Restaurant Guide

Santa Barbara Restaurants

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Little Alex’s closes after 32 years in business

Reader Primetime tells me that Montecito institution Little Alex’s Mexican restaurant, at 1024 Coast Village Road, has gone out of business. Last week was the final meal for countless loyal customers who have been dining there since 1989. Dan and Lynette Briner and their family graciously thanked the community. “It has been our pleasure to serve the Montecito community for almost 33 years,” said the Briners. “All of our patrons have truly become part of our family. We have been given notice to vacate our location and will be closing November 22nd. Thank you all for your unwavering support for over 3 decades. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts and will miss you all.” Primetime says that Chef Ramon Velasquez from Corazón Cocina might be the next tenant.

In 2009 J.S. Rosenfield & Co purchased a 30-year ground lease for the 40,000-square-foot Coast Village Road Shopping Center from Pacific Capital Bank. Owner Jim Rosenfield rebranded the property as Montecito Country Mart, trying to establish a luxury market similar to the Brentwood Country Mart he created in Santa Monica. J.S. Rosenfield & Co. is a privately-held real estate company with a a portfolio of retail and mixed-use properties in Los Angeles County, Montecito, and Marin County.


Reader Primetime with Little Alex’s owners Dan and Lynette Briner on their last day of business. Photos by Primetime.

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Restaurant Openings

Here is a list of area eateries that have opened this year:

  • November 2021: Kyle’s Chicken House, 900 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Reunion Kitchen, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Zio and Sweet Italian Desserts, 819 State St. Ste. A
  • October 2021: Carp Kitchen and Grocery, 4945 Carpinteria Ave. Ste. A, Carpinteria; Gil’s Asian BBQ food truck, 436 State St.; Old Town Coffee, 1131 State St.; Pueblo Pollo, 2984 State St.; Tap Thai, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Timbers Roadhouse and Whiskey Joe’s, 10 Winchester Canyon Rd., Goleta; Wingstop, 888 Embarcadero Del Norte Ste. C, Isla Vista
  • September 2021: Coast Range & Vaquero Bar, 1635 Mission Dr., Solvang; Kyle’s Protein Grill, 7000 Hollister Ave. (reopened)
  • August 2021: Centennial Beer Hall, 5871 Hollister Ave., Goleta; The Courthouse Tavern, 129 E. Anapamu St.; Goodland Dining, 231 S. Magnolia Ave., Goleta; The Good Plow, 5205 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; Riviera Bar, 20 W. Figueroa St.
  • July 2021: Alessia Patisserie & Café, 134 East Canon Perdido St.; Fatte’s Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St.; Jeannine’s Bakery, 1 State St.; Rascal’s, 18 East Cota St.
  • June 2021: Caje, 811 State St. Ste. A
  • May 2021: Cali-Forno Pizzeria, 905 State St. (rebranded from Persona Pizzeria); Costa Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Mar Monte, 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Crush Bar & Tap, 1129 State St. Ste A; The Daisy (reopened), 1221 State St.; NoTown Tavern, 5114 Hollister Ave.; Wingman Rodeo, 5892 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • April 2021: Le Cafe Stella (reopened), 3302 McCaw Ave.; The Point Coffee, 370 Storke Rd., Goleta (now closed); The Revere Room at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito; SB Biergarten, 11 Anacapa St.; South Coast Deli, 3534 State St.
  • March 2021: 4 Eggs & Pizza,1221 State St. Ste. 10; Palihouse Cafe and Bar, 915 Garden St.; Sear Steakhouse, 478 4th Place, Solvang; Secret Bao, 1201 Anacapa St.; Tondi Gelato, 723 State St.
  • February 2021: Wingstop, 3849 State St.
  • January 2021: Barb’s Pies, 18 E. Cota St. (now Rascal’s)
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Restaurant Closings

Here is a list of area eateries that have permanently closed this year:

  • November 2021: Good Cup, 918 State St.; Little Alex’s, 1024 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Mollie’s, 1218 State St.
  • October 2021: Crazy Jim’s Tacos y Mas, 505 State St.; El Pollo Loco, 2984 State St.; Woody’s BBQ, 5112 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • September 2021: Cava Restaurant & Bar, 1212 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Domino’s, 1039 Casitas Pass Rd., Carpinteria; Itsuki Restaurant, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta (changing to IHOP)
  • August 2021: Vegan GreenGO, 3613 State St.
  • July 2021: none
  • June 2021: Barb’s Pies, 18 E. Cota St. (now Rascal’s); The Point Coffee, 370 Storke Rd., Goleta
  • May 2021: Alphie’s, 5725 Hollister Ave., Goleta; New Si Chuan Garden, 2840 De la Vina St. (changing to Red Pepper); Starbucks, 800 State St. (changing to Belching Dragon Tavern); Subway, 888 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (now Wingstop); Taqueria El Pastorcito, 4427 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • February 2021: Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, 500 State St. (reopening); Malibu Farm at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito (now The Revere Room); South Coast Deli, 6521 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • January 2021: Beachside Bar Café, 5905 Sandspit Rd., Goleta (changing to SeaLegs); Noemi Pizza Romana, 3534 State St. (now South Coast Deli); Panera Bread, 3851 State St.; Yanni’s at Mackenzie Market, 3102 State St.
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Mokutan coming to State Street

Readers LGB and Laura say they spotted an ABC notice at 716 State Street, the current home of Choppa Poke,  that a liquor license is being applied for by a business named Mokutan. Choppa Poke opened in Goleta in September 2016 then expanded to downtown in January 2019.

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Handlebar 3.0

Handlebar Coffee which opened at 128 East Canon Perdido Street in November 2011 then expanded to 2720 De La Vina Street in September 2017 has announced that a third location is coming to 836 East Anapamu Street in spring/summer 2022. The new space is across the street from the Santa Barbara Bowl.


Photo by Google

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Reunion Kitchen introduces lunch

Reader Nichelle says she stopped by the new Reunion Kitchen at 1118 East Cabrillo Boulevard, which started serving dinner November 8th, and noticed that they have begun offering lunch. The eatery’s menu includes fresh produce, bowls, burgers, rib sliders, sandwiches, and more.

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The Palms in Carpinteria listed for sale

The Coastal View News reports that third generation owners of Carpinteria’s oldest family-run restaurant and bar, The Palms restaurant at 701 Linden Avenue, Bill Anderson and Todd Anderson, have listed the property and business for sale for $9.85 million. The Palms is a two-story mixed-use building with the landmark restaurant on the first floor and five apartments and an office on the second. “A piece of admired Carpinteria history – this iconic restaurant was established in 1912 as a steak house with a twist, you cook your own steak,” the story notes. “A legacy property – ready to embrace a new beginning with open arms.” The business comes with an on-sale liquor license, live music permit and dance license. The Palms closed at the onset of the pandemic and has yet to reopen. Thanks to reader Richard for the tip.


Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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Thanksgiving on the South Coast

Local restaurants offering Thanksgiving this year include:

    • Ca’ Dario, Goleta: $80; 3-9 p.m.; (805) 884-9419
    • Ca’ Dario, Montecito: $80; 3-9 p.m.; (805) 884-9419
    • Ca’ Dario, Santa Barbara: $80; 3-9 p.m.; (805) 884-9419
    • Carp Kitchen & Grocery: everything but turkey; order in store; (805) 318-9400
    • Ballard Inn Restaurant: sold out; (800) 638-2466
    • Belmond El Encanto: sold out; (805) 845-5800
    • bouchon: sold out; (805) 730-1160
    • Chumash Casino Resort: Grains & Grounds: $150 take-out, feeds 4-6; (805) 686-0855
    • Chumash Casino Resort: Willows: $65; 3-9 p.m.; (805) 686-0855
    • Coast & Olive: sold out; (805) 690-3920
    • Cold Spring Tavern: turkey, prime rib, or salmon; 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; (805) 967-0066
    • Convivo Restaurant, Santa Barbara Inn: $75 3-course, $90 4-course adults, $35 ages 12 and below; noon-8 p.m.; (805) 845-6789
    • Costa Kitchen & Bar, Mar Monte Hotel: $89 adults, $39 ages 12 and below; 1-7 p.m.; (805) 882-1234
    • Crocodile Restaurant & Bar, Lemon Tree Inn: $35; noon-9:30 p.m.; (805) 687-6444
    • Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant: $29.95; 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; (805) 568-0702
    • Finch & Fork, Kimpton Canary Hotel: $95 adults, $35 ages 3-10; 3-8 p.m.; (805) 884-0300
    • First & Oak, Mirabelle Inn, Solvang: sold out; (805) 688-1703
    • Frog Bar and Grill: turkey or prime rib; $59 adults, $24 children ages 12 and below; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; (805) 968-6400 x108
    • Harbor Restaurant: $24.99; noon-9 p.m.; (805) 963-3311
    • Harry’s Plaza Cafe: $26.95; 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; (805) 687-2800
    • Helena Avenue Bakery: everything but turkey; takeout with at least four days’ notice; priced à la carte; (805) 880-3383
    • Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood: $39 turkey, $49 prime rib; noon-9:30 p.m.; (805) 965-3363
    • Jack’s Bistro & Famous Bagels: takeout only, order by November 19; $250 feeds 10 people, $18.95 by the plate; (805) 319-0155
    • Joe’s Cafe: $31.95 ham, $32.95 turkey, $37.95 prime rib adults, $16.95 turkey ages 12 and below; noon-9 p.m.; (805) 966-4638
    • Little Dom’s Seafood: take-out only, deep fried turkey $87, sides/desserts extra; (805) 749-7400
    • Live Oak Cafe, Best Western Plus Santa Barbara: brunch with turkey sandwiches and pot pies; (805) 845-5193
    • Louie’s California Bistro, The Upham: turkey or salmon; (805) 963-7003
    • Mulligan’s Cafe & Bar, Santa Barbara Golf Club: $35.99 all-you-can-eat buffet with turkey, ham, prime rib; noon-5 p.m.; (805) 682-3228
    • The Outpost, Goodland Hotel: $65; 3:30-7:30 p.m.; (805) 964-1288
    • Pea Soup Andersen’s, Buellton: price pending; 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; (805) 688-5581
    • Rosewood Miramar Beach: Caruso’s: sold out; (805) 303-6169
    • Rosewood Miramar Beach: Chandelier Ballroom: brunch buffet; $145 adults, $65 ages 4-12; 1-7 p.m.; (805) 303-6169
    • Roy: turkey, prime rib, or salmon stuffed with crab & lobster; $65; 3:30-8:30 p.m.; (805) 966-5636
    • Santa Barbara Sunshine Cafe: $22.95; 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; (805) 898-9121
    • San Ysidro Ranch: Plow & Angel: sold out; (805) 565-1720
    • San Ysidro Ranch: Stonehouse: sold out; (805) 565-1720
    • Shoals Restaurant, Cliff House Inn: $75; 1:30-6:30 p.m.; (805) 652-1381
    • Stella Mare’s: $65 adults, $29 ages 12 and below; noon-6 p.m.; (805) 969-6705
    • Tee-Off Restaurant & Lounge: $28.95; 3-9 p.m.; (805) 687-1616
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Kyle’s Chicken House opens in Isla Vista

What started as a limited-time-only special became such a popular item at their other locations, the creators of Kyle’s Kitchen decided its Krispy Chicken deserved its own restaurant: Kyle’s Chicken House, now open at 900 Embarcadero Del Mar in Isla Vista, formerly Kyle’s Kitchen and Silvergreens.

