THE ’80s CALLED. THEY WANT THEIR RESTAURANTS BACK

Reader Rex of SB accidentally came across a copy of UCSB’s Nexus from September 17, 1982. It includes an interesting review of over 100 South Coast restaurants (below), with many names from yesteryear, and a few that survived and thrived:

By Jonathan Alburger and Jane Musser

  • Acapulco, 1114 State. Boasting 21 kinds of margaritas, this typical tourist trap really isn’t half bad, unless you don’t like waitresses in skimpy outfits, lots of plants, and getting hassled about having an I.D. must at least once. * * *
  • Aloha Restaurant, 201 W. Carrillo & 370 Storke. As the name suggests, this is upper class drive-in junk food. Good shakes. * * 1/2
  • The Bakery, 129 E. Anapamu. The best croissants and pastries in town, superb soups, and their other stuff isn’t too bad either. * * * * 1/2
  • Baskin-Robbins, 5749 Calle Real, 3611 State, 1253 Coast Village. If you like ice cream, B-R is real typical. Enough flavors to satisfy the average white sugar junkie. **1/2
  • Baudelaire’s, 435 State. A limited beer and wine selection and often very good dance concerts featuring some of Santa Barbara’s latest and finest rock and new wave bands. * * *
  • Bear’s Picnic, 813 State (Piccadilly). Quick stop shakes, snacks and juices. * * 1/2
  • Big Yellow House, 108 Pierpont. Big meals in a big, friendly atmosphere, on the big oceanfront. * *** 1/2
  • Biltmore Hotel, 1260 Channel. Everything is stuffy and polished, but the place is old and on the beach, with a great Sunday buffet, so it’s a must at least once. * * *
  • Bob’s Big Boy, Avoid religiously.
  • Bonanza Sirloin Pit, 3614 State, 6030 Hollister. Two in one city is quite enough. Sufficient and inexpensive. * *
  • Borsodi’s Coffeehouse, 938 Embarcadero del Norte. If you liked the late 1960s, you love this coffeehouse. Slow service and a very mellow atmosphere, featuring some very good cappuccinos and espressos.
  • Boulevard Cafe, 1 State. Great people-watching location and great salads. * **l/2
  • Bray’s 101, 5955 Calle Real. Great pies, but the food stinks, and the bar is right out of Modesto. * 1/2
  • Breakwater, at the harbor. Basic meals, including fish, in a tacky place but at a nice location. * *
  • Budd’s Eggception, 970 Linden, Carpinteria. Same as the one on State Street, only less crowded. Good omelet’s but terribly overpriced. * *
  • Buena Tierra, 5979 Hollister. Remember enchilada days back in your high school cafeteria? This place is almost as cheap and just as bad.
  • Burnardo’z, 956 Embarcadero del Norte. Not only large scoops of great ice cream, but a very friendly I.V.-ish atmosphere. ****
  • Carlitos & Co., 1324 State. Mediocre Mexican fare, but a nice patio area. * * 1/2
  • Carl’s Steak & Seafood House, 3404 State. Middle class Friday-night- out-with-the-family spot. Adequate and friendly. * * *
  • Carrow’s, too many locations. The kind of place you stop at when you first come to Santa Barbara with Mom and Dad so as to ease the adjustment. *
  • Castagnola’s Fish House, 3759 State. Good for lunches. Decently priced and rarely crowded, but too sterile. * * 1/2
  • Casa Blanca, 509 State. Great south-of-the-border atmosphere and large portions make this an old Santa Barbara favorite. * * * 1/2
  • Casa del Charro, 915 Linden. Hit and miss Mexican cuisine. Appropriately tacky. * * 1/2
  • Casa Linda, 1070 Coast Village. Excellent coffee, sterile ambience, fair food. * * 1/2
  • Casey Jones, Corner of State and La Cumbre. Complete with a very used pool table and darts board, this tiny, easy-to-miss spot is suggestively mid-western rural, but kind of fun anyway when those “jungle of ferns” bars become too obtrusive.
  • Cattlemen’s Inn, 3744 State. Recently revamped, now having a great salad bar and funky drinks. So-so entertainment. * * *
  • Charlotte’s, State St., lower district. A sweet mark for pastries, but suffers due to mediocre entrees, rude service, and general pretentiousness. * *
  • Charthouse, 101 E. Cabrillo. Good steaks, comfy, but the drinks leave a lot to be desired. * * 1/2
  • Char West, 3771 State. Outstanding junk food at reasonable prices. For what it is: * * * 1/2
