There were two big questions relating to this guide that I pondered last year:

1) Should I upgrade this blog to the modern era?

2) Should the SantaBarbara.com Restaurant Guide have Buellton & Solvang eateries added to the mix or should it stay South Coast-focused? This blog would not be affected by any change to the restaurant guide.

I made a decision about question #1 last fall and launched a completely redesigned blog last Thursday. I am still on the fence about question #2. If you feel like trying out the new comments feature below, let me know your thoughts about today’s poll question.

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  1. DC says:

    You already have some of the major ones, so I say yes.

  2. rick says:

    yes, to including Solvang and Buellton. Lots of folks come up for the day from SB.

  3. Anita says:

    Yes! Maybe it will improve the dining choices in Solvang!

  4. Rebecca Brand says:

    Dear John,

    S Y Valley has world class restaurants and personally I think they outshine almost every SB restaurant. The Hitching Post made it before Sideways in the L. A. Times as number 10 in their list of top ten restaurants, and it’s one hundred miles from LA! Brother’s Restaurant at Matteis Tavern has TWO world class chefs, Jeff and Matt Nichols. Jeff from the Cordon Bleu in Paris, also chef at Ocean Seafood in Santa Monica, and Matt worked directly under Wolfgang Puck in the early days at Sgago. Their food is truly fantastic works of art, every time, and their menu, beautiful. Also, Grappolo is, in my opinon, a step above CaDario in authentic Italian. Leonardo Curti and Danielle are spot on in quality and freshness. Chef Rick is out there, and Route (Root!) 246 has made a mark, so for your “Foodie” readership it would be terrific if you covered the area.

    Rebecca Brand

    • lauren says:

      With all respect, there is not a single “world-class”
      restaurant here in the Santa Ynez Valley. Regardless of their
      pedigree, the guys at Brothers (for example) turn out overpriced,
      uninspired, pedestrian food with lacklustre service and a poor and
      wildly overpriced wine list. The Hitching Post has its shtick, and
      that’s fine, but it’s hardly Peter Luger. As for Grappalo- what can
      we say: the food is middling, the service decent, and every time we
      go in, there is a kind of sickly sweet air of self-congratulatory
      smarminess- it’s not like these people have a corner table at Nobu.
      Anywhere else, Grappalo would be regarded as a decent,
      unspectacular Tuesday night restaurant… I will say that my first
      meal at Root 246, shortly after they opened, ranks among the best
      meals I’ve had in California, including those at the French
      Laundry, etc. Since then, however, execution from the kitchen has
      dropped off dramatically, service can be superb or very, very poor,
      and menu lacks any real spark of inventiveness. In my experience,
      the Ballard Inn is far and away the best restaurant in the valley-
      Bude does a great job; I just wish the ambiance was a little more
      inviting. In speaking with many locals and local winemakers, it
      remains a puzzle as to why there are so few good restaurants here.
      The consensus answer seems to be that, for the most part,
      restaurants can afford to coast, because the level of expectation
      is so low, among both tourists and locals. In any event, we would
      love to see you expand your coverage to the valley. Lauren

      • DC says:

        Unfortunately, I agree with lauren’s conclusion. Having been a Valley resident for 6 years, the only restaurants I regularly go to for good food with value are the Vineyard House, Manny’s (glad for this new addition), and Shelbi Ranch! The Mustard Seed in Solvang is owned by some very nice Palestinians, and when I asked why they don’t serve Middle Eastern food, they said because the tourists expect Danish food. Santa Barbara County and especially the North County is sorely in need of authentic ethnic food (besides Mexican), and restaurants that don’t gouge your wallet just because the town draws tourists.

  5. Perhaps in a separate blog. I would prefer the focus of this one to remain in/on Santa Barbara/Goleta.

    (Should we include Camarillo? The Chumash Casino?… I dunno………)

  6. Mike says:

    You already have Root 246 and Willows on your site. Bring on the rest!

  7. Amanda says:

    Yes! I would love to see the Santa Ynez Valley restaurants!!

  8. Jennie says:

    Yes! I would love to know more about the restaurants in Solvang, Buellton and SY! I would definitely go up there more often if I had places I’d read about and wanted to check out!

