Mexican restaurant Azul Cocina is opening soon at 7 East Anapamu Street, the former home of Arts & Letters Café which closed in April 2015 and was followed briefly by La Cocina, Smithy, and Somerset restaurants.

I stopped by and was told that they had a friends & family night recently and have been waiting for the city inspectors to approve the restaurant for opening. Azul might have an inspection as soon as tomorrow and, if they pass, could open this weekend. It all depends on how the inspection goes. I am told that lunch and dinner offers the same menu but that they might start with lunch-only service or perhaps dinner-only to softening the opening.

“Azul Cocina and Cantina delivers Mexican cuisine and mixology with the finest locally sourced ingredients from Santa Barbara County,” says their website “Our mission is to deliver an exceptional authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern contemporary twist on flavors and traditions, led by Executive Chef Manny Diaz. Taste the revitalization of Upper-State Street Santa Barbara with lively offerings, fresh local ingredients and incredible seasonal dishes. Pair your cuisine with a unique one-of-kind crafted selection of Tequila and Mezcal flavored cocktails or choose form our array of seasonally selected wines.”

With more than 40 years of experience and mastery, Executive Chef Manuel “Manny” Diaz has worked in acclaimed kitchens in Los Angeles including DTLA’s Pacific Grille, Nicola, Nucleus Nuance, Rudolpho’s, and the San Antonio Winery. His work has earned him media recognition including the Los Angeles Times and he was  honored with the Hero Award by the California State Assembly.


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  1. SanQuentinGuy says:

    You could copy/paste these quotes the chefs give in the press releases for any new Mexican restaurant in SB.

    The restaurant scene in SB is so tired and boring.

    I do love this blog, though.