“When we introduced our Krispy Chicken Sandwich at our Kyle’s Kitchen restaurants, it was such a hit, we knew we were onto something that people were really craving,” shared owner, Jay Ferro. “At Kyle’s Chicken House, we’re serving a fun and crave-worthy menu of comfort food you can feel good about enjoying because, like all our restaurants, everything is made from scratch in-house, using the highest quality ingredients possible.”

Each piece of Krispy Chicken made with no antibiotics spends 24-hours marinating in a herbed buttermilk marinade, and is hand-breaded to order. The sandwiches are served on special house-made brioche buns, freshly baked daily.

As the name suggests, the menu revolves around fried chicken, featuring a variety of sandwiches like The OG Chicken Sandwich, The Nashville Hot, and more. Purists can enjoy Fried Chicken Tenders or make a meal out of it, which includes krinkle cut fries, Texas Toast and dipping sauce. Also making a debut are their new Cheese Fries featuring krinkle cut fries smothered in queso cheese. The menu will continue to

As part of the “Kyle’s” brand restaurant family, Kyle’s Chicken House will also donate a portion of its proceeds to the Kyle’s Kitchen Special Needs Giving Back program, in which Kyle has already donated over $200,000 to date. The one-of-a-kind program helps people with special needs and disabilities reach their potential.

The concept comes from the Ferro Family, owners of Kyle’s Kitchen, and Kyle’s Protein Grill. Kyle’s Chicken House will also offer online ordering and catering. Hours are 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily. Visit kyleschickenhouse.com.


Top photo by The Restaurant Guy, lower photo courtesy

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Holiday Tamale Making Class

Chef Richard Lambert teaches the techniques he uses to make his award-winning tamales and salsas. This 90-minute class is set for Sunday, December 12th, from 2-3:30 p.m. The classroom is located at Rusty’s Pizza (upstairs meeting room), 232 West Carrillo Street. Each attendee will be served a variety of tamale samples and be shown how each flavor can be created at home. Additional class handout materials include escamocha (tropical fruit dessert), recipes, a listing of ingredient sources, plus tamale reheating and storage guidelines. Attendees also receive the ebook version of Mr. Lambert’s cookbook, “Preheat to 350 Degrees,” featuring recipes along with personal anecdotes gathered over his lifetime. Tuition is $55 per person and class attendance is limited to 30 participants. Enroll online: tinyurl.com/makingtamales


Courtesy photo

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Thanksgiving at Ca’ Dario

The three Ca’ Dario Restaurants (37 E. Victoria St., 1187 Coast Village Rd., 250 Storke Rd.) will be exclusively serving a four course Thanksgiving experience with Italian favorites as well as a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings for $80 at all of their restaurant locations. Children’s menu (12 and under) available upon request. For menu details visit cadariorestaurants.com

 

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Zio and Sweet opens in Paseo Nuevo

This just in from reader Brendan: “A place called “Zio and Sweet Italian Desserts” has opened in Paseo Nuevo, in the space where Le Macaron used to be. It looks like they have gelato and pastries.” The website zioandsweet.com describes their offerings as follows: “Our gelato, sorbetto, and pastries all come from real old-world recipes of a family from Milan that started in the dessert business over 60 years ago. They make the products that we proudly serve to you. Nobody can make it better.” Call (805) 770-8668 or walk on over to 819 Ste A. State Street.

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Goodbye Good Cup

Readers Kevin and Tricia let me know that Good Cup at 918 State Street has closed after 9 years in business. The java shop opened in October 2012. Good Cup on the Mesa at 1819 Cliff Drive closed in September 2018 so the brand has now departed from Santa Barbara.

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Photos of Reunion Kitchen

Here are photos of Reunion Kitchen that just opened at the Cabrillo Pavilion, 1118 East Cabrillo Boulevard in the space formerly occupied by the East Beach Grill. The glass wind screen and umbrellas with built-in heaters are a nice touch.


Photos by reader Tom S.

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Who’s serving Thanksgiving in 2021?

Each November my inbox is swamped with the same question: Which restaurants serve a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day? For the 15th year in a row, I made a hundred phone calls to find the answers, which I serve below.

Make your reservations early because many places will sell out; some are booked out three months in advance. And the competition isn’t just from your immediate neighbors: Based on the analytics of who is reading my online posting of this list, it appears that slightly more than half of the people exploring the idea of a Santa Barbara Thanksgiving feast are from outside of the county.