  • Chase Bar and Grill, 1012 State. Best jukebox, small but fun beer and wine bar, very good Italian entrees. * * * *
  • Clementine’s. 4631 Carpinteria. Very good steaks and homemade desserts, but typically small town. * * *
  • Cold Springs Tavern, 5996 Stagecoach. A great place to get away from I.V./S.B., high in the mountains. Good food and a warm atmosphere, once you get past the bikers who hang out at the bar next door. * * *
  • Copper Coffee Pot, 1029 State. The Foster’s of S.B., where all the older folks hang out. * *
  • Crabby Lobster, 7127 Hollister. Fresh seafood in a shop­ ping center atmosphere. Nice. * * 1/2
  • Deano’s, 1950 Cliff (and in ‘Carp.). Tasty pizza, beer, wine, loud, but no movies. * * *
  • Don The Beachcomber, 435 S. Milpas. Gorgeous view, self-proclaimed “exotic” drinks, and overdone Polynesian surroundings. For tourists, or Aunt Betty. * * 1/2
  • Dutch Garden, 4203 State. Lovely setting and toothsome German belly-timber. * * * *
  • Elegant Farmer, 5555 Hollister. Elegant Sambo’s might be a more accurate name. A highly mediocre place. * 1/2
  • El Encanto, Riviera, next to Brooks. Where the waitress is really put out, except toward tip time. Really disappointing drinks, but a gorgeous, really gorgeous setting. * *
  • Eleven 29— 1129 State. Very Santa Barbara: lots of ferns, very cruisy, but satisfying fodder. ** *
  • El Mexicano—6529 Trigo. If you have absolutely no choice but to spend an evening in I.V., this place is good for chips, salsa and pitchers of beer. **1/2
  • El Paseo, 814 State. Nothing great, nothing awful. * * 1
  • El Presidents, 2921 De La Vina. Big, soapy margaritas and very American Mexican food. Good brunch. * * 1/2
  • Epicurean, 125 E. Carrillo. Posh decor and fantastic Continental food. Expensive but not at all overpriced. Bon appetite. * * * * 1/2
  • España, 29 E. Cabrillo. Used to have the best margaritas in town, but has slipped horrendously. A real trap.*
  • Erik’s Bakery, La Cumbre Plaza, Fairview Center, and Solvang. Pit stop for coffee and sticky, gooey Danish and pastries. * * *
  • Esau’s, 625 State (and in Carp.). Generous breakfasts at a savings. * * * 1/2
  • Falafel Stand, Embarcadero del Norte and Pardall corner. Definitely an I.V. institution. Like black jelly beans, you either love falafels or you hate them. Worth a try. * * *
  • Farmer Boy, 3427 State. Only for cinnamon rolls! *
  • Fifi’s, State St. Greeted with “Would you like to taste some, honey,” this authentic Italian ice cream parlor is perfect after dinner on the strip. Pleasantly different. * * * 1/2
  • Fish Enterprise, Lower State. Annoyingly crowded, but fun, fine food fare. * * * 1/2
  • Flapper Alley, 217 State. Hardly the “ultra utopia” they claim, but the drinks are good and strong. Up­ stairs cover charge for disco. * * 1/2
  • Flying Pizza, 436 State. New York style delivered. Not bad.***
  • Four Winds, 3435 State. Tacky nautical decor and tacky polyester-clad clientele, but good food and reasonable prices. Bring your visiting grandparents here, they’ll feel real comfortable. * * * 1/2
  • Fred C. Dobbs, 1014 Coast Village. Slow, but open 24 hours so there’s no hurry for the homemade goodies. * * *
  • The Golden Cock, Upper State St. Unpretentious and fernless, this is the kind of exquisitely tacky dive that local patrons keep alive and flowing. Perfect for just… drinking. * * *
  • Good Earth, 21 W. Canon Perdido. Like the other G.E.’s: fabulous baked goods, solid entrees, a bit overpriced. Not quite what it used to be. * * *
  • Great Wall, 615 State. Some of the most mouth­watering, awe-inspiring Chinese food in S.B. Quiet atmosphere, good service. * * * *
  • The Habit—Isla Vista. Another I.V. institution. The combo of chili, onions £1 and grease on the ham­ burgers is not for the weak at heart, but if you’re feeling brave, it’s worth the after effects. * * *
  • Haagen Dazs, 1213 State. Incredibly overpriced and incredibly delicious ice cream. * * *
  • Harbor Restaurant, on Stearns Wharf. Really fun. Piano with Oma, great cheer, outdoor deck, and delicious abalone. Call in advance. * * * *
