bodied coffee offers an aroma of grapefruit, with flavor notes of cocoa and dark cherry, a balanced acidity, and a smooth, dried fruit finish. A blend of natural- and washed-processed coffees sustainably sourced from Guatemala and Brazil—from farms Caffe Luxxe has fostered close relationships with over the years—the coffee is hand-roasted in small batches at Caffe Luxxe’s Il Laboratorio roasting facility, which delivers freshly roasted coffee to all Caffe Luxxe locations on a weekly basis for optimum freshness. Its roasting team places emphasis on maintaining genuine relationships with farmers, sourcing coffee directly whenever possible and paying above-market prices to ensure fair labor practices and quality product. The Montecito Blend is available for purchase in-store at Caffe Luxxe Montecito, and online at caffeluxxe.com/shop/coffee

Caffe Luxxe continues to plan for expansion of new locations at a controlled pace, keeping quality, training, and education of baristas at the forefront. The company also manages a wholesale business, creating coffee programs for farm-to-table- and sustainability-focused restaurants, including Los Angeles’s Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, Sweet Laurel Bakery, Malibu Farm, Melisse, Charcoal and Openaire, and Santa Barbara’s own Lilac Patisserie.

Leading up to May 11, Caffe Luxxe Montecito is currently holding a soft opening with regular hours every day, 7am-5pm.

Photo by Alicia Cho

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IKE’S LOVE OPENS WEDNESDAY

This Wednesday May 8th Ike’ Love, also known as Ike’s Place and Ike’s Love and Sandwiches, completes a move from Isla Vista to 1936 State Street, the former home of Subway. There are over 50 Ike’s locations across California with a few more in Arizona and Nevada. “Ike’s is the kind of place where if you’re vegan, or your significant other eats meat, or they’re gluten free, everybody can go to the same spot together and not feel like they’ve compromised,” said owner Ike Shehadeh. He tells me that historically the Ménage à trois and Matt Cain sandwiches are really big sellers. Ike wasn’t kidding. I tried the Ménage à trois sandwich, which was invented by staff members, and it is now officially on my top-ten list of favorite sandwiches across the South Coast. It gets its name because this chicken sandwich has three sauces (honey, honey mustard, and BBQ) and three cheeses.

“Our motto is ‘not you mamma’s sandwich shop’ so we are coming in here with some crazy creations,” say General Manager Tylar Lecount. “There’s over 600 sandwiches and we can do all of those here. There’s something for everyone or you can make up your own thing. We do mozzarella sticks and all those crazy sandwiches. We do Challenge sandwiches which are three-footers. Every location has exclusive sandwiches that are sold at just that location.” The extensive menu, which includes meat and vegetarian options, shows that the “Romeo’s Juliet” sandwich is sold exclusively on State Street. Prices generally range from $8-$12.

Ike’s also offers catering including the Small Tray (10 sandwiches divided into 20 bites), Medium Tray (20 sandwiches divided into 40 bites for $169), and Large Tray (30 sandwiches divided into 60 bites for $254). Chips and drinks can be added to the trays for an extra $15, $30, and $45 respectively. Visit loveandsandwiches.com.

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AMIDST LAWSUIT, IKE’S MOVES TO STATE STREET

I recently wrote that Ike’s Love and Sandwiches closed in Isla Vista (with an eviction notice on the door) and that a new location is coming to State & Mission Streets. Reader Cris let me know that the Daily Nexxus has a story (tinyurl.com/ikesmove) with all the details. The Nexxus reports that Isla Vista landlord Icon Property filed a lawsuit last December against owner Ike Shehadeh claiming that he owes Icon $42,000 in unpaid rent. The Nexxus also reports that Shehadeh recently filed a counter-suit claiming Icon withheld information about mold on the premises before Ike’s renewed their lease.

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CAFFE LUXXE UPDATE

Lats June reader Peter told us that Caffe Luxxe will be coming to the space near Vons at 1028 Coast Village Road in Montecito where Xanadu French Bakery used to be. Reader Annie now says Caffe Luxxe might open May 1st.