View the list for 2021: Restaurants serving Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara

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Reunion Kitchen opens at East Beach

Years in the making, Reunion Kitchen has opened at the Cabrillo Pavilion, 1118 East Cabrillo Boulevard in the space formerly occupied by the East Beach Grill. Originally the new tenant was set to be La Sirena restaurant then Reunion Kitchen took over the lease last May. Reunion Kitchen has locations in Anaheim Hills and Laguna Beach. “Nice table set up for outside and a pretty extensive menu!” says reader Tom. “Looks like lunch only, with weekend brunch and dinner coming soon.”

“A place where you can unwind over food or catch up with friends over a drink,” is how the business is described at reunionkitchen.net. “A place to disconnect from the always connected world and experience superior service and value. A place worth talking about. Modern Comfort informs everything we do at Reunion. It’s innovative interpretations on the foods you love.”


Photos by reader Tom S.

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Question of the Day

A few days ago we went to PANDA EXPRESS and it was closed. A sign on door stated that they were short of staff. Then tonight we went to WENDY’S about 6:10 p.m., ordered and were eating inside when an employee came up to us. They said no hurry, but when we leave, close the door behind us, as they were closing, and that just the drive thru would be open. Is this something we have to look forward to, as people do not want to work anymore?
– Miss Blue

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Hochaya Tea House opens in Goleta

Reader Annie tells me that Hochaya Tea House has opened at 7060 Hollister Avenue in Goleta, the former home of Choppa Ice Cream and Zizzo’s. It is next door to Pickes & Swiss. That makes two openings in Hollister Village Plaza in the last month which recent saw Tap Thai move in to the space previously occupied by Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill.


Photo by Annie

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Carp Domino’s closes

Reader Trent7 tells me that Domino’s Pizza at 1039 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria has closed and other readers confirmed the news, saying it happened about 3 months ago. Yelp does not mention any changes and the Domino’s corporate site says “Sorry online ordering is temporarily unavailable at this store. Call 805-684-8371 to place an order.” When I called the number it was disconnected. I am told that Domino’s raised its franchise percentage rates from 10% to 12.5% which might have eaten up profits.

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Mollie’s closes

Readers Primetime and Cris tell me that tables and chairs are stacked up, the windows are papered over, and the website is down for Mollie’s at 1218 State Street. The eatery became nationally famous in the early 2000’s after a fan named Oprah fell in love with their meatballs. The restaurant moved from Coast Village Road to State Street in June 2018.


Photos by Primetime

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Starbucks update

I recently wrote that a new for-lease sign had appeared at 3052 De la Vina Street and readers suggested that Starbucks plans to take over the spot may have changed. No interior alterations had taken place since the original Starbucks announcement in April. Readers Mary and DRGM now tell me that dumpsters are now on the property that are filling up with shredded Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf memorabilia. This turn of events suggests that Starbucks plans are still on track or the property owner is making improvements. I’m guessing the former.

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Carp Kitchen and Grocery opens

Last April reader Primetime sent the word that Carp Kitchen and Grocery was coming to  4945 Carpinteria Avenue Ste. A in Carpinteria, the former home of Crushcakes. Reader Deforest says Carp Kitchen and Grocery has now opened  They are open for lunch daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and closed  on Tuesdays. “Carp Kitchen & Grocery is a specialty food store serving lunch at a prepared food counter, for take out and delivery,” says a description of the business. “The counter is surrounded by a small grocery with a broad selection of freshly made foods such as dressings, sauces, pasta, breads, etc. Other grocery items will be available, such as local and imported cheese, canned fish, hot sauces, locally made specialty food items, fresh flowers, A curated selection of home goods, cutting boards, cookbooks and unique food-centrist gifts will also be sold in the shop.” Visit carpkitchen.com.

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Pepe’s reopening in January

In December 2020 Goleta icon Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant at 254 Orange Avenue was damaged by a fire. “It was a kitchen fire,” said owner Osiris Castellanos at the time. “It destroyed all of our kitchen equipment and there was smoke damage throughout the building. We will hopefully open by March or April 2021.” Since we are at least 6 months past the due date several readers asked me about their status so I reached out to management and was told that the current plan is to reopen in January 2022. I am hearing that they decided to replace the entire roof, the entire kitchen, and a fix a variety of other things, which is the cause of the extended downtime.

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Beans BBQ coming to State

This just in from reader Digrdad: “Hi John, JUST A HEADS-UP. Beans BBQ, a quality catering company, is going to open a brick and mortar at 1230 State Street. They hope to open in February. Kristi is fantastic. Thanks.” From what I can tell this will be between Saigon and Brasil Arts Cafe.

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Change of plans for Starbucks?

Last April I wrote that the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review Consent Agenda for the building at 3052 De la Vina Street, formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, said  “Proposal for exterior alterations including new exterior paint and material changes, landscape alterations, ADA upgrades, outdoor seating, and exterior lighting to rebrand the existing 1,740 square foot (gross) building into a Starbucks.” About the same time fencing appeared around the property and it appeared remodeling had begun. This week reader Thomas tells me that the for-lease sign has returned and that the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf decor is still intact 7 months later. So our best guess is that Starbucks is no longer taking the space.


Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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Tap Thai opens in Goleta

Last June I wrote that Tap Thai restaurant is adding a second location at 7060 Hollister Avenue Ste. D-6 in Goleta (next to Smart & Final), replacing Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill which closed in March 2020. Tap Thai’s flagship location opened at 3130 State Street in October 2010, after a brief appearance on De la Vina where I was their very first customer.  Reader Josh let me know that the Goleta Tap Thai has opened.