  • Harry Gorillas, 6581 Pardall. An I.V. restaurant trying hard to be anything but an I.V. restaurant. Green wall paper lots of ferns, and worse than mediocre, and very overpriced food. *
  • Harry’s Plaza Cafe, 3313-B State. Lively atmosphere if you want to be loud. This place has a lot of heart, fairly home cooking at reasonable prices and the strongest drinks in town. * * *
  • Head of the Wolf, 633 State. Pleasing provisions, but after 10 p.m. turns into heavy meat market scene. Go for dinner and drinks. * * * (before 10).
  • Heidi’s Cafe & Bakery, 5940 Calle Real. Along the same lines as Frimple’s, but for some reason not as good and certainly not as much fun. Open all night. * * 1/2
  • Hen’s Nest, 1218 Santa Barbara St. Little, small town milieu and good breakfasts. * * *
  • Hobey Baker’s, 5918 Hollister. Why this mediocre and overpriced restaurant (turned meat market at night) is so popular is beyond us. *1/2
  • Holiday Inn, La Mancha Room, 5650 Calle Real. A real polyester bar scene, but fun if you like to people-watch and/or dance to live and wonderfully bad muzak. **1/2
  • Howard Johnson’s, La Cumbre Center. What can we say? 1/2
  • I.V. General Store, 955 Embarcadero del Norte.
  • Jasper’s, Fairview Center. A great college hang-out, featuring very eager servers and good food and drinks. But in the Fairview Shopping Center? ***
  • J. K. Frimple’s, 1701 State The absolute best big desserts in S.B. Open all night.****
  • J. Michael’s, State St. One of the best happy hours in town: $1 a drink. Yep. Worth a visit or two or… * * * 1/2
  • Joe’s Café, 512 State. Enormous, knock-you-on-your-ass drinks. Often crowded. * * * *
  • John Dory’s, At break­ water/harbor. Well-executed meals in romantic harbor surroundings. * * * 1/2
  • Jolly Tiger, 900 Chapala Sambo’s in disguise. *
  • Kayser’s, La Cumbre Center. The best hi-pro shakes, frappes, and flips. Complete health food market. * * * *
  • Kelly’s Corner, La Cumbre and State. Salad bar, drinks, potato skins, and atmosphere top notch. * * * *
  • Maggie McFly’s, 536 State. Another of the McFly’s: good eating, so-so bar, lots of scoping. * * 1/2
  • Mandarin Cuisine, 3514 State. Pleasing authentic Chinese consumables. * * * ½
  • Maya, 3955 State. Run-of-the-mill Mexican sustenance. * *
  • Mayita s, 6547 Trigo. A good place to drink too much beer on sunny Friday afternoons. Nachos are a better bet than any of the mediocre main courses. * * 1/2
  • McConnell’s Ice Cream, 2001 State. Expensive but such good ice cream. And if you think the basic cones are good, try a banana split. * * * 1/2
  • Michael Anthony’s Pizzeria, 1020 State. Savory Italian specialties, beer. Nice people eager to please. * * * *
  • Miramar Hotel, 1555 S. Jameson The food’s not too bad, but why would you go there? * *
  • Moby Dick, 20 Stearns Wharf. Like the Harbor, only on a smaller scale. * * *.
  • Mom’s Italian Village, 421 Cota. S.B. landmark. Still fine and fun. ***l/2
  • Mongolian Barbeque, 1325 State. A mish-mash of spicy Mongolian food is cooked before your eyes. Interesting style and very tasty. * * * 1/2
  • New York Bagel Factory, All over. Go beyond the usual plain bagel with cream cheese, and you’ll enjoy some of the best and least expensive taste treats found in I.V. or S.B. Whole wheat onion smothered in cream cheese with olives is a personal favorite. * * * *
  • New York Hero House, 900 Embarcadero del Norte. The atmosphere, right down to the greasy walls and obnoxious but very friendly counter help, is I.V.-style New York. The sandwiches are the perfect grab it and run meal. Very decent fast food.***
  • Omelette Parlor, Summerland. Old fashioned appeal and terrific omelettes for the discriminating. Now to hitch a ride there. * * * *
  • Omelettes Etc., 119 State, 910 Embarcadero del Norte. Scrumptious breakfasts, large, generous portions. They keep the coffee flowing. * * * *
  • The Palms, 701 Linden, Carp. Cook your own steak. Fun, full bar, and entertainment. * * *
  • Papa John’s, 1046 Coast Village. Interesting variations on Italian themes, but not always successful. * * 1/2
  • Paula’s, 2700 De La Vina. Very bourgeois. * *
  • Paul’s Jade Terrace, 30 Los Patos. Above par far Eastern cuisine. * * * 1/2