Caffe Luxxe was established to bring a unique luxury to coffee and a culinary experience, championing a move towards hand crafted artisanal espresso and brewed coffee. “Our commitment to serving great coffee begins thousands of miles away at the farms where the beans are grown, where we strive for full transparency of sustainable practices,” says co-owner Mark Wain. ‘Our philosophy on roasting guides our hands, as we roast coffee to focus on the classic characteristic flavors unique to each country to bring out the depth and complexity they have to offer.” Visit caffeluxxe.com.

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LATTERIA UPDATE

In early March I passed a message from reader Steve H. that a sign for Oppi’s Bistro,brought to you by “The Latteria,” had been posted at 1026 State Street, the former home of Palazzio which closed in 2015.

Steve H. tells me that they now have a web site oppiz-sb.com that offers some details about the restaurant:

“The Latteria – OPPI’Z is a modern, nonconventional Italian bistro and pizzeria concept, still rooted into the tradition of the Italian cuisine and to the “Slow-food” manifesto, but absolutely far away from any stereotyped model offered by most of the Italian-sounding restaurants in the USA. Motivated by his love for simple but genuine and tasty foods characterizing the Italian cuisine, Guido Oppizzi has reinterpreted the traditional concept of pizzeria by designing a menu comprehending, aside an intriguing selection of gourmet pizzas (prepared with a secret naturally and slowly fermented dough and topped with an unique combination of high quality ingredients), a selection of fresh, light and healthy dishes like our signature rices in a bottle, savory cheesecakes, tartars, carpaccios and salads.”

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Two questions, actually:

1) Are there any reader recommendations for a Chinese restaurant that serves really good egg foo young?  Egg foo young is a Cantonese dish, and most local Chinese restaurants these days seem to be Szechuan.  The Nanking Garden, of course, was the yardstick by which all egg foo young was measured, followed by Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens.  Now, it is seldom found on Chinese restaurant menus.  The Szechuan Restaurant on Cliff Drive has egg foo young, but it’s just not.Cantonese.

2)  Whatever happened to Swiss Rolls?  They look like chocolate jelly rolls and were once very popular. What they are is a strip of chocolate cake with a thick layer of whipped cream on top and then rolled up like a jelly roll.  I hate to use this comparison, but Swiss Rolls look like a large version of those truly disgusting Hostess Ho Ho things.  All bakeries used to sell them and you didn’t even have to special-order them.  The best ones came from Koelsch’s and Irene Davis bakeries.

FUN FACT:  There is no such thing as frozen egg foo young.  Chun King used to make it years ago, but inexplicably stopped.

– Rex of SB

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HANAMURA CANTONESE DIM SUM OPENS IN ISLA VISTA

Reader Brendan tells me that a place called Hanamura Cantonese Dim Sum has apparently opened at 901 Embarcadero del Mar in the Isla Vista, the location formerly occupied by Sorriso Italiano.  I’m not sure if it is related to the Japanese restaurant called Hanamura, that opened their last fall, but Brendan says that it appears to be a different type of food altogether.

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AN EVENING AT BIBI JI

On Saturday, May 11th,  Bibi Ji at 734 State Street, a modern twist on traditional Indian cuisine restaurant, will host one of Spain’s notable wines, Envínate. Bibi Ji owners Alejandro Medina and Rajat Parr will welcome Envínate co-founders (Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez) along with their importer Jose Pastor, for the special evening, which will consist of a four-course dinner paired with a selection of wines personally chosen by Pastor.

Each guest will enjoy a one-night-only four-course dinner menu, created by Bibi Ji Executive Chef Gary Singh, with dishes including Market Asparagus Salad with black lentil, local kumquat, panch phoron; Tandoori Scallop with garam masala, turmeric creme fraiche, dill; KK’s Reshmi Kebab with yellow chili, cumin, lime; and a Thali Curry Platter that features a selection including Butter Chicken, Lamb Curry, Punjabi Khadi, Saag Paneer, Chana Masala and Aloo Methi. The dishes have been crafted to be paired with the lighter-bodied, high-acid flavor profile that all of Envínate’s wines embody including Envínate Palo Blanco 2017, Envínate Migan Tinto 2017, Envínate Taganan Tinto 2017, and Envínate Ribeira Sacra Viñas de Aldea 2017.