I stopped by the restaurant and was told that the menu is similar but not exactly the same as their upper State Street eatery and that their wine and beer selection will be expanded soon. The menu includes appetizers (Tap Rolls, Calamari on Fire, Chicken Satey, Shrimp Rolls, Summer Rolls, Green Bean Tempura, Crispy Sesame Tofu, Salt & Pepper Garlic Wings), noodles (PCU Noodles, Tap Signature Pad Thai, Spicy Drunken Noodles, Spicy Khao Soi Gai), woks/rice (Spicy Fried Rice, Simply Fried Rice, Pineapple Fried Rice, Pork Spare Ribs, Spicy Basil), curries (Panang Curry, Spicy Green Curry, Salmon Lover, Yellow Curry), and a variety of soups, salads, and sides.

Lunch is available daily from 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. while dinner if offered 5-9 p.m. They close at 9:30 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays.

View the full menu


Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Adios Crazy Jim’s

Reader Brendan sent the word that Crazy Jim’s Tacos Y Mas, which was operating at 505 State Street in the former Ana’s Tacos location since August 2020, appears to have closed and the website for crazyjimssb.com has been taken down. “I’ve walked by multiple times during peak hours in the past several weeks and the place is closed up,” says Brendan. “It’s a bit strange though as there still seems to be furniture outside and a single lighted sign in the otherwise-dark front window still forlornly blinks ‘TACOS’.”

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El Pollo Loco on Upper State becomes Pueblo Pollo

Readers Eric, Dianne, and The Ever Anonymous let me know that El Pollo Loco at the corner of Upper State Street and Calle Laureles has closed and a new restaurant has replaced it with the same staff, same menu, and same prices. There was briefly a sign out from that said MIK Foods which has quickly taken down.Reader Kan tell me that Google Maps now show this location as Pueblo Pollo restaurant.  El Pollo Loco’s website no longer shows the Santa Barbara location and reader Hefe says the franchise agreement expired and that the owners intend to operate independently.  “Inside is still Pollo Loco menu boards,” says The Ever Anonymous. “And it was a Pollo Loco just a few days ago. Inside, a family was at the register and at the grill. It looks like a fire sale takeover from a company that went bankrupt fast. I recall that when it was changed out from Boston Market to Pollo Loco, the owner had a dozen stores in LA, and this was the farthest outpost of the empire. Not any more, I would guess.” El Pollo Loco in Goleta closed in August 2018.


POLLO PUZZLE: The Pollo Loco sign is covered up at 2984 State Street and readers tell me that Pueblo Pollo may have replaced it. Photo by The Restaurant Guy.

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Little Dom’s begins offering Happy Hour

Little Dom’s Seafood at 686 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria has officially launched Happy Hour. A seaside sister restaurant of an L.A. Italian food institution, Little Dom’s welcomes locals and visitors to enjoy the hour every Wednesday from 4pm – 6pm. Little Dom’s Seafood’s Happy Hour menu is as follows: Specialty Cocktails: $8 (Dark & Stormy, Margarita, Cosmo, Old Fashioned, Gimlet), Well Cocktails: $8, Select Beer: $5, Select Wine: $5, Rice Balls: $5, Single Meatball: $2, and Margherita Pizza: $10.

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The Crystal Ball Knows All

After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of food and drink locations appearing in your future:

  • Augie’s Tequila Bar,, 700 State St. (formerly Left At Albuquerque)
  • Belching Dragon Tavern, 800 State St. (formerly Starbucks and Weston’s Camera)
  • Carp Kitchen and Grocery, 4945 Carpinteria Ave. Ste. A, Carpinteria
  • Corazón Guisados, 214 State St. (formerly Ca’Dario Pizzeria)
  • Drift hotel and restaurant, 524 State St. (formerly Scientology)
  • Dune Coffee, 5915 Calle Real Ste. A, Goleta (formerly Pizza Hut)
  • Dutch Garden, 4203 State St. (reopening)
  • Everytable, 1001 State St. (formerly Saks 5th Avenue)
  • Hibachi Steak House (reopening), 500 State St.
  • Hook & Press Donuts, 15 East Figueroa St. (formerly Jeannine’s Bakery)
  • IHOP, 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta (formerly Itsuki)
  • In-N-Out Burger,  515 McMurray Rd., Buellton
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs, 145 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta
  • Juice N Things, 4991 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria (formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf)
  • The Kitchen, 530 State St. (formerly Samy’s Camera)
  • Mangione’s Italian Ice, 1222 State St. (formerly Spoon)
  • Mattei’s Tavern, 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos (reopening)
  • Mr B Restaurant & Café, 140 S. Hope Ave. (La Cumbre Plaza, formerly Pizza Mizza)
  • Pavilions, 1040 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (changing from Vons)
  • Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant, 254 Orange Ave., Goleta (reopening),
  • Red Pepper, 2840 De la Vina St. (formerly New Si Chuan Garden)
  • Reunion Kitchen, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. (formerly East Beach Grill)
  • SeaLegs, 5905 Sandspit Rd., Goleta (formerly Beachside Bar-Café)
  • Starbucks, 3052 De la Vina St. (formerly Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf)
  • Tap Thai, 7060 Hollister Ave. Ste. D-6, Goleta (formerly Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill)
  • Unnamed, Six new restaurants are coming to the Turnpike Center
  • Unnamed, 1024 Coast Village Rd. (formerly Little Alex’s)
  • Unnamed, 5690 Calle Real, Goleta (formerly Outback Steakhouse)
  • Unnamed, 1187 Coast Village Rd. (formerly Khao Kaeng)
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SeaLegs to open April 2022

Reader Primetime tells me that the County Board of Supervisors has officially approved the new lease of the property formerly known as Beachside Bar-Cafe at 5905 Sandspit Road in Goleta. The eatery will be renamed “SeaLegs” and will be run by Prjkt Restaurant Group of Huntington Beach that has multiple seaside restaurants in Southern California. Opening date is currently scheduled for April 2022.

