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Friday, December 31, 2010

UNTIL THEN... Because's "Best Of" survey department has a staff of exactly one (The Restaurant Guy) I'll be busy tabulating thousands of poll results all next week and probably won't be updating this blog. That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about you... :)

"THE CAFE" COMING TO LA ARCADA: This just in from reader John:

Hi John,

The restaurant site where Los Agaves was going to open up in La Arcada now
has a liquor transfer license posted (double transfer, whatever that means).
The new place is going to be "The Café at La Arcada."


DON'T FORGET TO VOTE! Today is the last chance to vote for your favorite restaurants in the annual "Best Of" poll. The results will be displayed in the restaurant guide throughout 2011. Have a great New Years eve!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MYSTERY: I have been receiving messages from readers that Zia Cafe at 532 State St. has been dark for weeks. I called the eatery yesterday and the phone number is no longer in service. Last night I paid a visit to Zia Cafe and they were closed during posted business hours yet many of the tables inside were still set, ready for business. The tables on the balcony, despite all the recent rains, remain dressed in table cloths.

NEW YEARS AT THE SAVOY: This just in from The Savoy at 409 State St.:

Hi John,

I wanted to let your readers know about the special night we have in plan for those that would like to spend their New Year’s Eve with us at The Savoy.

Our classic NYE celebration is an ‘All Night Affair’ that starts with a traditional cocktail hour with gourmet passed apps created by executive chef Mossin Sugich and served until 10PM.

Our extensive entertainment lineup is customized for this special occasion and starts off with the sultry lounge vocals of Michelle Williams who will be accompanied by piano and saxophone. As the night continues, patrons will be dazzled by classical burlesque performances, high flying aerial acts, and jaw dropping cirque & acrobatic performers.

The new year will be ushered in with a champagne toast countdown to midnight and a balloon drop that will be pulled from the high ceiling by our talented aerial artists.

The celebration continues after midnight with DJ, dancing and special ‘Encore Performances’ by our amazing performers that seamlessly transition in & out of the dance floor.

Tickets for this event can be purchased on our website at
WWW.THESAVOYSB.COM. Table reservations can also be requested on the website or call 805-957-4111.

Asaf Dimant

NEW YEARS AT "AIR CANARY": This just in from the Canary Hotel 31 West Carrillo St.:

Santa Barbara, CA – Attention New Year’s Eve party jet setters… the captain has turned off the “fasten seatbelt” sign, and you are now free to move about the hottest New Year’s Eve party in town! Destination? Canary Hotel’s AIR CANARY party on Friday, December 31, 2010 from 8:00 pm – 12:30 am. Don’t miss Air Canary, the first class way to ring in the New Year.

Canary Hotel is taking this party to the next level this year, with several deluxe “travel” accommodations for guests to choose from, including Business Class and First Class tickets for Air Canary. Business Class tickets include access to the “Captain’s Lounge” located in the lower level ballrooms, where special guest DJ will be spinning and bottle service is available. First Class tickets is an all-access pass which, in addition to the Captain’s Lounge, includes entry to the “VIP Flight Deck” on the rooftop where guests can party under the friendly skies with DJ Sparx, enjoy an in-flight movie, “window seat” step-and-repeat photo ops and more. All tickets include in-flight hors d’oeuvres, a dessert buffet offering sweet treats and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Dress to impress your fellow guest travelers, celebrate the New Year in style, and take advantage of Santa Barbara’s one-and-only rooftop soiree.

Tickets: Business Class $40 (does not include access to rooftop), First Class $99 in advance, $115 at the door. Purchase your tickets online to Air Canary by calling 877-548-3232 and begin your countdown to 2011 now!

Coast will also be offering a decadent New Year’s Eve menu with early seating from 6:00 – 7:00 pm ($65) and late seating at 9:00 pm ($85), reservations are recommended. Begin your New Year’s celebration with a mouthwatering 3-course dinner, including favorites like Fois Gras, Herb-Crusted Lobster, Rack of Lamb, and to top it off, Warm Chocolate Lava Cake, a complimentary champagne toast, and enjoy live music by Ulysses New Orleans-style jazz band!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 YEAR IN REVIEW: My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast:

  • In 2010 there were 40 openings and 37 closures of food-related businesses (with walk-in storefronts). When compared to the activity in 2009 there has been a 19% decrease in the number of openings and a 19% increase in the number of closures. The most openings were in October and November (6 each month). The most closings were in January, April, May and August (5 each month).
  • Openings in 2010 included: American (7), Deli (5), Mexican (5), Dessert (4), Seafood (3), Vietnamese (3), Coffee (2), Smoothie (2), Bakery (1), BBQ (1), Californian (1), Chinese (1), Indian (1), Korean (1), Pizza (1), Thai (1)
  • Closings in 2010 included: American (8), Mexican (6), Deli (4), Bakery (3), Chinese (3), Coffee (3), Pizza (3), Vietnamese (3), Californian (2), Dessert (2), Italian (2), BBQ (1), Cheese (1), Japanese (1), Korean (1), Mediterranean (1), Seafood (1), Vegetarian (1)
  • Flash In The Pan: Eateries that both opened and closed in 2010: Dirty's 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Kozmo's 718 State St; Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches 424 State St; Miss Saigon Grill and Lounge 424 State St; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista
  • Most Talked About Opening: BevMo! 3052 State St which opened in September.
  • Most Talked About Closing: Dean-o's Pizzarama 1950 Cliff Dr which closed in January after 50 years in business.
  • The most-reviewed eateries in the Restaurant Guide during 2010 are listed below. All are new restaurants in 2010 except for Brummis which opened in 2008: Mac's Fish & Chip Shop 503 State St (38 reviews), Brummis - The German Taste 3130 State St  (33 reviews), Olio Pizzeria 11 W. Victoria St (32 reviews), India House 418 State St (32 reviews), Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State St (30 reviews), HobNob Tavern 21 W. Victoria St (30 reviews)

OPENINGS: Here is a complete list of local food & drink destinations that opened in 2010:

  • December 2010: Sunnyside Market & Deli 436 E. Gutierrez St
  • November 2010: Backyard Bowls 5668 Calle Real, Goleta; Cafe Zoma 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Chipotle 270 S. Storke Rd, Goleta; Dirty's 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; South Coast Deli 10 E. Carrillo St; Whodidily 811 State St
  • October 2010: Coffee Collaborative 6560 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; EpicBowl 819 State St; Kingston’s Candy Company 3415 State St; Subway 3967 State St (Five Points Shopping Center); Sweet Tooth 6549 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; TAP Thai Restaurant 2611 De la Vina St
  • September 2010: Arch Rock Fish 608 Anacapa St; Las Palmeras 432 E. Haley St; Mama Lu 415 N. Milpas St; Miss Saigon Grill and Lounge 424 State St; The Blue Owl at Zen Yai 425 State St
  • August 2010: Kogilicious 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Flaming Grill 6558 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Roll a Lot 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Savoy Cafe & Deli 24 W. Figueroa St; Yo a Lot 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta
  • July 2010: Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches 424 State St; TonyRay's Restaurant & Cantina 731 De la Guerra Plaza; Olio Pizzeria 11 W. Victoria St; Woody's Roundup Bar & Grill at Earl Warren Showgrounds 3400 Calle Real
  • June 2010: Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State St; Mac's Fish & Chip Shop 503 State St
  • May 2010: Billies 413 State St
  • April 2010: Las Aves Cafe 2220 Bath St; Panino 3569 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez
  • March 2010: HobNob Tavern 21 W. Victoria St; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista
  • February 2010: India House 418 State St; Saigon - Five Points 3987 State St
  • January 2010: Chino's Rock & Tacos 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Simply Pies 5392 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Taqueria el Refugio 730 N. Milpas St

CLOSINGS: Here is a complete list of local food & drink destinations that closed in 2010:

  • December 2010: Beach Grill at Padaro 3765 Santa Claus Ln, Carpinteria; Chino's Rock & Tacos 714 State St; Miss Saigon Grill and Lounge 424 State St; Subway 119 State St
  • November 2010: Dirty's 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Kozmo's 718 State St; Laguna Store & Deli 512 Laguna St; Pick Up Stix 5701 Calle Real, Goleta
  • October 2010: Bella Dolce Bakery 113 W. De la Guerra St; Luigi's Pizza & Pasta 5711 Calle Real, Goleta
  • September 2010: Chamomile Cafe 915 Linden Ave, Carpinteria; China Express 414 N. Milpas St; Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches 424 State St; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista
  • August 2010: Cantwell's Cafe & Deli 24 W. Figueroa St; Korean BBQ House 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Las Conchas 432 E. Haley St; Sushilicious 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; The Cheese Shop 811 State St
  • July 2010: Java Jones 6560 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Pizza Hut 2840 De La Vina St; Xanadu French Bakery 1028 Coast Village Rd, Montecito
  • June 2010: California Pasta - Five Points 3979 State St; La Gloria Taqueria 336 N. Milpas St
  • May 2010: Bay Cafe 131 Anacapa St; China City Restaurant 5688 Calle Real, Goleta; Mojo Coffee 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Presto Pasta 5764 Calle Real, Goleta; Saigon Restaurant 424 State St
  • April 2010: California Crisp 718 State St; Chilango's Mexican Restaurant 503 State St; Encina Cafe & Cocktails 2220 Bath St; 2018 Cliff Dr; Quizno's 5723 Calle Real, Goleta
  • March 2010: Caje 1007 Casitas Pass Rd, Carpinteria; Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant 1221 State St; Fosters Freeze 1924 Cliff Dr
  • February 2010: Cities Barbecue 901 N. Milpas St; Downtown Brewing Co. 3744 State St; Epiphany Restaurant & Bar 21 W. Victoria St; Tuttini 10 E. Carrillo St
  • January 2010: Dean-o's Pizzarama 1950 Cliff Dr; Fresh Start 6558 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Melting Pot 608 Anacapa St; Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge 734 State St; La Chiripita Taqueria 730 N. Milpas St    

EOS UPDATE: This just in from EOS Lounge, 500 Anacapa St:

Friends of Eos Lounge, an Announcement:

Indeed our license was suspended for 10 days due to an oversight that amounted to a minor on premise in April and we will be open for New Years Eve. What you may or may not know is that we had the option to pay a substantial fine to remain open or choose to surrender our license for 10 days. We made an executive decision to close over Christmas and give A very hard working staff a holiday break they have certainly earned.

Make no mistake. Eos Lounge is solid and growing stronger. Having added Transportation, Wine Tours, Event Planning, online ticket sales, private photography and our exclusive local concierge service we plan to create more great memories for the locals and our visitors to SB for many years to come.

Thank you all for your concern and continued patronage. The sky's the limit, and we got a few surprises coming your way. New Years is already booking quickly and promises to be amazing!!!

You can get more info about any of our upcoming events or services at and or by calling 805-564-2410.

Thank you all, our 4th year anniversary this spring will be ALL TIME! You have our word.


EOS Lounge
Adam Ray
General Manager EOS Lounge
805.564.2410 Office

SCAVENGER HUNT: I received this press release about an event being put on tomorrow by Pizza Mizza:

Pizza Mizza is hosting a day long scavenger hunt around the city of Santa Barbara. We'll be hiding 5 $100 Pizza Mizza Gift Cards in secret locations throughout town, enclosed in Pizza Mizza pizza boxes. Photo and text clues will be distributed on our Facebook and Twitter (@PizzaMizzaSB) pages hinting as to the location of each of the gift cards beginning at 11AM, on Wednesday, December, 29th. 'Like' our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to receive updates throughout the day.

We'll release new clues every hour at the top of the hour until 5PM or until all 5 gift cards are claimed, whichever comes first. Once found, participants should claim their gift card by publishing a photo of themselves on the Pizza Mizza Facebook or Twitter with the pizza box they found. On Twitter, we ask people to use the #pizzamizzahunt hashtag.

All Day Deal: If you work up an appetite, anyone can stop by the Pizza Mizza Santa Barbara location, in the La Cumbre Plaza, mention Facebook or Twitter and get 50% Off any Large or Medium pizza of their choice. All day long!

Monday, December 27, 2010

SANTA STATS: Here are statistics from the Santa Claus call center that was in operation all last week. For the third year in a row the most-requested toy from a boy was the Nintendo DS/DSi portable game player. The iPod Touch came in second place followed by Play Station Portable, WII, and Xbox 360. Though many other toys were is demand, gaming equipment, as usual, dominated as a request from boys. The Pillow Pet was the most-requested toy from girls and each child was very specific about which type of pet she wanted. In second place was the American Girl doll followed by the eternally-popular Barbie.

PHOTO BLOG: December 20-24, 2010 - Accidental Santa call center volunteer photo album

HASTA LA VISTA, BABY: Last fall I developed software to help stop prank phone calls from taking down the Accidental Santa call center. Up until this year these tele-scrooges were an ongoing headache for volunteers. I am happy to report that the little pranksters have been terminated.

BEACH GRILL AT PADARO CLOSES: The Beach Grill at Padaro at 3765 Santa Claus Ln in Carpinteria has gone out of business. I received a tip in November about their pending year-end closure so I decided to stop by last night and saw that a new sign is posted on the front door that reads: "To our near and dear customers! The Beach Grill at Padaro regrets to inform you that we have decided to close our doors! All employees and management will miss serving you and your family! We hope the holidays were good to each and everyone and hope that the new year rings happiness to all!"

EOS LIQUOR LICENSE SUSPENDED : Reader Justin tells me this morning that there is a new sign in front of EOS Lounge at 500 Anacapa St. that reads: "NOTICE OF SUSPENSION Alcoholic Beverage Licenses Issued for These Premises Have Been Suspended By Order of the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for Violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act."

PANORAMA OF THE DAY: I am having fun with my new Pano app for the iPhone. I took this panorama last night inside a very cozy Brophy Bros. at the harbor while enjoying a nice dinner of clam chowder, Mahi Mahi and an oyster shooter.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

LOS AGAVES NOT COMING TO LA ARCADA: On December 2nd signs appeared in La Arcada indicating that Los Agaves restaurant (600 N. Milpas St.) would soon open a new location there. I have confirmed that lease negotiations have ended and that Los Agaves will not be coming to La Arcada.

SPEAKING OF LOS AGAVES: I had dinner at Los Agaves (600 N. Milpas St.) last night and discovered their Salmon Tacos ($11.95) which now makes my top ten favorite dishes on the South Coast. The salmon taco meal was on the specials board and not on the regular menu. The meal includes two salmon tacos topped with pineapple chipotle sauce and is served with rice and a truly amazing salad. I am starting to understand why this place is so popular.

SANTA STATS: Our Santa Claus call center volunteer Cuca (a.k.a. "Cranberry the Elf") kept some statistics about the names and states we received calls from during her volunteer session yeserday. Apparently the call center was featured in TV news broadcasts throughout Louisiana and other parts of the south so many calls came from that region. Children from the south typically use "ma'am" and "sir" which is really adorable.

  • States: OK, IL, TX, KY, GA, NC, LA, WA, CA
  • Names: Alex, Andrew (x6), Angelina, Ariana, Ben, Camden, Carly, Carolyn, Chrispoher, Christian, David (x6), Devon (x4), Emily (x5), Emma (x2), Emma (x7), Erin (x5), Hannah, Isaah, Jerry Ann, Josh, Kate (x5), Kaylee (x4), Keegan, Lance, Lexi, Lilly, Macy, Madison, Maggie (x8), Marianne, Natalia, Nate, PJ, Preston, Sarah (x8), Shelby, Thomas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

LOCAL RESTAURANT PATIOS TO BECOME DOG FRIENDLY: Dog lovers will be thrilled to know that you will soon be able to bring your beloved pet with you to outdoor patios at Santa Barbara County restaurants. Currently this is against the law though many people get around this law by parking their pet on the sidewalk just outside a patio fence. Summerland Beach Cafe is one of the restaurants leading the way to change the current law.

The state of California allows pets on patios pending approval of each county and 48 counties have already approved dogs on patios. Santa Barbara is one of 10 remaining counties in California that has not approved dog friendly patios. The new law should take effect in January of February 2011.

FRESCO UPDATE: This just in from Jill Brouillard, founder of Fresco Cafe:

Hey John,
Just wanted to wish you a Happy Christmas! Mark and I will be back in town for 2011. We will be working closely with the Fresco restaurants in the coming year. I will be taking on the role as operator for Fresco Cafe in Five Pts. as Jesse has decided to move on and live the life he chooses. Mark and I are so grateful to him for allowing us some time to grow and now we want to return the favor. We look forward to reconnecting with all our friends and patrons in Santa Barbara in the coming year!
Jill Brouillard

CRUSHCAKES & CAFE UPDATE: Earlier this year I announced that Crushcakes & Cafe at 1315 Anacapa St. is opening a new location at 4945 Carpinteria Ave in Carpinteria. They will be open daily from 8am until 6pm. Owner Shannon Noormand sent me the following update yesterday about her new eatery:

After nearly 3 years in business, Crushcakes & Café is expanding! I am so pleased to announce our second location in beautiful downtown Carpinteria. We will be bringing not only our fabulous and famous cupcakes to Carp, but our entire café breakfast and lunch menu as well!

Since the inception of Crushcakes & Café, it has been imperative to use only the highest quality ingredients, organic eggs, imported Belgian chocolate, hormone-free meats, fresh local produce and real butter. That’s right REAL butter. Too often cupcakerys skimp on putting real ingredients in their cupcakes and the end product is a cupcake made of shortening, oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors. At Crushcakes we use the same recipe grandma used to make her fresh baked goods each morning. Grandma wouldn’t give you a day old cupcake and neither would we. When you come by you will see and taste the difference that real food and real people make.

Our commitment to the finest ingredients does not end with our cupcakes. We are one of the exclusive vendors of what I consider the finest coffee on the planet. Intelligentsia coffees and espresso drinks are nothing short of amazing and we are honored to be serving this incredible coffee. From the coffee novice to the most discriminating coffee connoisseur, if you have yet not tasted Intelligentsia I am confident that one cup will make you as big of a fan as I am. Bring your laptop out to our patio or make yourself comfortable at one of our tables and surf the web with our free WIFI while enjoying an Intelligentsia coffee beverage from the full coffee/ espresso bar.

If you are not yet impressed you will be after you try our homemade breakfast and lunch! From our Organic Scrambles to our Famous Red Velvet Pancakes, you will have much to choose from at Crushcakes & Cafe. Some of our menu items include Café Skillet Potatoes and Eggs, Breakfast Burritos, Homemade Bread Pudding, Muffins, Scones, Coffee Cakes and Cookies. For lunch we make 3 Homemade Soups daily as well as delicious Salads, Paninis and more! But don’t worry, we serve our whole menu all day so you will get to try it all!

I have lived here since I was 16 years old and I am grateful every day to be a part of such an amazing community. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of my current Crushcakes customers for your support of my dream and welcome the many new customers I have yet to meet in the beautiful City of Carpinteria. I look forward to providing you all a comfortable and delicious place to visit for breakfast, lunch or sweet treat every day! See you soon!

Crushcakes & Café Carpinteria is currently scheduled to open in February 2011. We will be located at 4945 Carpinteria Avenue, open every day 8am until 6pm. Check us out at and become our friends on facebook for daily news and specials! Watch us on The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Season 1 and Season 2!!!


"BEST OF" POLL: The 5th annual Santa Barbara restaurant survey is underway until December 31st. To vote for your favorite restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries visit Poll results will be published in the restaurant guide in early January and will be displayed all year.

SANTA CENTER: The Accidental Santa call center opened yesterday. If you would like your children to speak to Santa or Mrs. Claus have them call 800-726-8222. SIMA Management Corporation will once again be providing a home for the call center at 1129 State Street Suite #8. "We are happy to again be helping Accidental Santa connect with thousands of children around the country," said Robert Perez, Sr. Property Manager for SIMA. Cox Business Digital Telephone is providing the phone system.
   On a side note, I think I over did it yesterday because my voice is hoarse today - and I still have 4 days to go. My voice sounds much deeper than normal which will actually be beneficial in this particular situation...

TURNING FOUR: The Restaurant Guy food news blog became 4 years old last Sunday. The restaurant guide had been online for more than 10 years at that point and I had never said a word to the public. I just kept plugging away, keeping the guide updated silently in the background. I have been a life-long software developer/computer geek and that is just the way many of us are. In the process I found myself in possession of a lot of local restaurant news.  So on December 19, 2006 I suddenly decided to write this. That very same day I got flooded with calls from misdialing children who were trying to reach Santa Claus so I put my new blog on hold until January.

Friday, December 17, 2010

BABY BROPHY'S:  Reliable sources tell me that Brophy Bros. at the Santa Barbara Harbor has taken over neighboring Minnow Cafe and plans to serve take-out meals including clam chowder, hamburgers and more. It is unclear what the name of the business will be. I am told it might be "Brophy's Take-Out" or perhaps "Brophy's Chowder Kitchen."

PHOTO BLOG: December 16, 2010 - SB Independent Holiday Party at El Paseo

PHOTO BLOG: December 16, 2010 - SB Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party


Thursday, December 16, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Kingston’s Candy Company at 3415 State St (upper State) to the Dessert section of the restaurant guide. They opened in October.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Yo a Lot at 7127 Hollister Ave in Goleta (near Costco) to the Dessert section of the restaurant guide. This frozen yogurt shop opened in August inside Albertsons Market next to their sister sushi restaurant Roll a Lot.

PHOTO BLOG: December 15, 2010 - Bartending for Solstice at Pascucci

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SUBWAY CLOSES: Reader Tracy has informed me that Subway at 119 State St. (below the freeway) closed on December 8th.

I'D LIKE MINE ON A BROWN PLATE, PLEASE: I recently heard that Olio Pizzeria at 11 W. Victoria St. has a "brown plate" special. If you are lucky enough to have your meal served to you on a brown plate (instead of the usual while plate), your meal is free.

BARTENDING FOR SOLSTICE: Tonight John Palminteri and The Restaurant Guy will be bartenders from 5-10pm at Pascucci 729 State Street. 100% of everything you spend in the bar and at the surrounding tables goes to the Summer Solstice Parade. We will also have a holiday sing-a-long with Michael Gutin the downtown strolling accordion player (between 6:30 and 8).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SUNNYSIDE MARKET & DELI OPENS: A new eatery has appeared at 436 E. Gutierrez St., across the street from the Home Improvement Center. Sunnyside Market & Deli is open for breakfast & lunch and has been in business for about two weeks.

   Sunnyside's breakfast menu includes a variety of coffees provided by the Santa Barbara Roasting Company as well as bagels, donuts, croissants, coffee cake, fresh fruit and yogurt.

   The lunch menu includes soup, sandwiches and salads. Sandwich choices include a build-your-own menu along with several Sunnyside creations such as "Clubbin' it," "Traditional Turkey," "Ham It Up," "The Southwestern," "Italiano," "'No' Meat Lover (Vegetarian)," "Caprese," and "BLTC."

   Salad choices include "Sunnyside Salad," "Italian Chopped Salad," Bleu Cheese Caesar," "Asian Chicken Salad," "California Cobb," and "Garden Salad." All items are under $10, most are under $7.

   This new downtown deli shares space with Kamran Restaurant Supplies, so you can buy professional pots, pans and appliances while you're there. Sunnyside's hours are Monday - Friday 6:30am to 3:30pm. For more information call 568-0158 or visit

   Click here to view the menu.

PUB QUIZ: Old King's Road at 532 State St. now offers Pub Quiz (trivia night) every Wednesday at 7pm. Tim Duggan is the Quizmaster. Win free drinks, cash prizes and the respect you finally deserve. Admission is $5 per person. Nearby Mac's Fish & Chip Shop has specials just for the Pub Quiz crowd. For details visit

"BEST OF" POLL: The 5th annual Santa Barbara restaurant survey is underway until December 31st. To vote for your favorite restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries visit Poll results will be published in early January and on display in this guide throughout 2011.

SANTA CENTER: From December 20-24, noon-8pm your children can call 1-800-SantaBarbara (726-8222) to speak to Santa & Mrs. Claus at my "Accidental Santa" call center located at 1129 State St. #8. For details visit Many thanks to SIMA Management Corporation for providing a home for the center and to Cox Business Digital Telephone for providing a phone system.

Monday, December 13, 2010

CLOSED: Sadly, it appears we lost a couple of eateries over the weekend.

KILLER B'S: Kozmo's at 718 State St, which closed last month after originally opening as California Crisp September 2009, will reopen soon as "Killer B's BBQ and Bar."

TRIVIA OF THE DAY: The James Joyce at 513 State St. goes through 10,000 pounds of peanuts per year. This works out to about 140,000 peanut shells tossed on the floor throughout the year. That's a lot of sweeping.

SPEAKING OF THE JAMES JOYCE: This Saturday December 18th from 7-10pm they will be throwing a party for the Ulysses Dixieland Jazz Band. Ulysses has played on Saturday nights at The James Joyce for 13 consecutive years.

Friday, December 10, 2010

BARTENDING FOR SOLSTICE: Add some holiday cheer to your holiday shopping. John Palminteri and The Restaurant Guy will be bartenders Wednesday, December 15th from 5:00 - 10:00 PM at Pascucci 729 State Street. 100% of everything you spend in the bar and at the surrounding tables goes to the Summer Solstice Parade.

PHOTO BLOG: December 9, 2010 - Last night I took 82 pictures of the Santa Barbara Young Professionals Club Holiday Gala at The Savoy, 409 State St. Visit

OK, SO I AM THE ONLY ONE THAT GOT IT: Many people have asked me what the odd looking squiggly-line graphic is that I posted above my December 8th blog. It is an icon commonly used to represent John Lennon who passed away 30 years ago Wednesday.

OFF TOPIC: Being a computer geek since age 12, I periodically fail to refrain from sharing my enthusiasm for software discoveries. It appears I have failed again today. I recently found two great iPhone apps that I use a lot and that have become permanent residents of my smart phone.

  • Pano ($2.99, Debacle Software) - This iPhone app is for panoramic photography. You can take multiple pictures and this software stitches them together into one wide-screen photograph. Below is a shot I took recently at the Air Force One exhibit in Simi Valley for's Day Trips guide. It is 4 pictures stitched together.

  • Pro HDR ($1.99, eyeApps LLC) - The Pro HDR (high dynamic range) iPhone app takes two photos (one slightly over exposed, one slightly underexposed) and merges them into one shot, using the best parts of each. The net result is that you no longer have too-bright and too-dark areas in your photo. Everything is more evenly exposed. The pictures tend to look a bit unnatural because normal photographs don't look this way but it is very useful when taking pictures of high-contrast subjects. You need to hold the camera still and be sure any people in the photo also remain still while the app takes two pictures.
       To the right is a Pro HDR shot I took recently at the Air Force One exhibit in Simi Valley for's ever-growing Day Trips guide. If I had taken this shot with a normal camera I would have had two choices: a well-lit helicopter with a completely white window behind it, or a completely black helicopter with properly-exposed landscape behind it. Pro HDR let me have the best of both.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
END OF AN ERA: Mom's Italian Village was a local institution for 62 years at 421 E. Cota St. It opened in 1933 and closed in 1995 after a storm caused significant flood damage. Though the restaurant has been gone for years the interior has remained much the same. I walked through the building earlier this week and saw a bit of old Santa Barbara frozen in time. The long wood bar is still there as are the Italian mural paintings on the walls. Antique ceiling fans still hover above the event dining room. Even the large "Mom's" sign outside the building continues to proudly remind passerby's of a bygone era. If you are interested in owning a piece of this historic property, all of the above items and more are for sale now because the building is scheduled to be demolished early next year to make room for Transition House's low-income and homeless residences.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WHODIDILY WORLD OPENS IN PASEO NUEVO: Montecito cupcakery Whodidily (1150 Coast Village Rd) has opened Whodidily World at 811 State St. in Paseo Nuevo. Owner Wendy Jones tells me their new dessert destination includes the world's first self-serve cupcake frosting machine called "The Frostinator." Next to the Frostinator are dispensers for various flavors of ice cream. A centerpiece of Whodidily World is a party room available for rent for celebrations. Entering Whodidily World is kind of like walking into a storybook land with colorful, whimsical decorations throughout. Willy Wonka would love it! Hours are Sun-Thu 11am-7pm, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm. For more information call 966-CAKE.

LOS AGAVES UPDATE: Last Thursday I wrote that Los Agaves Mexican restaurant on Milpas St. had posted notice of the pending arrival of a second location at La Arcada. Sources tell me that it is not a done deal yet and that no lease has been signed.

HOOK UPDATE: I added more information to last Friday's story about Hook Burger Bistro.

FIREFOX: I overhauled much of the restaurant guide over the weekend to make it look better with the Firefox web browser. Most of the text throughout the guide had been displaying in a freakishly small font for years and nobody ever said anything to me about it. Now it is much more readable.

CHRISTMAS GUIDE: Like every year I have been receiving many inquiries asking if I will be publishing a list of restaurants open for Christmas. I have never bothered creating a Christmas Guide for the following reason: Unlike Thanksgiving where everyone wants to know who serves a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day, everyone who inquires about Christmas is asking me a different question. For example:

  1. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants open on Christmas?
  2. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants open on Christmas Eve?
  3. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants open for dinner on Christmas Eve?
  4. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants serving a holiday dinner on Christmas Eve?
  5. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants open on Christmas Day?
  6. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants open for dinner on Christmas Day?
  7. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants serving a holiday dinner on Christmas Day?
  8. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants serving brunch on Christmas Day?
  9. Will you be publishing a list of restaurants serving a holiday brunch on Christmas Day?

Unfortunately I cannot create 9 different Christmas Guides and, keep in mind, a list of every place open would include McDonald's. If you can find the time please send me an email with your thoughts about what should be in a Christmas Guide.

Friday, December 3, 2010

HOOK: The owners of The Habit, founded in Goleta in 1969, have started a new upscale burger business known as Hook Burger Bistro.  The restaurant, which opened at 1811 N Rose Ave in Oxnard in early November, falls in the category of "quick casual", where customers place orders and pay upfront, then sit down to be served their meals. Prices range from $4.95 to $8.95 and they also have steak sandwiches. Co-owner Brent Reichard, who bought the original Habit Burger Grill in Goleta in 1980, said he used ideas from The Habit, such as doing a few menu items well. Hook Burger Bistro has four burgers, four sandwiches and four salads on its menu. The shakes are made with Santa Barbara-based McConnell's ice cream, and most of the dressings are made in-house. Hook plans to expand in the region from San Luis Obispo to Pasadena.

WOMEN IN WINE:  A celebration of female winemakers is being held at Jade Restaurant 3132 State St. to benefit Women's Economic Ventures ( Cost is $90 all-inclusive. Seating is very limited; advance reservations by credit card required. Call Jade at 805-563-2007 to reserve.

  • Sunday December 5th 6pm - Chrystal Clifton (Palmina), Morgan Clendenen (Cold Heaven), Kathy Joseph (Fiddlehead), Brooke Carhartt (Carhartt), Teri Love (Gioia)
  • Wednesday December 8th 6pm - Leslie Mead-Renaud (Foley, Lincourt), Jennifer Tensley (Lea), Karen Steinwachs (Buttonwood), Caren Rideau (Rideau), Deborah Hall (Gypsy Canyon)
  • Menu for Paired Wines - First course ~ Assorted gourmet cheeses from C'est Cheese, Second course ~ Wild Mushroom Napoleon & Baby Greens Salad, Third course ~ Peking Duck Cassoulet & Winter Greens, Fourth course ~ Trio of Tarts

DOWNTOWN: Reader Primetime tells me that there are only 12 storefronts empty on State St. now, down from nearly 30 a few months back.

ACCIDENTAL SANTA IS COMIN' TO TOWN: Five Christmases ago I activated a new phone number 1-800-SantaBarbara (726-8222) for this web site. Much to my surprise I was flooded with calls from misdialing children trying to reach 1-800-SantaClaus (726-8225) which was one digit off, and, as it turns out, is a deactivated number. Rather than hang up I played along and spent the next two weeks pretending to be the Jolly Old Elf to children across the country. I ended up personally talking to 973 boys & girls from coast to coast including Alaska & Hawaii.

   "Accidental Santa," as it is now called, has since grown into a Santa Claus call center where dozens of volunteers from around Santa Barbara help answer the phone as Santa, Mrs. Claus and their Elves. Each year hundreds of thousands of children try to reach the call center and we answer as many of the calls as we can. The center is loaded with toys for volunteers to play with while on the phone to create background sounds of Santa's workshop.

   Cox Business Digital Telephone is providing the phone system again this year while SIMA Management Corporation will again be reserving North Pole real estate for use as the Santa Claus call center. The center will be located at 1129 State Street Suite #8, which is a deluxe corner office above Old Navy at State & Anapamu.

   The Santa Claus call center will be running eight hours a day from December 20th through Christmas Eve. If you are interested in listening to children's Christmas wishes you can signup at All ages welcome. Dozens of local volunteers are already onboard. If you have children be sure to have them call the center, starting the 20th, between noon and 8pm.

HOLIDAY LIGHT TOUR: My good friend and Santa Center volunteer Harley Hahn maintains a special Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour web page you can use to go on a free Christmas-light tour. Check it out.

HOLIDAY PARADE: More than 50,000 spectators are expected to line downtown Santa Barbara tonight for the 58th annual downtown Holiday Parade. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at State Street and Sola Street and concludes at Cota Street.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

LOS AGAVES COMING TO LA ARCADA: Reader Primetime sent me these photos from La Arcada. It appears that Los Agaves Mexican restaurant will be taking over the entire space formerly occupied by Stateside Restaurant & Lounge and Acapulco at 1114 State Street. The eatery plans to open in May 2011.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added photos to the page for Backyard Bowls in Goleta.

GRAND OPENING: The new Backyard Bowls at 5668 Calle Real in Goleta is having a grand opening this Saturday, December 4th. Here is the press-release:


Backyard Bowls is excited to announce the grand opening of their 2nd location in the Calle Real Shopping Center of Goleta! To celebrate the occasion, on this coming Saturday they will be donating $.30 for every $1 of sales to the Wilderness Youth Project, a local Goleta non-profit. The WYP’s mission is “to foster confidence, health, and a life-long love of learning for young people and families through active outdoor experiences and mentoring”.

Backyard Bowls will also have in-store promotions such as FREE organic fair-trade coffee with any bowl purchase, FREE samples, and more!

Backyard Bowls is a Santa Barbara original restaurant founded in November 2008 by local residents Pete Heth and Dan Goddard. Their downtown location has become immensely popular for its healthy yet tasty breakfast and lunch fare, and is most commonly known for their menu of Acai Bowls- a thick Acai based puree topped with granola, fresh-cut fruits, and a drizzle of honey. With their use of many organic and local ingredients coupled with their eco-friendly business operations (their downtown store is a Santa Barbara Certified Green Business), Backyard Bowls has an appeal beyond one’s taste buds as well!

CLOSED: Sources tell me that Laguna Store & Deli at 512 Laguna St., Bella Dolce Bakery at 113 W. De la Guerra St., Kozmo's 718 State St. and brand-new Dirty's BBQ at 6521 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista have all closed their doors.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ANNUAL "BEST OF" SURVEY BEGINS: The fifth-annual restaurant survey of your favorite places for food & drink has begun. The online survey runs each year from Thanksgiving until New Years Eve and the results will be published in the Daily Sound during the first week of January. The results, which cover over 100 categories, will also be displayed in the Restaurant Guide throughout 2011.

The 2011 poll has several new categories including: "Best Taco," "Best Patio," "Best Fresh Fish Market," "Best Place for Soup," "Best Summerland Restaurant," "Best Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant," "Best Supermarket," "Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant," and "Best Place for a Business Lunch (SB, Goleta, Carpinteria, SYV)."

To vote for your favorite restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries & more visit

CASABLANCA OPENING DOWNTOWN: A new restaurant named "Casablanca" will be coming soon to 509 State St, the former home of Bricks Cafe. Restaurant Cabana will no longer be taking over that space. Co-owner and day-to-day operator Joe Nagy tells me that the cuisine will be a cross between southern Mediterranean and what you would find in many California seaside towns.

   The menu selection will be "farm to table" with many ingredients bought at the local farmers market and fish market. They will also offer many other fresh choices incuding grass-fed beef and free range chicken. The wine list emphasizes wines from Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. Cocktails will be made from fresh squeezed ingredients. After dinner the atmosphere will transform into a lounge unique to Santa Barbara.

   Nagy tells me "If you were to come from anywhere in the world you would have expectations of what you may find in Santa Barbara. We are in the historic El Pueblo Viejo district so co-owner Michael Derose created a restaurant that stays true to Santa Barbara’s Spanish colonial roots. Michael’s son, co-owner Dante Derose, has focused on many of the aesthetic and artistic qualities of the restaurant, including food choices, music and entertainment."

OFF THE RADAR: It has been nearly a year since I have received new information about two restaurants that were interested in coming to Santa Barbara. Until further notice "The Counter" and "The Tackle Box" have moved off the radar.

THE CRYSTAL BALL: After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing Crystal Ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of locations appearing in your future:

  • Casablanca 509 State St (formerly Bricks Café)
  • Crushcakes & Café Carpinteria
  • Fresh & Easy 336 N. Milpas St
  • Islands Restaurant (location to be determined)
  • Le Crepe Shoppe 15 W. Gutierrez St
  • Nutbelly Pizzeria & Deli 915 Linden (formerly Chamomile Café)
  • Panera Bread (near La Cumbre Plaza)
  • PeeBee & Jays 1007 Casitas Pass Rd (formerly Caje)
  • Petrini's Family Restaurant 5711 Calle Real (formerly Luigi's)
  • Tepetac Taquitos (near De La Vina  & Carrillo)
  • Whodidily World 811 State St (formerly The Cheese Shop)
  • Unknown 330 State St (Mexican restaurant)

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hello from Texas!

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Backyard Bowls - Goleta to the restaurant guide.