Throughout the evening, Pastor will be on hand to discuss the wines which hail from three regions of Spain, with vineyards in the slate slopes of Ribeira Sacra, volcanic soils of Tenerife and chalky Almansa, with a separate winery in each area. Envínate, founded in 2005, is the brainchild of four friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez, who met while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. The winemakers continue to create pure and authentic wines, with no chemicals used in any of the Envínate vineyards, all parcels are picked by hand, the grapes are foot-trodden, and the wines are fermented exclusively with wild yeasts, with a varying proportion of whole grape clusters included. For aging, the wines are raised in old barrels and sulfur is only added at bottling, if needed.

Two seatings will begin at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The four course, four wines dinner, is available at $125/person, and only by purchasing tickets ahead of time. A credit card will be required upon making a reservation, and can be done by emailing info@bibijisb.com or calling the restaurant at (805) 560-6845.

Photo by Blake Bronstad

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LITTLE ALEX’S 30TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

Little Alex’s at 1024 Coast Village Road, which I am told is the longest running restaurant in Montecito, is celebrating 30 years in business on May 8th. Dan and Lynette Briner, the owners of Little Alex’s, opened their doors back in 1989 with the goal to provide healthy Mexican food at a reasonable price. They even partnered with the American Heart Association to create “heart healthy” options. Housemade salsa’s and specialty sauces make for a delicious meal and since they have never used lard Little Alex’s has always catered to vegetarians. The menu has stayed pretty much the same over the years and so have the chefs. All five of the Briners children have worked at the restaurant and now some of the grandchildren do as well. A true family business with many of the chefs and their families working with the Briners since the very first day. With reasonable prices and consistently healthy Mexican food Little Alex’s draws in customers from all walks of life. Celebrities, construction workers, real estate agents and teachers fill the family friendly seats at Little Alex’s every day. As a fixture in the Montecito community for 3 decades, Little Alex’s hopes to be around for 30 more years. Lynette is a 7th generation Santa Barbarian with many of her older relatives owning shops and restaurants in Montecito and Santa Barbara. Lynette’s grandfather’s siblings owned a juice shop, one of the first few established restaurants in Montecito. To celebrate the 30th anniversary, Little Alex’s wants to show their appreciation by rolling back some prices to the day they opened the restaurant in 1989, from May 8th through May 11th. There will also be a customer appreciation party on May 11th from 2-5 pm. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

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PASCUCCI CELEBRITY DINE OUT FOR SUMMER SOLSTICE

Join the Summer Solstice Celebration at Pascucci, 729 State Street, on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 for the 18th annual Celebrity Dine-out fundraiser event. Laura Knight, owner of Pascucci (and Solstice Board Member), once again turns over her fine establishment to Solstice volunteers for an entire evening – with the exceptions of the kitchen (wisely!), which is staffed by the pros.  Fun loving and costume clad, Solstice volunteers act as hosts, servers, bartenders and drink runners. La Boheme, a local Burlesque Fusion Dance Performance Group, will be making an appearance.  ALL sales from the evening (food, drink, tips) go directly to support this year’s Summer Solstice Parade held on June 22rd and the Festival at Alameda Park, June 21-23.  For more information about the Summer Solstice Celebration and to get involved as a vendor, volunteer or parade ensemble visit solsticeparade.com

Reader Primetime, The Restaurant Kid, and The Restaurant Guy at the Fiesta-themed Pascucci fundraiser for Solstice in 2016.

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DOWNTOWN JERSEY MIKES CLOSES

Reader Primetime says that downtown Jersey Mike’s Subs at 1213 State Street has closed. The business opened in May 2014. Their upper State Street, Goleta, and Carpinteria locations are open for business as usual.