Read the full story in The Santa Barbara Independent

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Timbers Roadhouse and Whiskey Joe’s open in Goleta

EXCLUSIVE: Timbers Roadhouse and Whiskey Joe’s have opened at 10 Winchester Canyon Road in western Goleta. The iconic Timbers building was built by Tex Blankenship in 1952 and is now operated by the family behind Woody’s BBQ. Timbers is actually two restaurants under one roof: Timbers Roadhouse which is open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday 5-10 p.m. and Whiskey Joe’s, a bar/restaurant which is open Monday-Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Timbers Roadhouse is a steakhouse with a kitchen run by Executive Chef Andrew Crawley who is in his 33rd year in the industry. Crawley’s Roadhouse Specialty Beef menu includes 16oz Prime Rib: $54, 14oz Prime New York Steak: $52, 8oz Filet Mignon: $49, and 10oz Prime Flat Iron: $38. The meal is served with house salad or prime rib soup, choice of potato (mashed, baked, or fries), seasonal vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, whipped cream horseradish, and au jus.

The Classics menu includes BBQ Beef Ribs: $34, BBQ Babyback Ribs: $28/$34, Double Cut Pork Chop: $42, Roasted Chicken: $34, Grilled Shrimp Skewers: $34, and Roasted Duck Leg: $38). All items are served with house salad, choice of potato, and seasonal vegetables.

Entrees and Sandwiches include Crispy Local Catch: $34, Pan-Seared Salmon: $32, Grilled Vegetable Lasagna: $28, Creamy Polenta: $26, Timbers Burger: $18, and Open-Faced Steak Sandwich: $28. A variety of sides, soups, salads, and desserts are also available.

“Whiskey Joe’s menu is slightly different than Timbers,” says bar manager Charise Bacchus. “But all the specialty cocktails and the wines will all be available at Whiskey Joe’s and Timbers Roadhouse. We will have happy hour starting soon and we’re excited about it. Our wine list serves local and international and I think we will have one of the best whiskey and tequila selections in town.”

Unfortunately I arrived a few minutes too late to be their very first customer. That honor goes to Stan Shaner who lives in the nearby neighborhood. “We have watched it be closed for years and were very sad, and now that it’s opened up it is beyond belief,” says Shaner. “They have done a beautiful job of remodeling. It’s spectacular. Timbers is the marriage of the greatest local building, with so much history, and the people known for the greatest barbecue restaurant. It’s a marriage made in kitchen heaven. I am so happy and hoping that the community will support it.”

View Timbers Roadhouse menu
View Whiskey Joe’s menu


Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Acme Hospitality’s certified “ocean friendly restaurants” celebrate national seafood month

Acme Hospitality has announced that their three local dining restaurants, The Lark, Loquita, and La Paloma Café, have been certified by the Surfrider Foundation as Ocean-Friendly Restaurants. As certified as OFR, they practice a commitment to sustainability at each location, utilizing local catch on their menus in celebration of National Seafood Month in October. Moreover, the restaurants make a dedicated effort to develop menus using bycatch – a fish or other marine species caught unintentionally while fishing for specific species or sizes of wildlife. Acme’s team members partnered with Surfrider Foundation to further demonstrate their support with a massive beach clean-up day on the Santa Barbara coastline earlier this month.


Acme Team Members and Santa Barbara Beach Clean Up Day. Courtesy photo.

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Gil’s food truck parks downtown

Gil’s Asian BBQ food truck has permanently joined Craft Ramen restaurant at 436 State Street. New offerings available at Craft Ramen include Tri-Tip Sandwich, Tri-Tip Plate, Fried Cauliflower, Drumstick Plate, Pork Shoulder Sandwich, Beef Tongue, and more. All BBQ items are marinated in their original Asian sauce for 24 hours. Available sides include Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Fry, Pickled Cabbage, Mixed Green Salad, and Barley Rice. You can order meat-only or a meal which adds rice, soup, and salad.


Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Restaurant Closings

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

  • October 2021: El Pollo Loco, 2984 State St. (now MIK Foods); Woody’s BBQ, 5112 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • September 2021: Cava Restaurant & Bar, 1212 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Itsuki Restaurant, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta (changing to IHOP)
  • August 2021: Vegan GreenGO, 3613 State St.
  • July 2021: none
  • June 2021: Barb’s Pies, 18 E. Cota St. (now Rascal’s); The Point Coffee, 370 Storke Rd., Goleta
  • May 2021: Alphie’s, 5725 Hollister Ave., Goleta; New Si Chuan Garden, 2840 De la Vina St. (changing to Red Pepper); Starbucks, 800 State St. (changing to Belching Dragon Tavern); Subway, 888 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (now Wingstop); Taqueria El Pastorcito, 4427 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • February 2021: Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, 500 State St. (reopening); Malibu Farm at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito (now The Revere Room); South Coast Deli, 6521 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • January 2021: Beachside Bar Café, 5905 Sandspit Rd., Goleta (changing to SeaLegs); Noemi Pizza Romana, 3534 State St. (now South Coast Deli); Panera Bread, 3851 State St.; Yanni’s at Mackenzie Market, 3102 State St.
  • December 2020: Chocolats du CaliBressan, 1114 State St.; Dunkin Donuts, 3771 State St.; Jeannine’s Bakery, 15 E. Figueroa St. (changing to Hook & Press Donuts)
  • November 2020: Neighbor Tim’s BBQ, Food Truck (now in Idaho!)
  • October 2020: Lucky Dragon, 6831 Hollister Ave., Goleta (now Goleta Smoke Shop); Olio Crudo Bar, 11 W. Victoria St. (now Olio Bottega)


