This just in from the up-and-coming Blue Tavern at 119 State Street, the former home of Anchor Woodfire Kitchen:

bluetavernNext month, Chef Ricardo Zarate and business partner Stephane Bombet of Chef Zarate Restaurant Group will open Blue Tavern, a restaurant situated just two blocks from the ocean amid Santa Barbara’s most coveted real estate on State Street. Showcasing a natural progression of Zarate’s proficiency for blending cultures, Blue Tavern will feature quintessential Californian fare, such as pizza, pasta, and grilled meats, envisioned through the culinary lens of a native Peruvian.

The group’s fourth restaurant—following the success of Los Angeles concepts Mo-chica, Picca, and Paichẽ—takes its inspiration from Zarate’s heritage and the relaxed ethos of its guests, resulting in a location that is at once international and local, inspired and approachable. “Launching our first restaurant outside of Los Angeles, and to be opening our doors along the most vibrant street in the city, is truly the realization of a dream for Ricardo and me,” Bombet says. “By utilizing local Santa Barbara seafood and produce on our menu, Blue Tavern will offer our guests a new way to experience Peruvian culture in a relaxed environment.”

Zarate, a 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef and two-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef: West, fully realizes the symbiosis of Californian techniques and Peruvian ingredients throughout the menu. The quintessential beet, tomato, and burrata salad is reimagined when tossed in a huacatay-pesto dressing; seafood medley risotto receives a Peruvian makeover with a tomato-aji panca base and salsa verde; and the traditional dish lomo saltado is recast as housemade tagliatelle with filet of beef, tomato-onion stew, and pecorino. The modern space is anchored by a wood-burning oven, which produces hand-tossed pizzas (prosciutto, goat cheese, and burrata, will be topped with huacatay pesto); seafood (steamed mussels and chorizo are given a Lima accent with aji amarillo butter and lime juice); and meat (anticucho-marinated grilled rib eye meets a potato tarte tatin).

“I always try to blend inspiration from my past and present when I create a menu,” Zarate says. “To update classic Californian dishes with ingredients from my country, along with produce from local farmers’ markets, is a culmination of decades of cooking which I am looking forward to introducing to Santa Barbara.”

Acclaimed mixologist Deysi Alvarez also utilizes this unique blend of cultures as inspiration for her cocktail menu, which features classic drinks made with housemade tinctures and small-batch spirits. The Margarita features Espolón tequila, house orange reduction, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and Gusano salt; the Mojito de Martinique showcases Clement Rhum VSOP and clement cane sirop; and the Old Fashioned takes a trip to South America with the replacement of bourbon with mezcal. Blue Tavern’s wine list will focus on local vintners, many of whom have tasting rooms just blocks from the restaurant.

Blue Tavern’s intimate space, with seating for 60 inside and 30 on the patio, is at the base of the sophisticated Hotel Indigo, which will feature room service from the restaurant.  Blue Tavern will be open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner beginning at 7 a.m. The restaurant is located at 121 State St. in Santa Barbara. For updates, images, and opening details, please visit Blue Tavern’s Facebook and Twitter profiles in the coming weeks.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Christine says:

    This is the former Anchor. When Anchor closed I read here that someone said the reason for the closure was the chef, not the owner. However, this new Blue Tavern has BOTH a new chef and owner.

    Oh well, whatever, I hope the food and drinks are as good if not better than Anchor’s. I enjoyed Anchor for their fresh cocktails and seasonal menus. Sounds like this new chef has some previous successes under his belt, but so did Jason Tuley if I remember correctly.

  2. Christine says:

    John, do you know if Jason is still opening the 3 places in
    the Public Market?
    “Last week I published a list of businesses coming to Santa Barbara
    Public Market at 34 W. Victoria Street (formerly Vons). I am now
    told that chef Jason Tuley of Anchor Woodfire Kitchen, 119 State
    Street will be opening 3 spots in the Market as well: a taqueria
    called La Ancla, a raw bar called Anacapa Seafood and a
    as-yet-to-be-named cheese and charcuterie shop.”

  3. . says:

    they write a delicious article

  4. LizW says:

    Very good news. The investors seem to be learning from their mistakes. Zarate is a talanted and experienced chef and with partner Bombet should be able to run a functional restaurant. In addion to the restaurant they also have the contract with the Indigo. People are going to have to get used to the idea again that not all chefs have to have a beard, baseball cap, flannel shirts, tattoos and a attitude.

    • Christine says:

      Such a harsh judgement on someone’s looks. Who cares what type of hat they wear, if they make great food? Or do tattoos make you scared?

      • Gerald Bostock says:

        Christine, I agree there is no validity to questioning anyone’s looks, and I love tatts, but did you ever talk to him? I did, once. He did have a superior, macho and dismissive attitude and I’d just spent a good amount of $$ at his restaurant.
        I think LizW posted about interacting with him also.
        My impression was that his appearance supported his persona, which of course was not all good. I loved my meal, but some was too salty, and he discarded my opinion.
        It’s easier, and may even have some relevance, to criticize someone’s experience when one has dealt with that person. His appearance did tie into his attitude, in my opinion.
        Just trying to further explain local, and diverging views of, Tulley.

        • Gerald Bostock says:

          This sub-discussion leads to another question:

          When/if a chef, host or maitre de asks you how your dinner or dish was,

          1) do they want info or praise?

          2) Should the diner give info, or just praise, earned or not?

          Obviously, I was honest. It certainly wasn’t bad enough to return, but with food of that quality, they needed to be told that the salt level detracted from the individual food product and the overall dish.

      • LizW says:

        Not intended to be judgmental, just a little kidding about the new Hipster “chefs”. The term Chef seems to be used very loosely these days. And no, tattoos don’t make me “scared”, I’ve had one probably longer than you have been alive.

        • Christine says:

          That’s an old tat! My oldest is 20 years old. We attended a beer pairing dinner hosted at Anchor and I thought Jason came across as honest, humble, excited about his creations and the brewer as well. Hence my attempts at standing up for him. Different strokes I guess.

  5. Don says:

    Have eaten Peruvian in L.A. (El Rocoto) and love the fusion of Latin and Asian in the cuisine. Looking forward to Peruvian in Santa Barbara, but Blue Tavern sounds a little too fancy (expensive) for me unfortunately.

  6. Glenn says:

    I am guessing alpaca won’t be on the menu though that is what they use down there in dishes!
    Its just neat to get another cuisine in town to try. I am a fan of empanadas(Argentinian place I use to go to) but not so much much of pupusas(Ecuador I think). Have not had much stuff like this since I moved back from LA where one of the “pluses” of living in LA over the negatives was all the cultures and all their foods to try. I’ve got to get to Brasil Arts Cafe to try Brazilian again. South American food seems exotic simple with good simple staples meats and veggies that give you a nice change to normal American food, kind of like Ethiopian I have tried in the past(petit valentine(?) for lunchI have to try to!). Nice to try it, if you don’t like the cuisine its like any other type of food you don’t like, you don’t go. For me its Cuban food, tried twice and never went back.

  7. Jim says:

    Margarita (Mexican) and Mojito (Cuban), how about a real
    Peruvian drink like a Pisco Sour.

  8. Art says:

    If no alpaca maybe guinea pig?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *