Hoffman Brat Haus, which opened in March 2013 at 801 State Street, a fabulous location in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara that once housed Snack Shack, Piranha Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Rocks, and ImageNet (I used to work there), has closed. The property is being redevelop into residential apartments.

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The restaurant Viva Santa Barbara opened in July 2016 inside La Arcada Court at 1114 State Street, the former home of Cielito, Stateside, and Acapulco. Viva continues to be open daily as usual, serving modern Mexican cuisine to hungry locals and tourists alike. Big changes will be occurring in September, however. The restaurant is in the process of remodeling and rebranding, and will relaunch as a pub named Eleven Fourteen sometime next month. Where Viva currently offers a menu from south of the border, Eleven Fourteen will be adding (or possibly changing to) American cuisine including burgers. Thanks to reader Sunny for the tip!

Courtesy photo

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Reader Tyler let me know that Carpinteria’s popular Rincon Brewery is planning to open a location in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone at 205 Santa Barbara #B, the former home of Laplace Wine Bar & Shop which closed in November 2018. I’m told that a public notice for application to sell alcohol has appeared on the premises that indicates Rincon Brewery is moving in. Rincon Brewery opened a location in Isla Vista in July 2017 but closed it a year later.

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Alito’s Mexican restaurant, founded by Ali Ahlstrand, co-owner of Mollie’s restaurant, opened in April of this year at 509 State Street, in the former home of Cadiz. Unfortunately the eatery closed on August 18th. Mollie’s continues to be in business as usual.

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“Hi, I was wondering if you know what’s going on with Gimeal Cafe [at 5892 Hollister Avenue] in Goleta.  A while back, there was a note on their Yelp listing saying that they were temporarily closed but would re-open at the beginning of August.  The note is now gone, but they’re still not open.  I also remember reading in a news article somewhere that they had applied for a marijuana dispensary license, which I thought was strange.
– N”

Interesting. Restaurant Connection says they are not accepting orders from Gimeal Cafe from 6/15/19 – 8/31/19 so perhaps the reopening date was moved to September? I would think that RC would say Gimeal Cafe was closed permanently if that was the case. But they might indeed return as a cannabis shop since they filed for a license, who knows. Thanks for the tip. I’ll keep an eye on them.

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In mid-July, The Little Door at 129 East Anapamu Street abruptly closed with a note on the door that read “Dear Patrons, Unfortunately we’ve closed  our doors temporarily for improvements. Good news is we will be back better than ever. Please keep in touch with us for updates. reservations@thelittledoorsb.com. Thank you!”

Reader Primetime now tells me that The Little Door restaurant had actually closed permanently. I am hearing that furniture was being loaded up  into a U-Haul truck and some of it has been sold to Embermill (at the former home of Aldo’s restaurant) which is opening on Friday.

Photos by Primetime

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A couple of years ago I noticed that Ming Dynasty at 290 Storke Road in Goleta was listed for sale on a real estate web site. Their realtor asked me not to mention it so I didn’t and Ming Dynasty continued with business as usual. In the last few days, however, I have received these messages from readers:

Stopped by MING DYNASTY near the old K-Mart today and was surprised to learn that the owners are retiring and August 31 will be their last day.

Hey John-
Just saw on Nextdoor that Ming Dynasty is closing – they’ve been there forever – wonder if Target is causing some turmoil in landlords? Think the landlords are raising rent? Or what’s the deal…? Announcement on Nextdoor: “Ming Dynasty, Sorry to say, Ming Dynasty is closing Sept 1st.  It’s confirmed with staff there tonight and they have a sign on the inside of the doors as you come in.  Our family has many fond memories there.  We are sad to see them go!”