  • Pavlako’s, 217 N. Milpas. Growing in popularity, featuring old country Greek recipes. * * *
  • Peabody’s Bar & Grill, Coast Village Rd., Montecito. Small and cozy, fun and delicious. * * * 1/2.
  • Penelope’s, 50 Los Patos. Pretentious, overpriced, but a great cocktail greenhouse. * * *
  • Pepe Delgados, 1201 State. Inferior Mexican cuisine. *
  • Pepper’s, 27 W. Canon Perdido The ultimate meat market. Bad drinks, generally fun and danceable music, flashing lights and a crowded dance floor. A little too typical for our taste. * *
  • Perry’s Pizza, 6560 Pardall. You can’t live in I.V. for too long without spending a couple slow Saturdays at Perry’s. His pizza is fairly good, and by the time you get it you’ll probably have had too much beer to care anyway.***
  • Peter’s Flying Machine, At the airport. Where you have those last five drinks before saying goodbye to your loved one. * * *
  • Petrini’s, 5711 Calle Real, 14 W. Calle Laureles. Delectable lasagna with a sunny family tone. * * *
  • Philadelphia House, 4422 Hollister.
  • Pino’s Italian Pizzeria, 5863 Hollister. One of the very best. Warm, friendly, courteous, delicious ****
  • Pizza Bob’s, Isla Vista. The atmosphere isn’t usually quite as drunken as it is at Perry’s. The pizza is average and they have a wide-screen TV always tuned to THE game. * * 1/2
  • Pizza Luau, 3132 State. Weird transmogrification of the pizza. **
  • Playa Azul, 902 Santa Barbara. A slow and easy place to eat, with inexpensive and way above average Mexican food. ***l/2
  • Plow & Angel, San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito. One of the best brunches in the world. Country atmosphere and full bar. All around excellence. *****
  • Presidio Cafe, 812 Anacapa. Superb quiche, delightful atmosphere, the kind of great place where the owner is there everyday helping. Beer and, of course, chocolate mousse. * * * * *
  • Real Texas Chili Factory, 4223 State. A fun place to get really happy during Happy Hour, but avoid the dinner crunch, the food and the prices make the wait thoroughly unworthwhile. * *
  • Rocky Galenti’s, 35 State. Desperately trying to be so L.A., they fail. Drinks are expensive and the help absolutely obnoxious. The food, however, is their only saving grace. Who wants to wait an hour in a long line to get into a meat market? Only for the fettuccine and lasagna (****). Bar: 1/2
  • Rudy’s, 6527 Madrid. Just one more mediocre Mexican food place in I.V. However, beer, beer and more beer make any burn to decent. * *1/2
  • Rusty’s, Multi-locational. Typically appetizing. That’s all. * * *
  • Sambo’s/Pleaser’s, Too many. A Sambo’s by any other name is still cheap, fast, and really awful. 1/2
  • Say Cheese, 1112 State. Carefully prepared sandwiches, lots of cheese! * * *
  • Schooner Inn Donuts, 3623 State, lower State. Where the “night people” hang out after the liquor stores close. Eminently better than Winchell’s. * * *
  • Second Story, 1221 State. Could be better. * * 1/2
  • Serranito’s, 6565 Trigo. The flautas are big and good, definitely worth a try. Otherwise, very average. * * 1/2
  • Sonny’s Pizza, 324 W. Cabrillo. Once you get past the Val Gals, the pizza is quite tasty. Next to the beach. * * * *
  • Straw Hat Pizza, 5687 Calle Real. A lot like Shakey’s, or Taffy’s. * *
  • Suishin Sukiyaki, 511 State. Superbly traditional Japanese food and atmosphere. * * * *
  • Swensen’s, All over. Another place to get ooey- gooey, sticky ice cream. Who needs it? Well, if a hot fudge sundae made with peanut butter and chocolate ice cream sounds as good to you as it does to us, you do. * * *
  • Taffy’s Pizza, All over. Basic cardboard and red sauce product. **
  • Timbers Lodge, 10 Winchester Canyon. Why go out of your way for very typical and typically overpriced food? * 1/2.
  • Wimbledon Tavern, 2611 De la Vina. Great selection of beers, hospitable atmosphere. * * *.
  • The Wine Cask, 813 Anacapa. Light, imaginative dishes served in a cozy, un­ pretentious setting. * * * 1/2
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23 Responses to THE ’80s CALLED. THEY WANT THEIR RESTAURANTS BACK

