La Cocina Mexican Restaurant is officially opening its doors this Friday June 28 in the 7 East Anapamu space around the corner from the Granada Theatre that is the former home of Smithy. The restaurant will offer Mexican cuisine that focuses on the Central Coast and Baja California. It will emphasis the rich history of Santa Barbara’s Meso-American, Spanish and Mexican-Californian cuisine.

The newly renovated space is inspired by Santa Barbara ranch-style and hacienda living – and invites guests to find a modern take on our rich local heritage. Dishes will include classics such as tacos and enchiladas, as well as unique takes on favorites such as squash enchiladas. All of the chips and tortillas are made fresh in house each day. The outdoor patio lends itself to a rustic, casual and communal atmosphere, where the menu will offer shared plates and is inspired by backyard cooking. Patrons will indulge in large pots of slowly stewed meats and spices simmering over an open flame.  A full bar will offer an extensive and unique margarita list as well as traditional and craft cocktails, complete with a wine list.

Chef Mario Alberto is the Executive Chef, and brings a wealth of culinary experience and knowledge from many LA restaurants including foodie favorites Ysabel, and Laurel Hardware, where he was executive chef. Mario was born and raised in Los Angeles and received his introduction to the kitchen with the help of his mother at the early age of 5. Hours spent together helping with the preparation of traditional Mexican cuisine for events and holidays was instrumental in shaping his long lasting bond with food and the culinary arts. Mario relies heavily on the farmer’s market for inspiration and believes in sustainability and an eco-conscious philosophy.

“I want to offer locals is food that is flavorful, clean and light, as an ode to our favorite Mexican dishes, but with a subtle and unexpected twist.,” says Alberto. “This may be with a flavor or spice, or how the dish is presented. I am looking forward to welcoming the community through our doors.” Although the food is all locally sourced and organic, the pricing will be right in line with the other Mexican restaurants in town.

La Cocina will be on a first come, first serve basis, so no reservation will be needed. Hours are 5-10 p.m. seven days a week.

Courtesy photos

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  1. Bob says:

    Maybe 3 times is a charm!

  2. Ruth Deeley says:

    Why are you not opening for lunch. That is what is needed in Santa Barbara. With that beautiful patio it’s where we all used to come to for lunch, summer and winter when it was the Arts and Letters Cafe serving delicious simple food. People want to come to a lovely space for a relaxing lunch with good food and to sit outside – that is what Santa Barbara is all about. Somerset and Smithys had no idea about the customer base or food so let’s hope La Cocina gets it right.

  3. Kk says:

    No reservation will be needed because nobody will go. Not sure what they are thinking with this concept.

    • Sadhna Williams says:

      That sounds mean spirited and unnecessary

      I am excited about having Santa Barbara influenced Mexican fare in that delightful patio.

      I, so appreciate the risk people are willing to take to bring a vision to life and I wish them much success.

    • Magnolia says:

      Hahaha! Elegant Baja fare… really?

  4. Mike says:

    $31 for Carne Asada?? $28 chicken?? $6 for rice.


  5. Gary Sudder says:

    Wow. Prices are likely without tax nor tip. Hence, perhaps for the tourist crowds. More of the same likely.

  6. MvS says:

    Happy to report the third time is a Charm. We really enjoyed the food and the cocktails were very tasty. The staff was great. The patio is delightful, glad they trimmed some of the low branches : ) And the bill was just what you’ll find at many restaurants around town. Lucky for us we’re locals so we’ll be heading back to La Cocina soon.

  7. Cassandra says:

    Strongly suggest La Cocina open for lunch, maybe during the week, if not also weekends.
    Since the SB Museum closed its cafe, and half of SB population are like me,
    over 55+, we like to go to lunch with friends. Anyway, you are paying for your rent the
    whole day, so you might as well get some customers and much needed revenues.

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