I’m reading that Ming Dynasty in Goleta is closing.
– Kay Lee

Rumor… Ming Dynasty is closing?!  Say it isn’t so!
– Greg

Hi John,Heard from several sources that Ming Dynasty in Goleta will be closing in the next month or two.
– Annie

‘Hi, I work by corner of Storke & Hollister in Goleta.  There has been talk in the last 1-2 days that Ming Dynasty restaurant is closing for business on September 1, 2019. If true, that is surprising as there was talk they were hoping for improved business with the coming Target store and improvements in nearby shopping center.  Is there any truth to this rumor?
– Annie



Here is an update from High Sierra/Flightline manager Warren Butler:

Hello John,

Hope all is well. Just wanted to give you an update:

Flightline Restaurant & Lounge has secured funding and has a purchase agreement in place with High Sierra Bar & Grill. The SB Airport/City of SB is holding up the approval which is needed to have the lease assigned to Flightline. High Sierra is contemplating closing down because of the 8 month delay and current non-approval. status. So much for The city of SB moving forward with a more business friendly environment! I am committed to keeping the restaurant open and moving forward with the Flightline concept. We are open for business. I will keep you posted!!

Warren Butler



Strange question…but is there any place in Santa Barbara – San Luis Obispo area that serves a high tea?  – Holbrook



Managing Partner Sherry Villanueva and Acme Hospitality announce today changes for Les Marchands Restaurant and Wine Shop in the Funk Zone.

After six years, Les Marchands is saying “adieu” and closing its doors. Sherry Villanueva commends the team stating, “I’m extremely proud of the numerous accomplishments made by the team at Les Marchands over the years, including being recognized as one of the most outstanding wine bars in the country.” Les Marchands was applauded both locally and nationally for its extensive wine list, outstanding cuisine and knowledgeable staff. Chef Weston Richards and Sous Chef Collin Wade will remain with the company and all other Les Marchands’ employees will be given the opportunity to pursue other positions within the Acme family.

In celebration, Les Marchands will host a series of events throughout the next month replaying many guests’ favorites from the past six years – winemaker events, special menus and appearances from old friends that have made contributions to the Les Marchands’ legacy are part of the celebratory programming. An encore performance of the Les Marchands’ Follies Drag Brunch will take place on Sunday, August 25 and on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, Les Marchands will host the White Party Dinner Show featuring the talented Tina Schlieske (reservations for both events are highly recommended and are available at the restaurant or on Nightout.com).

Les Marchands will have abbreviated hours for the next few weeks and more details of upcoming events will be announced soon.

A new concept for the space will be revealed in the upcoming weeks and is slated for an October debut.



Reader Christine passed the word that High Sierra Grill & Bar at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta (once the home of Elephant Bar) has close its doors. The owner was unable to successfully negotiate with the City of Santa Barbara, which owns the property, to transfer the lease to manager Warren Butler who was in the process of transforming the eatery into a new dining concept named Flightline.



In July 2018 I wrote that La Michoacána, a Mexican ice cream and popsicle place, is coming to 21 north Milpas Street, near Little Caesars and a Sherwin Williams paint store. Readers Ana and Theresa says the eatery is now open with lines out the door.

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Reader Brendan let me know that Chef Harold Welch has opened Embermill at 1031 State Street  (formerly Aldo’s and the Copper Coffee Pot) offering Caribbean Creole cuisine. Welch’s runs a similar restaurant in Solvang named Hummingbird. A wood-burning oven at Embermill is the centerpiece and visible from State Street.

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John, Just got an email from Brat Haus management as a stein member that they are closing as soon as this weekend. Sad day for stein members!
– Sara

Hi John,
FYI. According to their Instagram page, Hoffman Brat Haus is closing this weekend?
– Karl



To celebrate the 107th year of Julia Child’s birth, the City of Santa Barbara has proclaimed August 15 as Julia Child Day in Santa Barbara. The proclamation recognizes celebrations across the nation in honor of Julia’s birthday, all in the spirit of showcasing her admiration, respect and need for all individuals to learn about and embrace her passion for the joys of cooking, eating and drinking well.

In conjunction with this declaration, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts has announced the launch of the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience (SBCE), a three-day event scheduled for March 13-15, 2020. The event, in partnership with the Foundation and inspired by Julia’s advocacy for sharing the education of food and drink, will be an epicurean celebration involving chefs, mixologists, restaurateurs and the local community. As a longtime resident and fan of Santa Barbara, Julia was passionate about teaching others about the culinary arts. The Santa Barbara Culinary Experience aims to gather the community and visitors to celebrate the bounty of Santa Barbara’s abundant resources found in local farms, ranches, vineyards and oceans. In celebrating Julia’s spirit, the SBCE will shine a broad-reaching light on Santa Barbara’s culinary, hospitality, tourism and larger artisan communities.