BYEBYEQUE: Woody’s BBQ in Goleta closed this month after 39 years in business. Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Beachside Bar-Cafe leased by a Huntington Beach company, to be renamed “SeaLegs”

Reader Primetime tells me that the County Board of Supervisors has leased the recently-closed Beachside Bar-Cafe at 5905 Sandspit Road in Goleta to Prjkt SB, Inc., which is under the umbrella of Prjkt Restaurant Group of Huntington Beach. The eatery will be renamed “SeaLegs.” Prjkt Restaurant Group has multiple seaside restaurants in Southern California and describes themselves as follows:

“The Prjkt Restaurant Group is passionate about creating culinary adventures, unique entertainment opportunities and creating special events that our guests will never forget. We focus on a distinctive vibe of Huntington Beach, while elevating the offerings they enjoy at the Beach. Prjkt Group offers inviting dining experiences and playful interpreations of American claassics – all developed to celebrate California culture and the people who embrace it. You will find Prjkt Group concepts at Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington State Beach, most notably the widly popular SeaLegs at the Beach.”

Video:  About Prjkt Restaurant Group

In January 2021 the Community Services Department received a letter from Richhardy Corporation, owners and operators of the Beachside Bar and Café at Goleta Beach County Park, requesting to terminate the almost 36-year old agreement to operate the restaurant. The stated reason for the termination request was, “The County’s COVID-19 restrictions have greatly limited the Beachside Bar and Café’s ability to operate over the past eleven months. As we informed you in a letter on August 26, 2020, due to the County Public Health Officer Orders, our business has declined to a point that we have been operating at a loss. We do not expect to operate anywhere near full capacity anytime in the foreseeable future.” In February 2021, the County Board of Supervisors accepted the request to terminate the Beachside Bar and Café agreement. The lease term between Richhardy Corporation and the County was to expire in March 2022. County acceptance of the request to terminate the agreement in February 2021 allowed the Beachside Bar and Café to close approximately 13 months early. In May 2021 Community Services and Parks staff released a Request for Proposals to operate the vacant Goleta Beach restaurant and Prjkt SB, Inc was awarded the lease on October 19, 2021.

Here is the summary of the concession agreement from County Board of Supervisors:

This item is on the agenda so the Board may consider authorizing the Chair of the Board to execute the Concession Agreement with the Concessionaire and allow Concessionaire to operate, manage, maintain and improve the Goleta Beach Restaurant and walk-up snack bar for a term of ten (10) years, with three options to extend the term for five (5) years per extension. Concessionaire will pay County monthly a Percentage Fee of Ten Percent (10%) of gross sales and Fifteen Percent (15%) of gross alcohol sales, or Eight Thousand Dollars ($8000.00) Monthly Base Fee, whichever is greater for the Restaurant and Snack Bar.  In addition to operating the Restaurant, Concessionaire will have the non-exclusive right to offer food and beverage catering services for special events at Goleta Beach where Concessionaire will pay County a fee of Twelve and one-half Percent (12.5%) of gross sales and Fifteen Percent (15%) of gross alcohol sales per each special event.

The Concessionaire will also have the exclusive right to operate additional food and beverage services at the vacant storage area adjacent to the Restaurant, identified as “Venue” in the Concession Agreement, Exhibit B, under the same Percentage Fee terms as the Restaurant and Snack Bar, or a Monthly Base Fee of Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000), whichever is greater, for the use of the Venue space.  This Venue space was included in the former concession agreement with the Beachside Bar and Grill but was only used for storage. Under this new Concession Agreement, the space will be used for revenue-generating food and beverage service that compliments the Restaurant and Snack Bar.

Additionally, the Concessionaire is proposing to pay the County One Percent (1%) of monthly gross sales to be set aside in an account specifically for Goleta Beach Park maintenance and improvements. The account will be with a financial institution licensed to do business in Santa Barbara County, and the account will be structured so that any withdrawal from the account will require approval in writing from the Director, or designee.  Monies held within the account shall be used for maintenance of common public areas for the mutual benefit of the County and Concessionaire and the benefit of park visitors at Goleta Beach.  County and the Concessionaire shall meet at least annually to develop a plan for expenditures of these funds on maintenance projects.

View the full announcements from the County Board of Supervisors:
1. Board Letter
2. Concession Agreement
3. Notice of Exemption


Beachside Bar-Cafe photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Wingstop lights up

The lights were on but nobody’s home. At least that was the status of the new Wingstop at 888 Embarcadero Del Norte Ste. C in Isla Vista when I visited this week. When you stop by, however, chances are you will be munching on fresh-cooked wings to your heart’s delight. The construction appears complete, the paper is off the windows, a display on the front window reads “open until midnight,” and a bright green neon “Wingstop” sign on the roof beckons pupils to pilgrimage to this popular poultry palace. I’ll see you there.