  1. Christine says:

    I wonder how long people have mistakenly pluralized the spring at Cold Spring Tavern. Funny to be reminded that the misnomer is nothing new! So many good memories with this one. Thanks, Rex!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    The Bakery had the best Tiramisu! Anyone remember Skandi Buffet on De La Vina?

    • Rex Of SB says:

      Oh my, yes! The best smörgåsbord in the world was at Skandi Buffet. However, all is not lost. A nearly identical Scandinavian buffet still exists in Solvang at the Red Viking Restaurant at 1684 Copenhagen Drive. Unfortunately, there are no killer short ribs there (a Skandi Buffet specialty), but everything else is very much the same, if not identical—meatballs, cucumber salad, fishy things, potato salad, the ubiquitous Jell-O, etc. We usually go for lunch, then wander around Solvang buying pastries. The advantage the Red Viking has over Skandi is that you don’t have to screw around with that tiny parking lot in the back.

  3. JP says:

    My family and I used to eat at Skandi Buffet all the time. One day I went up to get my fill, and there was a big fat fly stuck in the mashed potatoes, buzzing away. I reported it to an employee, all they did was scoop it out, and leave the pan of potatoes. I walked out, and waited for my family in the car. I never went back, but it was closed about a month later.

    Aloha had fantastic burgers. I didn’t try them for the longest, despite living less than a mile away, they were advertising a 99 cent burger, I tried it and was hooked. I used to order for delivery, and I remember the onion rings were so hot that they would partially melt the foam container.

    Bonanza was a frequent lunch for my family after Sunday church. I regret now not eating more steaks then, little me only liked burgers.