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This just in from reader Evan:

There’s activity at the old Outback location [at 5690 Calle Real] in Goleta. Any idea what is going into that space?



This just in from reader Syd:

“Hey John, wanted to let you know about Buena Onda empanadas at 724 East Haley Street is now open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11-8pm and they are having live music on Saturdays evenings around 7pm (open late that night) with a bigger menu that includes some salads, provoleta asada and specials. Worth checking out! – Syd”

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Tiziano Fioretti, owner of Mosto Wine Bar & Tapas (formerly Mosto Crudo) at  7 West Haley Street, tells me that they have introduced a new dinner menu. Mosto  recently added some new dishes such as homemade pastas, traditionally from Rome, where the chef is from. They have also added some entree style plates like filet Mignon, monkfish, and lobster.  Fioretti tells me that they changed the name to only Mosto since they are not serving crudo anymore. Mosto is open Tuesday-Wednesday 4-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 4-11 p.m., and offers a Sunday brunch.



This just in from il Fustino, Oils & Vinegars:

Hey John,

Wanted to give you an update on our new second location downtown. As of August 1st, guests can now visit our tasting bar located at 1100 State at the La Arcada Plaza (inside Chocolats du Calibressan). Just steps away from our previous Public Market location, this space will feature a full tasting bar of our California olive oils, balsamic, and vinegar, as well as shelves stocked with local specialty foods. We will be fully complemented by Calibressan’s display case of 36+ unique chocolate offerings and an espresso bean and gelato bar. We are beyond excited to share this space with Jean-Michel and Jill-Marie Carre and look forward to providing complimentary tastings and serving the downtown neighborhood.


Brian Gloria
il Fustino, Oils & Vinegars

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I recently ran into Falah Maayah, owner of Foxtail Kitchen and Bar at 14 East Cota Street, who tells me that he has remodeled the patio and now offers Turkish hookah all day. I am also told that Foxtail is now doing $3 Falafel Tacos every Tuesday from 3-7 p.m., during the Farmers Market. The tacos include hummus, pickled cabbage, pico de gallo, and tahini/habibu sauce.

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Giovanni’s at 1905 Cliff Drive on the Mesa, which opened in March 2009,  has closed. Rumor has it that the space is being taken over by the owners of neighboring Mesa Burger and will be turned into a beer tap room with food. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

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

  • July 2019: Apna Indian Cuisine, 718 State St.; Challwa Peruvian Cuisine, 724 East Haley St.; Corazon Cocina, 214 State St.; La Cocina, 7 E. Anapamu St.
  • June 2019: Locale, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • May 2019: Caffe Luxxe, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Caje, 416 E. Haley St.; Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, 1936 State St.; Merci Montecito, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Mesa Burger, 7010 Marketplace Dr., Goleta
  • 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 S. 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 N. Milpas St.; Mala Town, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • January 2019: California Tacos and Taproom, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Choppa Poke, 716 State St.; Masala Spice, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta; Soul Cal Smokehouse, 38 W. 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: Buena Onda, 1131 State St.; 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 E. 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
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The new Hotel Californian at 36 State Street has what might be the best view in Santa Barbara at their rooftop overlooking Stearns Wharf. Fortunately it is not just for guests staying at the seaside resort. They have a new offering for the general public called Sunday Sessions running for the next 6 weeks. Hotel Californian has setup a lounge and DJ with a $20 cover so you can enjoy a view from the rooftop starting at 4pm. Food and drinks are available for purchase. The amazing view of the Santa Barbara waterfront from the towering Hotel Californian is a must-see. The entrance is just to the left of Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen.



The Restaurant Guy and family ended our Fiesta celebration last weekend at Black Sheep restaurant, 26 East Ortega Street. Global in scope, the Black Sheep menu features Latin, Asian, and Italian flavors but relies heavily on classic French technique. Chef Robert Perez has introduced a brand-new prix fixe “Sunday Supper” for $35. Every week will be something different and the menu will also change seasonally.