BACKYARD BOWLS OPENS IN GOLETA: Acai bowl & smoothie shop Backyard Bowls which arrived in downtown Santa Barbara November 2008, opened a second location at 5668 Calle Real in Goleta last Friday. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. Owner Dan Goddard sent me a message about his new eatery:

We are very excited to announce the opening of our 2nd location in the Calle Real Shopping Center in Goleta! Customers can expect many of the same menu items as our downtown location, with a few new twists- rotating "special" bowls and smoothies, a "build-your-own" hot breakfast bowl, organic fair-trade coffee, and more! The core of Backyard Bowls remains the same- a healthy, delicious, refreshing, and eco-friendly alternative for breakfast or lunch. We are open 7 days a week and fully functional during our "soft" opening, and have "grand-opening" festivities planned for the weekend of December 4th- stay tuned for details! – Dan Goddard, Backyard Bowls

WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST: I was in Arlington, Texas last weekend at a Dallas Cowboys football game and used my iPhone 4 to broadcast live video and audio from my nosebleed seat to dozens of friends on Facebook. During this brief celebration of geekdom I received sad news from Restaurant Guy readers indicating that Chinese restaurant Pick Up Stix at 5701 Calle Real in Goleta has closed.

MYSTERY: Word on the street is that remodeling has begun at 5723 Calle Real in Goleta, the former home of Quizno's which closed last April. My question is this: why?

A TIME FOR UNITY: Unity Shoppe (, 805-965-4122) is a non-profit organization that encourages self-sufficiency and independence by providing education and the necessities of life to families, children, seniors and persons with disabilities during periodic times of crisis. Tom Reed, Executive Director of Unity Shoppe, sent me information about how you can help this terrific local organization during the holiday season:

  • Turkey Drive - Unity needs approximately 3,000 frozen meat products between now and Christmas Eve. Financial donations are way down this year so purchasing food has been difficult for Unity. Turkeys can be dropped off at 33 W. Victoria St on the conveyor belt below Victoria Hall anytime from 10 am to 6 pm weekdays. You can also drop off a cash donation and Unity can leverage that to buy a wide variety of much needed food products.
  • Wine Trail Trolley - On December 10th from 6-9pm enjoy the Urban Wine Trail in the comfort of a trolley. Your ticket purchase benefits Unity Shoppe. Each winery will pour limited release wines from Santa Barbara County accompanied by appetizers. Participating wineries include Carr Vineyards & Winery, Jaffurs Wine Cellars, Kalyra Winery, Kunin Wines, Oreana Winery, Santa Barbara Winery, Summerland Winery, Westerly Vineyards, Whitcraft Winery, Wine Cask Alliance, and Municipal Winemakers. The cost of the event is $50 per person. Tickets are available at participating wineries and from Unity Shoppe.
  • Unity Telethon – On Saturday, December 11th from 1pm to 11pm Unity Shoppe will be holding their annual telethon fundraiser at 110 W. Sola Street.
  • Raffle - Oreana Winery has donated a barrel of wine, Santa Barbara Syrah, valued at $7,000.Tickets are available at Oreana, Unity Shoppe and at the Urban Wine Trail. The winning ticket will be drawn on the telethon. The winner will receive all 262 bottles of wine with a custom label plus they get the barrel!

OFF TOPIC: On my way from Arlington to Houston yesterday I stopped at one of the hugely popular Buc-ee's upscale gas stations. At first glance it appears to be a giant fuel stop. Once inside it appears to be a 7-Eleven on steroids. It turns out that Buc-ee's is famous for having really clean roadside restrooms. We could use this in California. Watch the World News Tonight report on Buc-ee's.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: My flight was delayed this morning because of fog so I was able to attend the grand opening of Chipotle in Goleta.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

JUNGLE GEORGE UPDATE: This just in from Jungle George Grill 5722 Calle Real in Goleta:

Hi John,

We are approaching our 2nd anniversary at The Jungle and wanted to give you an update on what is happening. We are creating a new menu, emphasizing vegetarian items while adding some more exotic meats such as, alligator, wild boar and antelope burgers. We don't start cooking until the order is given, nothing is pre-made, but it is worth the wait! As you know, we already use eco-friendly containers, cups, napkins, etc and are in the process of becoming green certified.  The Jungle is very much into giving back to the community. We offer fundraising opportunities to the local schools and non-profits, with 20% going back to the school or organization. Included with the fundraiser is a 10% return on catering orders. Yes we cater!! Check us out on Facebook to keep apprised of anything new happening at The Jungle. We are sponsoring the Red Cross Blood drive being held in the parking lot of the Calle Real shopping center Dec. 21st and 22nd. Please encourage your readers to come out and donate blood. Mention you read about the Jungle in The Restaurant Guys article and receive a free fountain drink in honor of our 2nd anniversary.


THANKSGIVING DONATION: This just in from The 805 Deli 135 E. Carrillo St:

Hi John

For the fourth year in a row, at The (805) Deli, we have run a wonderful promotion the week of Thanksgiving. For every sandwich we sell we donate a sandwich to Transition House. Our customers need only purchase their own lunch to know that they are also feeding a local parent or child in need. Last year we donated more than 200 sandwiches and we hope to increase that again this year. Please encourage your readers to stop by The (805) Deli for a sandwich, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Anne Pazier

GOING ON VACATION: I am going on vacation tomorrow to visit my childhood friend Dr. Flip in Friendswood, Texas (near Houston). Flip is an Emergency Medicine doctor who grew up down the street from me near San Ysidro Rd in Montecito. This Sunday we are driving to Arlington, Texas to watch the Dallas Cowboys play at the new billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium. Yes, the Cowboys are one of the worst teams in the NFL this year, so this is undeniable proof that I am not just a fair-weather fan. Another childhood friend, coincidentally named "Dallas", is flying out from the Bay Area to meet us at the game. Unless there is Earth-shattering food news to report you probably won't hear from me until next week sometime.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ALDO'S RESTAURANT SOLD: Aldo's Italian Restaurant at 1031 State St. has been sold to Brad Sherman, the former manager of Sojourner Cafe. Sherman worked at Sojourner cafe for 21 years until last week and has been the drummer for local band Area 51 for 15 years. I am told that Aldo's will remain an Italian restaurant and that he intends to freshen the menu and lighten the décor.

"My whole idea behind Aldo's is to bring back the legend, bring back the beautiful historic past, and to make it accessible to our community of locals," says Sherman. "I want to make it a place that is a community spot that people want to frequent as opposed to a fining dining restaurant reserved for special occasions."

Sherman, who takes over the restaurant December 1st, will be greeting people at the entrance and doing what he loves best: making a connection with people and serving them good food. "I want to thank current owner Mark Sherman profusely for taking a chance and believing in me," he added.

LE CREPE SHOPPE: A new eatery named "Le Crepe Shoppe" will be opening soon next door to Chocolate Maya 15 W. Gutierrez St, which is also next to smoothie shop Backyard Bowls.

CHIPOTLE OPENS THIS WEEK: Chipotle restaurant, which is coming to the Kmart shopping center at 270 Storke Rd in Goleta (next to Rusty's Pizza), is having a grand opening this Thursday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

SEAGRASS RESTAURANT SOLD: I received a press release this morning about new ownership at the Seagrass restaurant 30 E. Ortega St.:

Seagrass Announces New Owners, Chef Robert Perez & Family

Culinary family finds new home in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA. November 15, 2010 – Local restaurateur Mitchell Sjerven has announced the sale of top-rated Seagrass Restaurant to Chef Robert Perez and his family of culinary experts, who have recently relocated to Santa Barbara. With a respected and long-standing history of culinary experience, Chef Perez, along with his wife Marianna Perez and sons Ruben Perez and Richard Perez are seasoned restaurant professionals with a passion for the restaurant business – a team Sjerven knew would be the right fit to take over Seagrass. The restaurant will remain open for business as usual during the transition, (under the same name, Seagrass) with only minor updates to the menu, as the Perez family settles in to Santa Barbara, and makes Seagrass their new home.

"The sale of Seagrass provides the opportunity for me to continue my commitment to Wine Cask to bring it back to the level of excellence Santa Barbara expects, and to ensure it’s continued success," said Sjerven. "My wife, Amy Sachs, and I knew it was critical to find a new proprietor who was as committed to the same degree that we have been to Seagrass to provide an excellent dining experience. Throughout the sale process it became clear to us that the Perez family shared our passion for the restaurant business, and have great confidence they will be successful."

Sjerven is grateful to Santa Barbara for three wonderful years of support at Seagrass, and is looking forward to dedicating his time and attention to his two other restaurants, Bouchon and Wine Cask. He and Sachs recognize the Seagrass staff for helping to make it the top restaurant that it is today, and will miss working together. Sjerven gives extra thanks to the very talented Chef John Pettitt who was integral in the success of Seagrass, which was most recently acknowledged as the #1 restaurant in Santa Barbara by the 2011 ZAGAT Survey.

For Chef Robert Perez, cooking has always been a family affair. Most recently, the family owned and operated the critically acclaimed restaurant Citronee Bistro in Nevada City, California for the past 13 years. They have recently relocated as a family to Santa Barbara to pursue their dream of having a restaurant together here. Son Ruben is taking on ownership duties while Chef Perez is Chef de Cuisine, and his other son Richard is director of wines. Mother Marianna along with Ruben’s life-partner Erin Gailsdaughter will share management of the front of the house.

"Finding the right restaurant in Santa Barbara for our family has been a goal for some time now, so when the opportunity with Seagrass arose, we knew this was our chance," said Ruben Perez, new owner, Seagrass Restaurant. "As a close-knit family, we’re eager to share our "art-to-the-eye, art-to-the-palate" dining philosophy with our guests, and offer the very highest caliber of personalized service. We look forward to meeting our new guests and becoming a part of the Santa Barbara community. We’re thankful to Mitchell and Amy for this opportunity, and for building Seagrass into one of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants."

Seagrass is perfectly situated, right off of State Street in downtown Santa Barbara just 6 blocks from the beach. Come drift away for an evening and enjoy the Coastal Cuisine of the American Riviera®. Seagrass is located at 30 E. Ortega Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Call 805.963-1012 or visit


Friday, November 12, 2010

COFFEE CAMPS: The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (805-682-4711 ext. 170) is having a series of coffee training camps every Saturday from 10am - 2pm. November 20: "Full of Beans: Coffee & Chocolate Tasting"; November 27: "Coffee Chemistry & Roasting"; December 11: "Coffee Geeks & Their Toys"; December 18: "Flavors of the Season"

EIGHT LAYER CAKES: Cold Stone Creamery (504 State St, 5718 Calle Real, Goleta) is handing out free samples of their new "Eight Layer Cakes" on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 5-8 pm. The Eight Layer Cakes are available in two flavors, Cake Batter Layers and Quilted Coffee Caramel.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Cafe Zoma, Dirty's, South Coast Deli - Carrillo and Subway - Five Points to the restaurant guide.

PHOTO BLOG: November 10, 2010 - SB Young Professionals Club mixer at Arch Rock Fish restaurant

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor Studio Nihon, a unique Japanese catering business bringing authentic Japanese experience to your place through Food, Sake, and Arts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MYSTERY SOLVED: After yesterday's column about an unknown business coming to Carrillo Street (near Mel's Lounge) I received the following message from the owners:

We are the mystery restaurant on Carrillo and De La Vina :) We will be opening an authentic "rolled taco" joint here in SB within the next couple of months. It will be called "Tepeyac Taquitos" named after the restaurant our family runs in Durango, Mexico, which, is named after the street it is located on. For a sneak peak at our menu options and more about us, check out our website Hope to see you there soon!
Laura & Ernie Rodriguez

HONEYBAKED REOPENS: Reader Chris tells me that a new "NOW OPEN" banner has been posted in front of Honeybaked at 3000 State St. which closed last April. I conducted an investigation and it appears that Honeybaked has reopened for just the holiday season.

KOZMO'S UPDATE: Readers Robert & Anonymous tell me that Kozmo's at 718 State Street is closed and the windows are all taped up. I did some research and it appears that they are changing the restaurant into a BBQ place.

THE MEL MOTEL: When researching yesterday's story about a mysterious eatery opening next door to the new Mel's Lounge at 209 W. Carrillo St., I tried calling Mel's to see if they had any information. I used the free, automated 411 service 1-800-FREE411 and was surprised that Mel's Lounge was not listed. I then decided to spend a buck and make a real 411 call so I could have a human being help me. The operator told me that the only listing for Mel's was a motel. This was a very strange response because, in addition to a Santa Barbara restaurant guide, I also run a Santa Barbara lodging guide and I have never heard of a "Mel Motel" on the South Coast. It turns out that there is a typo in the phone company's computer database and Mel's Lounge is currently listed as "Mel's Lodge." For a clean comfortable room at a great price call 963-2211. We'll leave the light on for you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CAFÉ ZOMA OPENS IN GOLETA: Last Thursday the owners of Coffee Cat in downtown Santa Barbara opened their newest location named Café Zoma at 7127 Hollister Ave, the former home of Mojo Coffee (near Costco & Albertsons). Their punch cards will be valid at all three locations including Northstar Coffee in downtown Santa Barbara which will soon be renamed Café Zoma.
   I spoke with manager Matthew Carter who tells me "We are excited to cater to everyone in Goleta including students, local residents, and local businesses. We want to welcome anyone and everyone. We don't cater to a particular demographic. We are a people shop."
   Store hours are 6:30am-11pm Sun-Thu and 7am-10pm Fri-Sat. For more information call 845-8676.

MYSTERY: A permit application for a business serving beer & wine has been posted on the wall of an unoccupied storefront next to Mel’s Lounge 209 W. Carrillo St. The sign for this mysterious business first appeared about a month ago.

REST IN PEACE: Here is a list of local food & drink destinations that have closed this year:

  • October 2010: Luigi's Pizza & Pasta 5711 Calle Real, Goleta
  • September 2010: Chamomile Cafe 915 Linden Ave, Carpinteria; China Express 414 N. Milpas St; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista
  • August 2010: Cantwell's Cafe & Deli 24 W. Figueroa St; Korean BBQ House 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Las Conchas 432 E. Haley St; Sushilicious 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; The Cheese Shop 811 State St
  • July 2010: Java Jones 6560 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Pizza Hut 2840 De La Vina St; Xanadu French Bakery 1028 Coast Village Rd, Montecito
  • June 2010: California Pasta - Five Points 3979 State St; La Gloria Tacqueria 336 N. Milpas St
  • May 2010: Bay Cafe 131 Anacapa St; China City Restaurant 5688 Calle Real, Goleta; Mojo Coffee 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Presto Pasta 5764 Calle Real, Goleta; Saigon Restaurant 424 State St
  • April 2010: Chilango's Mexican Restaurant 503 State St; Encina Cafe & Cocktails 2220 Bath St; 2018 Cliff Dr; Quizno's 5723 Calle Real, Goleta
  • March 2010: Caje 1007 Casitas Pass Rd, Carpinteria; Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant 1221 State St; Fosters Freeze 1924 Cliff Dr
  • February 2010: Cities Barbecue 901 N. Milpas St; Downtown Brewing Co. 3744 State St; Epiphany Restaurant & Bar 21 W. Victoria St; Tuttini 10 E. Carrillo St 
  • January 2010: Dean-o's Pizzarama 1950 Cliff Dr; Fresh Start 6558 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Melting Pot 608 Anacapa St; Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge 734 State St; La Chiripita Taqueria 730 N. Milpas St

Monday, November 8, 2010

WHODIDILY REPLACING THE CHEESE SHOP: On August 31 I reported that Whodidily, a popular dessert destination at 1150 Coast Village Road in Montecito, is planning to open a second location in downtown Santa Barbara. I have confirmed that the new location will be 811 State Street in Paseo Nuevo, the former home of The Cheese Shop. Here is the full press release:

Montecito cupcake shop to open in Santa Barbara

Whodidily’s second location coming to Paseo Nuevo Mall

Building on the success of the Whodidily Cupcake shop at 1150 Coast Village Road, owners Wendy and Dave Jones will soon bring their fantastic array of cupcakes to the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. The 1,959 sf shop, their second, will be located at 811 State Street in the Pavilion at Paseo Nuevo, the space formerly occupied by The Cheese Shop, Inc. Kristopher Roth and Michael Martz of Hayes Commercial Group represented Whodidily World, LLC in the lease. Roth and Martz have completed 13 retail sales and leases along the downtown State Street corridor in 2010, more than any other brokerage.

Wendy and Dave Jones were featured on Food Network’s "Cupcake Wars" last year and are renowned for their delicious and colorful creations. With a clear emphasis on quality service and building community, they have attracted a loyal clientele. The new expanded "Whodidily World" downtown location will be similar to the Montecito shop, while introducing some exciting new concepts.

"It is wonderful to work with successful local businesses like Whodidily World and help them expand their unique concepts," said Kristopher Roth of Hayes Commercial Group. Michael Martz added, "helping local tenants like Whodidily World secure prime retail locations in downtown Santa Barbara adds to the diverse shopping experience that makes Santa Barbara special."

OFF TOPIC: My reporting has been sparse since last week because I have been under the weather. It might be a bit slow this week too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CHOCOLATE DE VINE CANCELLED: The 4th annual celebration of chocolate & wine scheduled for this Saturday has been cancelled.

BELLA DOLCE BAKERY: I just received this message from pastry chef Eileen Randall Cook, owner of Bella Dolce Bakery on De la Guerra St.:

Bella Dolce Bakery is in trouble and needs your help.

Bella Dolce Bakery is a lifelong dream; a small sweet family run bakery & coffee shop specializing in retro American desserts. BDB is located at 113 West De la Guerra Street in downtown Santa Barbara, CA.

What we need: We need to pay off a balance of back rent to the landlord to avoid eviction. Our deadline is November 5, 2010 which means we have one week to raise the needed money, so time is of the essence.

Needed: Angel donations of $100. each

What you receive for your support: You get to make a difference in many people’s lives, gratitude, and you get to be part of a sweet American dream come true. Free coffee every time you come into BDB for the next year (at $100. It is like pre-paying for one coffee a week for the year. If you come in more often you have a free coffee spot for the rest of year!)

Angels and supporters receive an invitation to BDB’s one year anniversary party in November!

What will be new and exciting when we re-open?

Breakfast! We are bringing on Eileen’s assistant Ann Kraut as a partner! Ann’s first project as partner will be to help create our breakfast menu and eventually add lunch too. Customers have been asking for breakfast since we opened and now we have the talented support to do it.

Our wholesale products will be returning to Lazy Acres in November! We have successfully accomplished the second step in our BDB Growth Plan by returning to Lazy Acres as a wholesale purveyor. When we were a catering and wholesale company we had an account at Lazy Acres Market for six years. They sold our hand-painted shortbread cookies, gingerbread men and women at Christmas, and our decadent hazelnut gianduja torts. The last year we were there we sold over 4,000 cookies from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This year we will not only be selling our cookies at Lazy Acres but whoopie pies and a few other luscious items as well.

Holiday Baking~ of course the holidays are the busiest time of year at the bakery. We will be baking up dozens of cookies and holiday specialties for parties and gift giving.

There are a few other exciting things in the works for the next few months that will also make a difference in our cash flow and kick it up a notch at BDB. Negotiations are still in the works so we can’t spill everything just yet

We have worked so hard to create the beautiful & sweet bakery of our dreams and we have learned so much about business along the way that will help us become more successful and make a profit in our second year. We know we can be of service and bring joy by sharing in our customer’s daily lives and special occasions with our sweet treats. We have come too far to give it up now so our family is asking for your help to continue with our little bit of the American Dream.

Bella Dolce Bakery 113 W. De la Guerra St   805-962-CAKE

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CHOCOLATE DE VINE: The 4th annual celebration of chocolate & wine, a benefit for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, is Saturday November 6, 7-10pm at the Hanger, 201 West Montecito St. VIP reception is at 6pm. Tickets: $65 advance, $75 at the door, $100 VIP. To purchase tickets call 963-6832.

RESTAURANT WRAP UP: Here is a list of local eateries that have opened this year:

  • November 2010: South Coast Deli 10 E. Carrillo St, 845-4600
  • October 2010: Coffee Collaborative 6560 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; EpicBowl 819 State St, 963-8363; Subway 3967 State St (Five Points Shopping Center); Sweet Tooth 6549 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 685-2085; TAP Thai Restaurant 2611 De la Vina St, 682-1114
  • September 2010: Arch Rock Fish 608 Anacapa St, 845-2800; Las Palmeras 432 E. Haley St, 966-9131; Mama Lu 414 N. Milpas St, 966-1088; Miss Saigon Grill and Lounge 424 State St, 962-0707;The Blue Owl at Zen Yai 425 State St, 705-0991
  • August 2010: Kogilicious 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista, 965-1600; Flaming Grill 6558 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 968-5680; Roll-A-Lot 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Savoy Cafe & Deli 24 W. Figueroa St, 962-6611
  • July 2010: Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches 424 State St, 962-0707; TonyRay's Restaurant & Cantina 731 De la Guerra Plaza; Olio Pizzeria 11 W. Victoria St; Woody's Roundup Bar & Grill at Earl Warren Showgrounds 3400 Calle Real, 845-6914
  • June 2010: Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State St, 963-2215; Mac's Fish & Chip Shop 503 State St, 897-1160
  • May 2010: Billies 413 State St, 966-9782
  • April 2010: Las Aves Cafe 2220 Bath St, 682-7277; Panino 3569 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez, 688-0213
  • March 2010: HobNob Tavern 21 W. Victoria St, 564-7100; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 685-2600
  • February 2010: India House 418 State St, 962-5070; Saigon - Five Points 3987 State St, 964-0909
  • January 2010: Chino's Rock & Tacos 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 968-5118; Simply Pies 5392 Hollister Ave, Goleta, 845-2200; Taqueria el Refugio 730 N. Milpas St, 962-5048

Monday, November 1, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: October 29, 2010 - Grand opening party for South Coast Deli 10 E. Carrillo St.

PHOTO BLOG: October 30, 2010 - Halloween party on the rooftop of the Canary Hotel

Friday, October 28, 2010

CRUSH IN CARP: Crushcafe & Crushcakes, the popular restaurant and cupcake store on Anacapa St., are coming to Carpinteria as a combined eatery. Here is a message from owner Shannon Noormand:

Hi John,
Our new Carp location is going to be a combination of Crushcakes & Crushcafe. We are calling it Crushcakes & Cafe. We will be serving our entire menu of delicious and homemade breakfast, lunch, soups, salads, paninis, our red velvet pancakes, breakfast burritos, organic scrambles, muffins, scones, cookies and of course, cupcakes! We will also have a full Intelligentsia Coffee and espresso bar! Additionally, we will be offering our full catering menu and delivery service from our Carp location to Montecito all the way down south to Ventura, Oxnard, Ojai and further upon request. We plan on being open 7 days a week, 7am to 6pm. We are hoping to open our doors by February but will keep you updated as it gets closer!

AWARD: The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce has awarded Marmalade Cafe at 3825 State Street "Small Business of the Year." Marmalade, along with other award winners, will be honored at a ceremony held at Bacara Resort & Spa on November 18th from 5pm - 7pm. For details visit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

DELI OPENS MONDAY: This just in from the new South Coast Deli at 10 E. Carrillo Street:

Restaurant Guy-
I'm pleased to announce the opening of the newest South Coast Deli in downtown Santa Barbara at 10 East Carrillo. Our first day will be this Monday November 1st. Our hours will be 7am - 4pm Monday through Friday and 11-4 on Saturdays, we will be closed on Sundays. We are really happy with how the space turned out, people familiar with how it looked before have been blown away with how it looks now. We have a lot of seating inside and we'll have a couple tables on the sidewalk as well. The menu is the same as our other locations, award winning sandwiches, delicious salads, breakfast sammies, and Peet's coffee and espresso. 845-4600. Please pass this on to your readers.
-Deli Boy

CASTING CALL: The staff from the Fox Network show Hell's Kitchen contacted me and asked for my help recruiting people from the Santa Barbara area for their Season 9:


Chef Gordon Ramsay is looking for the next winner of FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen! Do you have what it takes to cook beside him in the HOTTEST kitchen on Earth?!

Can YOU stand the heat?

For more information go to
Call: 310.313.9100 or HK Hotline: 866.226.2226


PETRINI'S COMING TO GOLETA: A new sign just appeared at 5711 Calle Real, the former home of Luigi's Pizza & Pasta, that indicates Petrini's Italian Restaurant is indeed taking over that space.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NUTBELLY: On March 16, 2010 the Rumor Machine put out the following message: "915 Linden Ave will soon become a gourmet pizza and sandwich shop." I am happy to report that a new restaurant named Nutbelly Pizzeria & Deli is coming to 915 Linden Ave in Carpinteria, the former home for Chamomile Cafe. The eatery, owned by Joaquin and Janna Gonzalez, will serve sandwiches and pizzas on homemade bread and dough.

PEEBEE & JAYS: Speaking of Carpinteria, Jessica Pintard, owner of Corktree Cellars Wine Bar & Bistro on Linden Ave, is planning to open a new deli named PeeBee & Jay's at 1007 Casitas Pass Rd, the former home of Caje.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

THE THANKSGIVING RESTAURANT LIST: Each November my email inbox is swamped with the same question: Which restaurants serve a traditional turkey brunch/dinner on Thanksgiving Day? Last week I made a hundred phone calls to find the answer for you. Make reservations early because many places will be sold out weeks in advance. Below is my restaurant list which is also available here in a new Thanksgiving category.

  • Ballard Inn Restaurant 688-7770
  • Bella Vista at Four Seasons Biltmore 969-2261
  • Bistro 1111 at Hotel Mar Monte 730-1111
  • Bistro at the Bacara Resort 571-4217
  • Blush Restaurant and Lounge 957-1300
  • bouchon 730-1160
  • Coast Restaurant & Bar at Canary Hotel 879-9100
  • Cold Spring Tavern 967-0066
  • Creekside Buffet at Chumash Casino 686-0855
  • Crocodile Restaurant at Lemon Tree Inn 687-6444
  • Doubletree Resort 884-8535
  • Eladio's 963-4466
  • Frog Bar & Grill at Glenn Annie Golf Course 968-0664
  • Harbor Restaurant 963-3311
  • Harry's Plaza Cafe 687-2800
  • HobNob Tavern 564-7100
  • Holdren's - Downtown 965-3363
  • Holdren’s Grill - Goleta 685-8900
  • Joe's Cafe 966-4638
  • Julienne 845-6488
  • Louie's at the Upham Hotel 963-7003
  • Marmalade Café 682-5246
  • Brothers’ Restaurant at Mattei's Tavern 688-4820
  • Mimosa 682-2272
  • Miro at Bacara Resort 968-0100
  • Moby Dick Restaurant 965-0549
  • Nugget - Goleta 964-5200
  • Petros in Los Olivos 688-7788
  • Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro 962-1455
  • Plow & Angel at San Ysidro Ranch 565-1724
  • Root 246 in Solvang 688-9003
  • Roy 966-5636
  • Seagrass 963-1012
  • Shoals Restaurant at Cliff House Inn 652-1381
  • Sly's (take-out only) 684-6666
  • Stella Mare's 969-6705
  • Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch 565-1724
  • Tee-Off Restaurant 687-1616
  • Treehouse Restaurant 687-2426
  • Tupelo Junction Cafe 899-3100
  • Willows at Chumash Casino 686-0855
  • Wine Cask 966-9463

SUBWAY OPENS: Subway, the popular national deli chain, has opened their new location in Five Points Shopping Center at 3967 State St, the former home of Red Mango, right near Blenders in the Grass.

PUMPKIN CAM: I will be conducting a live video broadcast this Saturday, October 30th from the Halloween party on the rooftop of the Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara. Viewable from the home page of, the PumpkinCam will transmit live from 9pm-10pm Pacific Time, wandering the crowd, checking out costumes and interviewing guests. Replays of the entire broadcast will be viewable after the event.
   Live web cams on have come a long way over the years. The first one was in December 1996 on State Street near my first office in La Arcada. It required a full desktop computer on the sidewalk, a blurry web cam, and a really long telephone cord running all the way back to my office that supplied the Internet via a 0.0144 megabits dial-up modem. The system took a single picture every 30 seconds and displayed it on the home page. Holiday shoppers loved our state-of-the-art setup.
   Compare that to this weekend where will be broadcasting live HD-quality video & audio at 3.0 megabits from my cell phone.


Monday, October 25, 2010

CHOWDER CHAMP: Food & Home Magazine and Legal Aid Foundation held their Chowder Fest fundraiser last Sunday at the Montecito Country Club and here are the winners:

Overall Chowder Champ: Boathouse

Winners of Clam Chowder Category:

Winners of the Creative Category:

Winner of the People’s Choice award: Opal Restaurant and Bar

PHOTO BLOG: October 24, 2010 - Food & Home Magazine's Chowder Fest fundraiser at the Montecito Country Club.

LUIGI'S CLOSES: Luigi's Pizza & Pasta at 5711 Calle Real in Goleta closed last week. Word on the street is that Luigi's might be replaced by Petrini's which used to occupy that address years ago.

KINGSTON'S CANDY: Just in time for Halloween, Kingston's Candy Co. is having a grand opening celebration this weekend at 3415 State St. Party hours are Friday & Saturday October 29-30th, 11am-9pm and Sunday October 31st, 11am-5:30pm.

EPICURE: This just in from Mary Lynn Harms, Marketing Director of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization:

There's still time left in the delicious culinary month of October to take advantage of the great lunch special at Ca'Dario Ristorante. Enjoy your choice of 5 different insalatas and your choice of 5 pastas with a glass of Brander Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc then finish your lunch feast in true Italian fashion - with coffee and an almond biscotti all for only $25 per person through the end of October. Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:30-2pm. Ca'Dario Ristorante: 37 E. Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, 805-884-9419.

NEW BOOK: Santa Barbara News-Press restaurant critic and travel writer Michael Cervin is launching a new book this week titled "Santa Barbara & The Central Coast." A longtime resident of the Central Coast, Cervin has unique trip strategies to offer including Eco Winery Tours, pedaling the coast, golfing, surfing, and suggestions where to sample Santa Maria's famous tri-tip barbecue. In addition to brick and mortar bookstores nationwide this Moon travel book can be found at, and other online booksellers. Cervin has another book, "California Wine Country," all about California wine destinations, coming out in May, 2011.

OFF THE RADAR: The unnamed business replacing Downtown Brewing Co., next to Sandman Inn on upper State St. has been taken off the radar. There has been no apparent change to the interior since I first spotted them in August. I have also stopped tracking Whole Earth Pizza for lack of progress at 6576 Trigo Rd in Isla Vista.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TEQUILA DINNER: El Paseo Restaurant at 813 Anacapa St. will be having a tequila tasting dinner featuring a selection of premium tequilas by Cazadores Tequila. Chef Alex Castillo has planned a four course Mexican menu feature an Ensalada d’ Otoño with a Pepitas vinaigrette paired with Cazadores Silver Tequila, Pollo Con Champiñones with Potato puree, sauté greens in a sugo champiñones, paired with Cazadores Reposado Tequila, a Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Pumpkin Risotto, and vegetables in a sage demi glaze paired with Cazadores Reposado Tequila and a dessert of Pumpkin Crème Brulee with candied pumpkin seeds, paired with Cazadores Añejo Tequila. The dinner takes place Wednesday, October 27 at 6:00 pm and costs $39.95. For information or reservations call 962-6050.

COLOSSAL: Palazzio at 1026 State St. is now serving the 48oz Colossal for $10.00 dollars during Happy Hour (Monday through Friday) between 4pm and 6pm. 48oz's is approximately 4 drinks in one for the price of $10.00.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I stopped by Isla Vista and took photos of Coffee Collaborative and Sweet Tooth and added them to the restaurant guide. I also added a new exterior photo of Billies in downtown Santa Barbara.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SWEET TOOTH: Just in time for Halloween, Sweet Tooth has opened at 6549 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista. Their menu includes gelato, coffee, smoothies and hot dogs (dodger dogs, polish dogs, beef dogs). Hours are Mon-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Sat 10am-1am. For more information call 685-2085.

OFF TOPIC: I frequently ride my bike to Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. More often than not I end up at Home Depot. For some odd reason Home Depot has no bicycle racks. All the other "big box" stores have them. Best Buy, Costco, Ross, Sports Authority, Borders and Staples have at least one bike rack. Some have two bike racks. But for whatever reason Home Depot has no bike racks at all. The consequence of this is that bicyclists end up locking onto items they have on sale out front such as wheel barrels (my favorite), lumber, palm trees and plastic tables. It sometimes looks like Home Depot sells bikes given that so many are chained up on display!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added TAP Thai Restaurant to the guide and included their menu that I scanned this morning.

OFF THE RADAR: While visiting TAP Thai I stopped by the former home of Pizza Hut 2840 Del la Vina St. that closed in July. It was supposed to become a Nicky's Pizza. I saw no progress at all and remnants of Pizza Hut were still visible. I have taken Nicky's Pizza off the radar until further notice.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TAP THAI OPENS: TAP Thai Restaurant opened last Friday evening at 2611 De la Vina St. As happens sometimes when I hunt down food news stories for you, I ended up being their very first paying customer minutes after the grand opening. I sat down with the owner and was told that the Pad Thai and the Green Curry are recommended dishes. Hours are Mon-Thu 11am-3pm, 5-9:30pm, Fri 11am-3pm, 5-10pm, Sat noon-10pm. For more information call 682-1114.

CHOWDER FEST: I have been asked to be a judge for the Chowder Fest being held this Sunday, October 24th from 1-6pm at the Montecito Country Club, 920 Summit Rd. Other judges include Hell’s Kitchen sous chef Scott Leibfried and Seagrass executive chef John Pettitt. The Chowder Fest is a fundraiser for Legal Aid which provides access to the civil justice system for low income people and seniors. For tickets ($75 in advance and $90 at the door) call 963-6754 x109 or visit
   Participating food businesses include Aldo’s, Arch Rock Fish, Bay Roadhouse, Boathouse, Brophy Bros, Enterprise Fish, Faculty Club, Fishouse, Greek House, Harbor Restaurant, Joe’s, Louie’s, Marmalade, Max’s, New West Catering, Olio e Limone, Opal, Roy’s, SB Catering, SBCC Culinary Dept, SB Premier Catering, SB Shellfish, Useless Bay Seafood, Whole Foods, Willows and Wine Cask.
   Wineries include Brander, Cambria, Daniel Gehr, Giessinger, Kalyra, Lucas & Lewellen, Millésimé, Pear Valley, Sunstone and Whitcraft. Breweries include Telegraph, Firestone Walker and The Brewhouse.

GREEK HOUSE UPDATE: This just in from the Greek House Cafe at 5 W. Haley St:

Hello John,
Our remodel is almost done. We will have a Greek grill menu. With kebabs, Greek rice, Greek chicken with potatoes, calamari, sizzling feta, wild salmon with Greek spices and more. I recently went to LA and cooked for the "Mark & Brian" morning show on 95.5 KLOS Los Angeles. I made them spanakopita (spinach pie) dolmas-, chicken kebabs, orzo with burned butter and tomato, moussaka, gyro , tzaziki, garlic spread (skorhtalia), hummus, baklava and kouembethes (butter cookies). The items are off the new menu. Will keep you posted on our grand re-launch.
Thanks for all you do,
Stan Nicolaides

TOUR OF KITCHENS: The National Kitchen & Bath Association’s 5th annual Tour of Kitchens takes place this Sunday from 10am-5pm. This self-driven tour features 17 homes that have been recently remodeled and offers free samples of restaurant cuisine. A charity benefit for the Santa Barbara Food Bank and FOOD Share, this year’s homes are along the 101 corridor, from Goleta & Santa Barbara to Agoura Hills. Tickets are $25-$30 and may be purchased at

Friday, October 15, 2010

2011 ZAGAT SURVEY RESULTS: The highly-respected Zagat Survey of restaurants just released their results and I had an opportunity to glance at the 2011 booklet covering the Santa Barbara region. Zagat only surveyed about 60 local restaurants so if your favorite place didn't make the list, it doesn't necessarily mean it received a low ranking.

The Top Food award went to Seagrass at 30 E. Ortega St. "We're honored and proud to be recognized at the top of the list in the Zagat Review," said Mitchell Sjerven, proprietor of Seagrass Restaurant. "It's a testament to our chef John Pettit, for his consistent interpretation of Coastal Cuisine for Seagrass. We'd also like to congratulate the other restaurants who made the top of the list, including Downey's, Ca'Dario and Olio e Limone restaurants, among many others. We're in the company of Santa Barbara's best restaurants and are thrilled to see Santa Barbara taking its rightful place on the culinary destination map."

"My goal is to serve our guests exceptional, locally-inspired dishes, which I'm able to do by working closely with local farmers, fisherman, and ranchers, and sourcing the best quality product out there," said Executive Chef John Pettitt. "I taste everything at the farmers market before I make a decision, evaluate the best way to utilize that product, and always try to create dishes that flow together and have a perfect balance on the palate."

    1) Seagrass
    2) Downey's
    3) Ca' Dario, Trattoria Grappolo, Olio e Limone
    4) Arigato Sushi
    1) Downey's, Stonehouse
    2) Bella Vista, bouchon, Louie's
    1) Stonehouse
    2) Bella Vista
    3) Lucky's, Cold Spring Tavern, Coast
    1) La Super-Rica
    2) Downey's
    3) Ca' Dario
    4) Hitching Post
    5) Brophy Bros
    1) In-N-Out
    2) La Super Rica
    3) Cajun Kitchen
    4) Los Arroyos
    5) China Pavilion

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SUBWAY COMING TO FIVE POINTS: Subway, the popular national deli chain, has nearly completed construction of a new location in Five Points Shopping Center at 3967 State St, the former home of Red Mango, right near Blenders in the Grass. I decided to add this sentence to the story so at first glance it appears that I have a lot more to say about the subject even though I don't. Here is another one for good measure. Have a nice day.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added photos to the guide for Miss Saigon Grill and Lounge.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

LEMON FESTIVAL: The 19th annual California Lemon Festival arrives this weekend in Goleta (at Girsh Park off of Storke Rd). You'll find food, a family atmosphere, and a variety of entertainment and activities that have made this event the most anticipated in the Goleta Valley. The festival also includes the Goleta Fall Classic Car & Street Rod Show, "Safety Street," pie-eating contests, arts & crafts vendors and a Green Business trade show. Festival hours are: Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 10am-5pm. Admission is free. For more information visit

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added photos to the page for the new Mexican restaurant Las Palmeras.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HERE COMETH THE PANERA ERA: Regular readers of this column know I have been following the story of Panera Bread and their quest to find a home on the South Coast. On February 2nd I announced that they were interested in finding a place in Santa Barbara. On April 19th I posted a rumor that they were considering opening downtown or possibly near La Cumbre Plaza. Today I have an update on Panera that will be presented in two parts: news and analysis.