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7-ELEVEN COMING TO LOWER STATE

Reader Annie says that a new 7-Eleven is opening at 700 State Street, the former home of Panera Bread and Left at Albuquerque. I am told that they have split the building and that the new 7-Eleven should be open by summer.

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CUBANEO AND SHAKER MILL OPEN FOR LUNCH

This just in from Jesse Gaddy, owner of Cubaneo at 418 State Street and Barbareño at 205 West Canon Perdido Street:

“Hey John,

We wanted to let you know that Cubaneo and Shaker Mill will now be open at 11am every day for lunch (as of 4/15/19). From here on out, our operating hours will be 11am – 1am, 7 days a week. This week is technically the soft open for lunch, so we won’t be heavily advertising that we’re open. We’ll be connecting our phone system and starting to take to-go orders via phone and online over the course of this week as well. We’re looking forward to giving folks in this area a new spot for a fast casual Cuban lunch and a place to grab a quality cocktail earlier in the day.

Cheers,
Jesse Gaddy
Barbareño | Cubaneo”

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SUSHI|BAR OPENS AT THE MONTECITO INN

Sushi|Bar, located inside the historic Montecito Inn, is the second location of Phillip Frankland Lee’s critically-acclaimed omakase restaurant. In June 2017, the original Sushi|Bar opened in Los Angeles and I am told that it is currently ranked the #3 best sushi spot in Los Angeles by Time Out Los Angeles and included on Eater LA’s “21 Essential Los Angeles Sushi Restaurants.” This new 10-seat chef’s counter places patrons in front of the action with guests being able to select from two different tasting menus, a 17-course ‘full omakase’ for $110/person, or an abbreviated 9-course ‘lite omakase’ for $65/person. To start the evening, guests are encouraged to arrive before their selected seating and enjoy a cocktail, nigiri and other delicacies from land and sea. The newest outlet replaces the former Chaplin’s Martini Bar.

A free-form, interpretive take on the traditional sushi counter experience, guests are served by chefs and bartenders who prepare variations on beloved standards. The menu at Sushi|Bar changes often and showcases the abundance of local seafood native to the area, including Santa Barbara sea urchin, spot prawns, and local halibut. In additional to sourcing local seafood, Chef Lee plans to continue working directly with his contacts at the World Famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to source the best seasonal Japanese fish available, flown in fresh twice weekly. While the omakase menu will vary, Sushi|Bar includes dishes such as Santa Barbara Sea Urchin with freshly grated wasabi, lemon, house-made soy sauce, black truffle, and freeze-dried Uni; Premium Japanese Hamachi, brushed with sweet corn pudding, seasoned with sourdough bread crumbs, and finished with freshly grated wasabi root and house made soy sauce; and Roasted Bone Marrow from Watkins Ranch in Ojai, served over sushi rice and garnished with fresh wasabi and house soy.  Pastry Chef/Owner Margarita Kallas-Lee ends the dinner service with her inventive dessert, Kaffir Lime Ice Cream with black sesame shortbread and matcha shell.

Housed in a glowing amber room designed by Phillip Frankland Lee and Gabriel Wischmeier, the simple sushi bar is enveloped in honeyed oak and designed to invoke the feeling of traditional Japanese sushi bars found in the 1930s. Conceived as Lee’s love letter to sushi — nightly dinners will be led by head sushi chef Lennon Lee, with a selection of drink pairings and Japanese beverages, including sake, beer and Japanese whiskey all curated by Scratch Restaurants Food and Beverage Director Gavin Humes. Sushi|Bar marks the third offering from Scratch Restaurants at the historic Montecito Inn (current restaurants also include: The Monarch and The Silver Bough).

Sushi|Bar is open every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday with seatings available at 6pm, and 8pm; Friday and Saturday evenings with seatings available at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm; and closed on Monday and Tuesday. Sushi|Bar is located inside the Montecito Inn at 1295 Coast Village Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. For reservations, please visit sushibarmontecito.com.

Photos by Jakob N. Layman

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