Photo by The Restaurant Guy

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Woody’s BBQ closes after 39 years in business

Woody’s BBQ at 5112 Hollister Avenue in Goleta (Magnolia Center), voted Best BBQ Restaurant for 25 years in a row in the Santa Barbara Independent, has closed permanently after 39 years in business. I announced the pending closure in early September then stopped by during business hours this week to check on their status. The usually lively and colorful local restaurant icon was dark and it appears that the tables and fixtures are being gathered up for an infinite siesta. Later this month or early next the management behind Woody’s is opening a steakhouse called Timbers Roadhouse at 10 Winchester Canyon Road. It will have a completely different menu.


Photos by The Restaurant Guy

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Restaurant Openings

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

  • October 2021: Old Town Coffee, 1131 State St.; Wingstop, 888 Embarcadero Del Norte Ste. C, Isla Vista
  • September 2021: Coast Range & Vaquero Bar, 1635 Mission Dr., Solvang; Kyle’s Protein Grill, 7000 Hollister Ave. (reopened)
  • August 2021: Centennial Beer Hall, 5871 Hollister Ave., Goleta; The Courthouse Tavern, 129 E. Anapamu St.; Goodland Dining, 231 S. Magnolia Ave., Goleta; The Good Plow, 5205 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; Riviera Bar, 20 W. Figueroa St.
  • July 2021: Alessia Patisserie & Café, 134 East Canon Perdido St.; Fatte’s Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St.; Jeannine’s Bakery, 1 State St.; Rascal’s, 18 East Cota St.
  • June 2021: Caje, 811 State St. Ste. A
  • May 2021: Cali-Forno Pizzeria, 905 State St. (rebranded from Persona Pizzeria); Costa Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Mar Monte, 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Crush Bar & Tap, 1129 State St. Ste A; The Daisy (reopened), 1221 State St.; NoTown Tavern, 5114 Hollister Ave.; Wingman Rodeo, 5892 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • April 2021: Le Cafe Stella (reopened), 3302 McCaw Ave.; The Point Coffee, 370 Storke Rd., Goleta (now closed); The Revere Room at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln., Montecito; SB Biergarten, 11 Anacapa St.; South Coast Deli, 3534 State St.
  • March 2021: 4 Eggs & Pizza,1221 State St. Ste. 10; Palihouse Cafe and Bar, 915 Garden St.; Sear Steakhouse, 478 4th Place, Solvang; Secret Bao, 1201 Anacapa St.; Tondi Gelato, 723 State St.
  • February 2021: Wingstop, 3849 State St.
  • January 2021: Barb’s Pies, 18 E. Cota St. (now Rascal’s)
  • November 2020: Cafe Lido at Mar Monte Hotel, 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Caje Coffee Roasters, 1316 State St.; Hustle & Grind Coffee Company, 11 W. De la Guerra St.; La Paloma Café, 702 Anacapa St.; Yona Redz Queso Tacos, 532 State St.
  • October 2020: Cheese Shop Santa Barbara, 827 Santa Barbara St.; Chomp on the Rocks, 113 Harbor Wy., Ste. 180; Kyle’s Kitchen, 900 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Olio Bottega, 11 W. Victoria St.


SEASIDE SENSATION: Manager Lalo Mendoza and co-owner Alison Hardey show some fresh-baked pastries at the new Jeannine’s Bakery at 1 State Street that opened in July. Photo by reader Steve H.

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New dishes and drinks from Acme Hospitality

The Lark offers a seasonal menu and the new locally-sourced dip from Chef de Cuisine Logan Jones. The Whipped Pistachio & Feta Dip (hazelnut and crispy black rice dukkah, marigold, aleppo chili oil, sea salt lavash cracker) pairs with The Lark’s debut of the Flora Rosa tequila highball (jalapeno infused reposado tequila, guava, lime, ginger cordial, rosemary).

Helena Avenue Bakery’s menu now includes fresh heirloom tomatoes direct from Lompoc’s Tutti Frutti Farms. Enjoy the Heirloom Tomatoes & Persian Cucumber Salad (avocado, pickled red onion, french feta, basil), or the Heirloom Tomato Sandwich on Sourdough (lemon thyme goat cheese, butter lettuce, aged balsamic vinegar). Open daily from 8am – 2 p.m., lunch items served from 11 a.m., brunch is all day.

Lucky Penny offers an Autumn Beet Carpaccio or Wood-Fired Cauliflower and a Smoked Pork Meatball Sub (aged provolone, smoked mozzarella, pickled peppers, red onion, and basil). Open daily from 11 a.m.

La Paloma Café wants you to know that October is National Seafood Month and as an Ocean-Friendly Restaurant with Surfrider Foundation, the culinary team’s sustainability mantra is to find new and creative ways to purchase wisely, support local fishermen, be open to all by-catch, and utilize every ounce of seafood that they acquire. Look out this fall for sustainable seafood specials like black cod menudo, tuna chorizo, rock cod chowder, rock crab hush puppies, and spiny lobster fritters. Pair with new fall cocktail options like the Verde Eastside (Verde Mezcal, Lime, Cucumber puree, Agave). Open Wednesday to Monday from 5pm. Brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Loquita has been named a “Bib Gourmand” restaurant by the Michelin Guide, recognized for an elevated experience and outstanding cuisine. Pair your tapas with one of the new fall cocktails like the Jardin de España (bloom gin, lemon, apricot, sage, celery bitters, pepper tincture).

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