   The news: Reliable sources tell me that Panera Bread wants to move into a vacant bank building on the La Cumbre Plaza property. No lease has been signed yet. They hope to open either February or March 2011. Employees hired for the new eatery will be trained at the Santa Maria Panera Bread then will work in Santa Barbara.

   The analysis: Ok, so now we know that Panera wants to open near La Cumbre Plaza - but where exactly? I paid a visit to the area and my *best guess* is that the location will be 3851 State St., the former home of Wachovia Bank which closed April 23rd. The Wachovia building is immediately next to Baja Fresh and is the first business you encounter when entering the plaza parking lot from State St. It is also highly visible from State St. which makes it an ideal spot for a restaurant with the added bonus of plentiful parking.

WOODY'S ROUNDUP OPENS: Gino & Kim Stabile, owners of Woody's BBQ in Goleta, have opened Woody's Roundup Bar & Grill at Earl Warren Showgrounds at 3400 Calle Real. Gino says "We're excited to be back in Santa Barbara," referring to the Woody's location that used to be on Montecito St. in the 1980's.

   The new Santa Barbara Woody's is a bit different from the Goleta eatery. It's full service as opposed ordering at a counter, includes a full bar and offers breakfast, lunch & dinner. The menu includes Goleta Woody's most popular items (like the ribs & fries) and adds a few new ones such as steak, chicken fried steak and fried chicken. Woody's Roundup has a Sunday brunch from 9am - 2pm. Sports fans will be happy to know that the restaurant has NFL Ticket and several TV sets. Woody's has a full banquet facility that seats 300. There is no charge to use the facility other than paying for food & drinks.

   The best way to get to Woody's Roundup Bar & Grill at Earl Warren Showgrounds is to enter Gate A (on Las Positas) and follow the road straight to the end. You will see Woody's on the left. If you arrive on an event day where there is a charge for parking, Woody's will reimburse you.

   Hours are 8am - 10pm Monday - Sunday and they are closed on Tuesdays. For more information about Woody's Roundup call 845-6914.

LUIGI'S TO BECOME PETRINI'S? Luigi's Pizza & Pasta at 5711 Calle Real in Goleta plans to close at the end of October. Sources tell me that there is a high likelihood that Luigi's will be replaced by Petrini's Family Restaurant, which has a location at 14 W. Calle Laureles in Santa Barbara. I am told that Petrini's used to have a location at 5711 Calle Real many years ago.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SANTA BARBARA BEER FESTIVAL: This Saturday, October 16th, from noon to 4 p.m. the fields at Elings Park will once again be transformed into a gigantic beer festival featuring the microbrews from the Central and West coast. There will be multiple breweries represented, micro breweries, home-brewed beer clubs, a selection of fine cigars, food and live music. All of the proceeds generated from ticket sales will go toward two local nonprofits, Elings Park and the Santa Barbara Rugby Association. Tickets for $45 (+ $2.11 fee) are available on their web site. Tickets are $55 at the gate. Only cash will be accepted the day of the festival. Designated drivers will be allowed free entry for the event. Check their website for a free Bill's Bus shuttle schedule. For more information and directions visit

CHEF KARIM NIGHT: This Thursday SOhO Restaurant & Music Club at 1221 State St. will be having a special "Night in Morocco" with Chef Karim in the SOhO kitchen. They will be transforming SOhO into Chef Karim's restaurant, complete with themed decor, belly dancing, and Moroccan cuisine like only Chef Karim can offer. If you were a fan of his restaurant, you can relive all the food, environment and entertainment once again. Reservations (required) are available between 5:30 and 8:30pm. For more information call 962-7776.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added EpicBowl to the restaurant guide.


PHOTO BLOG: October 9, 2010 - Heal the Ocean fundraiser at Coral Casino with Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Friday, October 8, 2010

AND THE WINNER IS: Yesterday was the 1st Thursday "Taco Taste-off." The judges' choice for best taco was the seared salmon with mango from Rudy's Restaurants. The people's choice award went to Chino's. Watch a video of Rudy's staff describing how they made the winning taco.

SHOCK & AWE: I went to Cafe Del Sol in Montecito recently and was in shock to discover that one of my favorite dishes in all of Santa Barbara, the Cafe del Sol crab cakes, was no longer on the menu. I was in awe when our terrific waiter, Bonifacio, told me they could still create the dish! After dinner they surprised us with a pair of desserts for the two birthday boys at our table and owner Jack Sears came over to greet us. All & all a great night.

OFF TOPIC: I had dinner at Marina Sushi in Ventura the other day (one of my favorite Ventura eateries) and noticed something odd across the street. On the left side of the photo below is the Ventura Visitor Center. On the right is a big sign for Ventura tourism information with an arrow pointing away from the visitor center.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

COFFEE COLLABORATIVE OPENS IN I.V.: Two entrepreneurs from Santa Barbara have staked their claim in Isla Vista with the opening of a new organic coffee concept called Coffee Collaborative at 6560 Pardall Rd, the former home of Java Jones.
   "As the name suggests, we are basically about two things...great coffee and working with the community in which we do business" remarked co-owner Tal Benami, a 26 year old UCSB graduate. "Coffee Collaborative has a simple mission to create a tribe of conscious consumers who support local business and give back to the community through social, local, and environmental partnerships" added John Lewis, co-owner. For more information visit

SPLENDID SECOND SUNDAYS: This just in from Mac's Fish & Chip Shop at 503 State Street:

Hi John,

Just a quick note to let you know about an exciting edition to Mac's repertoire that begins this Sunday and is sure to leave your legion of British readers in quite a tither. We're calling it Splendid Second Sundays (because we have no shame) which means that on the second sunday of every month (starting this Sunday 10th Oct) between 2pm and 5pm, we're offering full Traditional British Sunday Roast Dinners featuring a Choice of Two Meats, Roast and Mashed potatoes, a Selection of Seasonal Vegetables, Yorkshire Puddings, Stuffing and Gravy. $15 for adults and $7.50 for kids. And relax, we'll still be serving our full regular menu throughout. Splendid, I hope you'll agree...


TACO OF THE TOWN: I'll be a judge for the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization's taco competition tonight at 5:15pm in front of Borders, 900 State St.

PHOTO BLOG: October 1, 2010 - California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria

OFF TOPIC: Sources tell me that Mountain Funding has put the La Entrada property up for sale and that it is currently in escrow. La Entrada is a nickname for the redevelopment project on State Street, between the freeway and Cabrillo Blvd.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

EPICBOWL OPENS SATURDAY IN PASEO NUEVO: Acai bowl & smoothie specialist EpicBowl is coming to 819 State St #B (near Nordstrom) this Saturday, October 9th and will celebrate by giving out free samples. David Schwartz, the president of EpicBowl, said that it has taken quite a while to perfect the bowls to have the right taste while eliminating as much sugars as possible in the ingredients. Here is a message I received from Schwartz about his new eatery:

"EpicBowl is going to specialize in the 'next generation' of Acai Bowls & smoothies, most everything served will have organic or pesticide free ingredients whenever possible. Aside from traditional smoothies, EpicBowl will also serve organic-based protein bowls that are dairy-free yet almost impossible to tell. We are scheduled to be open 8:00AM to 7:00PM and will be attempting to build up a breakfast clientele with the introduction of our organic coffee's, and we are currently finalizing some of the proprietary menu items such as the 'Seven Grain pancake in a bowl', our own blend of oatmeal with whipped steamed organic milk. One of the Epic's partners Gary Nardilla, has been a director for Martha Stewart for 15 years and has many tricks up his sleeve that he has learned working with her, and traveling the country with her and working with some of the finest food professionals."

CECCO: The Harbor Restaurant's chef David Cecchini is planning to open a new eatery named "Cecco Ristorante" at 475 First St. #9 in Solvang.

NEW CHEF AT THE WINE CASK: Today the Wine Cask is welcoming new chef Spencer Johnston  Here is the full press-release:

Central Coast Culinary Talent, Chef Spencer Johnston Takes the Helm at Wine Cask

Santa Barbara, CA. October 2010 – Much like producing fine wine or making a house feel like a home takes lots of "TLC", Doug Margerum and Mitchell Sjerven's mission to bring back the Wine Cask has been a labor of love. Their passion for great food, the highest caliber of service and bringing back the comfort and nostalgia of one of Santa Barbara's favorite restaurants was inspired by the Santa Barbara community… because they get that restaurant reviews only go so far.

 As part of their master plan to bring the Wine Cask back, Margerum and Sjerven are proud to announce Spencer Johnston as their new Executive Chef. Chef Spencer Johnston, born and raised in San Luis Obispo, combines the sensibilities acquired from being raised on California's Central Coast with a decade of experience working in the Southern California food scene, delivering a fresh take on the classic menus of the Wine Cask.  The duo are also enthused that the beloved Intermezzo has once again returned as a favorite local spot, offering small plates and comfort food, in one of the most comfortable and accessible bar spaces, perfect for friends gathering for drinks any night of the week.
 Johnston is an advocate for cooking with the freshest, most sustainable, locally sourced ingredients that represent the rich bounty and harvest that the Santa Barbara region has to offer. Johnston has spent close to half his life in professional kitchens, most recently serving as the Executive Chef at The Pearl Hotel in San Diego. Prior to The Pearl, he strengthened his culinary skills under Chef Antonio Friscia at Stingaree and Chef Christian Graves at Jsix, both in San Diego.

 "Being back on the Central Coast has been amazing – our access to the freshest ingredients from local farms and purveyors is unbeatable, and I'm lucky enough to be able to hit the Farmers Markets just a block from my new kitchen," said Johnston.  "Creating meals to satisfy cravings for delicious food is what I love the most. At the Wine Cask, we describe our style as 'American Riviera Cuisine', because Santa Barbara is a very special place that deserves it's own label.  Much like 'Provencal cooking' or 'Tuscan Cuisine' warrant recognition, local chefs are gravitating towards a style here that is putting Santa Barbara on the culinary map."

Monday, October 4, 2010

TACO OF THE TOWN: I have been asked to be a judge for the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization's "Taco of the Town" taco competition being held this Thursday, October 7th at 5:15pm in front of Borders, 900 State St. Other judges are George Yatchisin (Food Editor, The Independent), Chef John Pettitt (Seagrass restaurant) and Krista Harris (Edible Santa Barbara). Steve Meade from KJEE will be the Emcee. All tacos will follow a seafood theme and participating downtown restaurants include Chino's, Rudy's, Sandbar, State & A, Tony Ray's & Wahoo's.

TEQUILA TASTING: This Thursday, October 7th at 7pm Dos Carlitos Restaurant at 3544 Sagunto St. in Santa Ynez is having a tequila tasting that will feature pours from 4 tequila categories: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo & Extra Añejo. The event costs $25 and includes a selection of tapas. Reservations are requested: 688-0033.

GREEN CARD: Acai bowl eatery Backyard Bowls at 331 Motor Way now offers a "Green Card" to earn free meals. Each time you order "for here" (with a reusable bowl), bring your own bowl, or return a used to-go container for composting, Backyard Bowls will stamp your card. With 10 stamps you earn 1 free bowl. For more information call 845-5397 for visit

Friday, October 1, 2010

HARBOR & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL: The 2010 Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival will be held on Saturday October 9 at the Santa Barbara Harbor. The festival lures seafood lovers of all ages to Santa Barbara's popular Harbor for one of the community's most flavorful events. This annual event showcases many regional seafood specialties, cooking demonstrations, interactive maritime education, children's activities, boat rides, live music, a tall ship visit and more. Hours are 10am - 5pm and admission is free.

SCAM: In last week's blog I wrote about an online scammer that has been attempting to steal money from Santa Barbara restaurants. The most recent unsuccessful target was Mac's Fish & Chip Shop at 503 State Street. Below is an email communication between Mac & the scammer:

Mac: Hi, Mac here from Mac's Fish & Chip Shop. Can you give me a few more details about your event and I can get a quote to you ASAP. It was on 30th Sep but where is it and would we deliver or would you pick up? What time would you require the food? We have two sizes of fish - a "lunch" portion which is normally 5 or 6 oz of fish (before battering and frying) or a "regular" which is more like 8 or 9 oz. Which would you require? Would you need any sides or just straight fish & chips? We have house coleslaw, mushy peas, baked beans, gravy, curry sauce, bread rolls, pickled onions and dill pickles. Look forward to hearing from you soon. Kind Regards, Mac

Scammer: Hello how are you doing today, I want you to email your phone so that we can talk better on phone

Mac: Hi, The shop phone number is (805) 897 1160. I am away from the shop tomorrow (Monday) which is my first day off since we opened three months ago but I'll be back on Tuesday and we can talk then if that's OK? Cheers, Mac

Scammer: That is not a problem just get back to me with the Total cost

Mac: Our "lunch" portion goes for $7.50 and the "regular" portion is $10.00 so the total cost for 200 portions would be $1500 or $2000 respectively. If I have more details about timing, pick-up / delivery etc then I should be able to work out a discount for the bulk order. Obviously we would require payment in advance in such a large order due to the amount of purchasing and preparation required. Kind Regards, Mac

Scammer: Thank you for fast replay am very happy to see your mail i understand that the total price is $2,000 so i want you to understand that the private shipper that will pick up from you will also pick it up with warmer and i want you to go ahead now and add extra $980 plus the total of the food that's for the private shipper that will come and pick up the food on the event date 2pm so that you can have it send to them to prepare the pick up before the event date so that no disappointment in both side.

Mac: That seems an awful lot of money for a courier service. Unfortunately we don't have a helipad but State Street is pretty wide so it shouldn't be an issue. When will payment be made for this food? I am a little skeptical about orders done solely over the Internet so can we agree that when your courier arrives he/she will give us the password "gullable" just so that we know it is going to the right people as I would hate to give your order to the wrong person. Finally, do you want salt and vinegar putting on them or shall I leave it on the side? Sorry for the short email but I have to begin preparing your fish and potatoes. It is probably going to take me all night and that means I'll miss my gran's memorial service but business is business. Kind Regards, Mac

Scammer: Thanks i wanna know if you understand the shipper fee you going to add to my bill while you Charge it on my Credit Card now and as soon as you Charge my Credit Card through you go ahead and have the shipper fund send to them via western union so that they can make arrangement for the pick up so get back to me with the Total cost for everything that you going to charge on my credit card now. thank you

Mac: Sounds perfect. I'm already going to Western Union tomorrow morning as I have to send cash to a Nigerian Prince who e-mailed me asking for money to help overthrow his evil father. Cheers, Mac

PHOTO BLOG: September 25, 2010 - Chili Cook-off presented by the Kiwanis Club

PHOTO BLOG: September 30, 2010 - SB Chamber fundraiser for Future Captains of Industry at Maritime Museum

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor The Blue Owl at Zen Yai. The Blue Owl offers late night food at Zen Yai restaurant 425 State Street Thurs-Sat from 11:30pm - 2am.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

BIG EASY BRUNCH: This weekend Coast Restaurant & Bar inside the Canary Hotel at 31 W. Carrillo St. is debuting an all-new Big Easy Brunch, featuring Santa Barbara's popular New Orleans-style jazz band "Ulysses." The Big Easy Brunch is available every Sunday from 11am - 3pm. Chef Brian Parks offers Creole-inspired specials including Apple Beignets, Cheddar and Chile Grits, Andouille Sausage and Eggs, Shrimp Jambalaya and a traditional New Orleans-style Eggs Sardou with Ham.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OFF TOPIC: This morning I finally achieved a goal that I started working toward seven years ago: I lost 50 pounds. And I did it without dieting. How is that possible? It's because of the way I define "dieting" of course! I see dieting as a temporary change in your eating habits to lose weight in a relatively short period of time. I chose 50 pounds as the goal because that is how much I had gained over the years since college.

   In 2003 I finally accepted that I was eating way too much, that I wasn't paying any attention to what I ate and that it was time to do something about it. And I finally accepted that dieting doesn't work. As you probably know, dieting is always a two step process. Step 1) Lose weight. Step 2) Gain it all back. I realized that the only way to lose weight and *keep it off* is to make a series of permanent changes in my eating habits.

   It took many years of experimenting with a series of New Years resolutions to achieve the goal.  Each year I would try making a change that is permanent as opposed doing it for just 365 days. I chose this method because it turns out that I am much better at stopping something completely than I am at moderating.

   Sure enough, I started losing weight at an average of about 7 pounds per year. By the time I reached the 50 pound mark (and had dropped 8 waist sizes) the odds are slim (no pun intended) to none that I will gain it all back because I have 7 long years of practice at the new eating lifestyle.

   Starting all my new habits at the same time would have been too big of a challenge and ultimately unsuccessful. For me, accumulating small changes over many years was the secret to forming lasting habits. Desserts were my biggest weakness so I deliberately phased them out over 4 years. In hindsight I should have phased out cake & pie one year then ice cream & froyo the next, to lessen the impact. That experience taught me to stop french fries & onion rings on separate years.

   Below is a list of my New Years resolutions. What works for me won't necessarily work for others because every body is different.

  • 2003: Cut the volume of daily food intake to an amount appropriate for one person, not two people!
  • 2003: Weigh yourself every day
  • 2004: Have a protein shake with fruite every morning for breakfast
  • 2005: Start eating smaller meals more often during the day
  • 2005: Cut back on bread, rice & pasta
  • 2006: If hungry between meals, eat fruit
  • 2006: Exercise at least twice a week
  • 2007: No desserts except for on your birthday. Definition of dessert: cake, pie, ice cream & froyo
  • 2007: No boxed frozen meals
  • 2008: Dessert now includes candy, cookies & muffins
  • 2008: No french fries
  • 2008: Eat a small meal at home before going to an event that serves hors d'oeuvres
  • 2009: Push-ups & sit-ups every morning
  • 2009: Dessert now includes frapuccinos & mocha coffees
  • 2009: No onion rings
  • 2009: Cut back on cheese
  • 2010: No tortilla chips, cut back on potato chips
  • 2010: Eat a small meal at home before going out to dinner at a restaurant or event
  • 2010: If you have a large or unusually fattening dinner, have an apple for lunch the next day
  • Starting next year: no potato chips, no snacking on nuts

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OKTOBERFEST: The Brewhouse at 229 W. Montecito St. will host its 6th Annual Oktoberfest celebration, Friday and Saturday, Oct 1 & 2, 11am - 9pm. Once again the Brewhouse parking lot will be transformed into a German Beer Hall featuring authentic German food, music, costumes and of course beer. Spaten and Hofbrau Oktoberfest beer imported from Munich, plus the Brewhouse's own Oktoberfest beer will be served in the beer tent. Festivities begin with the ceremonial tapping of the barrel Friday night. Saturday will feature the Bratwurst eating contest, costume contests, beer trivia game and the stein carrying competition. The Red Baron and Oktubafest will perform both days.

SOL FOOD FEST: The Sol Food Festival is being held this Saturday, October 2nd 10am - 6pm at 180 E Cota St. across from the Farmers Market. It is a one day community-created festival to raise awareness of the sustainable, organic, and local food systems of Santa Barbara County. The event celebrates the local farmers, chefs, organizations and individuals who are working to better our food system. For more information visit

Monday, September 27, 2010

LAS PALMERAS OPENS ON HALEY: A new Mexican restaurant named "Las Palmeras" has opened at 432 E. Haley St., the former home of Las Conchas. Hours are Mon-Sun 10am - 6pm and the eatery can be reached by calling 966-9131. Francisco Andrade, nephew of the owner, sent me a message about the new restaurant:

The owner is Jesus Andrade my uncle! He recently retired from working over 35 years at BFI as a welder, he and my father have owned the property for nearly 15 years now and the restaurant has gone thru so many ups and downs as far as city officials wanting to keep the establishment closed! It was formerly known as Las Conchas which came with a very infamous name!

My uncle's passion for soccer and authentic Mexican food is what his goal is, as far as creating the restaurant, his goal is to make it more like a sports bar. As far as coming in, having a cold beer, share some great food, and watch soccer all day long! From the Major league soccer, to the Mexican league, or any European game possibly shown! Santa Barbara has very strong soccer roots and Las Palmeras would like to be the root to share great stories, with lots of friends and above all great homemade tacos!

Francisco Andrade

BLOODY MARY: I was out on the town (Joe's Cafe, Blush, The Savoy) last Friday evening with a group of friends that included Tommy Byrne, founder and owner of James Joyce at 513 State Street. Somehow the topic of conversation turned to the popular drink known as the "Bloody Mary." Byrne, who has worked at 22 bars since 1973 and was a bartender for 20 years, tells me that he discovered the best Bloody Mary ever made and that it can be found in Santa Barbara. He says that the best Bloody Mary he has ever had is created by a man named Jack who works downstairs at Brophy Bros. at 119 Harbor Way. Jack doesn't work there every day but if you are a Bloody Mary fan, he's your man. If you arrive at Brophy's and can't remember his name just ask for the man with the eye patch!

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsors Holdren's Grill at 6920 Marketplace Dr in Goleta and Holdren's Steaks & Seafood at 512 State St.

Friday, September 24, 2010

FRESCO OPENS IN SOLVANG: Fresco Valley Cafe, the sister eatery to Fresco Cafe in Santa Barbara and Goleta, has opened its doors at 448 Atterdag Ave. in Solvang. Hours are 11am-9pm Mon-Sun and the phone number is 688-8857. Here is a message from Fresco founder Jill Brouillard:

Hello John,

Just wanted to let you know that Fresco Valley Cafe has opened at 448 Atterdag Ave. in Solvang. Partners, Mathew Raab and Aric Christopher, opened quietly last weekend during Danish Days and business has been very brisk. Mark and I spent the last two weeks there and Mark returns again this weekend. We have been touched by the excitement and enthusiasm that it has generated and believe that it is a wonderful addition to a lovely city that is retaining it's culture, while becoming a great wine destination as well. The cafe is delightful with a brick patio, fountains and a fireplace and has a friendly staff serving the Fresco menu. Specials are slowly being added and a beer and wine license is expected on site any day.

Jill Brouillard

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor The Savoy, a hybrid restaurant/lounge/concert hall and nightclub at 409 State Street.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

AVO FEST: Carpinteria's annual California Avocado Festival is once again set to feed & entertain the masses October 1- 3, 2010. Hours are Friday 4pm - 10 pm, Saturday 10am - 9 pm and Sunday 10 am - 6 pm. For details about the many food, craft & entertainment venues at the festival visit
   The idea of the California Avocado Festival began in 1986 at a meeting between community leaders Rob Godfrey, Connie Korbel, Debbie Murphy, Fran Puccinelli, Bob Ealee and John Franklin. A brainstorming meeting was called to create an ongoing weekend event that would benefit the fundraising efforts of the local non-profit groups. Out of that the Avo Fest was born.

SCAM: A local restaurant owner passed this message to me about a recent attempt to steal money from their business:

We recently got a call from an operator saying they were a relay caller for a person with a hearing disability. The call is difficult to deal with and is very time consuming. The caller said they wanted to order a large number of items, in our case it was 150 Sandwiches. They said they wanted to pay with a credit card and have a courier pick them up for his birthday party.

As we are not really in the business of selling this quantity of food to-go and it sounded overly suspicious, we did a little research and it looks as though it is a scam. It seems in the related cases we found online, the buyer changes their order and ask you to wire back some of the money.

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor Pastavino restaurant at Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A TASTE OF CARPINTERIA: Girls Inc of Carpinteria is hosting it 14th annual "A Taste of Carpinteria" fundraiser on Sunday, October 10th from 1 to 5 PM at 5315 Foothill Rd in Carpinteria. The silent and live auctions will be enhanced by honoring local chefs Michael Hutchings, Kristine Castillo and Gary Nielsen. Live auction items this year include featured original art by Lety Garcia, vacation to a home in Italy, vacation to a home in the south of France, jewelry, hosted parties and more. Silent auction and raffle items include gift baskets, local services and hand crafted art. Many local restaurants, wineries and local brewer Island Brewing Company will be offering samples. Tickets are $50. For more information call 684-6364.

BREAKFAST: Silvergreens at 900 Embarcadero Del Mar in Isla Vista is now serving breakfast 7 days/week. This location and Silvergreens downtown have the same breakfast hours and menu: Mon-Fri 7:30-noon and Sat-Sun 8am-1pm. Breakfast options include homemade waffles, Acai energy bowls, non-greasy breakfast burritos, steel-cut oatmeal, fresh fruit, smoothies, bagels, organic coffee and tea and fresh squeezed juices.

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor Sugar Cat Studio, an independent local cupcake business that caters to special events, parties, and weddings.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

IT'S A GO FOR BEVMO! Blissfully unaware of the controversy that would erupt in the media all over town the next day, last February 16th I cheerfully broke the story about the pending arrival of leading alcoholic beverage-lifestyle superstore BevMo! at 3052 State St. Seven months later I get to follow-up the story with the announcement that BevMo! is opening this Friday, September 24th at 9am. To celebrate the launch of their newest store BevMo! is planning all-day festivities Friday – Sunday that includes visits from "famous winemakers, brewmasters and spirit ambassadors." For a complete list of events & visitors go to

Santa Barbara BevMo! opens this Friday at 3052 State St., the former home of Thomasville Furniture

A DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: Brothers Matthew & Ben Chrestenson, founders of Union Ale Brewing Co. in downtown Santa Barbara, are opening a new Mexican-BBQ restaurant named "Dirty's Barbecue and Brew Shack" at 6521 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista, the former home of On The Side, Isla Vista Spot and Kinko's (1970). Matthew tells me they will have a simple menu of ribs, wings, BBQ pork, tri-tip, bowls, burritos, and sandwiches. The eatery, which will open this weekend or next week, will also be serving Union Ale beer. Hours are Monday-Sunday 11am – midnight. For more information call 685-2600 or view their menu online at

CLOSED: On The Side sports bar & restaurant at 6521 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista has closed. It originally opened last March.

PASCUCCI DELIVERS: Pascucci restaurant at 729 State St. now offers home delivery. Here is a message from owner Laura Knight that describes the new service:

   Just wanted to give you the details on our new delivery service, which we just launched this week, so far it's going well, it's hard to get anything delivered in Santa Barbara besides pizza!

   We are working with Fiesta cab, they will deliver to most of Santa Barbara for a flat $10 fee (gratuity is always appreciated) the area designated for this fee is 93101, 93103, 93109, and 93105 & 93110 below Foothill Rd. The $10 fee is paid separately to the cab company, either cash or credit/debit card.

   They will deliver to areas outside this zone (Montecito & Goleta) for slightly higher, Fiesta Cab said usually around $15. With Winter coming, Monday night football, office meetings, and nights where people just don't feel like driving anywhere, we hope this will be great for our customers. We have large, insulated carrying bags that will keep the food hot to your door.

   To start with, we are offering this service Monday through Friday lunch 11:30-3:00 and Sunday through Thursday nights from 5:00 -9:00. Sorry, no Friday & Saturday nights or Saturday & Sunday lunches, we don't want to overwhelm our kitchen staff.

   Soon, our website will have the option to order and pay online, this will be about 3-4 weeks away. The new site will offer the capability to customize your order, as many customers appreciate being able to do at Pascucci. For now, until this is implemented, customers wanting this delivery service can call Pascucci directly at 963-8123.

Thanks for posting this on your very popular column!

Laura Knight
729 State Street


Friday, September 17, 2010

MISS SAIGON: Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches at 424 State St which opened in July has been renamed Miss Saigon Grill and Lounge and is introducing a new concept. Details coming soon!

PASCUCCI DELIVERS: Pascucci restaurant at 729 State St. now offers delivery service to your home, Sunday-Thursday. Call the restaurant at 963-8123 for full details.

THE BIG APPLE: My parents sent me these pictures of a freakishly huge apple growing in their backyard in Montecito. Already 5 inches in diameter, it continues to increase in size every day.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

CHEF TASTING MENU: The Harbor Restaurant on Stearns Wharf is offering a gourmet three-course "Chef Tasting Menu" for dinner, Sundays – Thursdays, for $20. The Tasting Menus have been specially designed by Chef David Cecchini, and they change weekly, offering a sampling of his cuisine for guests to enjoy.

   Highlights of the new Chef Tasting Menus include first courses such as Lobster Ravioli with sage butter, sultanas and goat cheese, and Shrimp Ceviche with scallions, radish, pineapple and fresh lime. Second course options include Beef Milanese with saffron potato "risotto" and sautéed spinach, Salmon Wellington with purple potato fondue, asparagus and lobster jus and Pan Roasted Duck Breast with stir fried ginger rice and baby bok choy. Top it all off with desserts like the Chocolate Molten Cake and Fresh Apple Crostada.

CHILI COOK OFF: I have been asked to be a judge for a chili cook off from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 25th at the Carriage Museum, 129 Castillo St. 100% of proceeds benefit the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Prevention Program. Enjoy chili tasting, a kids zone with face painting and crafts, vintage car show, raffle, live music, food purchases and a beer wagon. Admission is free and tastings are 50 cents per taste. Other judges for the event are CJ ward, Beth Farnsworth both of KEYT, Fire chief Andy Dimizio, SBHS foot ball coach Jamie Melgoza and Sr. Loan Consultant Guy Rivera. For more information call 758-0206.

TALK LIKE A PIRATE: Coast Restaurant & Bar is celebrating national "Talk like a Pirate Day" this Sunday. Stop by Coast and enjoy specials on Grub and Grog (food and drink) all day if you talk like a pirate! Grog – Half off a pint 11am–11pm, Grub – complimentary appetizer during brunch or dinner. AAARRRR!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SWEET SUNDAY: I just received a press-release about a dessert fundraiser this Sunday at the Lobero:

On September 19, 2010 Genesis West Theatre Company will be holding Sweet Sunday, a unique and fun food party, event devoted to the celebration of all foods sweet, to be held Sunday, September 19 from 11 am to 3 pm. at the Lobero Theatre Courtyard (right behind the Lobero) in downtown Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara's best bakers, culinary artists and most loved businesses will be presenting a wide variety of cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies and lots, lots more!

All proceeds benefit Genesis West, a local nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Genesis West is a Santa Barbara theatre company dedicated to presenting stimulating works by contemporary playwrights while showcasing the work of local actors, designers and artists. The company's upcoming production brings Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard to Center Stage Theater. This engaging drama is a commentary on current political events and is the winner of an Obie Award for best play.

When: September 19, 2010, 11am - 3pm
Where: Lobero Theatre Courtyard (right behind the Lobero)
33 E Canon Perdido St.

Adults: $20 in advance $25 at the door
Children (12 and under): $10 in advance $15 at the door

Visit for more information!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: McDonald's - Upper State is closed for renovations until October 1st.

MERRY CHRISTMAS: Costco just put out their Christmas decorations and it is only mid-September. It used to be that the Christmas season started at Thanksgiving. Then one day it started kicking off just before Halloween. Now it has arrived during the Back-to-School season. Perhaps next year we can start celebrating the holidays during Fiesta? Viva la Navidad!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AS IF YOU CARE - PART TWO: I am frequently asked the same two questions: "How did you get the domain name" and "How did you become The Restaurant Guy?" Last Tuesday I wrote a story about how my day job,, came in to being in the mid-1990's. Today I reveal what is behind Door #2.

  Information about Santa Barbara on the web was virtually non-existent in the mid-1990's. Web sites about Santa Barbara contained nothing more than a bunch of links to other web sites because that type of content was easy to create. Nobody was taking the time to actually go outside, shoot pictures and write about Santa Barbara because there was no money to be made by doing it. Google and their advertising network did not yet exist and digital cameras cost about $1000 (with 30 picture capacity). At the time, launching a comprehensive pictorial web site about things to see and do in Santa Barbara was completely crazy. As it turns out, I enjoy doing crazy things, so I launched the first general information web site about the South Coast.

   In 2000, about 5 years after the launch of when it had grown to about 1,000 pages, I stumbled across a piece of software that would analyze my web site traffic and tell me what pages people are looking at. To my great surprise, it told me that the single most popular part of my site was the restaurant guide.

   My first reaction upon discovering this was one of embarrassment. I was embarrassed because I hadn't touched the restaurant guide in years and I knew that it was terribly outdated. I quickly grabbed the most recent phonebook and started comparing my guide to the restaurants listed in the yellow pages. By the end of the day I had created an almost entirely new up-to-date guide, which at the time, contained only names, addresses and phone numbers of Santa Barbara & Goleta restaurants.

   A few months later, in apparent reaction to the restaurant guide being updated, the number of daily visitors to it doubled. Upon learning this I decided that I want to make it even better. Being a software programmer, I decided to redesign the guide from the ground up to include a review system where the public can leave comments about each restaurant. I also decided to expand it to include Carpinteria, Santa Ynez and Los Olivos. Even though there was a strong possibility that nobody would actually write reviews with a new review system, I launched an entirely new guide in late 2001 after three months of development. As luck would have it, restaurant reviews started pouring in. By 2004, to my amazement, daily visitor traffic to the restaurant guide had increased ten fold.

   With apparent public approval of the new review system I decided to do another thing completely crazy. In 2005 I made the decision to physically go to every restaurant, coffee shop and bakery from Santa Ynez to Carpinteria, take pictures inside and out and gather extended information. By doing so I also discovered hundreds of small eateries not mentioned in the phonebook or anywhere on the web. After a full year of labor and probably a hundred miles of walking the streets to nearly 700 local businesses, I launched an all new guide complete with pictures, restaurant hours, price ranges, web site links, maps and menus. Traffic to the guide increased ten fold again.

   By this time, needless to say, I was having a lot of fun running the restaurant guide. It had become a big part of my life. And the guide had really become a community-supported entity because, in addition to writing thousands of restaurant reviews, people all across the South Coast were sending me emails with information to help keep it updated. In the process I ended up with a lot of knowledge about all aspects of the local restaurants scene including openings, closings, who's coming soon, who's going soon, restaurant rumors, specials and much more. I personally thought this information was pretty cool and started to wonder if others would find it interesting as well. But I had never written a column of any kind in my life. This was totally new territory for a computer guy who spends his day writing software, not food news.

   Crossing my fingers, in late 2006 I decided to make the leap and create a daily online food news blog named "As If You Care" to share some of my restaurant information with the public. That blog name lasted for about a week and in fact only one person ever read it with that title: local columnist Barney Brantingham. Being a big fan of his, I emailed Barney a web link to my soon-to-be launched blog to see what he thought about it. His response was: "Thanks. I read your items and learned a lot, such as the Doghouse closing. They worked hard at it. Maybe it was the location. Barney." Barney's apparent approval gave me confidence that I might be able to pull this off so on December 19, 2006, I launched a daily restaurant news blog even though I had yet to think of a title.

   Then the unexpected happened. As it turns out, on the very same day that I launched my blog, I got caught in the middle of an international media circus. CNN brought their satellite truck to my home in Goleta to broadcast a story about how children were calling my business phone line by mistake, wanting to speak to Santa Claus. My phone number 1-800-SantaBarbara is one digit off from 1-800-SantaClaus and I had been having fun for weeks pretending to be the Jolly Old Elf for little boys & girls around the country. The story suddenly ended up at Associated Press, LA Times, USA Today, MSNBC, Fox News, the Today Show, and dozens of other TV & radio outlets and I was swamped with interviews. I abruptly put my hours-old food news blog on hold for the rest of the year.

   I soon met Jeramy Gordon, publisher of the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, and he asked me if I would consider writing a food news column for his newspaper. Worried that I was about to get in over my head, I thought about it for a couple of months and eventually agreed to do it. I have been maintaining a weekly restaurant news column for his paper ever since. Through all that, in fact for the next full year, I still could not think of a name for this column. Then in early 2008 I started to notice that people were mentioning my column in other blogs. And without fail, they never referred to me by name but instead always called me "the restaurant guy." A new name was born.

Monday, September 13, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: September 12, 2010 - Here are pictures from yesterday's 29th annual Taste of the Town.

CORRECTION: The new Chinese restaurant that opened on Milpas is named "Mama Lu" not Madam Lu. It is a joint venture between the owner of Madam Lu restaurant on upper State Street and her brother Ming-yen Lu. Mama Lu offers a $7.95 buffet plus a standard menu.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added photos of Arch Rock Fish and Mama Lu.

Friday, September 10, 2010

30TH ANNIVERSARY: Whole Foods Market, represented locally at 3761 State St., is celebrating 30 years in business with several events:

  • Friday, September 17th: First 200 guests to spend $30 or more will receive one Free reusable grocery bag with a Hookeez eco-savvy bag hook (while supplies last). A Menu for All Seasons: Cooking Technique Class with Pascale Beale-Groom 12:30pm - 1:30pm. Complimentary Birthday Cake from Debbie's Delights 4pm - 6pm (while supplies last).
  • Saturday, September 18th: Free Bagel Cafe bagel and cream cheese for the first 100 customers through the doors starting at 8am. Raffle for $30 Whole Foods Gift Card and other prizes noon - 5pm. Enter near the front entrance of the store. Kids in the Kitchen Activity: Learn how to make Mini Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches with Fabe's Bakery 2pm - 4pm. Meet by the Bakery department.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

MADAM LU OPENS ON MILPAS: Madam Lu Chinese restaurant has opened a second location at 414 N. Milpas St, the former home of China Express, Pavilion Garden and Las Brisas Mexican Seafood Grill. I added the new Madam Lu  to the restaurant guide today. Hours are Mon-Sun 11am - 8:30pm. For more information call 966-1088.

ARCH ROCK FISH OPENS:  The new seafood restaurant Arch Rock Fish has opened at 608 Anacapa St., the former home of The Melting Pot. I added them to the restaurant guide today. For more information call 845-2800 or visit

CHINA EXPRESS CLOSES: China Express restaurant at 414 N. Milpas St has closed.