    Sonny’s Pizza I remember they had a deal for quite a while on Mondays, a large 1 topping and a half gallon of soda in a kind of milk container for $9.99. The topping was under so much cheese.

    Sambo’s/Jolly Tiger/Pleaser’s was also a place my family frequented. My mom was a CNA and years later took care of Sam’s sister. I always remember the Sambo’s where 101 Cafe/Spearmint Rhino moved in. One day my dad and I were waiting for my mom to come out of the restroom. Being impatient, I kept bugging my dad. “Where’s Mommy? Where’s Mommy?” Some random lady leaving the restroom looked me dead in the eye, and said “She’s dead”. Why the hell would you say that to a 3 year old?

    Speaking of 101 cafe, anyone remember when it was the restaurant before it turned into the strip club? Amazing food, great prices, and a super nice guy running the place. He always seemed to be there and I think he just wore himself out, he didn’t trust anyone else to keep an eye on things.

    As I was only 5 when this list was published many of these I do not remember but some sound really, really good

  4. Karen says:

    Was the Presidio Cafe next to the Post Office with a charming outdoor seating area?

  5. Chaz says:

    We’ve eaten at nearly all of them back in the day. A great walk down memory lane!

  6. Ingrid says:

    Pinos pizza in downtown Goleta was amazing. Best Italian/pizza I have ever had!

  7. Colleen says:

    You left out San Roque Steak House, Pelican’s Wharf, Talk Of The Town, Chandelier, Ruth and Rogers, Green Gables, Second Story, Uncle John’s Pancake House, Chad’s, and Poncho Villa!

    • Rex Of SB says:

      The problem is, this list was compiled by UCSB students 37 years ago, and while they did a pretty comprehensive job, more than a few South County eateries weren’t mentioned. Also notably absent are Pascual’s, Foster Freeze, DJ’s in Goleta, Arnoldi’s, and most restaurants along Milpas Street. All of those were doing well in 1982, when the list was made.

      I love the snappy put-downs: “Remember enchilada days back in your high school cafeteria? This place is almost as cheap and just as bad.” That was about Buena Tierra, a Goleta Mexican restaurant that I have no memory of.

      Wow, I could go for a Pascual’s Italian Sandwich right now. But I guess that’s not gonna happen.

    • Annie says:

      Thank you! I was trying to remember the name of Talk Of The Town. We had our wedding rehearsal dinner there in ’86. Is Chandelier different than Chanticler on Coast Village Rd (Lucky’s).

      • Theresa S Utterback says:

        Talk of the Town was one of the nicest places to go for dinner in the 60’s, 70’s. My husband and I had our first date there (a blind date). Never forget the bar with the great fireplace we sat in front of. The bartender was an institution. A special dinner was Chateaubriand. The owners had a requirement that ladies had to wear dresses and men had to wear a coat and tie. If you didn’t have the right clothes, they would lend women a skirt and the men a coat and tie. They got into trouble when a wealthy woman showed up in a pantsuit and they weren’t going to let her dine there. She sued and they had to change their policy.

  8. John says:

    Anyone remember the Feed Store? It was my first bus boy job but that was more like mid-70s. Maybe it didn’t make it to the 80s. It was run by Great American Restaurants who also started the Fish Enterprise. I worked there also. One for two isn’t bad.

  9. Brier says:

    No Little Audrey’s?? It was the best greasy spoon in town!

  10. LJ says:

    What about Bull Market out by La Cumbre Plaza?

  11. Lindsey says:

    You forgot the Reindeer Room & Santa’s Kitchen on Santa Claus Lane!

  12. vt says:

    Still miss Jasper’s. Great steaks, atmosphere and service. Loved the cheesy location.

  13. glove says:

    Was Brinks deli around then in La Cumbre Plaza? I remember, as a kid in the early 80’s, they had the most righteous totally awesome onion rolls they used for their sammies.

  14. Greg says:

    Can you tell me when the Presidio Café opened and closed? I think it was a friend of mine that opened and operated it for quite a few years.

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