We tried the Sunday Supper and the food and service was fantastic, as usual. My wife and I chose different offerings so, between the two of us, we could sample most of the menu. Our first courses included Roasted Kobocha Potage (accented with apple, ginger, fenugreek, and turmeric) and Heirloom Tomatoes (with gorgonzola walnut “pate,” frisee). The second courses were Seafood Risotto (Maine diver scallops, gambas, salmon, sweet corn) and Coq au Vin (chicken braised in red wine with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and pearl onion). Perez also let us try a vegan option, Feuille de Brick, which has a thin, flaky pastry crust. It is the size of a burrito and includes roasted vegetables and tofu. Everything is cooked separately then they wrap it and bake it in the oven. It is probably best described as a described vegetarian Chimichanga. We finished Sunday Supper with a delicious dessert including Tiramisu (classic tiramisu, mascarpone and espesso-dunked lady fingers) and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse (orange segments, coco nib brittle and vanilla bean sauce).

Sunday Supper at Black Sheep opens at 5 p.m. The menu will be posted online each week at blacksheepsb.com. Check it out.

SUNDAY SENSATION: The vegetarian Feuille de Brick is one of several menu items we tried at Black Sheep restaurant’s new Sunday Supper.

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Oppi’z Bistro and Natural Pizza has opened at 1026 State Street, the former home of Palazzio.  Oppi’z is a modern, non-conventional healthy food concept rooted in the tradition of the Italian cuisine and the “Slow-food” manifesto. Motivated by his love for simple but genuine and tasty foods that characterize the Italian cuisine, namesake owner Guido Oppizzi has reinterpreted the traditional concept of the pizzeria by designing a unique menu with a variety of gourmet pizzas and a selection of light and healthy dishes.

In the back of the restaurant is a display where you can see their dough naturally raising in the glass cabinet at controlled humidity. You can see both our regular and our charcoal infused dough. “Our gourmet pizzas are prepared with a secret recipe of naturally slow-fermented dough, combining high quality, farm-fresh and local ingredients,” said Oppizzi. “Our signature dishes include rice in a bottle, savory cheesecakes, fresh tartares, and many other healthy vegetarian and gluten conscious options.”

Pizza menu highlights include Oppi’z (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, cherry tomato confit, marinated anchovies, basil sauce, $18), Black Margherita (homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, fresh basil served on black dough crust, $16), Farmers Market (homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, mixed seasonal vegetables, $18), Pere e Zola (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, gorgonzola, julienned pears, walnuts, $23), Feta (Mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, feta, cherry tomatoes, roasted almonds, fresh basil, $19),  Cinque Terre (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, pecorino cheese, Taggiasche olives, pine nuts, Genoa pesto drizzle, $22),  Radicchio (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, pecorino cheese red radicchio, Amaretti cookie crumbles, honey, $23), and the Mediterraneo (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, shaved Grana Padano, Taggiasche olives, sun-dried tomatoes, honey, olio al peperoncino, $23).

Oppi’z is open daily 11:30 am – 9:30 pm. Call 770-7390 or visit oppiz-sb.com.

OPPI’Z OPENS: Owner Guido Oppizzi and staff at the new Oppi’z Bistro and Natural Pizza on State Street. Courtesy photos.



Following up on a story I wrote on November 5, 2017, The Project has opened at 214 State Street in the former home of  Union Ale. The Project is an equal partnership between Corazon Cocina, which has a location in the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria Street, and Captain Fatty’s brewery whose flagship outlet is at 6489 Calle Real #D in Goleta.

Corazon Cocina

Corazon Cocina General Manager Kassia Walker tells me that the menu at The Project has some classic items from the one at the Public Market, but the majority is a new, fresh take by Chef Ramon Velazquez. Unlike a nearby pavilion, which does not allow you to bring your alcoholic beverage to other businesses under the same roof, The Project’s liquor license covers the whole building.