SIGNS OF LIFE: Reader Marlize tells me that South Coast Deli signs have finally appeared outside of the ongoing construction project at 10 E. Carrillo St, the former home of Tuttini. The new restaurant is scheduled to open at the end of September.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

TWIN CUPS OPENS: Santa Barbara native Nathan Carey has opened Twin Cups frozen yogurt & coffee bar at 5329 Calle Real in Goleta (near Patterson Ave). Twin Cups offers 3 yogurt flavors with 12 blending choices, 4 types of House Coffee, 11 different espresso drinks and a variety of baked goods. For the month of September all 12oz coffees are priced at $1. Hours are Mon-Sat 7am-4pm. For more information call 964-1800 or visit

CHAMOMILE CLOSES: Chamomile Cafe at 915 Linden Ave in Carpinteria has gone out of business.

WHITEFOOT CLOSING: Whitefoot Meat Market, an institution for 42 years at 336 N. Milpas St., is planning to close September 25th. It has been reported that Fresh & Easy market will be building a new location at that address.

BRENDAN'S: Last month I posted a rumor that Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant would be opening a new location in Camarillo. The rumor was incorrect, but just barely. It turns out that a partner at Dargan's, Brendan Searles, is opening his own place at 1755 E. Daily Drive in Camarillo to be named Brendan's Irish Pub & Restaurant. For more information visit

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

ARCH ROCK FISH OPENS THURSDAY: Seafood lovers throughout the South Coast will be happy to learn that Arch Rock Fish restaurant opens this Thursday at 608 Anacapa St., the former home of The Melting Pot. Operations manager and Arch Rock Fish partner Jeremiah Higgins tells me how they came up with their restaurant slogan "a neighborhood joint":

   "To us, the term 'neighborhood joint' means supporting our fellow neighborhood restaurants, bars, and merchants through shared promotions, as guests, and as good neighbors. It means being a part of our community, by supporting great local causes like PAL (Police Activities League.) It means supporting local vendors like Jordano's, or Telegraph Brew, as much as possible, and it means keeping our Santa Barbara economy and community strong by supporting each other. We believe strongly in this business philosophy, and we are extremely grateful to be welcomed as part of the community."

   Arch Rock Fish restaurant hours are Sun-Thu 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri-Sat 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Happy Hour Mon-Thu 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., 9 p.m. - close, Sun noon - 5.p.m. For more information call 845-2800 or visit

THE SAVOY OPENS THURSDAY: The theater at 409 State St., most recently the home of Q's Billiards, is set to return this Thursday as a hybrid restaurant/lounge/concert hall and nightclub using its original name "The Savoy." The Savoy boasts three floors, three full bars and multiple stages, including a large first floor lounge, VIP mezzanine, smoking patio and third floor penthouse with private bar and balcony overlooking State St. The Savoy is open Thursday through Saturday 6pm – 2am. Food service is brought to you by Chef Jason Tuley (of Square One restaurant fame) and is available until midnight. This month's show schedule is included below. For more information call 957-4111.

  • September 9-11:  Chicago Jazz, The Toledo Show (Cabaret), Big Willie's Burlesque
  • September 16-18:  Chicago Jazz, The Diamond Bettys Operation (pin-up doll group), Gypsy Suite (Cirque, aerialists, dancers)
  • September 23-25: Chicago Jazz, The Rouge Show (Cabaret), Gypsy Suite

TASTE OF THE TOWN: The 29th Annual Taste of the Town, Santa Barbara's signature culinary event that benefits the Arthritis Foundation, is being held this Sunday, September 12, from noon to 3 p.m. at Riviera Park & Gardens, 2030 Alameda Padre Serra. Taste of the Town has announced that culinary legend Suzanne Goin will participate as the celebrity chef for this year's event.

   Forty restaurants and purveyors will provide tastings including: Ballard Inn Restaurant, Bella Dolce, Ca' Dario Ristorante, Café Shell, Caribbean Coffee, Caribbean Coffee, Coast Restaurant, Cold Springs Tavern, Crushcakes Cupcakery, elements Restaurant, Emilio's Ristorante, Green Star Coffee, il fustino, Jade, Los Agaves, Los Arroyos, Louie's, Marmalade Café, Michael's Hutchings, Milk and Honey, Mirabelle Inn & Restaurant, Neo Chase Restaurant & Lounge, Olio e Limone, opal restaurant & bar, Outback Steakhouse, Pascucci, Peet's Coffee, Petros, Pierre Lafond, Renaud's, Ruth's Chris Steak House, SOhO Restaurant, Spiritland Bistro, Square One, The Bistro at Bacara Resort and Spa ,The Palace Grill, The Vineyard House, UCSB Faculty Club, Via Maestra 42 and Wine Cask

   Tickets purchased in advance are $100; tickets at the door will be $125 per person. Make your reservation early by calling the Arthritis Foundation at 563-4685 or by visiting

JOE'S COFFEE BUZZ: Santa Barbara resident Joseph Crosby, a long-time coffee enthusiast and certified chef, has launched a new web site where you can learn about coffee and purchase coffee & related equipment. The web site includes tutorials, web videos, a blog, and an online store. For more information visit

AS IF YOU CARE: About once a week I am asked the same two questions: "How did you get the domain name" and "How did you become The Restaurant Guy?" I'll attempt to officially answer these questions in a two-part series, starting today. A Restaurant Guy mini-biography won't make much sense unless I give you some of my background and share a deep dark secret: I never intended to write about restaurants. It happened entirely by accident (more on that in Part Two). In fact my nickname should really be The Computer Guy.

   As a kid growing up in then-affordable Montecito, I loved computers. I was a computer geek before there was a term "computer geek." Being interested in computers at a young age and eventually having a career as a software developer allowed me to become familiar with using the Internet long before the general public had ever heard of it. By 1994 I was obsessed with this new thing called the "World Wide Web" that had been invented 4 years earlier. I decided to launch my first side business "Santa Barbara Internet" which pretty much did one thing: go to people's homes and set them up with access to the web. Then suddenly one day in 1995, probably because my company name contained the words "Santa Barbara" and "Internet", I started to wonder: who owns

   In the mid-1990's, back in the days before Google, it was incredibly difficult for people to find your web site. Unless you spent thousands of dollars marketing your web site, nobody would ever know your web site existed. I had been recently laid off my full time job as a software programmer and could barely afford rent, let alone have a marketing budget. To me, figuring out how to get visitors to your web site was much more important than figuring out what type of online business to create. Instead of following the conventional wisdom "Build it and they will come," I used "Once they come, build something!"

   I remember thinking that with, that big marketing obstacle was instantly solved. All people around the world had to do was type in the name of our city, add a ".com" to the end and - voila! - they would suddenly be viewing the web site of this unemployed computer geek with way too much time on his hands. So in late-1995 I attempted to register and, to my great dismay, discovered that it was already taken. was owned by a gentleman in Woodland Hills and I suddenly became interested in figuring out who this guy was. It seemed like such a waste that a person living so far away from Santa Barbara owned the domain name of our city.  Over the next few months I did a lot of research and figured out that it was a man who had the foresight to register a bunch of good domain names, including I realized that his purchase of was just part of a random collection and that he likely had no particular interest in the domain.

  I decided I was going to contact him and make an offer but quickly realized there was a problem: If he knows how badly I want it he will ask for a lot of money. And I was nearly broke. What I decided to do was approach him and show only mild interest in the domain and make a very low offer. I called him and started to chat about the Internet and casually tossed out an offer of $300 for To my disappointment he immediately turned me down. Then, later in the conversation, he added "I don't really have plans to use the domain. How about if you double the offer? I registered the domain name for free and that would be a nice profit." With great shock and more than a little delight, on March 4, 1996 I purchased for $600.

   Fortunately did get lots of traffic, far more than I ever imagined it would, without any help from Google which wouldn't be born for another 2 years. And I discovered that many of these people were looking for things to see and do in Santa Barbara. With this new found knowledge I started the Santa Barbara Tourism Company and subsequently acquired the companion phone number 1-800-SantaBarbara which, also to my great surprise, was still available when I called the phone company to inquire about it.

   As it turns out the story doesn't quite end there. Thinking that prices might soon skyrocket I decided to pursue other regional city domain names while I had the chance. I found that was still available and picked it up.  I contacted Webwurx Inc. in Ontario, Canada and snapped up and Continuing the southward march, I next called Mixtus Inc in Agoura Hills and they sold me  I then reached NetConcept of Oxnard who sold me and then

   Unfortunately my shoestring budget quickly came untied, city domain name prices went through the roof and my brief window of opportunity closed. Though my Internet real estate now spans from Wine Country to the Conejo Grade, is where I spend 90% of my time. And it feels like the best job in the world.

   Next Tuesday, the final chapter: How "The Computer Guy" became "The Restaurant Guy."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SAVOY CAFE & DELI REOPENS: Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, postulated in 1905, says that time slows down as a person approaches the speed of light and that it also runs in only one direction: forward. That theory might need to be updated because last week 24 W. Figueroa Street in downtown Santa Barbara suddenly jumped back in time to December 2008 with the reopening of Savoy Cafe & Deli. Original owner Paul Shields is back as is his popular salad bar, which had previously been voted "Best Salad Bar" in the annual Restaurant Guide "Best Of" poll. Savoy, which also now serves breakfast, is open Monday-Friday 7am-6pm and Saturday 8am-4pm. For more information call 962-6611.

OWL SPOTTED: Zen Yai restaurant at 425 State Street will soon start sharing space with a new late night eatery named "Blue Owl." When Zen Yai closes for the night on weekends it will transform into Blue Owl restaurant and continue to serve food until the wee hours to the nightlife crowd. Among other things they will be serving Asian finger foods and steam buns which will be a nice addition for the hungry partiers who now rely on pizza and hot dogs to keep the energy flowing. The opening should be this week or next.

ENTER SANDMAN: Something seems to be brewing on the Sandman Inn property at 3744 State Street, formerly Downtown Brewing Company and Sandman Bar & Grill. Property owner Kellogg Associates has posted an application on the front door for a person to person transfer of an alcoholic beverage permit. It is being transferred from Downtown Brewing Company to Kellogg to be used as a "general eating place." There is no name posted yet for the business that will be occupying the space.

LET THEM EAT CUPCAKE: Whodidily, a popular dessert destination at 1150 Coast Village Road in Montecito is reportedly in the process of opening a second cupcakery on State Street in the downtown area. Though I don't yet know the address, sources tell me it will open in a couple of months.

NOW SERVING BREAKFAST: The new Nugget restaurant at 5685 Calle Real in Goleta is now open for breakfast on weekends starting at 9am.

ARCH ROCK FISH: New seafood restaurant Arch Rock Fish at 608 Anacapa Street is scheduled to open late this week or early next.

PHOTO BLOG: August 27, 2010 - Here are pictures from last Friday's pre-opening party at Arch Rock Fish restaurant.

HELLO FROM SIN CITY: I took this picture of Las Vegas last night from the top of the Rio Hotel while dining at the Voo Doo Steakhouse on the 51st floor. I hope to be back later this week. See you then. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

SUSHI IN THE CELLAR: Tonight at 6:30pm Oreana Winery (205 Anacapa Street) is having an event called "Sushi in the Cellar." Here is a brief overview: Champagne reception will be at 6:30. Fukiko Bishop from Studio Nihon will providea sushi introduction and demonstration at 7:00pm. At 7:30pm people will move into the dinning area where they will feast on sashimi and yaki appetizers followed by 3 types of Nigiri and a plethora of rolls. Dessert will be a trio of mini cupcakes, including Chocolate Wasabi, Green tea and Ginger. All the courses will be paired with the white wines of Oreana Winery and introduced by the Wine maker himself, Christian Garvin.

805 COFFEE: This just in from The 805 Deli at 135 E. Carrillo Street:

Hello John,

As of this week, The (805) Deli has become a full one stop shop coffee house in addition to the Deli its known for. We have placed new tables, WIFI, couches and specialty drinks in service. Please tell all of your readers to stop by and receive a buy one get one free coffee or smoothie on us. Just mention this article for the promotion. We are also featuring a new 805 Deli coffee mug (leather great looking) for only $10. The best deal is that your first cup is free and you get $1.00 off each time you use it.

The (805) Deli

OFF TOPIC: I'll be out of town visiting a friend in Las Vegas for the next few days. See you some time next week!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

FLAMING GRILL OPENS: A new restaurant named Flaming Grill has opened at 6558 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista, the former home of Isla Vista Bakery Cafe which closed in March of 2008. The restaurant serves beef burgers, chicken burgers, rice bowls, grilled skewers, burritos and salads.

HERE COMES MEL'S: is reporting that Mel's Lounge, a fixture in Santa Barbara for nearly 50 years, is set to reopen at 209 W. Carrillo Street, across from Spudnuts, on September 2nd.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

THE CHEESE SHOP CLOSES: Last week The Cheese Shop inside Paseo Nuevo closed their doors. The business, which is based in Carmel, first opened in Santa Barbara February 2008. Here is a message I received from one of their employees:

It is with great sadness that we announce the permanent closing of the Santa Barbara Cheese Shop in Paseo Nuevo . I know I speak for all the employees who worked there that we will miss it terribly, especially our customers. We made many friends and had many, many good times. Most of us remain in Santa Barbara and look forward to seeing everyone again at whatever new venture we find ourselves.
We'll see you again with a baguette, some good cheese and a glass of great wine! Live well! The journey never ends but always takes new twists and turns.
Cheers! We love you all.

ANNIVERSARY: Today Los Arroyos - Montecito celebrates six years at its current location at 1280 Coast Village Road with festivities including live music, food specials, and more. Tony and Maria Arroyo opened Los Arroyos Montecito after five successful years' operation of their first Los Arroyos restaurant in Downtown Santa Barbara.

EDC BENEFIT: Today the Enterprise Fish Company is hosting a "LIVE @ Enterprise Benefit" for the Santa Barbara Environmental Defense Center (EDC). The goal of the LIVE @ Enterprise Benefit is to generate awareness about local environmental issues while raising funds for the EDC, a central coast based organization, dedicated to preserving our natural environment through education, advocacy, and legal action. To generate funds for the EDC they will be requesting a $5 donation at the door tonight. The benefit features live music by environmentally conscious local artist, Justin Ratowsky, among other special guests. They will be offering Happy Hour specials throughout the night as well a raffle with prizes.

POLL: WHO SERVES A MEATLOAF SANDWICH? Reader David asked me to find out if any restaurants on the South Coast served a meatloaf sandwich. I received several tips from readers and posted them below.

  • Reader Anonymous says: "Occasionally, Harry's Plaza will have a meatloaf sandwich as a daily special. Not bad."
  • Reader Jonathon says: "Zooker's in Carp has one on their menu. It's not the classic which is typcially served open face and smothered in gravy, but an "updated" version; Turkey Mushroom Meatloaf, served with tomato, onion, lettuce, jack cheese, aoili, on a French roll. It's worth a try."
  • Reader Lynn says: "I wanted to let you know that Ye Ole Butcher shop has the best meatloaf sandwich in town."
  • Reader Ted says: "I have had a meatloaf sandwich at both Shalhoob's/Jill's Place and Whitefoot's on Milpas. Both were excellent. I seem to recall Jill's was hot and the Whitefoot is cold."
  • Reader Holly says: "Garden Market in Carpinteria makes a bomb meatloaf (or turkeyloaf) sandwich. I just looked on their menu and didn't see it listed but every time I go there, they have it."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

PIZZA SURVEY: The folks at the popular local web site recently conducted a pizza survey to compare the prices of large cheese pizzas across the South Coast. A "large" pizza comes in different sizes at different restaurants, typically 14 - 16 inches. The average price for a large cheese pizza in Santa Barbara is $14.96, up $1.66 from's last survey in 2006. Here are their results listed in order of price:

   Little Cesar's Milpas $5.44 14", Domino's Mesa $7.50 14", Valentino's $9.99 14", Petrini's $13.15 16", Gina's $13.95 16", Rusty's $14.00 15", Luigi's $14.08 14", Paesano's $14.54 16", Giovanni's Mesa $14.95 14", Pizza Mizza $14.98 16", Gino's $15.22 14", Pasta House $15.49 14", Woodstock's $15.49 14", Tony's $15.99 15", Mesa Pizza Co. $16.30 14", Pizza Shack $16.31 16", Sal's $16.88 16", Taffy's $17.39 16", Marty's $17.75 15", Pizza by the Slice $17.90 16", Pizza Guru $18.49 16", Uncle Rocco's $23.33 15"

A NEW DARGAN'S? Word on the street is that Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant (18 E. Ortega Street) is considering opening a new location in Camarillo at the old Sizzler spot, right on the 101.

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Periodically I search a Santa Barbara County database to see if any one has applied for a new business name or applied for a permit to sell alcoholic beverages that might be of interest to Restaurant Guy readers. Applying for a name doesn't mean you will ever actually open a business and applying for a permit doesn't mean you will be granted one, but it certainly raises the possibility. Here are a few applications that were filed this month: Back Seat Wines (business name), C'est Cheese (alcoholic beverage permit), Indulge Wines (business name), Isla Vista Brewing Company (business name), and Montecito Restaurant (business name).

Monday, August 23, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Kogilicious to the restaurant guide. I also added Roll-A-Lot to the guide today. This is my third attempt to get their name correct. First I called them Roll Your Own. Then last week I called them Roll Your Way because those are the largest words on the sign above the counter.

KOGILICIOUS OPENS: Kogilicious has opened at 956 Embarcadero Del Norte in Isla Vista, the former home of Korean BBQ House, Sushilicious and Berrilicious.  Kogilicious has two separate walk-up windows: one for Korean BBQ and another for "Korean-style tacos & burritos." One of the things I like about restaurants in Isla Vista is that they are not afraid to try something different; this is not your father's taqueria. They have put the taste of Korean BBQ, fused it with spices and wrapped it in a tortilla. If you are a taco fanatic like I am, you must try Kogilicious. I plan to grab chicken and beef tacos ($1.45 each) at Kogilicious every time I am in town. They are amazing.

SPEAKING OF KOGI: This Saturday August 28th, Kogi BBQ truck will be coming to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Kogi is the most popular food truck in LA and is the brainchild of Chef Roy Choi, named one of the best new chefs of 2010 by Food and Wine Magazine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

CAFE ZOMA COMING TO GOLETA: At the beginning of this month the owners of Coffee Cat in downtown Santa Barbara started leasing space at 7127 Hollister Ave (near Costco), the former home of Mojo Coffee. They tell me it will be a coffee shop named "Cafe Zoma." Their recently acquired Northstar Coffee Company on State Street will also become Cafe Zoma. The name of their flagship Coffee Cat location will not be changed. The new Cafe Zoma in Goleta will also include a bakery that will distribute baked goods to their three South Coast coffee locations. They hope to open in mid-September.

"ROLL-A-LOT" OPENS: A hundred feet away from the future Cafe Zoma a new sushi & frozen yogurt eatery named Roll-A-Lot opened today inside Albertsons at 7127 Hollister Avenue near Costco. You can have your sushi as a wrap or roll. You can pick from a list of standard rolls or build your own with a choice of seafood, veggies, sauces & spices. Sushi prices range from $5 - $6.50.

COUPON COLUMN: This September I will be having a special "coupon column" in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound newspaper. The column will contain a list of specials offered by local restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries. People will need to cut out my column from the Daily Sound and bring it with them to redeem the special. The specials will be valid for one week only. To add your free coupon listing to this special column please send an email to with the following information:

  • Business name
  • Business address
  • One sentence that contains your special promotion. For example: "Buy one muffin at the regular price and receive a second one free!"

HAPPY HOUR HOUSEWIVES: Last night I enjoyed meeting Santa Barbara's famous Happy Hour Housewives at the FisHouse restaurant. There was a big story written about them in yesterday's Santa Barbara News-Press. Our gathering was so much fun we ended up talking for 2 1/2 hours. Pictured from left to right are "Wine Wife," "City Wife" and "Party Wife."


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NEW RESTAURANT COMING TO STATE: Tom & Adam White, the owners of Boathouse, FisHouse and Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, are opening a new restaurant on the 300 block of State Street (at Gutierrez) next door to the newly-announced REI sporting goods store. Sources tell me it will be a high-end Mexican restaurant that will try to reach a new level of dining experience currently not available in that cuisine category. Here is the official press-release:

Local Restauranteurs lease 330 State Street for new restaurant
Located next to future REI, transforming State Street's 300 block

After starting three successful Santa Barbara restaurants, Tom and Adam White are preparing to launch a fourth in the spring of 2011. The Whites, who own and operate Santa Barbara Shellfish Co., the Santa Barbara FisHouse, and the Boat House, have just leased 5,368 sf at 330 State Street for a new restaurant location. The space, formerly occupied by One World Imports, has a prominent corner location with parking at the corner of Gutierrez Street. It is also immediately adjacent to the building just leased by Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) for its Santa Barbara store, also slated to open in 2011. Michael Martz, Kristopher Roth, and Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial Group represented all parties in the transaction.

"These two leases show the resilience of downtown Santa Barbara, even at a time when most cities are struggling with high retail vacancies," said Michael Martz of Hayes Commercial Group. "Here we have a national retailer and a local restaurant family both investing in the commercial potential of Santa Barbara. It's a positive sign."

The Whites have built a successful family business in Santa Barbara over the past 30 years. Tom White opened the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company on Stearns Wharf back in 1980, which began as a wholesale source for fresh fish and evolved into a popular eatery among locals and visitors alike. Almost 20 years later, with son Adam now a part of the business, they opened The Santa Barbara FisHouse at 101 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Most recently, the father-son team launched the Boat House at Hendry's Beach in 2008. The fourth restaurant will be their first foray into the State Street retail corridor.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us, and the Hayes Commercial team did a great job putting this deal together," Adam White said. "We are developing a new concept that we believe has the potential to become a Santa Barbara classic. Given the location outside the prime tourist zone, locals are key to the concept, and we are creating a place that Santa Barbarans will love." The Whites will be extensively remodeling the space. Adam continued, "as we did with the Boat House, we are assembling a great team of local architectural and design minds to create an interesting and inviting atmosphere." Their crew includes engineer Ken Dixon of Windward Engineering , contractor Skye McGinnes, and they are also talking to architect Jeff Shelton about creating a unique look for the interior.

330 State Street, and the adjacent building leased by REI, have a long and varied history. The complex at 316-330 State Street was originally built from 1911-1917 by Henry Ernest Bothin, a coffee and spice merchant based in San Francisco. At that time Gutierrez Street was part of the old Highway 101, and the buildings hosted various automotive businesses on the ground floor, such as the El Camino Real Motor Car Company, and the El Camino Hotel on the second floor. The buildings survived the 1925 earthquake, but the façades were lost and replaced with a Moorish-style arcade and façade which is still largely intact. 330 State Street's distinctive tower was added in 1937 for Seaside Oil Company, which was headquartered there and operated a filling station there for decades. During World War II, 316-324 State Street was used by Douglas Aircraft to manufacture airplane parts. In 1974, the Bothin Helping Fund gave 330 State Street to the nonprofit Work, Inc. and sold 316-324 State Street to Marshall Howe. Ray Hicks and Georgette Topakas have owned 330 State Street since 2002.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"THE SAVOY" TO REPLACE Q'S: The theater at 409 State Street, most recently the home of Q's Billiards, is set to return as a hybrid restaurant/lounge/concert hall and nightclub using its original name "The Savoy." Here is the full press-release about it:

   The Savoy "Reinvented" - Built in 1889 and one of several historic landmarks in Santa Barbara, The Savoy makes a glorious return to 409 State Street. Drawing on the venue's rich theatrical history, the beautifully renovated and restored Savoy will  showcase an extraordinary blend of contemporary entertainment featuring artists from around the country;  a diverse and exciting range of live performance, including: Cirque, Aerial, Burlesque & Cabaret, as well as a variety of live music genres.

  A hybrid Restaurant/Lounge/Concert Hall and Nightclub, The Savoy boasts three floors, three full bars and multiple stages, including a large first floor lounge, VIP mezzanine, smoking patio and third floor penthouse with private bar and balcony overlooking State Street.

   With modern American cuisine conceived by Chef Jason Tuley and signature cocktails developed by local mixologists, The Savoy will be a truly unique addition to the Central Coast. The venue is slated to open in September and will be available for private events. For more information contact 805.957.4111 or

CHAMOMILE TO CLOSE: Deeahna Arrieta, owner of Chamomile Café at 915 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria, tells me that her eatery is planning to close September 5th. Chamomile Cafe has been in business in downtown Carpinteria for eight years. Click here to read a personal message from Deeahna about the closure.

A VERY HAPPY HOUR: Last June I wrote about the "Happy Hour Housewives," three ladies who go by the nicknames "City Wife," "Party Wife" and "Wine Wife" that have developed a web site that tracks the Happy Hour scene throughout Santa Barbara. Their web site is online at
   They have invited me to join them for a happy hour this Thursday at 5:30pm at Fish House 101 E. Cabrillo Blvd. I immediately said yes and asked if I can invite readers of this column along to which they immediately replied yes. Come join us for a very happy hour!

Friday the 13th

HOLDREN'S GRILL: At the end of this month Holdren's Steaks & Seafood in Goleta is getting a new name and a more casual concept. Here is a message I received from owner Clay Holdren this morning that explains the changes:

Hey John,

I wanted wanted to let you know that we are making some changes to our Goleta Holdren's. As of August 31, it will be called Holdren's Grill. We are keeping a lot of the Holdren's favorites and adding some more inexpensive appetizers and entrees. We will also have a little more casual atmosphere in the dining room to match this concept. It is basically a spin off of Holdren's, kind of like others have done in the past. There will be happy hour 7 days a week that will feature 2-for-1 drinks and half price appetizers. Some of the new stuff will include pulled pork sliders, buffalo wings, blackened salmon pasta, and kabobs among other things. The $39 special will still be available for a while as it has been hugely successful. With the economy not getting any better, we feel like these changes will be welcomed by the Goleta locals. I appreciate your help in spreading the word with this transition.

Clay Holdren
Holdren's Steaks & Seafood

BEST 24-HOUR HOT SPOT: Travel & Leisure Magazine, a publication from American Express, has voted Freebirds World Burrito at 879 Embarcadero Del Norte in Isla Vista to be one of the top dozen 24-hour hot spots in the country. The reason I know this is that American Express contacted me last month asking to use my photos! Here is Travel & Leisure's write-up about Freebirds:

Across the street from the University of California Santa Barbara's ocean-side campus, this nonstop burrito joint has been feeding famished co-eds since 1987. The portions here are so over-the-top that some opt to share a single burrito. But for a ravenous undergrad they're the necessary fuel for a night of mayhem at this notor­­­­ious party school (or a way to recover from it the next morning).

What to Do at 3 a.m.: Top off a late night with a "quesarito," a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla instead of a traditional tortilla.

ROLL YOUR WAY: A new sushi & frozen yogurt eatery named "Roll Your Way" is coming to Albertsons at 7127 Hollister Avenue near Costco in Goleta. Previously I had mentioned it was to be a "roll-your-own" sushi place which is incorrect. It just had a name that sounded like that! It is expected to open later this month or early next.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

HOLA! Reader Lemonjelly let me know that a new Mexican restaurant named Taqueria el Refugio has opened at 730 N. Milpas Street, the former home of Mexican Grill (2005), DogHouse (2006), Chili Town (2007-2008) and La Chiripita Taqueria (2009-2010). She also sent me a photo of tacos from Taqueria el Refugio. The three tacos pictured cost about $4.

ADIOS! Reader Lemonjelly was also kind enough to tell me that La Chiripita Taqueria at 730 N. Milpas Street has closed as did La Gloria Taqueria at 336 N. Milpas Street. 336 N. Milpas Street is losing a few tenants to make room for Fresh & Easy Market.

BLOCK PARTY: Up and coming seafood restaurant Arch Rock Fish at 608 Anacapa Street is having a "block party" on Sunday, August 22nd from noon - 5pm. The event, which is a benefit for PAL (Police Activities League) will be held at the restaurant. The block party features live music, cooking demonstrations by Chef Scott and Chef Nathan, Cobi Jones and the LA Galaxy Soccer Players, raffle prizes, food, wine tasting, games, face painting and more. Arch Rock Fish hopes to have a grand opening at the end of the month.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

COMING TO UPTOWN: NICKY'S PIZZA: The ovens had barely enough time to cool but it appears that a new tenant is about to turn them back on. Pizza Hut, which closed at 2840 De La Vina Street last month, will be replaced by "Nicky's Pizza."

SPEAKING OF PIZZA: Rusty's Pizza Parlor, located throughout the South Coast and beyond, has introduced Garlic Cheese Bread. It is made with pan crust, covered with garlic and topped with mozzarella & jack cheese. The bread is available in small ($3.99) or large ($5.99) sizes and includes pizza sauce or ranch dressing.

TASTING TUESDAY: Each Tuesday from 11am - 3pm Whole Foods Market at 3761 State Street offers complimentary food samples from a variety of product vendors throughout the store. This includes vendors from every department, with the exception of wine and beer.

EDHAT: I have received many emails asking why The Restaurant Guy no longer appears on Edhat. Please see my July 20th blog (below) for an explanation. Basically Edhat has a new policy of not linking to my style of content.

THE CRYSTAL BALL: After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing Crystal Ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of locations appearing in your future:

  • Arch Rock Fish 608 Anacapa St (formerly Melting Pot) - August
  • Backyard Bowls 5668 Calle Real, Goleta - September
  • Cabana 509 State St (formerly Bricks Café)
  • Chipotle 270 Storke Rd, Goleta
  • Flaming Grill 6558 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista (formerly I.V. Bakery)
  • Fresco Valley Café 442 Atterdag Rd, Solvang - summer
  • Fresh & Easy 336 N. Milpas St
  • Islands Restaurant (location to be determined)
  • Mel's Lounge 209 W. Carrillo St
  • Nicky's Pizza 2840 De La Vina St (formerly Pizza Hut)
  • Panera Bread (locations to be determined)
  • Roll Your Way 7127 Hollister Ave (inside Albertsons) - August
  • Savoy Cafe & Deli 24 W. Figueroa St (formerly Cantwell's Deli)
  • South Coast Deli 10 E. Carrillo St - September
  • TAP Thai Restaurant 2611 De la Vina St
  • Twin Cups (near Calle Real & Patterson Ave)
  • The Counter (location to be determined)
  • The Tackle Box (location to be determined)
  • Whole Earth Pizza 6576 Trigo Rd, Isla Vista
  • 409 State St (formerly Q's)

OFF TOPIC: My life-long friend Flip who lives near Houston, Texas has a dog named Chloe that loves to swim in their pool and retrieve rubber "torpedoes" tossed in the water. To say it is her favorite thing in life to do is an understatement. It is her obsession. She literally plays this game for hours a day.
   However, during her entire life, she refused to ever go below the surface to get them. I have played with her for years encouraging her to dive with absolutely no luck at all. If a torpedo sank more than a few inches she would just swim in circles above it, hoping someone will help her out. Then suddenly last week...

Monday, August 9, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: August 7, 2010 - Here are pictures from Richard Auhll's annual Fiesta fundraiser bash last Saturday night.

MIGHTY MIXER: Every morning I have a protein shake for breakfast. To make my shakes I have been using a hand-me-down blender that has been in the family for about 30 years. I recently decided it was time to retire my breakfast buddy but didn't know which one to buy when I happened to stumble across the June 2010 issue of Consumer Reports. As luck would have it they had a section that rated blenders and awarded "Best Buy" to the Oster BCBG08 which costs $40. I searched on the web and end up buying it from Bed Bath & Beyond which was the only place I could find it in stock. I am happy to report that the Oster BCBG08 works great and that my former faithful food processor is enjoying retirement at the recycle center.

AND THE WINNER IS... Based on web site statistics these are the most-viewed photos from the rooftop Fiesta party at Canary Hotel and the Dignatarios Fiesta celebration at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Friday, August 6, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: August 5, 2010 - Fiesta: Dignatarios at the Santa Barbara Zoo

PIZZA SWAP?: Sources tell me that a new pizza place is going to move into the space recently vacated by Pizza Hut in the Ralphs shopping center on De La Vina Street. I have not confirmed it but if I find out more I'll be sure to post it here.

CLOSING: The Roasted Bean Coffee House at 3558 Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez, after 15 years in business, is closing next Friday.

COPYCAT: Reader Primetime showed me a news story on the web about a new Mexican restaurant named Tinga on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles that is modeled after Santa Barbara's hugely popular La Super Rica Taqueria.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: August 4, 2010 - Fiesta party on the rooftop of the Canary Hotel. Watch the wandering video cam document the festivities.

$20 SPECIALS: Holdren's Steaks & Seafood in Goleta has some twenty-dollar specials available. Sunday-Thursday: steak & shrimp $20; Monday: all-you-can-eat ribs $20; Wednesday: 13oz prime rib $20. All meals include choice of side plus soup or salad. Holdren's downtown offers the same deal except there is no twenty-dollar special on Thursdays.

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor Stella Mare's.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SAVOY CAFÉ TO REOPEN: Savoy Cafe & Deli, which closed at 24 W. Figueroa Street in December 2008, plans to reopen at that address. To make room for the return of Savoy, Cantwell's Deli, the current occupant, has closed. Here is a message to the public from Cantwell's: "Cantwell's would like to welcome back Savoy Café Deli opening soon. We are very happy to return this wonderful space back to the original owner Paul Shields. Please continue to patronize Paul as he is a top notch chef with an extreme passion for organic and healthy food preparation." In 2008 Savoy Café & Deli was voted "Best Salad Bar" in the annual Restaurant Guide "Best Of" poll.

CANTWELL'S CLOSES: Cantwell's Deli at 24 W. Figueroa Street has closed to make room for the return of Savoy Cafe & Deli. Cantwell's two other locations (1533 State Street and 2580 Lillie Avenue is Summerland) are open as usual.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added photos of Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches to the restaurant guide.

FIESTA: I stumbled across the Fiesta live entertainment schedule for the uptown and downtown Mercados and have posted it online as a PDF.

Monday, August 2, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: July 31, 2010 - Here are pictures from last Saturday's Taste of the Vine fundraiser at QAD that raised money for the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.

FIESTA: Fiesta begins this week which means that it is time again for one of the biggest parties of the year: Dignatarios. The annual Celebracion del los Dignatarios will be held the Santa Barbara Zoo this Thursday, August 5th 5pm-10pm.
   Soul City Survivors will again provide the music and food sponsors are as follows: Albertsons (Culinary Circle Skewars), Aldo's, Arnoldi's, Elks, Green Star (Hot & Iced Coffee & Teas), Neo Chase (Chicken Piccatta, peppered white beans, porvako), Marmalade Café (Tuna TarTar), Pascucci, Pizza Mizza (Pizza), Rincon Catering (Mexican Wedding Cookies, Strawberries and Chocolate Fondue), State & A, Coast Restaurant, Ruth Chris (Tenderloin Sandwich & Sweet Potato Casserole), Crushcakes (Mini Cup Cakes), Joe's, Zoo Catering Services by Rincon (Grilled Corn on the Cob & Churros), The Wave (Grilled chipotle chicken sandwiches, artichoke hearts, Baked phyllo pastry, Bacon wrapped scallops). Wine is being provided by Beckman, Buttonwood, Carina, Carr, Consilience, Gainey, Hahn, Oreana, Toucan and Tre Anelli.
  Tickets are $85 in advance and $100 at the door. For more information call 962-8101 or visit

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsor Sly's Steaks, Seafood & Cocktails.

Friday, July 30, 2010

OLIO PIZZERIA OPENS DOWNTOWN: An authentic Italian restaurant named Olio Pizzeria has opened downtown at 11 W. Victoria Street, the former home of Video Schmideo. The eatery, which is open for lunch and dinner, is brought to you by Elaine and Alberto Morello who own and operate Olio E Limone Ristorante. The pizzeria, which has a full bar and an extensive wine list, serves pizza, salads, antipasta, plates of sliced meats & cheeses, fried calamari and much more.
   I sat down with Elaine who told me about her new restaurant and I came away with the impression that they have gone to great lengths to be as authentic Italian as possible and to meet the high standards set by their popular Olio E Limone. They even hired a talented pizza chef who came over from Italy to Olio Pizzeria.
   The idea for Olio Pizzeria began to take shape even before they opened Olio e Limone in 1999, their fine dining restaurant immediately next door. The Morello's had always wanted to create a casual place with an emphasis on simple, delicious everyday artisanal Italian food. When comparing her newest restaurant to Olio E Limone, Elaine said "This is more casual, with those things that Italians eat every day. This kind of place you find around the corner from every piazza in Italy. So we are not reinventing the wheel. But we have added our own flair to our casual concept which we find in Italy all over."  At one point in our conversation Elaine pointed to a freshly baked pizza that was on the table in front of us.  "We tried five types of flour from Italy and this, the fifth one, is the one we settled on and liked the most," she said.
   In addition to the food, great attention was given to the interior of the restaurant, from the stone around the pizza bar, to the plastering and acoustic tiles on the ceiling. The Morello's brought in an Italian wood worker who created the bar and did the floors. Olio Pizzeria's attention to detail even extends to the placemat at your table. It contains a glossary of Italian food terms found on the menu, an Italian - English dictionary of common phrases so you can order your food while speaking Italian, and a brief history of pizza.
   Olio Pizzeria serves lunch Monday through Saturday 11:30am-2pm and dinner every night from 5pm-close. For more information call 899-2699 or visit

TONYRAY'S OPENS: TonyRay's Restaurant & Cantina in De la Guerra Plaza opened this morning and I added them to the guide today.

428: A new night spot named 428 Lounge has opened at 428 Chapala Street, the former home of Sevilla and Scotch Bonnet. They are open Friday 4:28pm - 2am and Saturday 6pm - 2am. For more information call 962-4545 or visit their Facebook page.