  9. Richard says:

    Stay focused in the SB area. There are great restaurants North of us… but how often will you be able to get the real story, if you aren’t up there every day?

  10. John Dickson says:

    My post was primarily referring to the *restaurant guide* and adding Buellton & Solvang restaurants to it. This blog would not change.

  11. Danny says:

    Solvang would be okay, but buellton is just roadside fast-food stops, and I really dont like reading reviews of burger king and taco bell. (yes I know about hitching post) Maybe Santa ynez and solving instead.

    • Glenn says:

      I think the previous comment is a misconception in that the Non Fast Food Stops outnumber the Fast Food ones in Buellton greater than 2 to 1. I believe John includes everything as a rule though so the Fast Food places would be in there. My original comment to John many moons ago was that “Santa Ynez Valley” includes Buellton and Solvang so he should include them based on that. Whether John takes on the challenge of an additional fifty+ places in Solvang and Buellton is up to him but more information is never a bad thing for us, just more work for him! This guide is designed in sections.

      • Danny says:

        Well Glenn, please provided a list I’d be curious to know of the non fast food stops as I make my way to the area every now and then.

        • Glenn says:

          Yeah I think that’s why we need a guide from John. Locals know about it but few others don’t and it would give you a better choice when you are in town. The ffood places are McDs, BKing, JBox, Taco Bell and Carls(and Subway if you count them). Of non fast food there are five mexican restaurants(Rudy’s probably the best). One Japanese(A-Ru good), two Chinese(so-so), Pea Soup Anderson’s of course, Ellen’s Danish Pancake House(great place). Mother Hubbards(diner/bfast place). A Donut place, a bakery/sandwich shop Pattibakes(great stuff) of course Hitching Post(couple steakhouse) and AJ Spurs(family steakhouse), two higher end sandwich places and two lower end ones, a winery/tapas place, a brewery/food place. Three coffee type places. Two local pizza places and two ice cream/yogurt type places and two listable markets(I think that’s it!)

  12. Steve says:

    Couldn’t hurt to list Buellton and Solvang area restaurants
    in the guide to both serve that community and to provide guidance
    for the SB day trip crowd. Perhaps John could deputize Glenn from
    Buellton to produce the content for the Buellton/Solvang/SY
    subsections so as not to spread himself too thin.

  13. lemonjelly says:

    I think it’d be great to include Buellton and Solvang in the guide. In fact, I wish all of the county was included. It’s still “Santa Barbara”…county. 🙂
    Some areas might receive fewer reviews, but the reference is still valuable.

  14. Krista and Tony says:

    Absolutely!, So many folks travel up to the wine country it’d be great to have lists and reviews of the restaurants in that area. T

  15. Kim Pananides says:

    YES, YES, YES…please add all of SYV to the Restaurant Guy listings…in this economy, our area needs exposure and the listings would be a huge help to your loyal readers, as well…ohmygosh, do they even know about A-ru Japanese Restaurant in Buellton??? WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE GEM (as in: I can’t believe this place is in Buellton)!!! Firestone and Avant Tapas are also great “go to” places in B’ton. Ballard Inn is an amazing calling card for the valley; Budi rocks it every time! We have a Fresco in Solvang now…things are looking up! And do you have the SYV’s Sixth Sister in your guide, the lovely town of Los Alamos? Cafe Quackenbush and Full of Life Flatbread are both exceptional. Thanks for asking…please include the fine cuisine to be found in our fair valley!

    • Glenn says:

      Probably how the guide should work is individual subsections should be shown after clicking Santa Ynez Valley. Then you could click Solvang, Santa Ynez etc. Kim’s request of Los Alamos could then be included in this as I know the residents consider themselves a part of the Valley even though they are in their own valley. There could be a map of the area that would show the separate communities too like there is now for SB/Goleta/etc.

  16. Taylor says:

    Yes please! I would especially love to hear about new restaurants opening and such in Buellton and Solvang. Since I don’t go up there all the time I tend to stick to the same ones. Plus, I love your blog and your writing style. Keep up the great (and entertaining) work!

  17. Ryan says:

    I’d prefer the Ventura Restaurant page to have more… similar to the SB one!

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