Chef Ramon Velazquez’s cooking is best described by those who know it best as highly innovative yet intimately and deliciously familiar. Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, his love of food was nurtured by his mother and grandmother, who taught him how to make traditional Mexican dishes and create meals inspired by the local markets. Velazquez immigrated to the United States in 1990 and began working in restaurants in Santa Barbara, most notably as a sushi chef for the beloved restaurant Arigato for almost nine years and then moving on to the role of executive chef for Cielito.

Captain Fatty’s

I am told that the new Santa Barbara Captain Fatty’s is a little different than the Goleta location in that The Project home is not just beer but also offers cider,  wine, and guest taps. Current guest taps are provided by The Apiary and SB Cider. Captain Fatty’s Craft Brewery began its voyage into the the beer scene when friends Jon “Captain” Wadell and Bryan “Fatty” Anderson began home-brewing beer a decade ago. Friend Preston Angell soon joined the team and they set sail to The Goodland in October 2014. They have since remodeled and expanded to a 15-barrel system with 120 barrels of fermentation capacity. Captain Fatty’s at The Project is their second location.


Hours at The project are Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. (drink last call is 11 p.m., kitchen closes at 10 p.m.). Walker says The Project will be open until 1 a.m. in the coming months, and that a late night menu is coming. The Project also plans to open at 7:30 a.m. in the near future and I am told that breakfast offerings are in the works, with coffee provided by Dune.

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Chef Harold Welch will soon be opening Embermill at 1031 State Street  (formerly Aldo’s and the Copper Coffee Pot) offering Caribbean Creole cuisine. Welch’s runs a similar restaurant in Solvang named Hummingbird. I am told that a wood-burning oven at Embermill will be the centerpiece and visible from State Street.

Welch operated Harold’s Caribbean Kitchen on De la Vina Street in 2015 and featured popups around town. Originally from Barbados, West Indies, Welch has come “through the ranks” in the restaurant industry. In Santa Barbara, he has worked at the San Ysidro Ranch, Citronelle, and La Cumbre Country Club. Welch always wanted to offer healthy food to fellow diabetics, and in 2005, he created his business, World Cuisine Express, for that purpose.

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Reader CB let me know that a Peruvian restaurant named Challwa has opened at 724 East Haley Street. I am told it is only open on Sundays from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Challwa sahres space with Argentinian restaurant Buena Onda. Recent specials include Lomo Saltado $20 (Peruvian style stir fried beef tenderloin, tomatoes, red onions, rice, french fries), Papa Reyena $12 (stuffed potato with ground beef and veggies, rice, rocoto cream), and Vegetarian Mushroom Ceviche $10. Items on the main menu range in price from $7-$15. I am told that they have no liquor license but you can BYO wine/beer.

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After 12 years in business, Tonic Nightclub at 634 State Street closed in January 2018 and the space has been vacant ever since. Reliable sources tell me that M. Special brewery will be the next tenant of the 6,500-square-foot venue. I called M. Special and asked about the rumor and was told that there is no projected opening date and that remodeling is underway. M. Special opened a taproom at 6860 Cortona Drive #C in Goleta in September 2015 and was an immediate hit.

In addition to the popular taproom in The Goodland, ​M. Special is distributed between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo including SB and Ventura counties. You can find their bottles at most major retailers and independent markets such as Trader Joes, Von’s, Albertson’s, Whole Foods, Bev Mo, Lazy Acres, and most craft-centric bottle shops. M. Special is also on tap at various bars and restaurants up and down the coast of Central and Southern CA.

M. Special continues the brewery phenomenon across the South Coast. This year alone has seen the arrival of Captain Fatty’s on State Street, Shalhoob Beer Company, Modern Times Beer, Institution Ale, and more.

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After the legendary Palazzio restaurant at 1026 State Street closed in October 2015 I spread the word that Oppi’z Bistro was planning to give the space a try. Here is an update:

Reader Steve H.:

“Oppi’z opens TODAY, Thursday, at 5pm. At long last, the old Palazzio location will again come to life.”

Reader Annie:

“Oppi’z (on State) says they are opening tonight (7/18) at 5pm.  Their regular hours will be from 11:30 to 9.  I didn’t ask what days they are closed”

Courtesy photo