GREEK FESTIVAL: Santa Barbara's 37th annual Greek Festival is tomorrow and Sunday at Oak Park. Experience live Greek music, authentic Greek food, Greek folk dancing, homemade Greek pastries and an Agora marketplace. For more information visit

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PITA PIT UPDATE: This just in from reader Nicole: "Pita Pit hasn't closed its doors, they are under new management and just closed for the summer."

SPECIALS: Here are new specials from Coast Restaurant & Bar at the Canary Hotel 31 W. Carrillo St: Monday - Design your own Flatbread $10 each, Half Off Select Bottles of Wine. Tuesday – $5-$7 Wine & Appetizer Specials. Wednesday – Trio of Oysters & Champagne $18. Thursday – $2 Tacos All Day. Friday - 3 course seafood dinner $30 per person, fresh from local boats. Saturday – Farmer's Market Dinner $30 per person. Sunday – Happy Hour Sunday Brunch $24 per person.

RECEPCION  DEL PRESIDENTE: This Sunday, August 1, at 5pm, El Recepción del Presidente kicks off Fiesta week in the Rotunda of Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort. Guests will enjoy Mexican cuisine and performances by the 2010 Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta. Tickets are $65.00 per person. Call 962-8101.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CAT CORA AT MACY'S: Iron Chef America's first and only female Iron Chef, Cat Cora, will make a personal appearance, host a cooking demonstration, and sign her latest cookbook "Classics With a Twist: Fresh Takes on Favorite Dishes" at Macy's La Cumbre Plaza (3805 State Street) on Friday, August 6 at 1pm. Chef Cat Cora is author of two other cookbooks, Cat Cora's Kitchen and Cooking from the Hip: Fast, Easy, Phenomenal Meals. At Macy's Cora will demonstrate how to simplify complicated classic recipes with quick, healthy twists. After the demo, Cora will sign copies of her new book. The event is free but seating is limited. Call 877-884-3751 to reserve a space.

See my pictures of Cat Cora taken at a local event last October.

CLOSED: Reader Rebecca passed word to me that the Pita Pit at 971 Embarcadero Del Mar in Isla Vista has closed its doors.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Reader Glenn sent me photos of Panino - Santa Ynez (thanks buddy!) and I added them to the guide today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TONYRAY'S OPENS FRIDAY: The Rumor Machine swung and missed a few times in the last year but it appears to have hit a home run on June 18th when it announced that a new restaurant named "TonyRay's" is coming to 731 De la Guerra Plaza, the former home of El Cazador. I spoke with Executive Chef Enrique Godinez who told me that TonyRay's Restaurant & Cantina, which has a full bar, will be serving Mexican and American cuisine. The grand opening is set for this Friday.
   The eatery will be open for breakfast (served until 2pm), lunch and dinner seven days a week from 9am-8pm. There is seating indoors and on the patio that faces De la Guerra Plaza. Godinez recommends you try the Chile Verde and the Chilaquiles.
   The breakfast menu has an American section (Eggs Benedict, Steak & Eggs, Create Your Own Omelet, Breakfast Burrito, Traditional Two Eggs, Oatmeal, Pancakes & French Toast) and a Mexican section (Huevos Santa Barbara, Huevos Rancheros, Huevos Verdes, Chorizo & Eggs, Machaca & Eggs, Chilaquiles & Eggs).
   The lunch & dinner menus include salads (Caesar, Green, Cobb), sandwiches (Club, BLT), burgers, burritos, appetizers (Combo, Nachos, Taquitos, Quesadilla) along with kids selections. The
re is also a TonyRay's Favorites menu that includes Tacos, Chile Rellano, Enchiladas, Chile Verde, Fajitas, Tostadas, Chicken Alfredo, Pescado and Grilled New York Steak.

 View TonyRay's full menu
Brought to you exclusively by
The Restaurant Guy.

NEW THAI RESTAURANT OPENING UPTOWN: A new Thai eatery named "TAP" is coming to 2611 De la Vina Street, the former home of a rental kitchen shared by many local bakeries. The new eatery will be located across the street from Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch. I stopped by and took some pictures...

BACKYARD BOWLS COMING TO GOLETA: This just in from Backyard Bowls at 331 Motor Way (corner of State & Gutierrez), the makers of popular acai bowls and smoothies:

Hi John,

It is official, Backyard Bowls will be opening its second location in the Calle Real Shopping Center in Goleta. We will be located in the old Surf Country spot, right next door to Panino, and hope to open our doors by the middle of September. At the new Backyard Bowls customers can expect to find many of the same offerings that have made our downtown location a success, but there will be some unique new features on tap as well! Our core values will never change though, and we will continue to offer a truly healthy, delicious, and earth friendly option for a quick breakfast or lunch.

I will keep you posted with details as our build out progresses.

Thanks John!

Dan Goddard
Backyard Bowls

WELCOME ABOARD! The Restaurant Guide welcomes new sponsors Bistro Eleven Eleven and Omni Fresco Catering.

Monday, July 26, 2010

TASTE OF THE VINE: Sansum Diabetes Research Institute's 9th Annual "Taste of the Vine" fundraising event is being held this Saturday July 31 4pm-8pm at QAD headquarters 2111 Ortega Hill Rd in Summerland. John Palminteri and Gabe Saglie are co-hosts of the annual gala that includes more than 40 vintners, breweries, caterers and restaurants.  General admission tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling 682-7638 x243.

BAJA FRESH: Baja Fresh (3851 State St, 7127 Hollister Ave) fans will be happy to hear that the eatery is bringing back their popular Mango Salsa starting today. The condiment was replaced last year with a pineapple concoction. Speaking of Baja Fresh, the restaurant chain just launched an iPhone app that lets you locate their nearest outlet as well as order food right from your phone for pickup at a later date/time.

REAL ESTATE: The building at 700 State St, the former home of Left At Albuquerque, has been sold. It had been listed for sale for $4.1 million. In other non-food-related news, sources tell me that US Bank Corp, the 5th largest bank in the U.S., just signed a lease for 5,708 square feet of retail space at the corner of State and Carrillo (936 State, next to the Apple Store) at record rents for the size of the space.

LETTUCE B. HUGE: My friend Anita stumbled across this giant head of lettuce at a farmers market recently. The picture doesn't really do it justice; it had the diameter of a trash barrel!

Friday, July 23, 2010

DATE NIGHT: I had dinner last night at Holdren's Steaks & Seafood at 6920 Marketplace Drive in Goleta (the Hawaiian seared Ahi was fantastic) and noticed that they have a new special called "Every night is date night" available seven days a week. It is a dinner for two at Holdren's Goleta for just $39 (excluding tax and gratuity). This offer includes your choice of dessert or one appetizer of jumbo roasted garlic pepper onion rings, Cajun fried calamari rings or spicy crab and artichoke dip. The appetizer is followed by an entree choice per person of: pan seared salmon, 8oz prime top sirloin, herb crusted chicken breast or Jalapeno and pepper jack crusted pork chop. Includes your choice of soup or house salad and select side dish. Want dessert instead of an appetizer? Choose from either flourless chocolate cake, New York style cheesecake or s'mores on the campfire. For more information call 685-8900.

GREEK FESTIVAL: Santa Barbara's 37th annual Greek Festival is Saturday & Sunday July 31st & August 1st at Oak Park. Experience live Greek music, authentic Greek food, Greek folk dancing, homemade Greek pastries and an Agora marketplace. For more information visit

CHIPOTLE UPDATE: Chipotle restaurant, which is coming to the Kmart shopping center in Goleta (next to Rusty's Pizza) is showing its first signs of life. They have started to paint the walls and have put up a large "burrito-fication in progress" banner on the window. It looks like they have a few months of work ahead of them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

HAPPY HOUR: Billies restaurant at 413 State Street is offering a new happy hour menu. The menu includes cheesy hot wings, sweet chili wings, biscuits and gravy, house fries, and grilled cheese on sourdough. The price is $5 everyday from 3-7pm. They also have draft specials including $3 Pints and $5 Billies Bust Pitchers.
   Jade at 3132 State Street has a new happy hour that starts at 8:30 pm everyday. Half price on all starters and desserts. $5 house wines till closing.

ROOFTOP FIESTA:  On Wednesday, August 4th, 5-10pm The Perch, Canary Hotel's rooftop party zone, is having a Fiesta celebration. Enjoy Fiesta-priced specials on margaritas and house-made sangria and indulge on $2 tacos - Carnitas Canary-style, thanks to Chef Brian Parks, who will be roasting a pig for this special event. Music is provided by DJ Sparx who is mixing things up Fiesta-style with Latin trumpet player Rico DeLargo. Advance tickets are $20 or $25 at the door. For tickets call 877-548-3237 or visit

EARL WARREN: Gino Stabile, owner of Woody's BBQ at 5112 Hollister Avenue, has the license for the Earl Warren Showgrounds food service. He served food during off track wagering but wagering ended recently. Word on the street is that he plans to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner soon for locals and especially the crews in town for the big horse shows, RV shows and other events there. He also has a full liquor license.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GULF BENEFIT: This just in from Hungry Cat at 1134 Chapala Street:

Hello John,

The Gulf Coast oil spill, regardless of BP's end game, is a disaster of stunning proportions. Both The Hungry Cat in Hollywood and in Santa Barbara will be hosting Gulf benefits on Tuesday, July 27th, with 30% of the day's total sales going to Adopt a Fisherman.

In addition to the full raw bar (crawfish, head-on shrimp), The Hungry Cat's menu will include: gem lettuces, with blue crab, egg, buttermilk and mustard; oysters en brochette; alligator beignets; gumbo with shrimp, crab and andouille sausage; trout amandine; soft shell crab po'boy; pan-roasted soft shell crawfish, with grits and fried green tomatoes; blackened redfish, with corn puree, succotash and crab pearls. Among the drinks on the cocktail menu: creole juleps; hurricanes, with Flor de Cana light and dark rum, passionfruit puree, lime and simple syrup; brother jakes, with hacienda vieja tequila, flor de cana light rum, carpano antica vermouth, lemon, and simple syrup. The menu will be the same at both restaurants.

And if you should feel a little circumspect while you're eating your alligator beignets and sipping on a vieux carre cocktail, you might consider those offshore oil platforms sitting serenely in the Santa Barbara Channel. Just a thought.


AND THE WINNER IS... Based on web site statistics these are the most-viewed photos from Sunday's Silver Screen Bash put on by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Congratulations to winners (left to right) Kelly Daugherty & Dawn Sproul !

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TWIN CUPS COMING TO GOLETA: Reader Jeff sent me a tip about a coffee and frozen yogurt bar named Twin Cups that is planning to open in Goleta near Calle Real and Patterson Avenue. The company is currently running an advertisement on CraigsList for a Barista position that is available (one year coffee experience required, contact The ad includes the following description of the business:
   "Twin Cups is a new and fast growing company featuring Santa Barbara's first 'stop and go' Coffee Barista and Live Culture Frozen Yogurt Bar. Pull in, order and you're on your way! Twin Cups was started with the idea to serve quality coffee and frozen yogurt to people on the go. We will proudly be serving all coffee and tea products from the local Caribbean Coffee Company. Twin Cups will be a place to grab a quick coffee, specialty coffee drink, pastry, frozen yogurt and much more with no parking headaches or long waits. With our ideal location just off the freeway one can get right back onto the freeway going north or south with no delay."

SPEAKING OF CUPS: A new business named Curious Cup is coming to Carpinteria. It will be a children's bookstore, serving coffee, tea and other goodies and will have a soft opening in November. A grand opening planned 1/1/11. People are invited to follow them on Facebook.

ROLL-YOUR-OWN SUSHI: Reader Kelly tells me that a new food booth is coming to Albertsons market near Costco in Goleta. It's still under construction, but a sign is up and it looks like it's going to be a roll-your-own sushi place.

NEW CHEF: Alessandro Cartumini has joined Four Seasons Biltmore as Executive Chef, bringing with him a fresh vision for the resort's Bella Vista restaurant.
   "It's the simplicity of the dishes that comes out as Italian," says Cartumini. "It's not the heavy traditional cuisine that most people think of, but more of a light approach to food with some Italian flavour profiles thrown in. The goal is well-balanced meals that will have people sleeping well and feeling great the next day."

BENTO BOX: Leslie Thomas from Spiritland Bistro at 230 E. Victoria St sent me an update on the restaurant:
   "We expanded dinner to 7 nights per week (Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9:00pm, Friday-Saturday 5:30-10:00pm), and we are now serving lunch 7 days per week from 11:30am-2:00pm. "Our lunch is all organic just like our dinner, however, it is much more casual & very affordable.
   "The mainstay of lunch is our delectable and health-conscious Bento Box, a combination which consists of seasonal vegetables plus a choice of 5 proteins (chicken, wild salmon, tofu, tempeh, seitan), 4 starches (roasted yams, buckwheat soba noodles, quinoa spaghetti, wild+brown rice) and 5 sauces (tahini, thai curry, marinara, ginger cream, chipotle lime kaeshi).
   "Whether people eat in or pick up to go (or request delivery for large orders), all food is packed in earth-friendly boxes, & utensils are made from recycled birchwood. We also offer several soups, appetizers, & side dishes for those wanting a lighter lunch or later snack. All items contain dietary notations, which is helpful for people with food sensitivies/allergies. And let's not forget dessert -- we offer a selection of healthy dairy-free & egg-free cookies for guiltless pleasure (triple chocolate anyone?)."

SPACE AVAILABLE: Reader Kris from Hayes Commercial Group passed me this message about new commercial space that is now available at 3000 State Street: "John: I read in your blog a while ago about Honeybaked closing. I wanted to let you know that Michael Martz and I are listing the property for lease. It has ample refrigeration space, lots of storage space and is located on a highly trafficked corner. It would work well for many uses including bakery, caterer, etc." For more information call 898-4361 or email

FREE WI-FI: Reader Karen tells me that Lazy Acres has posted a sign announcing that the store now has free Wi-Fi in their cafe.

EDHAT: On Tuesdays I submit this blog to and about 10% of my readers end up here this way. Last week Edhat stopped linking externally to anything promotional which I think is a good policy. Given that much of this column is about promoting restaurants, you will no longer find The Restaurant Guy listed there. Like most of Santa Barbara, I am a big Edhat fan (I visit the real-time local news page 5+ times a day) and "Ed" is a longtime friend. If you haven't visited Edhat check it out!

Monday, July 19, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: July 18, 2010 - SB International Film Festival's "Silver Screen Bash"

PIZZA HUT CLOSES: The local branch of Pizza Hut at 2840 De La Vina St closed today.

REST IN PEACE: Here is a list of local food & drink destinations that have closed this year:

  • July 2010: Pizza Hut 2840 De La Vina St; Xanadu French Bakery 1028 Coast Village Rd, Montecito
  • June 2010: California Pasta - Five Points 3979 State St
  • May 2010: Bay Cafe 131 Anacapa St; China City Restaurant 5688 Calle Real, Goleta; Mojo Coffee 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Presto Pasta 5764 Calle Real, Goleta; Saigon Restaurant 424 State St
  • April 2010: Chilango's Mexican Restaurant 503 State St; Encina Cafe & Cocktails 2220 Bath St; 2018 Cliff Dr; Quizno's 5723 Calle Real, Goleta
  • March 2010: Caje 1007 Casitas Pass Rd, Carpinteria; Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant 1221 State St; Fosters Freeze 1924 Cliff Dr
  • February 2010: Cities Barbecue 901 N. Milpas St; Downtown Brewing Co. 3744 State St; Epiphany Restaurant & Bar 21 W. Victoria St; Tuttini 10 E. Carrillo St 
  • January 2010: Dean-o's Pizzarama 1950 Cliff Dr; 6558 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista; Melting Pot 608 Anacapa St; Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge 734 State St

Friday, July 16, 2010

VACATION: As some of you may have noticed I am on vacation again, enjoying an annual family reunion. Let's hope that I finally get back to work next week!

OFF TOPIC: Ross has opened in Camino Real Marketplace!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RESTAURANT ADVISOR GROUP LAUNCHED: Longtime restaurant and hospitality veterans Jeremiah Higgins, Cobi Jones and Scott Leibfried have joined together to form HJL Restaurant Advisors Group, a new partnership that will counsel new and existing restaurant owners and management on how to improve their business. With 35 years of combined experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, the partners will advise restaurant entrepreneurs with developing restaurant concepts, preparing business plans, achieving operational efficiencies, as well as branding and marketing.
   "Opening a restaurant can be one of the more challenging business ventures to undertake," said Higgins, HJL Group operations advisor and partner. "It takes as much passion and commitment as it does the right knowledge, especially of the best tools available. That's where HJL Group comes in. We look forward to sharing our combined knowledge and experience to help restaurants thrive."
   Recent local projects assisted by the HJL Group team include Marquee, Blush and Savoy. The team recently successfully opened sports bar On The Side in Isla Vista and will open Arch Rock Fish on Anacapa Street later this year. To learn more about HJL Restaurant Advisors Group or to contact the team for a consultation, visit

FLAMING GRILL: A new restaurant named "Flaming Grill" is coming to 6558 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista, the former home of Isla Vista Bakery Cafe.

SILVER SCREEN BASH: The second-annual Silver Screen Bash, a fundraiser for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, takes place this Sunday, July 18th at Fess Parker's Doubletree resort. VIP begins at 5pm and the event begins at 6pm.
   Food sponsors include Arnoldi's Cafe, Cold Stone Creamery, Fresco Cafe, Good Cookie, Hobnob Tavern, Live Culture Lounge, Los Arroyos, Marmalade Cafe, Rodney's Steakhouse, SB Farmer's Market, The Secret Ingredient, Wahoo's Fish Tacos and World Cuisine Express.
   For tickets ($75 general, $100 VIP) call 963-0023 or visit

PHOTO BLOG: July 11, 2010 - Italian Country Picnic fundraiser for Ensemble Theatre

SANTA BARBARA STYLE: I noticed a barbecue in the front of Mackenzie Market 3102 State St and asked owner John Demourkas what that was all about. He told me that for over 15 years he has offered a "Santa Barbara-Style BBQ" (using his Greek seasonings). Demourkas offers a tri-tip sandwich and a pork tri-tip. On weekends chicken, ribs and sausage are added to the menu. Catering is also available. For more information call 682-2051.

RUTH'S BISTRO: Ruth's Chris Steak House at 3814 State St (in La Cumbre Plaza) has introduced a lighter fare menu called "Ruth's Bistro." It is available in the lounge or in the dining room. The menu includes Ruth's-style sushi (the most popular item is the Surf & Turf Roll with spicy crab meat, rice, and wrapped in Carpaccio). Also available is a filet steak sandwich, a prime 10oz burger, grilled chicken sandwich and a variety of salads. Ruth's Chris is open Mon-Thu 5-9pm, Fri-Sat 5-10pm, Sun 4:30-9pm. For more information call 563-5674.

LOBSTER: Enterprise Fish Company at 225 State St is currently offering two-pound live Maine lobster Mon-Thu for $29.95 (regularly $47.95). For more information call 962-3313 or visit

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY: Recently a good thing happened to me: I bought an iPhone 4 on the morning of the first day it was available (June 24th). Because most of my restaurant-related duties occur online, I like to have the latest and greatest iPhone around me at all times so I can get work done without being chained to the desk or lugging around a laptop.
   Last weekend a bad thing happened: I dropped it and I did not yet own a protective case. I pulled it from my pocket to check the time and before I had a chance to see the screen I noticed my brand-new iPhone 4 starting to take flight in front of me.
   Moments later an ugly thing happened: my iPhone 4 landed face-down on the street directly on the only pebble within sight and the front glass shattered. I quickly discovered that other ugly things happened as well to my formerly-pristine smart phone during that fateful moment but I have reached my pain threshold reliving the nightmare while typing this column.
   Fortunately I received a tip that THE person to contact for these sorts of emergencies is the "iDoctor," a local man named Bryan who specializes in iPhone repair for lower cost than Apple charges. My iPhone has surgery scheduled for this week. You can reach the iDoctor online at or by emailing


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ME-N-ED'S: Before there was Dean-o's Pizzarama on the Mesa the pizza parlor at that location was called Me-N-Ed's. I received and email from readers Sid and Pauline that talks about this forgotten eatery and was surprised to learn that they are still around:

Hi, John,

Are you still missing Dean-O's great thin-crust pizza? We were until we remembered its history! When it first opened 50 years or so ago, it was called Me-N-Ed's. It was after a change of ownership that it was renamed Dean-O's but recipes stayed very much the same. We were delighted to discover recently that Me-N-Ed's is alive and thriving just down the road in Oxnard and the pizza is delicious. It is located in a spacious new building with giant-screen tv's adjacent to the water near Channel Islands Harbor. Address is 1601 South Victoria. The franchise is owned by Mike Manucharyan who also operates two other Me-N-Ed's locations in Camarillo (2390 Las Posas) and Moorpark (144 W Los Angeles Av). He currently has an excellent special: a large pizza with THREE toppings for only $10.00 .... makes the trip well worth while! Customers can choose between thin or thick crust and there is an appetizing fresh salad bar.. The menu also includes oven-baked sandwiches and calzones. Apparently the right to open a Santa Barbara Me-N-Ed's is owned by the franchisee in San Luis Obispo County. Maybe we'll have one here some day, but meanwhile let's all enjoy the Oxnard location.

Sid and Pauline

FUNDRAISER: Here is a press-release about a fundraiser at two waterfront eateries:

Restaurant Gift Certificates to Help the Fight Against Sexual Violence!

25% of Proceeds from Gift Certificate Purchases in July to be Donated to The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center

Chuck's Waterfront Grill & The Endless Summer bar-cafe are teaming up with the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center (SBRCC) in July to sell "Great Cause" gift certificates, valid for use at either restaurant, with 25% of the proceeds from special "Great Cause" gift certificates going directly to the SBRCC. The Certificates may be purchased at either location (contact information is below).

We all get appeals from many good causes, but we can't think of a better way to help than to give a loved one the gift of great food and beverage with family and friends; while enabling the SBRCC to do their great work like aiding victims of sexual violence who are less fortunate.

"We love to help the SBRCC raise money for their cause; they need every bit of help they can get. Our restaurant sees the importance of the work they do and that is why the owner (Steve Hyslop) and I have helped raise money for them over the past years," said Alvin Ferrara (Manager).

Chuck's Waterfront Grill & The Endless Summer bar-cafe are located at the beautiful Santa Barbara harbor overlooking the boats.

For further information and/or to purchase "Great Cause" gift certificates contact: Stephanie at the SBRCC located at 433 E. Canon Perdido Street Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (805)-963-6832 or Alvin Ferrara (Manager) at Chuck's Waterfront Grill & The Endless Summer bar-cafe located at 113 Harbor Way suite 180 Santa Barbara, CA 93109 (805)-564-1200.

OFF TOPIC: I am away on vacation for the rest of the week. C U Monday!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

LAM'S VIETNAMESE BBQ OPENS: Last Saturday was the grand opening of Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches at 424 State Street, the former home of Saigon In & Out Restaurant. I spoke with owner William Lam yesterday and he told me that opening day was packed and that many people were watching soccer on the new flat screen TV in the restaurant. He says Sunday was equally busy. Lam's offers 14 types of sandwiches including the Grilled Pork sandwich (the most popular item) and the Special Sandwich (ham & pork meatloaf). The BBQ menu has many items as well including BBQ Bamboo (a kabob on a bamboo stick) which comes with beef, lamb or chicken. Lam recommends you try the BBQ Beef with Egg Noodles or the BBQ Shrimp Salad. Hours are 11am-11pm Sun-Wed and 11am-Midnight Thu-Sat. For more information call 962-0707.

BAKERY BURNS: Xanadu French Bakery at 1028 Coast Village Rd in Montecito was destroyed when an electrical fire started in a nearby attic. Long time owner Sepi Mashhoon said she suffered a total loss. She doesn't know if Xanadu will be able to reopen. Neighboring business Montecito Barbers (where I used to go for many years as a kid) was also destroyed. The barber shop hopes to reopen soon in another space in the building.

RESTAURANT WRAP UP: Here is a list of local eateries that have opened this year:

  • July 2010: Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches 424 State St, 962-0707
  • June 2010: Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State St, 963-2215; Mac's Fish & Chip Shop 503 State St, 897-1160
  • May 2010: Billies 413 State St, 966-9782
  • April 2010: Las Aves Cafe 2220 Bath St, 682-7277; Panino 3569 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez, 688-0213
  • March 2010: HobNob Tavern 21 W. Victoria St, 564-7100; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 685-2600
  • February 2010: India House 418 State St, 962-5070; Saigon - Five Points 3987 State St, 964-0909
  • January 2010: Chino's Rock & Tacos 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 968-5118; Simply Pies 5392 Hollister Ave, Goleta, 845-2200

OFF TOPIC: I hope you had a great 4th of July weekend. I spent mine on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, CA. The photo on the left is the view from a family friend's home in Balboa where I stayed. The back of the house is on Balboa bay while the front faces the beach & pacific ocean. Coming to Balboa is such a family tradition that I have visited this same home during the 4th of July every year since age five.

Friday, July 2, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: July 1, 2010 - Last night I wandered around town and took 81 pictures of the First Thursday art and culture tour.

PIZZA HUT UPDATE: I called Pizza Hut at 2840 De La Vina Street and they told me the restaurant is closing in a week or two.

NEW OWNERSHIP: Valentino's Take & Bake at 4421 Hollister Ave in Goleta is under new ownership, having been purchased by proprietor Shayre Olive-Jones.

NEW FLAVORS: Here is a press-release from Cold Stone Creamery (5718 Calle Real, 504 State St) about new flavors available this summer:

Santa Barbara, CA - (June 30, 2010) - Cold Stone Creamery in Santa Barbara and Goleta is introducing three new, refreshing fruit flavors from June to August, each a part of the Gold Cone collection. Throughout 2010, Cold Stone Creamery will be launching delectable Gold Cone flavors sure to delight taste buds.

Beginning June 30, Cold Stone Creamery at 504 State Street and 5718 Calle Real Road will begin featuring fresh fruit flavors, including Key Lime, Harvest Peach and Blueberry. Key Lime offers a scoop of tropical paradise with tangy meringue flavor packed with an extra burst of key lime yumminess. Harvest Peach is a refreshing taste of ripe, sun-kissed summer peaches where every spoonful is better than the last, while Blueberry is a tempting explosion with a tart and chilling sensation.

"Cold Stone Creamery's fresh fruit Gold Cone flavors are the perfect treat for families and friends to get together on a warm summer day," said Cold Stone Creamery owner, Mike Briggs. "Both sweet and refreshing, the new ice cream flavors make it easy to relax, indulge and enjoy those long summer days."

The fresh fruit Gold Cone flavors will be featured during their respective timeframes as Creations, pies and shakes. Cold Stone's Gold Cone signature ice cream descriptions for Key Lime, Harvest Peach and Blueberry are below:

Key Lime - June 30 - Aug. 24
Creation: Key to my Heart - Key lime ice cream, graham cracker pie crust, raspberries and whipped topping.
Pie: Key Lime Sunshine - Key lime ice cream with graham cracker pie crust in a graham cracker pie crust with fluffy white frosting rosettes and sprinkled with key lime candy pieces.
Shake: Pineapple Key Lime Pucker - Key lime ice cream mixed with pineapple.

Harvest Peach - June 30 - Aug. 24
Creation: Peaches and Creamery  - Harvest peach ice cream, graham cracker pie crust, peach pie filling and banana.
Pie: Sweet as a Peach - Harvest peach ice cream with graham cracker pie crust in a graham cracker pie crust with fluffy white frosting rosettes and sprinkled with graham cracker pie crust.
Shake: What a Peach - Harvest peach ice cream with graham cracker pie crust.

Blueberry - June 30 - Aug. 24
Creation: Blueberry Bliss - Blueberry ice cream, graham cracker pie crust, blueberries and whipped topping.
Pie: Blueberry Creme - Blueberry ice cream with graham cracker pie crust in a graham cracker pie crust with fluffy white frosting rosettes and sprinkled with graham cracker pie crust.
Shake: Blueberry Natural - Blueberry ice cream with blueberries.

These three flavors are available at the Cold Stone Creamery in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Following this fruity assortment, the Gold Cone collection will continue throughout 2010 with four more tantalizing flavors - so scoop up these flavors while they last because they will be gone before you know it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

ADIOS RUBIO'S: Reliable sources tell me that Rubio's Fish Tacos (scheduled to move into 734 State Street) was purchased by a private equity fund who decided not to move forward with a restaurant in Santa Barbara. Though I'm sure that people who dislike restaurant chains won't mind hearing that news, I can guarantee you there are many Rubio's fans in mourning today.

MANNY'S RETURNS: After an eight year absence the popular Durango-style Mexican restaurant named Manny's has returned to Solvang starting today. The sons of founder Manny Tovalin Sr have reopened the restaurant at 1693 Mission Drive, a few blocks away from its original location. The restaurant is open 6am-9pm daily and closed on Tuesdays. For more information call 691-9137.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added the new Thursday Farmers Market at Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta to the Markets section of the guide. This new farmers market starts today from 3-6pm and replaces the one previously held on Calle Real in Goleta.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I also added La Tapatia Bakery at 832 N. Milpas Street to the guide. They have been around for years but had slipped under my radar.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: And finally I also added Mi Fiesta Market Deli & Grill at 410 Salinas Street. They have also been around for years but successfully avoided detection until yesterday.

UPDATED: Today I added photos of Mac's Fish & Chip Shop to the restaurant guide. While there I had a nice conversation with colorful and charismatic owner Grant McNaughton and of course tried out the fish & chips which were terrific. McNaughton told me that he has been swamped with business since he opened 11 days ago and that half of all customers said they heard about his eatery from The Restaurant Guy. I am starting to suspect that my mom might not be the only person in Santa Barbara reading this blog...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

THE BIG TWO OH OH OH OH: This morning reader David from Los Angeles submitted restaurant review number 20,000. The Restaurant Guide debuted on March 4th 1996 and the review system was added in 2001. Thank you for helping support my ongoing online restaurant resource project. Reading your reviews each day is one of the things that makes my "work" so much fun.

PIZZA HUT TO CLOSE: The online commercial real estate behemoth LoopNet is reporting that the space currently occupied by Pizza Hut at 2840 De La Vina Street is available for lease starting in July.

BRAZILIAN CARNIVAL NIGHT: Cafe Buenos Aires at 1316 State Street now has a "Brazilian Carnival Night" every Thursday which includes typical Brazilian food and drink specials. If you print this flyer (and bring it with you!) you will receive a free dessert or Caipirinha when you purchase an entree.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: June 26, 2010 - Here are pictures from the Santa Barbara Wine Festival at the Museum of Natural History. This is the first event I have photographed using my new iPhone 4. The iPhone 4's flash is not quite strong enough for daytime use (I usually use a flash for every shot, night or day). The iPhone 4 CCD appears to have a much higher dynamic range than my old camera, meaning it handles dark areas such as shadows on faces far better. I carry a dedicated digital camera nearly everywhere I go (because the old iPhone camera was junk) and I have been eager to abandon the extra baggage. I am not convinced I can make the leap because many pictures clearly would have benefited from a flash.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Mac's Fish & Chip Shop to the restaurant guide.

MAC'S FISH & CHIPS OPENS: The British are coming! Mac's Fish & Chip Shop has opened at 503 State Street, the former home of Chilango's Mexican Restaurant. Owner Grant McNaughton says "Welcome to MAC'S, an authentic British Fish & Chip shop in Santa Barbara, California where cod is our god, batter matters, mushy peas please, chips are hip and the pies appetize." The menu includes:

  • Fish & Chips: whole fillets of premium, sustainable Alaskan Cod cooked to order in a thin, crisp coating of beer batter.
  • Soon-To-Be Famous Fish Sandwich: crisp, beer-battered, fillet of sustainable Alaskan Cod served in a lightly toasted Kaiser Roll with crisp lettuce and house-made tartar sauce.
  • Savory Pies: hand-made in-house from recipes inspired by British classics.
  • Haggis: a traditional Scottish dish freshly made in-house and served in a crispy beer-batter.
  • Sausages: 1/4 pound "bangers" (2 per order) paired with chips, beans and gravy or curry sauce.  Choose from plain, battered or in a lightly toasted Kaiser Roll.

 Hours are 11:30am-9pm Sun-Wed, 11:30am-2:30am Thu-Sat. For more information call 897-1160 or visit

LAM'S OPENS THURSDAY: Lam's Vietnamese BBQ and Sandwiches is having a grand opening this Thursday at 424 State Street, the former home of Saigon Restaurant. I asked owner William Lam if he had any specific recommendations from the menu for you and he suggested you try the Grilled Pork Sandwich, BBQ Beef with Egg Noodles or the BBQ Shrimp Salad. Hours are 11am-11pm Sun-Wed and 11am-Midnight Thu-Sat. For more information call 962-0707.

Friday, June 25, 2010

SADDLE UP: Reader Primetime forwarded me a message this morning about a new restaurant named The Cowboy Way that has opened in Solvang:

This email is going out to all of our family and friends who have been so supportive and interested in our recent project - The Cowboy Way BBQ Restaurant. I'm happy to report that it is now open (finally!!). Please stop by when you can and let us know what you think.........Andy is there most days and can usually talk for a minute or two. Please join us for lunch or dinner..........and, we also offer easy take-out and catering. Phone # is (805) 691-9195.

The menu is great - mouthwatering slow cooked BBQ such as Brisket, Pulled Pork, Ribs, Tri-tip, Chicken all smoked over red oak & hickory. It's fantastic! Also offered are salads & sandwiches.

Here's where we are:
The Cowboy Way BBQ is located at 485 Alisal Rd, Solvang in Frederick's Court, on the corner of Hwy 246/Mission Dr and Alisal Rd. It's open daily except Tuesdays, from 11am to 8pm.......Fridays & Saturdays 11am to 9pm. The restaurant is upstairs in Frederick's Court - parking is available in the courtyard or directly across the street on Alisal (fyi - there is an elevator available if needed).

We hope you'll give us a try and spread the word.........thanks again for all your support!

Mary & Andy Bahnken

PIZZA HAPPY HOUR: This just in from Pizza Mizza in La Cumbre Plaza:

Pizza Mizza began a new FREE Pizza Happy Hour recently. Get a FREE Pizza of equal or lesser value when you buy any Large Pizza at normal price every night of the week from 8-9pm. It is for DELIVERY and TAKE OUT only.

We are already getting a great response from it. It's a solid deal for the summer time especially since people are eating so much later.

Take care!

Sean Ebadi
Pizza Mizza

OFF TOPIC: It will come as no surprise to you that I had no blog yesterday because I was busy testing my new iPhone 4 that I purchased at Best Buy. At first I was able to test everything except for the FaceTime video chat because I didn't know if any of my friends owned an iPhone 4. Apparently I wasn't the only person with that dilemma because Apple has launched a toll-free phone number where you can test FaceTime live with an Apple representative. I called 1-888-FACETIME (888-322-3846) and enjoyed a nice video chat with a gentlemen who walked me through various features of FaceTime. I was stunned how well video chat works and how easy it is to use. I had previously assumed that video calls on a mobile handset would be just a gimmick. I now think that phone-based video chat will go mainstream once other phone manufacturers adopt the open FaceTime standard. Apple's competitors (Qik, Fring, Skype) are going to have to ramp up their video share offerings quickly. FaceTime blows them all out of the water.
  My main objective, however, was to test the picture camera. I think I might be able to finally retire my digital camera as the main workhorse for It sure would be nice to be able to use the iPhone for my photo needs rather than carry two gadgets everywhere I go. Photo quality is certainly good enough, the main issue is the flash. The flash in the new iPhone 4 looks like it might be adequate for night time photos (we'll see) but I also like to use a flash to lighten up faces in all my daytime shots. I'm not sure if it can do that in all situations like my regular digital camera can. Below are my first tests of the iPhone 4 camera yesterday during a "working" visit to Red Rock in Santa Ynez.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PIZZA GURU REOPENS: The uptown restaurant Pizza Guru at 3534 State Street has reopened. Owner Joshua Braun sent me a letter this morning with his perspective on recent events that have been widely publicized in local news outlets:

Hi John,

We noticed that you have Pizza Guru in the cemetery on I am writing to let you know that we are open for business and very busy, thanks to our recent, uh, "PR campaign." I guess it is really true that no press is bad press.

In case you weren't already aware, I was the founder and Executive Director of the medical cannabis collective known as Hortipharm. Hortipharm has long been considered the most transparent and legitimate collective in Santa Barbara, and was voted best dispensary in Santa Barbara three years running in the Independent's Readers Poll. Why law enforcement believes we were "operating outside the scope of the Compassionate Use Act" is still a mystery to me, but I am confident that the error will be remedied before long.

As for Pizza Guru laundering money from Hortipharm, nothing could be farther from the truth. My wife, Dayli, has done an amazing job turning the place around since she took over the business--apparently such a good job that law enforcement decided that it couldn't be legitimate. Fortunately, we have meticulous records to demonstrate that their assertions are ludicrous, and I am furious that they dragged her into this fiasco. Her business and my collective were completely separate.

Our loyal customer base, from Guru as well as from Hortipharm, has been quick to support us through these trying times and we are excited that everyone now knows about Pizza Guru.

Yours Truly,
Joshua Braun

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PASTA LA VISTA: Readers tell me that it appears California Pasta - Five Points (3979 State St) is gone. I tried calling the restaurant and the phone number is disconnected. I'll post more information as it becomes available.

SB WINE FEST: The Santa Barbara Wine Festival at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was the first festival of its kind when it began 28 years ago. Set along the banks of Mission Creek, it is a festival not to be missed. On Saturday June 26th from 2-5pm over 80 wineries and 30 food booths will participate, offering tastes of wine exclusively from the Central Coast.
   Food participants include: American Flat Bread, Bella Dolce, Brophy Brothers, C'est Cheese, Ciao Bella Gelato, Coast Restaurant, D'Angelos, E & L Foods, Elements, Full of Life, Global Gardens, Jessica Foster Confections, La Mousse, Marmalade Cafe, Michael's Catering, Pierre La Fond Wine Bistro, Renaud's, Rincon Beach Club and Catering, Savoir Faire, The Berry Man, The Spicy Gourmets Organics, Village Modern Food and Whole Foods Market.
   For ticket information visit or call 682-4711 ext 443. The profits all go to Museum programs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CHAD'S FLASHBACK HAPPY HOUR: Jodi House, located at 625 Chapala Street, the former home of Chad's Restaurant, is having a fundraiser July 7, 5-7:30pm. The event will resurrect the popular Chad's Happy Hour for one wonderful evening. $30 donation/cover charge includes two drinks and lots of hors d'oeuvres. Jodi House's mission is to provide supportive services to brain injury survivors and their families. For more information call 563-2882 x4.
   Take a trip down Memory Lane and view my photo album from the last happy hour at Chad's, July 26th, 2008.

MENU NOW ONLINE: Today I added Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill's menu to the restaurant guide, brought to you exclusively by The Restaurant Guy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill at 202 State Street to the restaurant guide. They opened last Friday.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Panino - Santa Ynez to the restaurant guide. The deli opened last April.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Simply Pies at 5392 Hollister Ave in Goleta to the restaurant guide. The bakery opened last January.

RUMOR MACHINE: The occasionally reliable Rumor Machine recently output a message that Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge, which closed their 734 State Street location last January, was reopening next door in De la Guerra Plaza, the former home of El Cazadore. Apparently it had blown a fuse, because when I changed out some parts yesterday a slightly different message appeared: "The space formerly occupied by El Cazadore at 731 De la Guerra Plaza will be opening in about a week. The name will be Tonyray's."

NEW BREAKFAST HOURS: This just in from Silvergreens at 791 Chapala Street downtown:

Hey John,

I would love to inform your readers about Downtown Silvergreens' new extended breakfast hours. Mon-Fri breakfast is served from 7:30am-Noon and Sat-Sun from 8am-1pm. We have homemade Belgian waffles, made to order breakfast burritos and scrambles, Acai energy bowls, fruit and yogurt parfaits, steel-cut oatmeal, bagels, organic coffee and fresh squeezed juices. We use only Cage-Free eggs and if you are looking for a non-greasy breakfast made quickly, look no further. You can even call your order in ahead of time on the way to work: (805) 962-8500.

Ron Gleiberman
Regional General Manager

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BAY ROADHOUSE OPENS: Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill at 202 State Street, the former home of Paoli's, has opened. Bay Roadhouse is brought to you by the owners of Bay Cafe.  The restaurant is next-door neighbors with Union Ale Brewing Co. which opened last August.
   I spoke with proprietor Bob Montgomery, who also owns the successful Nugget restaurants in Summerland and Goleta, and he told me that Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill has lowered prices a couple of dollars when compared to Bay Cafe and added menu items borrowed from the Nugget in addition to the seafood & pasta. Another idea borrowed from the Nugget: funky displays around the room including a marlin & tuna, glass balls & net, vintage automobile wooden wheels, pier pilings and old pictures of Santa Barbara.
   Managing partner Harish Prather tells me ""We tried to design the menu to be fair priced. Many of the items are under $20, most are under $14." Prather recommends you try the paella or the honey-dipped fried chicken. Hours are 11am-10pm every day. Bay Roadhouse will be starting a happy hour in a couple of weeks. For more information call 963-2215.

UP IN SMOKE: Pizza Guru restaurant at 3534 State Street closed after the owners got into widely publicized legal trouble. I don't know if the closure is temporary or permanent.

COLOSSAL: Ken Boxer, owner of Palazzio at 1026 State Street, sent me a message yesterday about his new 48oz drink called the "Colossal"

Hi John,

It was only a matter of time....Palazzio is known for it's rather enormous portions of food, now it will become recognized for our now gigantic pours. Here is our new 48oz Colossal. Palazzio is now serving the largest drink in town. The 48oz Colossal comes as a Margarita, Cosmopolitan,
Belini-tini, Blood Orange, Pomegranate, Watermelon, Lemon Drop Martinis, and Hypnotiq Strawberry Splash and many other of our drinks are now
being made to our Colossal size. The price is 19.95 and four people can share one!!

Ken Boxer


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NEW RESTAURANT DOWNTOWN: William Lam, who closed his Saigon Restaurant (424 State Street) last month, will be opening in its place a new eatery named "Lam's Vietnamese Barbecue Sandwiches" next week. I am having lunch with Mr. Lam soon and will ask him for more details about it.

NEW RESTAURANT IN SANTA YNEZ: The popular sandwich shop Panino, with locations downtown, Goleta, Montecito and Los Olivos, has opened a new location at 3569 Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez. The eatery offers 30 different sandwiches, 9 salads and Italian-inspired soups. The most popular sandwich is the Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich, which includes roast chicken, organic greens, pine nuts, sliced apple, honey mustard dressing and dried cranberries. Panino is open daily from 10am-4pm. For more information call 688-0213 or visit

OFF TOPIC: Shane Bishop, National Producer for Dateline NBC, emailed me this morning to let me know that a special episode will be airing this Friday, June 18th at 9pm about the murders of Wendy Di Rodio and Brock & Davina Husted last year in Ventura. Dateline interviewed me along with many locals including Di Rodio's dance partner Rick Harmon and Di Rodio's dance instructor Sylvia Sykes. I run a tribute web site for Di Rodio at The Husted's murderer was arrested earlier this year but Wendy Di Rodio's has not been.

Monday, June 14, 2010

MAC'S FISH & CHIP OPENS JUNE 25TH: This just in from Mac's Fish & Chip Shop owner Grant MacNaughton:

Morning John,

Hope you had a good trip.

I'm excited to report that the remodel of 503 State St is almost complete, the various permits have been obtained, our monster custom fryer has been delivered from Louisiana and the imported British items have arrived so we're going to be officially open for business from 11:30am on FRIDAY 25th JUNE. For our opening weekend we'll be offering FREE CHIPS with the purchase of any main item (fish, savory pie, sausage or haggis) and we'll be open until 2:30am so there's no excuse not to come and give us a try!

We'll continue to update our website ( and we've also created a Facebook page (if you're into that sort of thing) which we encourage people to become a fan of because currently we only have a few friends and it's beginning to feel like high school all over again...


BACK IN TOWN: I returned last night from a week of hiking & camping. Here is a picture (left) from the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park and (right) from Glacier Point in Yosemite.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TIME FOR A VACATION: I have left for a vacation to Sequoia National Park and Yosemite. Unless there is earth-shattering food news to report you probably won't hear from me until next week. I have decided to load you up with news today that should hold you over until then:

ARCH ROCK FISH: The Melting Pot restaurant at 608 Anacapa Street, which closed last January, will be replaced by a new casual seafood restaurant named Arch Rock Fish. The restaurant is named after the famous rock on Anacapa Island. They are working with the Farmers Market and fishermen at the harbor to help develop the menu. When visiting Arch Rock Fish last week I spoke with culinary advisor chef Scott Leibfried, known to national television audiences as Gordon Ramsey's sous chef on Hell's Kitchen and also as a judge/host of many Food Network Challenges.
   Starters on the menu include ahi tuna, clam chowder, baked Kushi oysters, lobster bisque, ale steamed mussels, fried ipswitch clams, crab & smoked salmon fritters, iced shell fish, shucked oysters, crispy calamari, grilled artichoke, spicy sushi roll, handmade guacamole.
   Sandwiches include lobster roll, grilled yellow tail, grilled salmon burger, rare albacore tuna, piedmont beef burger and turkey burger.
   Main menu items include Atlantic cod fish and chips, rare ahi tuna, grilled salmon, grilled wild bass, steamed lobster, cioppino, crispy skin amish chicken, 16oz KC NY, pork chop millinaise, handmade ravioli. They will also offer fresh pasta daily in limited quantities.
   Arch Rock Fish will be open 11am-10pm Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sat. They will have a happy hour every night except Saturday. Call 805-845-2800, visit or follow their progress on Facebook.

The crew from Arch Rock Fish:
Top (L-R): Mike Anderson, Jeremiah Higgins, Scott Leibfried
Bottom (L-R): Jennifer Higgins, Cobi Jones, Jaime Kostechko

NEW DOWNTOWN DELI: South Coast Deli will be opening a new location downtown at 10 E. Carrillo Street, the former home of Tuttini. "We're excited to open downtown and make South Coast Deli available to more of the community," says owner Jim St. John. He tells me that they hope to open the restaurant in September around Labor Day. You can follow the progress of their new location by visiting their page on Facebook.

RUMOR MACHINE: My home computer was recently hit by a computer virus (first time ever) which pretty much made the thing unusable. Rather than wiping the hard disk and reinstalling an ancient copy of Windows XP I went out and bought a brand-new Windows 7 computer at Best Buy in Goleta. One of the nice features of Windows 7 is that it automatically installs software for almost any device you plug into it. Last night I plugged the Rumor Machine into my new computer and Windows 7 quickly recognized it and, to my surprise, displayed a message on the screen that read "Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge at 734 State Street, which closed last January, is planning to reopen later this year next door in a location formerly occupied by Papagallos/El Cazadore. It will only be accessible from De la Guerra Plaza." As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

HAPPY HOUR HOUSEWIVES: Three ladies who go by the nicknames "City Wife," "Party Wife" and "Wine Wife" have developed a web site that tracks the Happy Hour scene throughout Santa Barbara. Get updated information about happy hours, specials and more. Visit their web site online at

SPEAKING OF SPECIALS: Moby Dick Restaurant on Stearns Wharf has a happy hour special Mon-Fri 4-7pm: $5.95 for your choice of steamed mussels, steamed clams, calamari, mini salmon cakes, fried clams or hot chicken wings. They also have a surf & turf special: 1 1/2 lb fresh Maine lobster & prime cut top sirloin for $29.95.

REMODEL: Mimosa at 2700 De La Vina Street is being remodeled. The exterior is getting a fresh coast of paint which is why their signs are currently down.

ANNIVERSARY: Paradise Cafe at 702 Anacapa Street is celebrating 27 years in paradise June 7-9. Specials include $4 margarita, $5 chardonnay, $6 syrah, $8.95 cobb salad, $7.95 Paradise Burger and $6.95 Huevos Valenzuela.

CUPCAKE WARS: Local bakers Dave and Wendy Jones from Whodidily Cupcakes at 1150 Coast Village Rd will air on the Food Network's baking competition "Cupcake Wars" on July 6th at 10pm. Shannon Noormand, owner of Crushcakes Cupcakery at 1315 Anacapa St, will also be part of the series on June 22nd.

SOLSTICE FUNDRAISER: John Palminteri was the bartender at James Joyce (513 State Street) last night as part of a fundraiser for the Solstice Parade.

THE CRYSTAL BALL: After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing Crystal Ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of locations appearing in your future:

  • Arch Rock Fish 608 Anacapa St (formerly Melting Pot) - summer
  • Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State St (formerly Paoli's & Bougainvillea) - June
  • BevMo 3052 State St - summer
  • Cabana 509 State St (formerly Bricks Cafe) - summer
  • Chipotle 270 Storke Rd, Goleta
  • Fresco Valley Cafe 442 Atterdag Rd, Solvang - summer
  • Fresh & Easy 336 N. Milpas St
  • Islands Restaurant (location to be determined)
  • Mac's Fish & Chip Shop 503 State St (formerly Chilango's) - June
  • Mel's Lounge 209 W. Carrillo St - June
  • Olio Pizzeria 11 W. Victoria St - summer
  • Panera Bread (locations to be determined)
  • Rubio's Fish Tacos 734 State Street
  • Savoy 409 State St (formerly Q's, not related to Savoy Truffles)
  • South Coast Deli 10 E. Carrillo St - September
  • The Counter (location to be determined)
  • The Tackle Box (location to be determined)
  • Whole Earth Pizza 6576 Trigo Rd, Isla Vista - June

OFF TOPIC: Apple Inc announced their new iPhone 4 today which will start shipping June 24th. In my April 1, 2010  blog I posted a set of predictions about the various features to be included with the next-generation iPhone (this was long before pictures of the phone leaked out to the web). Let's see how I did:

  • Prediction: The next iPhone will be called "iPhone HD"
    Result: False! The latest gadget from Apple is called the "iPhone 4"
  • Prediction: It will have a 960x640 double-resolution screen capable of displaying HD movies
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will have a slightly larger screen
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will be slightly thinner than the iPhone 3G/3GS
    Result: True! The new iPhone will be 24% thinner than the current model
  • Prediction: It will have an "A4" CPU which is much faster than the current iPhone CPU and offers better battery life
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will have a Universal Inbox that allows you to send and receive all your email from one inbox instead of requiring you to switch to different email accounts
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will have multitasking for third-party apps (currently only the built-in apps can multitask). Hitting the home button twice will bring up the icons of currently running apps, allowing users to quickly choose the one they want to switch to.
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will have an enhanced mapping program that features turn by turn navigation with spoken directions
    Result: False!
  • Prediction: It will have a front-facing camera for iPhone-to-iPhone video calls in addition to a camera on the back
    Result: True! This new feature is called "FaceTime" and only works when calling another iPhone 4. For the time being video calls require you to be logged into a Wi-Fi network.
  • Prediction: It will have an LED camera flash built-in to the camera on the back
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: The camera on the back will have a 5 megapixel sensor (the iPhone 3GS has a 3.2 megapixel camera sensor)
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will support Wi-Fi "N" technology, the latest version of Wi-Fi that replaces the common Wi-Fi "G."
    Result: True!
  • Prediction: It will have integrated RFID technology (I won't bother explaining what that is!)
    Result: False!

Other iPhone features announced today:

  • The iPhone 4 comes with an HD video camera and a full-featured video editor program called "iMovie"
  • The iPhone 4 includes a gyroscope to enhance motion sensing
  • The iPhone 4 flash can be used as a light for filming videos

Thursday, June 3, 2010

ARCH ROCK FISH: The Melting Pot restaurant at 608 Anacapa Street, which closed last January, will be replaced by a new seafood restaurant named Arch Rock Fish.

TWO GOLETA EATERIES CLOSE: China City Restaurant at 5688 Calle Real in Goleta and Presto Pasta at 5764 Calle Real both closed their doors at the end of May.

SIMPLY HEINZ: For those of you who prefer sugar over high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Heinz has just launched a new brand of ketchup called "Simply Heinz." Previously the only way to avoid HFCS was to buy their organic ketchup, which tends to cost more. Many companies in the food & beverage industries are now offering alternatives to their HFCS-based products including Coca Cola which now sells Coke made with sugar. I bought Simply Heinz yesterday and made sure it was in a plastic bottle to avoid yet another Catsup Catastrophe as detailed in an early blog.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BAY CAFE CLOSES: Bay Cafe at 131 Anacapa Street closed its doors last Sunday in preparation to reopen soon as Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State Street, next to Union Ale Brewing Co.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

PIADINA: Montecito Deli at 1150 Coast Village Rd has a unique lunch offering called a "Piadina" that I enjoyed the other day. It is a specialty sandwich from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and I am told it is only available locally at Montecito Deli. It reminded me of a deli sandwich wrapped in a quesadilla instead of bread! The homemade flatbread dough is prepared fresh each morning and it is cooked to order. Cheese is melted with it and the whole thing is wrapped around your choice of meats and vegetables. It's excellent and worth a try.

Union Ale Brewing Co. at 215 State Street now serves breakfast starting at 8am.

Something's Fishy at 500 State Street offers early bird specials on their hibachi dinners before 6pm. Save up to $5 off of the selections of chicken, steak, shrimp and halibut hibachi dinners.

Friday, May 28, 2010

PLOW TO PORCH OPENS: Plow to Porch Organics at 3204 State Street has opened their doors. Plow to Porch is an organic produce delivery service. Their web sites describes their services as follows: "Our mission is to simplify the purchase of local fresh organic produce and other organic, local foods in order to inspire good nutrition, support local farmers, protect our environment and make eating healthy food fun! Community 'members' subscribe to a weekly box of produce from local farms and extras like local organic honey, local organic eggs, local gourmet quiches, organic fair trade coffees, local organic olive oils, local organic jams and butters, local sustainable fresh fish, local hormone-free grass fed beef, and more delivered conveniently to their door or a designated drop off spot each Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or by special arrangement. It's like bringing the Farmer's Market directly to you." Call 805-705-4786 or visit

PHOTO BLOG: May 27, 2010 - 2010 Downtown Art & Wine Tour

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GOODBYE RUBY'S, HELLO RUBIO'S: Reliable sources tell me that Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge at 734 State Street, which closed last January, is set to become a Rubio's Fish Tacos & Mexican Cuisine.
   As the story goes, every spring Ralph Rubio and his buddies would head to the Baja village of San Felipe and enjoy an unusual specialty fish taco at a local taco shop. Carlos, the man behind the counter, showed Rubio how his fish tacos were made and he went back to San Diego and perfected a recipe of his own. Rubio opened his first Rubio's in 1983 in Mission Bay and has since sold more than 50 million fish tacos at over 180 locations. The menu has expanded to include burritos, grilled gourmet tacos, wraps, salads, kid's meals and desserts. For more information visit

RESTAURANT WRAP UP: Here is a list of local eateries that have opened in the last six months:

  • May 2010: Billies 413 State St, 966-9782
  • April 2010: Las Aves Cafe 2220 Bath St, 682-7277
  • March 2010: HobNob Tavern 21 W. Victoria St, 564-7100; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 685-2600
  • February 2010: India House 418 State St, 962-5070; Saigon - Five Points 3987 State St, 964-0909
  • January 2010: Chino's Rock & Tacos 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 968-5118
  • December 2009: China Palace 1070 Coast Village Rd, Montecito, 565-9380; The Nugget 5685 Calle Real, Goleta, 964-5200; Wine Cask Bar Cafe 813 Anacapa St, 966-9463

Monday, May 24, 2010

CREPE CAT: I recently discovered that Coffee Cat at 1201 Anacapa Street serves crepes. From 10am-3pm Coffee Cat offers a variety of crepes ($6-$8) including strawberry, goat cheese, egg & ham, pesto, spinach and more.

PHOTO BLOG: May 23, 2010 - Taste of the Nation at Montecito Country Club 

Friday, May 21, 2010

SAIGON CLOSES: Reader Crystal tells me that Saigon Restaurant at 424 State Street has closed. The eatery first opened for business in July 2009. I am told that they have a sign on the door that says something along the lines of "Closed please visit us at 1230 State Street." Saigon's three other locations are open for business as usual.

BBQ WINNERS: I was emcee yesterday for the Santa Barbara Independent's first-annual Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest which was held outside of Whole Foods Market. Prizes: Whole Foods gift certificate, Kingsford barbecue grill, gift certificate to Rancho San Julian Beef and a bottle of Chopin vodka. The winners are:

  • Edie Robertson (caterer) - Creole sugar-rum-rubbed short ribs
  • Aaron Robertson (Union Ale Brewing Company) - bacon-cheddar grits
  • George Levinthal (amateur) - Santa Barbara Southwest turkey burgers
  • Liana Campos (amateur) - chili

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PHOTO BLOG: May 19, 2010 - Solstice fundraiser at Pascucci restaurant

ROOFTOP WINE & CHEESE: Wine & Cheese tasting on the rooftop of Canary Hotel 31 West Carrillo Street begins on Monday evening, May 24th, from 5 - 8 pm, and will take place every Monday night through September. Cost is $20 per person, advance reservations recommended.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: I took a new exterior photo of Kozmo's which has a new sign reflecting a recent name change.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CLOSED: Apparently the eatery known as Fresh Start at 6558 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista has been closed for sometime. I discovered this on a recent visit to the area. I hear word that it will be replaced by an eatery that serves a variety of things including chili.

READY TO EAT: A turnkey restaurant space is available at 11 W. Victoria Street, the former home of Cafe Bianco. SIMA Management Corporation has been renovating the cafe so a future operator will inherit a restaurant space that is compliant with current health & building codes. Upgrades include new electrical, plumbing, and addition of an ADA compliant restroom. For more information call Robert Perez @ (805) 965-1616 x203.

MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER? I'll be a waiter tonight at Pascucci. 100% of proceeds including tips goes to the Summer Solstice Celebration.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

COFFEE KITTEN: Last week I published a rumor that Northstar Coffee Company at 918 State Street was going to become a Coffee Cat. Reader Richard let me know that Northstar has started using Coffee Cat cardboard cup rings. While downtown on Sunday I wandered in and spoke to a person at the counter who told me that, yes, Northstar is now a Coffee Cat!

ANNIVERSARY: Fresco Cafe at 3987 State Street in Five Points shopping center is celebrating their 15th anniversary this Sunday, May 23 from 1-4pm. Leslie Lembo and Jason Claveria will be performing, magician Marc Collier will be strolling and of course food and wine will be flowing!

ANNIVERSARY: The Burger Bus will be celebrating their one year anniversary this Friday at WheelHouse 528 Anacapa Street.

COMBO CARD: Jungle George Grill at 5722 Calle Real in Goleta now has a combo card. Buy 5 burger combos, get the 6th free. The combo consists of a burger and side of your choice and they add a soft drink at no charge.

Monday, May 17, 2010

CELEBRITY WAITER NIGHT: This Wednesday May 19th, 5 to 10 pm Pascucci Restaurant at 729 State Street is having their annual "celebrity waiter night" where 100% of proceeds go towards the Summer Solstice Celebration. The first 100 diners will receive a raffle ticket where you can win a gift certificate for Pascucci or a pair of tickets to a show at the Granada Theatre.

BBQ CONTEST: The Santa Barbara Independent has asked the Restaurant Guy to emcee their first-ever Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest this Thursday, May 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Whole Foods Market 3761 State Street. Judges include the Indy's food columnist George Yatchisin, Whole Foods' team leader John Jurey, KTYD's Julie Ramos and Elizabeth Poett from Rancho San Julian Beef.

MAGAZINE COVER: Two local chefs made the cover of the current issue of Central Coast Magazine. They are Chef Joel Huff (pictured right) of Tydes restaurant at the Biltmore and Chef Justin West (pictured second from left) of Julienne 138 E. Canon Perdido Street.

TIMBER! I received an email this morning that indicates Timbers at 10 Winchester Canyon Rd in Goleta has been replaced by a taco stand.

Dear Restaurant Guy,

I live in North Goleta (Winchester Canyon). We lost our beloved, The Timbers restaurant several years ago. A family bought it and it has since been a produce stand, a cafe/deli, a pizza place, Italian fare, a Mexican place, a Santa Maria style BBQ in the parking lot. Well, for the past six months or so, the place is boarded up, a portion(1/4) of the restaurant is OPEN and it is now a taco place with a homemade sign and all AND there has been a taco truck in the parking lot for months now?????? W.T.F!!! How can they possibly stay open? The place is always EMPTY! When the good ole Timbers was open, it was packed and still couldn't make it! Have I been watching too many episodes of Weeds or what! Maybe you can blow the lid off this mysterious restaurant? Because we're all wondering what is going on, out here.

A desperate Goleta foodie

Friday, May 14, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Chocolate Gallery in Goleta to the dessert section of the guide plus I took photos of Billies on State Street.

LATTE CONTEST: Reader Jeremy, a writer for, is having a local Latte Art contest running through May 23rd.

CUISINE-ART: Teacher Rebecca Brand has combined French Impressionist oil painting classes with her love of fine cuisine cooking in art parties she hosts in Santa Barbara. I spent the evening earlier this month with Rebecca's class and it was a wonderful experience. Students sit down to eat a gourmet meal served with local wines, then head into her art studio on site to paint under her direction as classic rock n roll plays in the background. She charges $50 per night that includes food, wine, and all supplies for a dozen that have painting on their bucket list. To try it out, she offers Mondays or Wednesdays, 6:30 - 9:00 pm. RSVP by calling 698-2903 or visit


Thursday, May 13, 2010

TOP CHEF: Chef Dave Martin of Bravo's "Top Chef" Season 1 is coming to Santa Barbara Winery May 22 for 2 programs. Afternoon costs $45. evening $75, both $110. Includes food, wine and signed copy of Chef Dave's new cookbook "Flavor Quest" Volume 1. Reservations necessary call 805-963-3633 or email

  • Afternoon - Appetizers Done Right 1-2:30pm. Learn 3 fun and easy appetizers fro Spring and Summer while sipping Santa Barbara Winery's best. Nosh on Eggplant Sushi Rolls, Coconut Curry Chicken Skewers and "Out of the Bleu" (shrimp stuffed w gorgonzola, basil and wrapped in prosciutto)
  • Evening - Entertaining Made Easy 5-7pm. Secrets and tips of how to put together the perfect meal with the perfect wines to match featuring some of Santa Barbara Winery's finest. Taste delicious Pan Seared Scallops w Savory Vanilla Bean Cream & Smoked Tomato Butter, Tenderloin Martini w Carrot Mashers & Asian Ginger Pan Sauce , Wild Striped Bass w roasted Garlic Butter and Seasonal Roasted Veggies.

DOWNTOWN ART & WINE TOUR: The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization will host the 2010 Downtown Art & Wine Tour on Thursday, May 27th from 5:30-9:30 pm. Proceeds benefit the 58th Annual Downtown Holiday Parade. The Final Party at the Courthouse Sunken Gardens features more food, more wine, live music and a silent auction and raffle showcasing wonderful gifts and packages. Tickets are $55 for the tour and final party or $35 for the final party only. For more information, please call (805) 962-2098, ext. 24 or visit Here are pictures I took at the 2009 Downtown Art & Wine Tour.

  • Tour these participating Galleries and Cultural Venues: Artamo Gallery, Bella Rosa Jewelers - Fine Art Gallery, Churchill Jewelers, Fast Frame, Gallery 113, Gallery Ten-Twenty-Nine, Indigo Interiors, Santa Barbara Arts, SB Frame Shop & Gallery, SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, State & A Bar and Grill, The Book Den and Waterhouse Gallery.
  • Sample hors d'oeuvres from these participating Restaurants: Aldo's Italian Restaurant, Bella Dolce Bakery, Bouchon, Elements Restaurant & Bar, Holdren's Steaks & Seafood, Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant, Opal Restaurant & Bar, Paradise Cafe, Pascucci, Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro, Seagrass, SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, State & A Bar and Grill and Wine Cask.
  • Taste wines from these participating Wineries: Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Brander Vineyard, Buttonwood Farm Winery, Carina Cellars, Carr Vineyards & Winery, Kalyra Winery, Santa Barbara Winery and Summerland Winery.

A SWEET DAY: Long-time Restaurant Guy readers know that I don't eat desserts. Last weekend I even scraped the chocolate off of chocolate covered strawberries. I don't eat sweets at all except for on one day each year. Well, that day is today. After lunch at Del Pueblo in Goleta (ordering my favorite dish: shrimp alambre) I plan to consume a nice bar of Scharffen Berger chocolate with bits of freshly roasted coffee. For dinner I will enjoy a nice home-cooked lamb followed by several generous slices of cookies & cream ice cream birthday cake.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

POLL: Help reader Jeremy by answering his question: Which local restaurants offer a burger made from grass-fed beef? Send me an email or use the anonymous form and your reply will be posted here.

ZOO BREW: The Santa Barbara Zoo at 500 Ninos Drive is having their first-ever Zoo Brew (June 5, 2-6pm) which features tastings from a whole herd of breweries from the Central Coast region and beyond. KRUZ's DJ Matt Stone provides the music during a live broadcast from the event. Includes commemorative tasting glass and special animal encounters. Special Zoo Brew food menu and merchandise available. Cost: $40 in advance, $50 at the door. Parking is $5/vehicle; cars may be left overnight but must be picked up by 10:00 a.m. the next day. Must be 21 & over to attend. Buy tickets online at

OFF TOPIC: A crew from the TV show The Price is Right will arrive today at The Hangar 201 W. Montecito Street, a full-service storage facility for fine automobiles. One of The Hangar's members, an SB Elementary School Principal, won a 1964 Bentley last month and CBS is delivering it today, complete with their camera crew.

FOOD FOTO: I think I finally discovered why I am so forgetful: I haven't been drinking enough Juicy Juice.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TOUGH TIMES IN GOLETA: Four locations have closed or are closing in Goleta. At the end of April Quizno's at 5723 Calle Real and Mojo Coffee at 7127 Hollister Ave (University Plaza) closed their doors. Last week I announced that China City Restaurant at 5688 Calle Real is closing at the end of the month. Yesterday I saw that there is a sign out front of Presto Pasta at 5764 Calle Real that says they are closing June 1st. Presto Pasta's other location at 827 E. Montecito St in Santa Barbara will be open as usual.

PRESTO PASTA UPDATE: The owner of both local Presto Pasta restaurants sent me an email this morning with details about why he is closing his eatery at 5764 Calle Real in Goleta:

Hello John,

I am the founder of Presto Pasta and owner of the two PP in SB.

Last year our 3rd lease option came up. As written in the lease we have annual rent increases of 3% , but every 5th year (we had 3 five year options, years 6, 11 & 16) if the Landlord can show (prove) that the local market rental rate has increased more than the 3% per year (meaning his property is worth more) he can demand an increase in rent from us. Well last year The Towbes Group told me if i took the 5 year option our rent would go up 15.55%. I did not take the 5 year option. Instead we took a 1 year lease with a one year option (time to evaluate). The one year is over and the Towbes Group is demanding an 8.88 % increase. Well that ends the story.

Albert Baltieri
thanks for the blog

SIRI: Last week I recommended a couple of free apps that I recently added to my iPhone. I forgot to mention a third one named Siri. You can speak questions to it and it analyzes your voice and comes up with mostly useful answers. You can ask things like "Where is the nearest place to get sushi?" Or perhaps "Are any steakhouses open right now?" I recently asked it "Help me find the nearest tuxedo store" and it found one in old town Goleta where I promptly bought a bow tie. You can even tell it "I love you" and receive an interesting response. Apparently Apple loves Siri too. After they tried the app they bought the entire company and planned to integrate Siri technology into a future release of the iPhone software.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added new photos to the page for McDonald's on Milpas which recently experienced a complete interior and exterior remodel.

FOOD FOTO: I recently spotted this item in a local market. I don't know how you feel about it but I am reluctant to purchase food that has the name "Butt" in it.


Monday, May 10, 2010

TASTE OF THE NATION: The popular benefit "Taste of the Nation" (not to be confused with Taste of the Town) is returning to the South Coast on May 23rd at the Montecito Country Club. Below is a press-release about it. View pictures from their 2008 and 2009 events.
   Participating food vendors include Ariel Catering, Arts & Letters Cafe, Bacara ,Ballard Inn, Bella Dolce, Bella Vista, Blush, Ca'Dario, Canary Hotel, C'est Cheese, Duo Events and Catering, Elements, Green Star Coffee, Hungry Cat, Jessica Foster Confections, Live Culture, Lunchbox and Crème Fraiche Catering, Mirabelle Inn, Montecito Country Club, New West Catering, Ojai Valley Inn, Omni Fresco Catering, Opal Restaurant, Root 246, Simply Pies, Square One and Village Modern Foods.

City's Hottest Chefs & Wineries Join Forces to Fight Childhood Hunger in Santa Barbara

(Santa Barbara, CA) — Santa Barbara's hottest chefs, restaurants, and wineries will gather for Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation, the city's premier culinary benefit. Taste of the Nation Santa Barbara will raise critical funds needed to support Share Our Strength's efforts to end childhood hunger in Santa Barbara County and across the nation. This year's event will be held on Sunday, May 23rd at the picturesque Montecito Country Club, 920 Summit Road, Santa Barbara from 3pm to 6pm.

More than 30 of the city's finest chefs and restaurants will participate in the gastronomic event. Along with host Michael Blackwell of Montecito Country Club, participating restaurants will include Elements, Ca' Dario, Hungry Cat, Root 246 and Opal serving delicious fare including Spring Wild Mushroom Tortellini, Channel Islands Ceviche and Vegetable Curry Puff Pastry Empanadas. Guests will enjoy the city's finest foods paired with wines provided by such noted wineries as Beckman, Carr, Qupe and Lucas & Lewellen as well as offerings from Stella Artois Beer, Van Gogh Vodka, Santa Barbara Cigars and Green Star Coffee. In addition to fabulous food and drinks, the event will feature live and silent auctions, a cigar and martini bar, on-site games, a photo booth and music provided by Topper Entertainment.

"We're honored to be part of this nationwide movement to end childhood hunger in America," said Jessica Knight, Co-Event Chairperson, Taste of the Nation Santa Barbara. "Taste of the Nation brings together the finest of Santa Barbara's culinary world, and helps the children in our community who suffer from hunger every day. In only our third year, this event has grown into a veritable ‘who's who' of Santa Barbara's foodie community. We are fortunate to have so much local talent who are willing to participate."

Tickets for Taste of the Nation Santa Barbara are $65 in advance or $75 at the door (if available) and can be purchased by calling 1-877-26-TASTE or visiting

$12 CUPPAJOE: Cafe Grumpy in Manhattan has begun offering a $12 cup of coffee. That's right: twelve hundred pennies. Cafe Grumpy is a no-frills coffee shop that says the handpicked beans are more expensive than most others because of the labor and time necessary for harvesting, drying and shipping. Watch a video news story about it.

PANERA BREAD: I have written in this blog that Panera Bread is actively seeking a location in Santa Barbara. I recently stumbled upon a location in Santa Monica and took the pictures below.


Friday, May 7, 2010

NORTH CAT?: Word on the street is that Northstar Coffee Company at 918 State Street has just been purchased by Coffee Cat at 1201 Anacapa Street.

PHOTO BLOG: April 25, 2010 - Madame Tussaud's wax museum in Hollywood. Warning: It's creepy!

OFF TOPIC: Since we went way off topic (it's Friday!) with the photo blog I might as well continue the trend with some highly recommended apps for those of you who use an iPhone.

  • If Found - This free app lets you create wallpaper for your iPhone that has contact information in case you lose your phone. If someone finds your phone and they turn it on the first thing they see will be information about the owner. Sure, it is not as sexy as that amazing wallpaper you are using now, but the moment you lose your phone you will understand the value of it. For added protection I recently signed up for Apple's MobileMe service which will actually show me where my lost iPhone is on a map. As you might have guessed I lost my iPhone recently (I eventually found it) and am taking preventative measures in case that happens again. It wasn't until I lost it that I realized how hugely important that little thing is.
  • Dragon Dictation - This is another free app for the iPhone. You speak into the app and it creates text that you can email or copy to your clipboard. I was very surprised how well it works. It's really handy to create a lot of text quickly without any typing. Tip: Verbalize all punctuation to have it included with your text.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NEW IN THE GUIDE: Today I added Billies at 413 State Street to the restaurant guide. They offer food until 3am! I also added new photos to the guide for Las Aves Cafe and Flavor of India.

HAPPY HOUR: Enterprise Fish Company at 225 State Street has a new happy hour special Mon-Fri 4-8pm * Sun 7-10pm: $1 oysters, $5.95 Ahi Poki, $3.50 well cocktails/house wine, $4.50 draught beers & $4.50 fried calamari

PHOTO BLOG: May 5, 2010 - Cinco de Mayo party at Canary Hotel rooftop +  wandering video cam

PHOTO BLOG: May 5, 2010 - Hispanic Chamber of Commerce mixer

OFF TOPIC: The hot ticket event this week appears to be the grand opening of a drive-in theater at 907 South Kellogg Ave in Goleta. Iron Man 2 is showing at 8pm and 10:30pm Friday and Saturday. Enjoy the movie from the comfort of your own car through your FM car stereo or portable FM radio.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

BILLIES OPENS: The new eatery named Billies has opened at 413 State Street, the former home of Lettuce B. Frank. They serve breakfast, lunch & dinner. Take a peek at their menu.

Dear Restaurant Guy,

Hey there. I am the chef at Billies and I just wanted to inform you and your readers that we have opened our doors at 413 State Street! The concept is late night diner, comfort food.

-We make ALL our dressings and sauces from scratch including our ketchup.
-We serve breakfast all the time.
-Our fried chicken is buttermilk brined and hand-dipped.
-Everything is a la carte.
-Our hours are from 10am-3am and hope to soon offer a State St delivery service.
-Soon we will be serving milkshakes and floats with fresh whipped cream and we might even throw a cherry on top!

I am really excited to be a part of this establishment since there is nothing like it in Santa Barbara. We put a lot of effort and love into all our food... from the hand formed Angus beef patties to our slow roasted Firestone Double Barrel Ale barbecued pulled pork in our sliders. I was born and raised in the south so I take pride making food that warms your heart and makes you happy!

Come on in and taste a bite of home.

Thanks Y'all!
Chef Nirasha

A NOVEL IDEA: This just in from reader Walter:

Hey John,

Check out a new novel, "Party". It has rave reviews of East Beach Grill, Coffee Cat, and Super Cuca's West. The author, Tom Leveen, lives in Scottsdale AZ but is heading to CA for a June signing in Glendale at Barnes and Noble. Bet he hits the SB restaurants before he returns.

Tom's Dad,
Walter Leveen, Pinos Altos NM

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

GOLETA LOSES ITS MOJO: Today I was walking past Mojo Coffee at University Plaza in Goleta and noticed that all the chairs were gone from the patio on this, a bright sunny day. Not a soul was around and the front door was locked during business hours. A peek through the window revealed that many shelves, formerly stocked with coffee-related goods, were empty. Me thinks they be gone.

ANNIVERSARY: This just in from Yogurtland 621 State St: "Hi John, Wow, it's been one year since Yogurtland opened our doors to the Santa Barbara community! We're thrilled to be celebrating with you all with this Friday, May 7th, 11am-11:30pm. The first 50 customers will receive a Yogurtland gift card (for future purchase). All day we will have free giveaways for our customers; Free frozen yogurt sampling, Yogurtland balloons for the kids, Yogurtland t-shirts, Yogurtland suntan lotion and other various goodies (until supplies last! the giveaways will vary each hour). We look forward to seeing everyone there! Amanda & Eui, Yogurtland Santa Barbara"

CLOSING: China City Restaurant at 5688 Calle Real in Goleta is planning to close their doors at the end of May.

REST IN PEACE: Here is a list of local food & drink destinations that have closed in the last six months:

  • April 2010: Chilango's Mexican Restaurant 503 State St; Encina Cafe & Cocktails 2220 Bath St; 2018 Cliff Dr; Mojo Coffee 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta; Quizno's 5723 Calle Real, Goleta
  • March 2010: Caje 1007 Casitas Pass Rd, Carpinteria; Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant 1221 State St; Fosters Freeze 1924 Cliff Dr
  • February 2010: Cities Barbecue 901 N. Milpas St; Downtown Brewing Co. 3744 State St; Epiphany Restaurant & Bar 21 W. Victoria St; Tuttini 10 E. Carrillo St 
  • January 2010: Dean-o's Pizzarama 1950 Cliff Dr; Melting Pot 608 Anacapa St; Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge 734 State St
  • December 2009: Grapevine Fine Food Market 126 E. Canon Perdido St; Lettuce B. Frank 413 State St; Red Mango 3967 State St
  • November 2009: Einstein Bros Bagels 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta


Monday, May 3, 2010

MESA FESTIVAL: Six local restaurants will be participating in the first annual Mesa Spring Festival Saturday May 8, 11am-5pm near the intersection of Cliff Drive and Meigs Road. Live music and other features will be performed from a stage all day, with local bands playing folk, jazz, blues and rock. Thirty-five local artists and craftspersons will display and sell their work. There will be kid's activities, including Chumash face painting and create your own Mothers' Day cards. Guests will be able to dine outdoors or get food to go from the Rose Cafe, Alcazar, Ichiban, Domino's Pizza, Giovanni's Pizza and Taco Bell.

CINCO DE MAYO AT CANARY: Wednesday, May 5th. Get your margarita on the rocks this Cinco de Mayo and head to the rooftop at Canary Hotel 31 W. Carrillo St where they'll take you south of the border. The event which runs 5pm-11pm includes DJ Matty Matt and DJ A-Rod, tequila tastings, a fish taco stand, and mariachis. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, includes your first margarita on the house. For tickets call 877-548-3237 or visit

CINCO DE MAYO FUNDRAISER: Wednesday, May 5th. 15% of proceeds at Baja Fresh 3851 State St (print and bring this flyer), and 10% of proceeds at Chino's Rock & Taco 714 State St (print and bring this flyer) will go to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

PHOTO BLOG: April 28, 2010 - Hospitality industry mixer at EOS. Food provided by Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro.

PHOTO BLOG: May 2, 2010 - Sustainable seafood event at Ty Warner Sea Center

Friday, April 30, 2010

MEL'S UPDATE: Mel's Lounge, a fixture on De la Guerra Street for 45 years, has started construction of their new home at 209 W. Carrillo Street. Opening is scheduled for the end of June.

PHOTO BLOG: April 29, 2010 - Bartending for Solstice at Pascucci Restaurant

MOTHERS DAY POLL: I am interested in finding out which restaurants serve a Mothers Day brunch on Sunday, May 9th. If your restaurant serves a Mothers Day brunch, or if you know of one, send me an email. Each restaurant has their own policy about what age bracket receives the children discount rate. In some cases very young children are free. Ask the restaurant for their child policy.

  • Elements Restaurant 129 E. Anapamu St, 10am-2:30pm, Adults $35, Children $18.50, Reservations: 884-9218
  • Coast Restaurant & Bar 31 W. Carrillo St, 11am-3pm, Adults $24, Children $12, Reservations: 879-9100
  • Stella Mare's 50 Los Patos Way, 10am-2:30pm. Adults $39, Children $25, Reservations: 969-6705
  • Doubletree Resort 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd, 10am-3pm, Adults Adults $65, Children $35, Reservations: 884-8535
  • Bistro 1111 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd, 10am-2pm, Adults $49.95, Children $29.95, Reservations: 730-1111
  • Blush Restaurant and Lounge 630 State St, 10am-3pm, Reservations: 957-1300
  • Chuck's Waterfront Grill 113 Harbor Way, 11:30am-3pm, Reservations: 564-1200
  • Holdren's 512 State St, 10am-2pm, Reservations: 965-3363
  • Holdren's 6920 Marketplace Dr, Goleta, 10am-2pm, Reservations: 685-8900
  • Ca Dario 37 E. Victoria St, 11:30am-2pm, Reservations: 884-9419

AND THE WINNER IS... Based on web site statistics these are the most-viewed photos from yesterday's Saks & the City benefit for the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. For the first time ever a picture of FOOD ranked number one (chocolate crepes with strawberries and bananas) which, surprisingly, proved even more popular than a photo of a young lady with "virtual clothing."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BARTENDING FOR SOLSTICE: Tonight Pascucci restaurant at 729 State Street will be hosting a benefit for the Solstice Parade from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. 100% of sales and tips at the bar (food and beverage) will be donated to the Summer Solstice Celebration. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider will be bartending from 5-6pm. The Restaurant Guy and John Dixon (Tri County Produce) will be behind the bar all evening. My originally scheduled co-bartender John Palminteri was injured in a car accident this week but still plans to attend the event in some capacity starting around 6:30pm. He tells me he might sit at the bar and help hand out beers. Come give your well-wishes to the Palm!

PHOTO BLOG: April 28, 2010: Saks & the City benefit for Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation

OFF TOPIC: This just in from reader Jeff:

Here is some news you may find interesting. As I was leaving my condo complex (located on the mountain side of the freeway near Turnpike Road) I noticed an extremely large TV satellite broadcasting truck conspicuously parked inside of my complex. Well my curiosity got the best of me so I asked the crew what they were filming. It turns out they were filming segment with a couple who lives in my complex for the TV show "The Marriage Ref" which is supposed to air in about 2 weeks. I guess they needed such a huge truck so they could broadcast a live signal down to a LA studio so the couple could interact live with the celebrity hosts.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

QUIZNO'S CLOSES: Reader Michael tells me that Quizno's at 5723 Calle Real in Goleta closed April 23rd.

NEW IN THE GUIDE: I finally got around to adding Wetzel's Pretzels at 723 State Street to the restaurant guide. I would have added them a long time ago but couldn't decide what category to put them in. They are now listed under "Bakery" and "Hot Dogs."

LA TAVOLA: A company named La Tavola that offers a fine linen rental service is opening soon at 1102 State Street next to Andersens Danish Bakery. La Tavola rents (and delivers) fine table linen for weddings, parties, professional events and more. I have been told that they received so much business from Santa Barbara they decided to open a location on the South Coast. La Tavola's other locations are in Napa, San Francisco and Beverly Hills.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

LAS AVES CAFE OPENS DOWNTOWN: A continental restaurant named Las Aves Cafe, located at Best Western Encina Lodge & Suites 2220 Bath Street, opened for business last Wednesday. I added Las Aves Cafe to the restaurant guide today. Owned by Alfredo and Ivan Arroyo, the eatery offers a wide variety of choices including seafood, steak, pasta, sandwiches, salad, chicken dishes, Mexican food and well as a full breakfast menu. "We offer great food for lower prices and friendly service," says owner Ivan Arroyo. Arroyo says the restaurant has a full bar and seats up to 110 people.
   Las Aves Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from 7am to 9pm. For more information call the Encina Lodge at 682-7277. Las Aves Cafe will have a direct phone line later this week.

Monday, April 26, 2010

CANTWELL'S: Cantwell's Cafe & Deli 24 W. Figueroa Street will be closed until May 5th.

CLOSED: I called the corporate office of HoneyBaked Ham and was told that their Santa Barbara location at 3000 State Street has closed their doors.

CORRECTION: Last Wednesday I mentioned that California Crisp restaurant at 718 State Street has changed its name to Cosmos. The correct name is Kozmo's.

CATSUP CATASTROPHE: I was having lunch recently at Cheesecake Factory at The Grove in Los Angeles when I accidentally bumped a glass bottle of catsup off my table. Unfortunately I had not yet put the lid back on. The bottle landed on the marble floor at an angle where the opening faced the gentleman sitting at a table nearby. The catsup shot out of the bottle like a cannon and hit his arm sleeve, shoulder and pants. The bottle bounced, did a flip in the air, and landed with the opening aimed at the two guests dining with him, and shot out catsup at both of their knees. The bottle did one final bounce and then shattered, sending catsup in all directions, and hitting an additional two people at other tables. Miraculously not a single drop landed on me. Even though it was not their fault, the restaurant staff gave free cheesecake to everyone within the catsup blast zone!

Friday, April 23, 2010

THE CRYSTAL BALL: After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing Crystal Ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of locations appearing in your future:

  • Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill 202 State Street (formerly Paoli's & Bougainvillea) - June
  • BevMo 3052 State St - July
  • Billies 413 State St (formerly Lettuce B Frank)
  • Cabana 509 State St (formerly Bricks Cafe) - summer
  • Chipotle 270 Storke Rd, Goleta - summer
  • Fresco Valley Cafe 442 Atterdag Rd, Solvang - summer
  • Fresh & Easy 336 N. Milpas St
  • Islands Restaurant (location to be determined, possibly 700 State St, formerly Left at Albuquerque)
  • Mac's Fish & Chip Shop 503 State St (formerly Chilango's) - June
  • Olio Pizzeria 11 W. Victoria St - summer
  • Panera Bread (locations to be determined)
  • Plow to Porch Organic Market 3204 State St
  • The Counter (location to be determined)
  • The Tackle Box (location to be determined)
  • Whole Earth Pizza 6576 Trigo Rd, Isla Vista - June
  • Unnamed 409 State St (formerly Q's)
  • Unnamed 608 Anacapa St (formerly Melting Pot)

OFF TOPIC: I have been building for over 14 years and, for the last 8 years, I have been using the same version of software to manage it (photo editor, web site editor, video editor, page layout editor). In "software years" that is equivalent to using tools that were created while dinosaurs were roaming the earth. This summer I am finally going to upgrade to the latest and greatest: Adobe CS5 to be released next month.
   Tonight the Santa Barbara AIGA, a professional association for design, will be hosting a conference where representatives from Adobe will be in town to demonstrate Adobe CS5. The conference will be held at the Doubletree Resort tonight from 6-10pm. I will most definitely be there. Click here to sign up.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

SUMMER BBQ CONTEST: The Independent is hosting its first-ever Summer BBQ Contest, with five ways to win. Both paid professionals and amateurs get to enter in separate best entree and best side dish categories. There will also be a beverage contest for "best summer cocktail." Submit your recipes to by May 3. Finalists will be selected based on those submissions. Contestants must be able to prepare their food/drink on Thursday, May 20, for official judging, and again on Thursday, June 3, when winners will share their food with the public. The Independent has asked The Restaurant Guy to be the emcee for the May 20th judging event that will take place at Whole Foods Market.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

KOZMO'S: California Crisp restaurant at 718 State Street has changed its name to Kozmo's. The eatery wanted to introduce new offerings prohibited by their California Crisp franchise agreement so they have decided to become an independent restaurant. What's new? Kozmo's has added TVs to the restaurant and now serves pastas all day. On Tuesdays they offer $1 sliders and $1 draft beers. On Wednesdays Kozmo's menu includes 75 cent wings and $2 bottled beers. Every Thursday it costs only $6.99 for any pizza on the menu and pitchers of beer are available for $6.

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD: The Ty Warner Sea Center on Stearns Wharf is having their annual Sensational Sustainable Seafood event on Sunday, May 2 from 6:00-8:00 P.M. to empower consumers and businesses to make choices to protect the health of the ocean. "A third of the world's fisheries have collapsed due to overfishing," said Sea Center Director Amanda Hendrickson. "But we each hold the power to worsen or improve the situation with our seafood choices. It's about the power of information and making your vote count with the seafood you buy at the store or a restaurant."
   While enjoying the picturesque ocean views from the Sea Center, guests will meet local chefs and fisherman. Taste a variety of seafood and wines while watching a live cooking demonstration of "Cultured Abalone with Butter Sauce" by Chef Michael Hutchings. Other participating restaurants and wineries include: Elements Restaurant and Bar, Arts and Letters Cafe, State & A, Bar and Grill, Coast Restaurant, Jaffurs Winery, Santa Barbara Winery, Buttonwood Winery and Oreana Winery.
   Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 805-962-2526 ext. 101. Cost is $38 for Museum of Natural History Members or students (with ID) or $48 for non-members.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ON THE MOVE: Three Pickles Deli at 128 E. Canon Perdido Street is moving into a larger space next door at 126 E. Canon Perdido Street, the former home of Jimmy's Oriental Gardens and Grapevine Fine Food Market. Owner Bob Lovejoy tells me that the new address is more than twice the size of their current space and that he hopes to complete the move by September. The eatery will have 35 seats indoors and four tables outdoors.
When the new location opens Three Pickles Deli will be expanding their hours. The deli will be open for lunch 11am-3pm then reopen from 4:30pm-8pm with beer, wine, a new appetizer menu plus their regular menu. For the first time Three Pickles will also be open on Saturday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

CHILANGO'S CLOSES: Chilango's Mexican Restaurant, a fixture on State Street for nearly 20 years, closed its doors on Sunday. It will be replaced by Mac's Fish & Chips Shop (see Thursday's blog).

PANERA BREAD: I recently made a phone call to the popular bakery chain Panera Bread which has 1380 locations nationwide. I was told that after their new Camarillo store opens they will be focusing on bringing Panera Bread to Santa Barbara and Goleta. I have heard through the grapevine that Panera has been investigating locations on State Street downtown and near La Cumbre Plaza.

Friday, April 16, 2010

COOK & SHOP: I recently discovered a little-known option available at Whole Foods Market 3761 State Street: they will cook your food items for you while you shop. For example the seafood dept is equipped to cook any kind of seafood while you wait/shop. Rather than put that steak in your shopping cart, give it to the meat department and they will cook it so it is ready by the time you check out. They'll even announce it over the speaker system: "Restaurant Guy your salmon is cooked and grilled for you. Come pick it up at the seafood counter!" Store Team Leader John Jurey tells me that Whole Foods will cook anyway you like: grill, saute, poach, bake - whatever you need.

LOBSTER FEST: Chef David Cecchini is offering a special lobster-lovers menu at the Harbor Restaurant, available Sundays - Thursdays, ending on May 6th. Enjoy 3-course Lobster Fest chef tasting menus for $24.  Options include Fresh Maine Lobster Newberg, Fresh Maine Lobster Pot Pie, Fresh Maine Lobster Paella, Fresh Half Maine Grilled Lobster and much more. For more information call 963-3311 or visit

Thursday, April 15, 2010

FISH & CHIPS UPDATE: Mac's Fish & Chips Shop has finally found a home: 503 State Street, the current location of Chilango's Mexican Restaurant which has been a downtown fixture for nearly 20 years. This weekend will be Chilango's last weekend open and on Monday Mac's will take possession of the space. The grand opening of Mac's is scheduled for June.
   Mac's will be a replica of the authentic British Fish & Chip shop experience. You can expect to see thick fillets of sustainable Alaskan Cod fried in a thin, crisp coating of beer batter with chunky, twice cooked chips (meaning thick fries) made from fresh potatoes served alongside traditional sides like mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy and baked beans.  They will also be looking to serve a selection of home-made savory pies.

FACEBOOK: Starting today I am hosting all my Photo Blog pictures at Facebook. No account is required to view them. My Facebook account is online at

PHOTO BLOG: April 14, 2010 - Cafe Shell hosts the Santa Barbara Young Professionals Club

PHOTO BLOG: April 14, 2010 - Earth Day celebration at the Canary Hotel roof top

NEW CLUB CARD: The Habit restaurant has launched a new "club card" for all their eateries in Santa Barbara County. Every $1 you spend = 1 point. At 100 points, you earn an Original Char Combo with Cheese or up to $7.00 value towards your order. You receive 25 bonus points if you register your club card on their web site. Celebrate your Birthday with a free Birthday Burger. For more information about the new Habit Club Card visit


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

HEY! I WAS OVERCHARGED! Have you ever checked your online banking statement soon after returning from a restaurant and noticed that you were charged the wrong amount? It is quite alarming isn't it? It turns out that, in most cases, you have nothing to worry about. If you wait a few days you will notice that the incorrect charge amount will magically change to the correct charge amount. What's going on here?
   When you give your credit card/debit card to a restaurant to pay your bill the server leaves the room to run an "authorization" on your card and then comes back with a computerized print-out ready for you to sign. An authorization is a test to see if your card has enough room on it to pay your bill. Bank credit card processing systems usually authorize 20% over the initial bill for most hospitality businesses or businesses where it is customary to leave a gratuity or tip.
   The number you see on your online bank statement when you get home from the restaurant is the authorization, not the charge, even though it looks like a charge. The actual charge will appear in a few days. Visa is well aware of the problems that tip estimation causes in the Internet era of online bank statements. Visa is actively encouraging restaurants to upgrade their systems to authorize only the amount of the bill.
   If a week goes by and the amount on your online bank statement is still incorrect, you should call the restaurant. In summary, the next time you come home from a restaurant and freak out when your online statement shows an overcharge, take a three-day chill pill!

SILVERGREENS EXPRESS: Here is a press-release about a new service called "Silvergreens Express" brought to you by Silvergreens Restaurant (791 Chapala St, 900 Embarcadero Del Mar, Isla Vista):

Local businesses Zizzo's and Silvergreens develop partnership
Silvergreens' fresh and healthy food is now available at Zizzo's Coffee & Drive-thru

Zizzo's Coffee & Drive-Thru in Goleta has partnered with Silvergreens Restaurant & Catering to offer its guests a variety of Silvergreens' menu options, all made fresh daily. From hot paninis to gourmet deli sandwiches to freshly made salads, now you can grab your espresso and lunch in one convenient stop, all without ever leaving your car. Pick up a Crispy Thai Chicken Salad on the way to work with your morning coffee, or grab a Chicken Pesto Grilled Panini on your way home for dinner.

"Silvergreens gourmet sandwiches and salads are a great fit with our gourmet coffee offerings. As local businesses striving to improve guest satisfaction in a tough economy, it is important to search out innovative solutions to grow our business," explains Sue McDonald, owner of Zizzo's along with husband Michael.

Silvergreens Express and Zizzos Coffee partnered to fill the high demand for nutritious and delicious food while getting one's daily caffeine boost. Unlike most coffee shops where all you can find are muffins and biscotti, Silvergreens Express helps take Zizzo's to the next level of convenience and well-balanced offerings. "Zizzo's is a great local coffee shop that also provides its guests the convenience of a drive-thru. We're excited to partner with Zizzo's and look forward to extending our brand to a new demographic, " explains Silvergreens Regional General Manager, Ron Gleiberman.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

PEEKING INSIDE 'THE TACKLE BOX': Reader Keith recently moved from SB to the east coast and was walking in Georgetown when he passed a seafood restaurant named "The Tackle Box." There was a sign outside the eatery that said a new location would be opening soon in Santa Barbara, California. Upon receiving Keith's email I made a call to Washington D.C. and received confirmation that a Tackle Box restaurant would be opening on the South Coast this fall.
   The eatery, which has yet to decide on a location, specializes in sustainable seafood and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of the Tackle Box's most popular items is the "lobster pot to go" that includes a Maine lobster (1 1/4 lb each), grilled red onions, quahog clams, white water mussels, chorizo sausage, potatoes, corn on the cob, lemon, rockweed, drawn butter & Tackle Box spice.
   Their mission statement reads: "To us, sustainability doesn't mean saying 'no' - it means saying 'yes' to new solutions and a different kind of environmentalism. We use our purchasing power as a restaurant to support suppliers who are using habitat-friendly fishing gear, supporting their local fishing communities and are consistently looking to improve their practices." Sounds like a restaurant tailor-made for Santa Barbara!
   For more information visit

FREE COFFEE: On tax day April 15th bring in a reusable mug and get free brewed coffee at any Starbucks.

OFF TOPIC: The 40th anniversary Earth Day festivities will begin in Santa Barbara on Wednesday, April 14, 5 - 9 pm on the rooftop of the Canary Hotel, 31 West Carrillo Street. They are providing a DJ, Live music from Wayeri, caricatures by James Malia and a place for people to network and talk about the CEC, environmental issues and E Day. Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door, available at
   Green Shorts Film Festival -- at the Lobero Theater, Friday, April 16, 7:30 pm. This special screening and award ceremony will showcase the winners of the Green Shorts Film Festival, now in its second year. With winners selected by
celebrity and industry judges, the evening will include an Audience Choice award conducted that evening and door prizes for those who wear green. See who shows up on the green carpet. Tickets are $8.50 and available through
the Lobero box office. Details at

Monday, April 12, 2010

THE GOOD COOKIE: Here is a press-release for a "social and culinary venture" taking place tomorrow at the main courtyard in Paseo Nuevo:

WHAT: Casa Esperanza and Community Kitchen announce the launch of nonprofit bakery project: "The Good Cookie"; press conference and tasting

WHEN: Tuesday, April 13th, 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Paseo Nuevo, main courtyard

WHO: Mayor Helene Schneider; Ron Gallo, Executive Director, Santa Barbara Foundation; Mike Foley, Executive Director, Casa Esperanza; Laurie Ashton, Executive Committee Chair, Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara (SVPSB); Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree; representatives from stores carrying The Good Cookie; Casa Esperanza, Santa Barbara Foundation and Social Ventures Partners staff and board members; invited guests.

Santa Barbara, CA —Each day Casa Esperanza's Community Kitchen prepares up to 650 meals to feed the hungry and the homeless - at Casa Esperanza and locations around Santa Barbara including after school programs and senior living centers. At about 6 p.m. the daily food preparation ends and the kitchen goes quiet. But that is all about to change with The Good Cookie project.

The project expands Casa Esperanza's capacity to assist the homeless in moving from homelessness to housing by developing a baked goods business in the Community Kitchen. Casa Esperanza's new nonprofit bakery is now up and running during ‘bakers hours', its first four varieties of cookies are rolling out in specialty grocery stores, and the new venture will have its official kickoff in the main courtyard at Paseo Nuevo on April 13th at 11:00 a.m.

"Our dream is that the project will do well, so we can build on the benefits to the organization and the community," said Rob Grayson, Casa Esperanza's Director of Development.

The Good Cookie is operating out of the Community Kitchen location, producing cookies that are packaged and sold into the community to help raise funds to support the work of Casa Esperanza and the Community Kitchen. As operations are refined and expanded, the hope is that The Good Cookie will be able to employ Casa Esperanza members in order to give them real life skills that they can then take into the community to seek permanent employment.

At the official launch on April 13th, The Good Cookie will introduce its first four varieties of cookies, each named with a philanthropic twist: chocolate chip'n in; oatmeal, yes we cran!; peanut butter days ahead; and opportuni"tea" cookies.

The Good Cookie is already available in stores around Santa Barbara, including Tri-County Produce, Montecito Village Market, Pierre La Fond, and Cantwell's Market & Deli. Soon The Good Cookie will also be available at Lazy Acres and Whole Foods along with a host of other locations throughout Santa Barbara County. For more information, visit

RESTAURANT WRAP UP: Here is a list of local eateries that have opened in the last six months:

  • March 2010: HobNob Tavern 21 W. Victoria St, 564-7100; On The Side 6521 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 685-2600
  • February 2010: India House 418 State St, 962-5070; Saigon - Five Points 3987 State St, 964-0909
  • January 2010: Chino's Rock & Tacos 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 968-5118
  • December 2009: China Palace 1070 Coast Village Rd, Montecito, 565-9380; The Nugget 5685 Calle Real, Goleta, 964-5200; Wine Cask Bar Cafe 813 Anacapa St, 966-9463
  • November 2009: Bella Dolce Bakery 113 W. De la Guerra St, 962-2253; Ultimate Bagels 1226 State St, 845-2511; Wine Cask 813 Anacapa St, 966-9463
  • October 2009: Dogtown 888 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, 685-7474; Los Tarascos 5915B Calle Real, Goleta, 683-1919; Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro 1324 State St, 892-2800; Sweet Alley 7034 Marketplace Dr, Goleta, 845-2672; Three Pickles 420 S. Fairview Ave, Goleta, 964-4585; Whole Foods Market 3761 State St 837-6959

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bartending For Solstice: On Thursday, April 29th Pascucci restaurant at 729 State Street will be hosting a benefit for the Solstice Parade. John Palminteri and The Restaurant Guy will be bartenders from 5pm-9:30pm and 100% of sales and tips at the bar (food and beverage) will be donated to the Summer Solstice Celebration. I have never been a bartender before but I will strive to meet your every need with a smile…

Benefit For Cottage: On May 9th 5:30 - 8:30 pm there will be a Mother's Day dinner and family celebration at El Paseo Mexican restaurant 813 Anacapa St. Enjoy the beautiful setting of the El Paseo courtyard, a buffet dinner, and performances from local students. This fundraising event benefits Cottage Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network Telethon. Adults $55, children age 3-12 $25 , age 2 and under free. Proceeds: just over 36% for adult ticket, and 24% for child ticket proceeds will go directly to Cottage Children's Hospital. For reservations, call 879-8980.

Culinary Arts Dinner: The Santa Barbara Culinary Arts presents a special evening at Cafe Nordstrom on Wednesday April 21, 5:30 pm. Le Cordon Bleu Chef Candace M. Hilger showcases a three course dinner from featured Nordstrom cookbooks. Before dinner enjoy a private cheese and wine reception, a presentation of special Nordstrom services, and the latest fashion for men and women business professionals. $40 Members, $50 non members. For more information call 895-6750 or visit

Off Topic: I stopped by Ross Dress For Less in Camino Real Marketplace yesterday. It looks like it will be awhile before they open...


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wine Futures Tasting: Bob Wesley, owner of the Winehound at sent me an email recently about a 2010 Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting event:

Hi, John: hope things are well; I read your blog every day to see what's happening in the local restaurant world. Interesting times, to say the least...

I also wanted to let you know that The Winehound, in conjunction with LA's Wine House, is presenting the 2nd annual Santa Barbara Futures tasting: the local event will be on May 15th. Please see the email below for details of both events and a roster of wineries.

We're moving the tasting to the Fess Parker Doubletree this year, and have expandd the number of wineries and wines presented.

The catalog will be ready in the next few days. If you'd like to receive an advance copy in Word, please let me know, and I'll email it to you.

There's an abundance of exciting '07, 08 and '09 vintage wines, with several exclusive bottlings blended soley for this event.

When and Where: Saturday, May 15th, 2010 from noon until 3:30 pm at the Fess Parker Doubletree Hotel, 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard, in The Santa Ynez and San Raphael rooms.

Ticket Information: The cost is $65.00 per person, and the parking fee is included for all guests. Cheese, bread and light appetizers will be served.

Tickets are on sale and pre-purchase is required: there will be no sales at the door! Please call The Winehound to reserve at (805) 845-5247.

Cheers, Bob Wesley
The Winehound

Off Topic: This morning Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave a demo of iPhone OS 4.0 that will be available for the iPhone this summer and the iPad this fall. Here are the main new iPhone OS 4.0 features that he revealed:

  • Multitasking - Currently when you leave an app, the app shuts down completely. With the new multitasking features apps can continue to play music, allow you to continue Skype calls, allows GPS-related programs to keep track of your location the background and much more. Multitasking will be available for iPhone 3GS and future models only. The original iPhone, iPhone 3G and the 2nd generation Ipod Touch don't have enough CPU power to support multitasking.
  • Folders on the desktop to store your apps in
  • Game center - a social gaming network, kind of like XBOX Live, so you can compete live with anyone in the world.
  • iBooks - the iPad's bookstore is now available on the iPhone
  • Unified email inbox - view all your email accounts from one inbox
  • Encryption - apps & email programs can encrypt their data
  • Wireless app distribution - companies can automatically distribute apps directly to iPhones
  • iAd mobile advertising network. Currently when you click on an advertisement in an app the app shuts down completely and you are transferred to a web page to view the ad. Many people won't click on ads because of this. Now Apple offers serious OS-level integration with these ads by creating a standard mechanism for including advertising in apps. Because iAd is in the OS itself, Apple has figured out how to do interactive and video content without ever taking you out of your app. Apple sells & hosts the ads and 60% of revenue goes to developer.
  • Spell check
  • Larger fonts for e-mail, texts, and alerts
  • Persistent Wi-Fi
  • Tap to focus video
  • Customizable wallpapers for the home screen
  • Search text messages
  • Choose image size in mail messages
  • Recent Web searches
  • Create playlists
  • 5x digital zoom in camera
  • Bluetooth keyboards
  • Gifting of apps
  • Birthday calendar
  • File and delete mail search results
  • Web search suggestions
  • Rotate photos

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poll: Who Serves The Best Milkshake? Reader Lemonjelly is trying to find out where to order the best milkshake on the South Coast. If you have any suggestions please send me an email and I will post it here.

  • Reader Anonymous says: "Actually, Harry's Plaza Cafe has pretty good (real) milkshakes. The usual, Choc, Van and straw."
  • Reader Branden says "Kahuna Grill has the best milkshakes hands down."
  • Reader Mike says "I have to agree with Branden. Kahuna Grill makes an incredible shake. Paseo store."
  • Reader Jeremy says "Kahuna Grill hands down!!! Especially the pineapple. Sounds weird but it is sooooo good! What's up Dale!"
  • Reader Brian says "Kahuna Grill consistently serves Milkshakes and Malts that are as good as a Milkshake or Malt can be. Better than Fenton's in Oakland. Ruby's in Paseo Nuevo serves a very credible Shake but Kahuna is Numero Uno."
  • Reader Glenn says "The Habit and Cal Taco make some good ones."
  • Reader Christine says "The best shake is at the SPOT in Carp- pineapple, choco chip- all GOOD!"

Tea Benefit At The Botanic Garden: This just in from reader Alice:

Hi John,

For the Tea enthusiasts in Santa Barbara, there will be a very special lecture this Saturday, April 10th, at the Botanic Garden: The History, Production & Benefits of Green Tea - by Mr. Fumihiro Sugita, General Manager of Aiya America, Inc. The Aiya tea company has been around since 1888, producing the finest green teas for Japanese as well as international consumption.

Mr Sugita will bring samples of tea, and guests will be served a bowl of powdered Japanese tea by the students of our local Chanoyu (tea ceremony) School.

It's a benefit for the Teahouse, ShinKanAn. Registration can be done online at or by calling 682-4726, ext.102.

A great chance to learn about green tea from an expert. Yts $20 for Garden members and $25 for non-members (includes Garden entrance fee).

With appreciation.
Alice Burke
Teahouse Volunteer

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Olio Pizzeria Coming To Downtown: The owners of Olio E Limone Ristorante are planning to open a pizzeria next door to their popular eatery at 11 W. Victoria St., Ste. 21. The restaurant, which should open in May or June, will be called "Olio Pizzeria" and include a full bar and a wine bar.
   "We were looking for locations to open our casual concept for the past 5 years but knew that having our fine dining and casual dining restaurants contiguous to one another is the better arrangement so we can run both of them the same way we've run O&L for the past 10 yrs: with great personal care and attention to details and quality dining experiences for all of our guests," says owner Elaine Morello. "We feel passionately about both styles of Italian dining and look forward to providing Santa Barbara with a cutting edge authentic Italian pizzeria - enoteca (wine bar) - bar," she added.
   Pizza will be standard Italian single-size (about 10") and the restaurant will also serve Italian antipasti, salads in addition to having daily specials.

Silver Screen Bash: The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is having their second-annual Silver Screen Bash this July 18th at Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort. The festival is looking for sponsors to provide appetizers, dishes and desserts for 700 guests. Sponsors will be mentioned in the upcoming radio & print advertising campaigns and receive exposure at the event. For more information about becoming a sponsor contact Director of Development Michal Wiesbrock at (805) 963-0023 or email

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Cookie Crumbles: Dessert specialist has closed their storefront at 2018 Cliff Drive in the Mesa shopping center.

Coastal Winery Closes: I received an email last week from a vintner on Stearns Wharf: "John, Your rumor machine must be broken....Coastal Winery on Stearns wharf pier officially closed its doors on March 31st 2010.  We have served the community and loved every minute of this fabulous space near the edge of the world....we hope someone takes good care of this precious little gem. Good luck, and drink wine-always. The team at Coastal Winery"

Off Topic: Dr. Henry Edward Roberts, credited with building the first personal computer and a mentor to Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, has died of pneumonia at age 68. Roberts built the Altair 8800 and sold it as a build-it-yourself kit, which debuted in January 1975 on the cover of Popular Electronics. The article attracted the attention of then-Harvard students Gates and Allen who contacted Roberts and offered to write software for the machine. Gates and Allen founded Microsoft in 1975 to develop and sell software for the Altair 8800. "Ed was willing to take a chance on us -- two young guys interested in computers long before they were commonplace -- and we have always been grateful to him," Gates and Allen said last week in a posting on the Microsoft blog. "The day our first untested software worked on his Altair was the start of a lot of great things."

Friday, April 2, 2010

April In Paris: This just in from James Sly of Sly's restaurant at 686 Linden Ave in Carpinteria:

Any way you cut it, the song "April in Paris" was a classic. Whether it was the 1945 Coleman Hawkins recording, the 1956 Count Basie recording or even the swingin' 1952 version by Doris Day, there's no argument that it was great. We hope you'll feel the same way about "April in Paris" at Sly's. For the month of April, Sly's in the beautiful beach town of Carpinteria is featuring a different fixed price menu (That's "prix fixe" in French) for each week in April. Each menu features French Specialties. That's three courses of great French food - appetizer, main course, and a wonderful homemade French dessert - or cheese (French, of course) - for $35. per person, plus tax and tip. For $15 more, you can enjoy two glasses of French wine with your dinner. Or if you'd rather splurge, with your "April in Paris" dinner, take 10% off any of Sly's extensive French wine list selections - there's more than 50 great French wines to choose from. Whether it's Escargot, Lobster Bisque, Steak au Poivre Vert, or Mousse au Chocolat you're looking for, we think you'll find exceptional an April in Paris at Sly's. In Carpinteria. (Menus available in French, on request)

New At Live Culture: This just in from Sierra Falso of Live Culture at 11 W. De la Guerra St:

  • New menu which features lower prices
  • New lunch options including 1/2 panini, house salad, and petite soup for under $9. Sliders and chips for $6.00
  • New Happy Hour is Mon-Fri 4-7 offering $2 off any appetizer, wine or beer.
  • New Farmers Market specials every Tuesday.
  • New calendar of events online at

Easter Brunch at Coast: Here is an Easter press-release from Coast Restaurant & Bar at 31 W. Carrillo St:

Santa Barbara, CA. March 25, 2010 - Your "hunt" for Easter Brunch ends at Coast Restaurant & Bar! What better way to celebrate Easter Sunday than sharing a special brunch with friends and family, indulging in your favorite comfort foods and taking advantage of Happy Hour priced specialty cocktails? Spend this Easter at Coast, where they're offering an Easter brunch full of satisfying dishes including: Eggs with Serrano Ham and Manchego, with a Green Olive Relish and Heirloom Tomatoes, Tortilla and Eggs Scramble with Poblano Chiles, Salsa Cruda, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberries and Crème Fraiche, and it just wouldn't be brunch without Coast Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon, Spinach, and Hollandaise.

Make sure to save room for Coast's dessert bar! Create your own ice cream sundaes, and indulge your sweet tooth with a delicious selection of cakes and pies. As always, Coast is offering Happy Hour pricing on their specialty cocktails, like margaritas, mojitos and bellinis. For those that enjoy a good Bloody Mary, the "Canary Mary" drink cart will pull up tableside to individually mix your drink just the way you like it.

Make your hunt for the best Easter Brunch easy, and come celebrate in style at Coast Restaurant & Bar!

Canary Hotel is a member of the Small Leading Hotels and is located at 31 West Carrillo Street in Santa Barbara. To make a reservation, call toll-free 1-877-468-3515 or (805) 884-0300. Visit

More Easter Brunch: This just in from Chuck's Waterfront Grill 113 Harbor Way:

Why Cook For Easter?
Let Us Do the Cooking--and the Clean Up--For You at Chuck's Waterfront Grill!
All For Only $19.99 for Makua (Adults) and $12.99 Keiki (10 and under)

Easter Brunch Buffet Menu:
Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes with Maple Syrup * Applewood Smoked Bacon, Fluffy Scrambled Eggs * Breakfast Sausage * Fresh Fruit Salad * Assorted Danishes, Home Fried Potatoes * Classic Caesar Salad * Refried Beans * Spanish Rice
Hot Corn & Flour Tortillas * Fresh Pico de Gallo Salsa, Herb Roasted Chicken Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts * Mixed Baby Greens Salad, Baked Fresh Salmon with Lobster Miso Sauce * Fresh Hot Rolls & Butter

Serving Easter Sunday April 4 at Chuck's Waterfront Grill from 11 am to 3 pm
Makua (Adult) Buffet $19.99 Keiki (10 years old & under) $12.99. Reservations 564-1200

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Big Changes At The Wine Cask: Reports are coming in that the recently reopened Wine Cask at 813 Anacapa Street has been sold to the Farmer John company. Though the most popular items will still be available, starting today the iconic local eatery rolls out a new menu that focuses on pork products and has changed its name to Swine Cask. "The new name fits our new focus of pairing wine with pork," says Mitchell Sjerven who will continue to run the business. "While a lighter red wine would certainly work, I think the lightness and spryness of many whites presents a nice counter balance to the heartiness of the pork dish," he added. The Farmer John company was started in 1931 by two brothers, Francis and Bernard Clougherty, who began what has become a California tradition - the Farmer John brand of meats. Sjerven's business partner, Doug Margerum, owned and operated the award–winning Wine Cask since 1981 before selling in 2007.

Off Topic: If you have no plans to own an iPhone, consider this sentence to be the end of today's blog. I follow various news sources that post rumors about the next-generation of iPhone that might be released this summer by Apple. Here is list of rumors that I compiled that I believe actually have a chance of being true. I'll revisit this list after the next iPhone is released to see how well the predictions fared.

  • The next generation iPhone will be announced by Apple on June 22, 2010 and released shortly thereafter
  • A next generation iPhone compatible with Verizon & Sprint will go into production September 2010 for release in early 2011
  • The next iPhone will be called "iPhone HD"
  • It will have a 960x640 double-resolution screen capable of displaying HD movies
  • It will have a slightly larger screen
  • It will be slightly thinner than the iPhone 3G/3GS
  • It will have an "A4" CPU which is much faster than the current iPhone CPU and offers better battery life
  • It will have a Universal Inbox that allows you to send and receive all your email from one inbox instead of requiring you to switch to different email accounts
  • It will have multitasking for third-party apps (currently only the built-in apps can multitask). Hitting the home button twice will bring up the icons of currently running apps, allowing users to quickly choose the one they want to switch to.
  • It will have an enhanced mapping program that features turn by turn navigation with spoken directions
  • It will have a front-facing camera for iPhone-to-iPhone video calls in addition to a camera on the back
  • It will have an LED camera flash built-in to the camera on the back
  • The camera on the back will have a 5 megapixel sensor (the iPhone 3GS has a 3.2 megapixel camera sensor)
  • It will support Wi-Fi "N" technology, the latest version of Wi-Fi that replaces the common Wi-Fi "G."
  • It will have integrated RFID technology (I won't bother explaining what that is!)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fish & Chips Update: After posting a story on Monday about a fish & chips eatery coming to Santa Barbara I received an email confirming the news:

Hi John,

   My name is Grant MacNaughton and I'm the guy behind the forthcoming Fish & Chip shop that you mentioned in your blog. I just wanted to get in touch to let you know that we are (fingers crossed!) on the verge of securing my downtown location and hope to be opening our doors to customers within a couple of months after we have remodeled the space. Until I've physically agreed terms for my location, I'm keeping the details quiet as I don't want to jinx it but rest assured that I'll be in touch as things become firmer. I can't even give you the name, not because it's a secret but because my wife and I are still arguing fiercely about which of our dozen suggestions it should be!

   What I can tell you is that the shop will be owned and operated by the all-Brit combination of myself (Grant, a classically trained French Chef who most recently worked at Bouchon here in SB) and my wife (Kate, ex investment banking slave and very recent mother to our son Sam) and that it will be as close to a replica of the authentic British Fish & Chip shop experience as we can muster. As such, expect to see thick fillets of sustainable Alaskan Cod fried in a thin, crisp coating of beer batter with chunky, twice cooked chips (meaning thick fries) made from fresh potatoes served alongside traditional sides like mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy and baked beans.

   As per 'Chippys' back home, we'll also be looking to serve a selection of home-made savory pies including classic fillings as Steak & Guinness, Chicken & Mushroom, Beef & Onion, Cornish Pasties, Cheese & Onion and Lamb Shepherd's Pie as well as weekly, less traditional specials with more local appeal like a Chile Verde Pie which I am currently perfecting. For the more adventurous clientele, we'll be serving home-made, MacNaughton family recipe haggis and we've been working with our friends at Whitefoot Meats to produce the perfect banger (British pork sausage) which will also appear on the menu in various forms.

   In addition to beer, we'll also stock a variety of British soft drinks as well as my personal favorite accompaniment to Fish & Chips, a perfectly made cup of tea! For those with a sweet-tooth, we'll be replicating the Scottish invention of battered, deep-fried candy bars served with McConnell's Ice Cream...which even I was skeptical about until I tried one and fell in sinful, depraved and shameful love.

Our focus will be on high quality, authentic and, where possible, home-made from scratch and we can't wait to share it with Santa Barbara in the coming months.

Kind Regards,
Grant MacNaughton

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Eatery To Replace Melting Pot: A yet-to-be-named dining destination will be coming to 608 Anacapa Street, replacing the Melting Pot restaurant which closed in January. It will be brought to you by the owners of Blush Restaurant and Lounge, 630 State Street. The concept of this location is still under development, but will be an off-shoot of the 'California comfort cuisine' offered at Blush, with more of a focus as a family establishment. The new eatery will offer lunch and dinner only. Sources tell me “The idea is to fill a void, and provide a place for young adults in Santa Barbara to have a fine meal out, and still be comfortable with their kids.”

Cocktails: Union Ale Brewing Co. at 214 State Street has acquired a Type 47 beverage license that allows them to serve distilled spirits in addition to beer & wine. A new cocktail menu will be available starting tomorrow.

Food Competition Winners: Here is the list of winners from the food competition at the recent Winter Wine Down event at Roblar Winery:

  • Best Side Dish: The Willows - Fettucine Renteria
  • Best Vegetarian Dish: Osteria Monte Grappa - Beet & Arugula Salad
  • Best Seafood Dish: Joe's Café - Shrimp Cocktail
  • Best Poultry: RSVP Catering - Sin-u-rita Chicken Salad
  • Best Meat Dish: Country Catering - Filet Mignon and Sausage
  • Best Overall (3-way tie):
       Country Catering - Filet Mignon and Sausage
       Osteria Monte Grappa - Beet & Arugula Salad
       The Willows - Fettucine Renteria
  • Taster's Choice (2-way tie)
       Joe's Café - Pulled Pork Mini Sandwiches
       The Ballard Inn - Pork Belly with Napa Cabbage Fondue

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fish & Chips: An authentic British fish & chips restaurant that also serves "savory pies" is coming to Santa Barbara. No word yet on the name of the restaurant or exactly where it will be located though I hear it might be on the Mesa.

Plow To Porch: A local organic market named "Plow To Porch Organics" is coming to 3204 State Street near Las Positas Road. Their mission statement: 'Our mission is to simplify the purchase of local fresh organic produce and other organic, local foods in order to inspire good nutrition, support local farmers, protect our environment and make eating healthy food fun!" For more information call (805) 705-4786 or visit

Caje Closes: Caje coffee shop at 1007 Casitas Pass Rd in Carpinteria has closed their doors. The sister location in Isla Vista is still open for business as usual.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New In The Guide: Today I added On The Side in Isla Vista to the restaurant guide.

Billies: I previously reported that a beer, wine & eating place named "Pour House" will be replacing Lettuce B. Frank at 413 State Street. Turns out that Pour House is the corporate name but the actual business will be called "Billies" and it will be a late night diner.

Andersens Expanding: Andersens Danish Bakery & Restaurant will be expanding and taking over space formerly occupied by neighbor Blue Bee.

Green Star Coffee At UCSB: Green Star Coffee, a local wholesale Certified Organic and Fair Trade coffee roaster, just announced that they will be placing their coffee at UCSB. As UCSB Students return to class from spring break, the Dining Commons will be carrying the organic fair trade java after Green Star and their distributor, Jordano's Food Service, successfully won the bid for the four campus dining locations. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with UCSB delivering high quality organic and fair trade coffee to their students," said Kevin Donnelly, Co-Founder and Partner at Green Star Coffee. "Our program echoes the UCSB Dining Service's mission of offering locally produced and organic foods that are integrated throughout their menu as part of the overall campus sustainability effort." In February of this year, Green Star Coffee also added the entire Santa Barbara City College Campus to their growing list of local customers. Donnelly added, "People are choosing more and more to buy local. This saves us all resources and keeps our local economy going and Green Star's commitment to products that are healthier for everyone are an added benefit!" For more information visit

Historic Dinners: Starting in April Cold Spring Tavern will be holding the first of many "1886 Historic Dinners." The dinner will take place on Wednesday, April 21st. Seatings are from 5pm to 8pm. The cost will be $50 a person and will include a four course dinner prepared by chef Moises Bernal. First course: Black bean chili w/ buffalo, venison, and rabbit. Second course: Rabbit pate toasts with spring greens. Third course: Choice of trout or venison shank. Fourth course: Banana and yam cobbler. Staff will be dressed in period attire and Log Cabin Bar will be open with entertainment and costume party. For more information or to RSVP call (805) 967-0066.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Melting Pot Mystery: A mysterious alcoholic beverage permit application notice appeared yesterday at 608 Anacapa Street, the former home of Melting Pot Restaurant, and the application says the business name is "The Melting Pot." I spoke with Dan Stone, Director of Franchise Development for Melting Pot, and he told me that they have no plans to reopen in that location. 

New In The Guide: Today I added India House to the restaurant guide.

Fosters Freeze Closes: Fosters Freeze on the Mesa has closed after being in business for 50 years. I am told that new ownership might remodel and reopen the business.

Restaurant Stats: Though I am sure no one will be surprised given the current economy, there was a big decrease in the number of restaurant openings in the first quarter 2010 versus first quarter 2009. A total of 15 eateries opened during January, February and March 2009 while only 5 eateries opened during the same period in 2010. The number of closings were much more even with 12 dining destinations shutting their doors in the first quarter 2009 while 11 have suffered the same fate thus far this year.

New Spring Menu: This just in from Coast Restaurant & Bar at the Canary Hotel 31 W. Carrillo Street:

I wanted to talk to you about our new spring menu that we started running at Coast Restaurant. We have expanded our flatbread selection to include four different styles and now offer the entire menu in the lounge during happy hour. The menu has been developed to encourage sharing of appetizers and entrees with the other people at your table. We kept a lot of the favorites like the Rib Eye with Creamed Spinach, Roasted Scallops with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Bloomsdale Spinach, and the Fennel Spiced Half Chicken. Some of our new additions are grilled Lamb Sirloin with Pancetta and Cannelini Beans, Halibut and a warm Panzanella Salad, Tomato Braised Calamari and Linguini, and Short Ribs with an English Pea Puree.

In celebration of the new menu, I have been running a tasting plate for $25. On this plate you can chose three entrees and get a small tasting of them on one plate. The guests that have ordered it love the ability to create their own plate and taste a variety of our new items.

- Brian Parks, Executive Chef, Coast Restaurant & Bar

And The Winner Is: The Willows Restaurant at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez won "Best Overall Dish" at the recent Winter Wine Down MDA fundraiser event at Roblar Winery. Here is a press release I received about it:

Original Pasta Creation Also Named “Best Side Dish”

SANTA YNEZ, CA – On Saturday, March 20, The Willows’ signature pasta dish Fettuccine Renteria won “Best Overall” honors at the MDA’S annual Winter Wine Down, held at Roblar Winery.

Fettuccine Renteria was created by The Willows Room Chef Sergio Renteria, and co-prepared for the Winter Wine Down by line cook Melvin Corpuz and prep cook Endang Suriokusumo. The entrée was named in Chef Renteria’s honor by Assistant Food & Beverage Director, John Blair. The dish combines fettuccine cooked al dente, house made pesto, toasted pine nuts, crispy prosciutto, creamy goat cheese and finished with sweet mango.
Wine Down judges and guests raved about the combination, calling the dish “exciting, with surprising flavors and textures that complement and enhance one another.”

Fettucine Renteria was one of several items offered to the Winter Wine Down’s estimated 400 guests. 12 venues participated, including: Root 246, the Willows’ sister property in Solvang; the Ballard Inn; El Rancho Market; New West Catering; and RSVP Catering. In addition, 18 different wineries and breweries participated.

Food items were judged by a panel as well as all the guests attending the event. The food was judged in the following categories: Best Overall; Best Poultry; Best Meat; Best Seafood; Best Side Dish; Best Dessert; Best Vegetarian; and Taster’s Choice.

After final judging, The Willows shared “Best Overall” honors, alongside entrees from Country Catering and Osteria Monte Grappa. The Willows also won for “Best Side Dish”.
The Willows is located at the Chumash Casino Resort. The restaurant is one of only two in all of Santa Barbara County to receive AAA’s coveted 4-Diamond award.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 To Close Storefront: Sad news today from at 2018 Cliff Drive:

Dear Friends and Supporters of,

It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you that after experiencing declining sales the last 12 months we will be closing our storefront location in the Mesa Center (2018 Cliff Drive). The last day of operation is scheduled for Saturday, April 3, 2010. We feel that opening our retail shop was the right move for expanding our business although the time and location may not have been. Also, at this point the future of’s online business is unsure.

We would like to personally extend our sincere thank you to the generous people of Santa Barbara and all the wonderful customers who have supported us over the years. It has been a great experience and an honor to do business with you. Thank you for letting us make your lives a little sweeter.

Please let us know your thoughts –

Warmest Regards,
Christina Gumpert and the wonderful staff at

Free Stuff Today: Today is free ice cream cone day at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in Paseo Nuevo (noon - 8pm) and free pastry day at Starbucks Coffee.

Time Flies: Here is a video of Joe's Cafe on St. Patrick's Day where 3 hours has been condensed into 2 minutes.

Photo Blog: March 20, 2010 - Winter Wine Down at Roblar Winery (fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Assoc)

Photo Blog: March 21, 2010 - Jordano's Food & Equipment Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds

Photo Blog: March 22, 2010 - Margerum Winery spring release party at Seagrass Restaurant

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The End Of An Era: Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant at 1221 State Street will be serving its last dinner this Sunday, March 21st. Namesake owner Karim Chhibbane is retiring. "Thank you to all of Santa Barbara, to SIMA, to you John, also to people from other places that traveled and came here many many times," said Chhibbane. "But especially those from Santa Barbara. It’s been a great experience to be with the people of Santa Barbara and feel that I’m home. I’ve never felt for one day that I’m not home."

New In The Guide: HobNob Tavern has opened at 21 W. Victoria Street and I added them to the restaurant guide today. The eatery, run by Alberto & Michelle Mastrangelo, replaces Epiphany Restaurant & Bar.

Food Network: Celebrity Iron Chef Cat Cora was at D'Angelo Bread recently taping a segment for The Food Network Channel called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." It airs this Friday, March 19th at 10pm. While at a recent meeting of the Santa Barbara Young Professionals Club ( I learned about a local company named run by energetic mother-and-daughter team Judit and Corina Schweller. I spoke with Corina who tells me that they have traveled extensively throughout the most prominent wine regions of Europe and California, educating themselves and others at every opportunity on the flavors and traditions of the regions they toured. Together they have hosted many dinners, seminars and given Cooking Classes that have revolved around creative food and wine pairings. They share their experiences on the web at and also on Coastal TV Network. Corina tells me "If you love food, wine and travel then this is your place to explore an ever expanding collection of tasting videos, fresh wine country inspired recipes, and a personable community."

St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow and there are many places in town to celebrate including:

  • Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant - "Open 10am-2am, Shepherd's Pie performing traditional Irish music from 1:30-3:30, Dannsair performing traditional Irish music from 6:30-8:30, & pipers performing several times between 6-8. No cover the whole day/night!"
  • SOhO Restaurant & Music Club - "St. Patrick’s Day features Spencer & The Worried Lads and their Irish-Mexican-Pirate sounds sailing into happy hour at Soho. Hosted by Martha (A real Irish Coleen) O’keefe from 5-9 this boat is heavy on harmonies, hearty sing-along’s, and the accordion of Brett Larsen...A rousing, rollicking tradition rolls on.... Don’t miss out…we’ll have festive food and drink specials! And don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes!"

Westways: Reader Wendy sent me a PDF version of an article from the current issue of the Auto Club's Westways magazine that features the owners of Gino's Sicilian Express plus stories about Los Agaves, and Goleta Sushi House.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hot Cookie: Reader Primetime alerted me to the fact that local bakery was featured on The Rachel Ray show.

Online Ordering: South Coast Deli (1436 Chapala St & 185 S. Patterson Ave) now offers online ordering at their web site:

Westways: On March 1st I mentioned that the owners of Gino's Sicilian Express were featured in the current issue of Auto Club's Westways magazine. Apparently another local business was also featured:

Hi John,

I wanted to let you know that another local Santa Barbara business was also in Westways (page 18) - Happy Tiffin. It's not entirely off topic as tiffins are the original food "to-go" box from India. All stainless steel food containers offering a great green alternative for carry out in restaurants, school/work lunches, picnics for those seeking a non-plastic alternative. We received an amazing spike in business as well as wholesale inquiries from every corner of California by caterers, wineries, restaurant and eco-friendly green stores.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Patrick's Day: March 17th is coming up quickly. Here are some emails I received about it:

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Hollister Brewing Company
Join us Wednesday, March 17th
Enjoy Our Irish Fare A La Carte…, Irish Dry Stout, Irish Red, Leek, Potato & Bacon Soup, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Stout Chocolate Cake with Stout Ice Cream. …or as a Prix Fixe Meal… A Beer, Cup of Soup, Entrée and Dessert for just $25.00 + tax.
Hollister Brewing Company
6980 Marketplace Drive
Goleta, CA 93117

Get Lucky on St. Patrick's Day at COAST Restaurant & Bar, at Canary Hotel
Get lucky this St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday, March 17th, at COAST Restaurant & Bar at Canary Hotel! COAST will offer an authentic "Irish Whiskey Bomb" cocktail (on St. Patrick’s Day only) for $209, which, and as luck would have it, comes with your own guest room at Canary Hotel... which you'll need if you're drinking an Irish Whiskey Bomb. Whether you're looking for a pot of gold, or a lucky Happy Hour experience, COAST Restaurant & Bar is the place to be this St. Patrick's Day.
Get lucky on St. Patrick's Day at COAST Restaurant & Bar. For details call (805) 879-9100 or visit

Hi John, I wanted to pass on the word if possible about Jean-Michels "Saint Patricks Day Shamrock" He has combined our local "Island View Brewery" with their "Starry Night Stout " and his amazing dark chocolate . It is so smooth and delicious even those who don't care for beer ,love this ! We did a beer and chocolate tasting with 3 of their different beers and our chocolates..It was a hit !
Jill-Marie Carre
Chocolats du CaliBressan
4193 Carpinteria ave. suite 4
Carpinteria, Ca. 93013

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Restaurant History: A new local restaurant history web site ( has been created by Antonio Gardella (winemaker and fine wine specialist) and James Sly (chef and owner of Sly's restaurant in Carpinteria) that offers a comprehensive list of Santa Barbara restaurants dating back to 1875.

Acai Bowls: Blenders in the Grass, a popular smoothie shop with seven locations on the South Coast, now offers Acai Bowls for $6. Here is the official description: "Organic Sambazon Acai blended up super thick with strawberries, banana and a splash of apple juice. Topped with granola, sliced bananas and a touch of honey."

Benefit: Thursday March 11th 4-7pm Cafe Buenos Aires will donate $3 to Direct Relief International (aid for Haiti & Chile) for each signature drink purchased ($8). Local musicians including guitarist Chris Fossek are donating their time for the event.

Off Topic: My friend Preston Marx is extremely knowledgeable about automobiles. To test his skills I periodically take a photo of a beat up car and ask him to identify it. I was recently hiking at Corral Canyon in the mountains above Malibu and spotted this wreck (with a tree growing out of it). Preston tells me it is a 1973 Pontiac Grand Ville (pictured below) or a 1973 Pontiac Bonneville. I think he might be right.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On The Side opens in IV: A sports bar and restaurant named “On The Side” opened yesterday at 6521 Pardall Road in Isla Vista, the birthplace of The Habit Burger Grill and Kinko's Copies Corp. Unlike most eateries in Isla Vista that require you to order at the cash register, On The Side will be a full service restaurant with a wait staff.
   I spoke with general manager John Shields who told me that On The Side’s cuisine is sports bar-oriented, mostly burgers, sandwiches, salads, hot dogs and fried food appetizers including buffalo wings made in-house from scratch. The restaurant has many TV sets inside (seats 30-40) and on the patio (seats 50-60).
   On The Side offers an eight-tap draft beer system that is chilled all the way to the tap and serves beer at 34-37 degrees every time you pull it. The selection includes Bud Light, Firestone, Stella, Firestone IPA, Firestone Honey Blonde, Blue Moon, Hefferveisen, Sunshine, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
   On The Side will be open 11am – midnight seven days a week. For more information call 685-2600 or visit

Monday, March 8, 2010

For Sale: If you are interested in purchasing a restaurant, a pub, a dessertery (is that a real word?), or perhaps a pizza joint, here is a list of local food-related businesses that have been listed for sale this year on

Restaurant Of The Month: Rudy's - Carpinteria is the "Restaurant of the Month." Their staff photo appears on the restaurant guide home page throughout March.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hob Nob Opening Delayed: The new Hob Nob tavern scheduled to open today at 21 W. Victoria Street, the former home of Epiphany, will instead launch next week. Here is a message from owner Michelle Mastrangelo:

As much as I dislike turning guests away, we have decided that a few more days delay of opening is the best for the restaurant. We will spend the weekend cooking the menu and training our staff to ensure that when we open next week we are feeling comfortable in our new shoes!. It is very important to us that food and service are excellent and it isn't worth rushing to open too soon and risk any possible disappointment to our guests. We will look forward to opening our doors next week no later than Friday March 12th...

Sushi Catering & Delivery: Periodically I receive emails from people asking if I know of any businesses that offer a sushi catering service. There is a local business name Sushi On Site (, 805-708-7127) run by Master Chef Arief Norman who offers the service for any occasion including corporate events, weddings and graduations. Norman has a companion sushi delivery service named Sushi2You (, 805-708-7127). Next day delivery is available in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria.

Esau's Remodel: Esau's Cafe at 507 Linden Ave in Carpinteria is closed for remodeling until the weekend of March 13.

Off Topic: Hockey Hall of Fame member Luc Robitaille and Kathy Mintzer, president of the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association, are joined by ice skating fans for the launch today of the final stretch of a fundraising campaign for the Ice in Paradise ice skating rink in Goleta. The organization has raised $2.2 million so far and needs $4 million more by the end of this year. Construction would then begin and the new rink would open at the end of 2011.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm Taking The Day Off: Why? The Restaurant Guide celebrates its 14th birthday today. The restaurant guide was launched so long ago that Bill Clinton was president, OJ Simpson was on trial and the song “Macarena” was #1 on the radio.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cities Barbecue Closes: Cities Barbecue, known in part for having a polychromatic dairy cow on its rooftop near Santa Barbara High School, is showing typical signs of an eatery that has acquired a permanent home in the Restaurant Cemetery, including being closed during business hours, the interior looking strangely vacant and having a disconnected phone number. Cities Barbecue first opened in July, 2005.

Winter Wine Down: Winter Wine Down is the Muscular Dystrophy Association's premiere wine and food tasting event on the Central Coast. Eat, drink, and be merry while listening to live music and bidding on silent auction items. Accompanying the wine tasting is a culinary competition, for which they have once again asked The Restaurant Guy to be a judge. The event takes place March 20, 2010 at the beautiful Roblar Winery, 3010 Roblar Ave in Santa Ynez. Hours are 1pm-4pm (VIP starts at noon). General Admission Ticket are $60 ($45 tax deductible), VIP $100 ($75 tax deductible).
   Participants in the food aspect of the event include: Ballard Inn & Restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, Country Catering Company, El Rancho Market, Epicurean Cowboy Catering, Island View Catering, Joe’s Cafe, Los Olivos Cafe, Louise’s Kitchen Table, New West Special Occasions, Osteria Monte Grappa, Root 246, RSVP – The Catering Company and Santa Barbara County Firefighters.
   Here are pictures from last year's event. For more information or to purchase tickets call (805) 560-7651 or visit

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coming Soon: Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill: Bay Cafe at 131 Anacapa Street will soon have a new home and a new name.
   I spoke with proprietor Bob Montgomery, who also owns the successful Nugget restaurants in Summerland and Goleta, and he told me the changes will be occurring in April.

The Bay Café will be moving to 202 State Street, the former home of Paoli’s and Bougainvillea, and be renamed “Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill.” The restaurant will be next-door neighbors with
Union Ale Brewing Co. which opened last August.
   Bay Roadhouse Bar & Grill will be lowering prices a couple of dollars and will add menu items borrowed from the Nugget in addition to the seafood & pasta they serve now.
   Another idea borrowed from the Nugget: funky displays around the room including a marlin & tuna, glass balls & net, vintage automobile wooden wheels, pier pilings and old pictures of Santa Barbara.

Photo Blog: March 1, 2010 - Pictures of "Soup de l'YMCA" fundraiser for YMCA Campaign for Youth. The event was held at State & A Bar and Grill.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Westways: The owners of Gino's Sicilian Express are featured in the current issue of the Auto Club's Westways Magazine. Owner Connie Milano told me a story about their business and the article:

Hi John,

We opened Gino's Sicilian Express Pizzeria on Figueroa St nearly 15 years ago. We moved on to open two other local restaurants, Cucina Isabella in Camarillo and Sicily by Gino in Ventura. I have lived in Santa Barbara for over 30 years, kids born there, schooled there etc. I am originally from Scotland and Gino was born in Sicily.

This Westways article has had people lining up at our doors and every table really is a great human interest story and during these rough times an inspirational piece to share.

My husband works so hard at what he does and deserves all the acclaim. A few months ago a lady came into Sicily by Gino had lunch and normal lunch time conversation with Gino. She told him she was going to write about him. He came home that night and told me. We had no idea it was this magazine until they sent in their photographer a few weeks later.

3.5 million copies were printed and mailed in southern California for this mailing. Let me tell you it felt like 3.5 million hungry people came thru our restaurants these past few days. I had them lined up at both lunch at dinner as we opened the doors.

Below is just one of the many lovely customer quotes we got.

"I saw the article yesterday and was thrilled to see Gino and Connie. you guys have such great food and wonderful ambiance. See you soon. The article is well deserved and I’m glad to see you’re doing so well despite this economy. - Rosemarie"

- Connie Milano

India House Update: India House, the new Indian restaurant and bazaar at 418 State Street, is still waiting for the Health Dept to issue a permit that allows them to open the restaurant part of their business. The bazaar, which sells more than 400 different items from India, opened last Friday. I'll post a note here when the stoves are hot!

Fundraiser: I will be a soup judge today at 6pm at State & A Bar and Grill for a YMCA fundraiser.

Grand Opening: Here are a few pics from Chino's Rock & Tacos grand opening party in Isla Vista last Saturday.


Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Time To Hob Nob: A "modern tavern" named Hob Nob will be opening next Friday, March 5th at 21 W. Victoria Street. Hob Nob will replace Epiphany Restaurant & Bar which, after 8 years in business, closed its doors last week. "Hob Nob is our vision of a place where you can come as you are, whether it is a quick bite to eat before the theatre or a group cocktail gathering, perhaps a romantic dinner for two," said owner Michelle Mastrangelo. "We have merged the bar with the restaurant to become one."
   The new restaurant plans to offer affordable "California Tavern Cuisine" in a fun, comfortable atmosphere, without being too trendy or upscale. Take a sneak peek at an early draft of Hob Nob's menu brought to you exclusively by The Restaurant Guy. Everything will be under $20 except for the filet mignon which will be $24 or $25.
   Here is the official press-release about Hob Nob:

Hob Nob, a comfortable yet chic modern day tavern and lounge. Here, people gather with friends and family to dine in one of the most inviting ambiances in Santa Barbara, amongst a backdrop that combines cozy comfort with an urban accent. Hob Nob features affordable interpretations of Classic California Tavern Cuisine alongside a selection of fresh cocktails, craftsman beers and thoughtful wines. Hob Nob is open for dinner and drinks daily and is designed to be used as a casual gathering place for festive group dinners, pre-theatre eats and drinks, a romantic table for two or a late night stop for cocktails and savory snacks on our patio. Hob Nob is designed to meet all your dining needs. Come on over and stay awhile. HOBNOB a modern tavern 21 W. Victoria St. Santa Barbara, CA T. 805.564.7100

Epiphany Closes: Epiphany Restaurant & Bar at 21 W. Victoria Street closed their doors for good last week. They will be replaced by a "modern tavern" named Hob Nob starting Friday, March 5th.

Photo Blog: February 25, 2010 - Recently I wrote stories about Fresh & Easy and BevMo! coming soon to Santa Barbara. Before those names appeared in my blog I had never seen or heard of either company. Last night I was in Manhattan Beach and noticed a mall that had both companies in the same building, each on a different side. I decided to take a peek to see what they look like inside and snapped a few fuzzy photos with my iPhone.

Off Topic: Friday, March 5th at noon there will be a press conference to announce the donation of land for a new ice skating rink in Goleta. The press conference will be held under a tent canopy on the site of the new ice skating rink -- on Santa Felicia behind the Home Depo next to the parking lot at Girsh Park. The cross street is Storke and Santa Felicia. The land is being donated by Wynmark Company President Mark Linehan, owner of the Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta to Ice in Paradise and the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chipotle Coming To Goleta: About a year ago I mentioned in this blog that Chipotle was considering opening in Goleta some day. It appears that "some day" will be this summer. Chipotle has decided that their second South Coast location will be 270 Storke Road, next to Rusty's Pizza in the former home of Soccer Action USA.

Special Guest: "Jackass" TV star Chris Pontius confirmed he will attend the grand opening of Chino's Rock & Tacos - Isla Vista this Saturday. There will be taco eating contests 12:30, 6:30 and 9:30, free food, $1 beers 11-4, Chino's Girls, beer tasting and giveaways.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pop Culture: Last Saturday while at a fundraiser for Direct Relief International I had a chance to try some fruit sodas made by a young couple from Buellton. Their company "Pop Culture Beverage Company" will launch this summer. I was amazed how good their drinks tasted. Normally I avoid these type of sodas because they are always too sweet, too strong or too fake. Some how Pop Culture figured out how to do fruit sodas right and I am now officially a fan. They use organic fruit, organic evaporated cane juice and water. That's all. They are currently in talks to have Whole Foods Market become a distributor. To contact them visit Here is their press-release:

Pop Culture Beverage Company is America’s only producer of hand-crafted Artisan Sodas. Pop Culture's premium carbonated beverages begin as US grown, single-origin organic fruit. Through Pop Culture’s unique proprietary production process, the juice is extracted with extreme care; harnessing the unique and subtle nuances of each flavor. The four flavors: Blueberry, Strawberry, Ginger Pear, and Blackberry Hibiscus are pure refreshment; cleansing the mind, body, and palate with their crisp, clean finish. Pop Culture’s organic Artisan Sodas set a new standard in the beverage industry by moving beyond the use of concentrates, extracts, gums, juice fillers, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and colors. Pop Culture Beverage Company is the Natural Evolution of Soda.

First Anniversary: Live Culture at 11 W. De la Guerra Street is celebrating their one year anniversary on Tuesday March 2nd by kicking of the week with a fundraiser supporting the Santa Barbara Youth Music Academy. Members and mentors of the music youth academy will be playing throughout the week.

  • Tuesday March 2nd - 100% of Frozen Yogurt Sales for The Day Will Be Donated to the SB Youth Music Academy
  • Wednesday March 3rd - Buy One Get One Free Panino
  • Thursday March 4th - Buy One Get One Free Espresso Drink or Frozen Yogurt
  • Friday & Saturday March 5th & 6th - Complimentary Brownie Mudslide or Real Beer Float with Purchase of 2 Entrees
  • Sunday March 7th - Happy Hour Pricing Extended All Day & Night

Yellow Pages: In your 2010 Verizon yellow pages you may have noticed that some restaurants try harder than others to get your attention. Some restaurants list just a name and phone number. Others have 1/8 page, 1/4 page, 1/2 page and 3/4 page ads. A select few restaurants, however, have gone the extra mile to let their services be known by taking out a full-page color ad. They are:

  • All India Cafe 431 State St
  • Edomasa 2710 De La Vina St
  • Eladio's 1 State St
  • Jungle George Grill 5722 Calle Real
  • Mandarin Palace 3955 State St
  • Szechuan Restaurant 1994 Cliff Dr
  • Silvergreens 791 Chapala St & 900 Embarcadero Del Mar, Isla Vista
  • Yen Ching Restaurant 2840 De La Vina St

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Downtown And Out: The Downtown Brewing Co. at 3744 State Street officially closed their doors for good today. All of the kitchen equipment and furniture was piled up in the parking lot today. I called headquarters in San Luis Obispo to confirm the closure. The brewery first opened on upper State Street in May, 2007. Thanks to reader Patrick for the tip.

India House Opens Friday: A new restaurant and bazaar named "India House" serving North Indian Muglei and Tandoori Cuisine hopes to open this week at 418 State Street, the former home of Scavenge. If the health inspection is completed today, according to owner Krishan Gupta, they will have a soft opening this Friday. The 6,000 ft business will be a combination 160-seat Indian restaurant and bazaar selling more than 400 different items from India. Gupta, whose family has been making and selling Indian goods since 1910, also owns an open air market at 518 State Street next to Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro.
   This summer they will expand the restaurant to include a 100-seat outdoor garden called "Maharaja Village" that offers lounges for sitting and relaxing. Gupta, who runs India House with his wife Yana, tells me that the official grand opening party will be in about a month. Restaurant hours will be 10am-9pm seven days a week. For more information visit

Fresco Coming To Solvang: Fresco Cafe, which has locations at 3987 State Street in Five Points Shopping Center and at 5940 Calle Real in Goleta, plans to open "Fresco Valley Cafe" at 442 Atterdag Road in the heart of Solvang. A lease was signed by owners Aric Christopher and Matthew Raab last week. The opening is scheduled for mid-summer.

Rumor Machine: After a recent tune-up from Make It Work and a fresh set of ink cartridges, all that was left for the Rumor Machine to be fully functional again was a stack of 100% recycled paper. To get extra mileage out of my paper supply I always print on both sides. So, yesterday, I took the stack of restaurant rumor print-outs from 2009, turned them upside down and put them in the paper tray.
   Apparently the Rumor Machine had a message already waiting in the queue because it quickly output a page of text that read: "The former owners of Sevilla restaurant at 428 Chapala Street, which closed September 2008, want to reopen the eatery. It may have a new name and a new concept." As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

Photo Blog: February 20, 2010 - Wine auction benefit for Direct Relief International

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fresh & Easy Update: Last week I published news that Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is planning to open a location at 336 N. Milpas Street. I called some existing businesses at that address and it appears that Fresh & Easy will be taking over the entire building. An employee of one of the business told me that Whitefoot Meat Market, a Mexican restaurant, a nail salon and any other businesses at 336 N. Milpas will all have to close or relocate.
   John Dixon, owner of nearby Tri-County Produce (335 S. Milpas Street), contacted me recently and said: "I am sure their will be quite a few disappointed people to learn of this. I for one am a regular at El Pollo Nor Teno, great food! And White Foot has been one of the last of the old school butcher shops. So sad, not because Fresh & Easy might be considered a little competition, but rather that another case of the disappearing family mom & pop type businesses in good old Santa Barbara. We bring in one new corporate and eliminate 7 to 10 small mom and pops!"

Fresco 15th Anniversary: Fresco Cafe Five Points will celebrate fifteen years of operation on Sunday May 23rd with a huge block party (food, drink and fun will be the order of the day). Leslie Lembo will be part of the entertainment lineup.

Grand Opening: Chino's Rock & Tacos which opened at 6530 Pardall Rd in Isla Vista last month is planning to have a grand opening party this Saturday, February 27th. For more information call (805) 968-5118.

National Pancake Day: IHOP, represented locally at 1701 State St, 4765 Calle Real in Goleta and 1114 Casitas Pass Rd in Carpinteria) plans to celebrate National Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 23. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., IHOP will give you one free short stack (three) of their buttermilk pancakes. IHOP asks that you consider making a donation to support local children's hospitals through Children's Miracle Network or other local charities.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lettuce B. Something: Reliable sources tell me that the owner of Whiskey Richards (435 State Street) has leased out the space formerly occupied by Lettuce B. Frank (413 State Street) and intends to open an eatery of some kind that will include sliders and a variety of late-night eats. It sounds like activity on the 400 block of State Street is starting to pick up. Earlier this week I announced that Q's (409 State Street) has been leased and is being renovated. I am now hearing that it might become a sports bar.

Epiphany Renovation: Epiphany Restaurant & Bar at 21 W. Victoria Street is closed for remodeling until March 3rd. I am told that they have been wanting to paint, re-do bathrooms and floors for some time.

Building Purchased: Tommy Byrne, owner of The James Joyce, just purchased the building at 511 + 513 State Street that currently houses the James Joyce and Wahoo's Fish Taco. The purchase price was $2,810,000 and escrow closed last Wednesday. Byrne was represented by John J. Thyne III and Forrest Buchannan from Goodwin & Thyne Commercial.

BevMo: When I broke the story about BevMo in the Daily Sound (and in this blog) on Tuesday I had no idea the news would spread so far and wide. At last there's proof that my mom & dad aren't the only ones reading this column.
   On Thursday the alcoholic beverage superstore was the front page story in the Santa Barbara News-Press, the subject of Barney Brantingham's column in the Independent, the lead story on Noozhawk, it became the most talked about news item on Edhat and was a segment on KEYT.
   There appears to be concern by some that BevMo might not be an appropriate business for that part of town, that Bevmo is an unwanted competitor while many others were thrilled at the news and eagerly await their arrival. I am sure there will be much more discussion about it in the days ahead.
   For many months BevMo seriously considered opening on the 400 block of State Street. I learned in January that they had finally decided on the 3052 State Street address.

  • Reader Branden says: "I say boo BevMo! We should support the guys at San Roque Liquor and De La Vina Liquor. They have the best beer and liquor selection in Santa Barbara and I know that when I send customers from my restaurant to them, they will have what they need or they will order it. Keep it local!"
  • Reader Chris says: "I live on Upper State where the rumored BevMo will be located and welcome it with open arms. Obviously a furniture store cannot survive there and hopefully their beverage prices will be more reasonable than San Roque Liquor store. People complain about traffic problems in the area, but we witness that with Trader Joe's and its not that big of a deal. When we have so many businesses closing in Santa Barbara (especially on Upper State), we should not deter more from wanting to come in."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuttini Closing This Sunday: Tuttini bakery & coffee shop at 10 E. Carrillo Street is closing their doors this Sunday, February 21st. I spoke with owner Susan Sullivan who told me that they have experienced declining sales during the last 24 months and had a difficult rent structure. Sullivan tells me she hopes to reopen elsewhere in Santa Barbara and is actively looking for a new location that will have much more seating than was available at the Carrillo Street address.

Photo Blog: February 17, 2010 - Wine, cheese & chocolate pairings at Elements Restaurant & Bar. Handmade gourmet truffles were provided by Jessica Foster Confections. We also enjoyed a variety of appetizers. Tastings will be available on the 3rd Wednesday each month from 4:30-6:30pm. $18

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Elements Update: I received a message this morning about upcoming events at Elements Restaurant & Bar 129 E. Anapamu Street:

Hi John~

We wanted to let you know about some new events and specials happening at Elements!

“Twittertini Tuesdays” will feature a different farmer’s market inspired cocktail each week and the first one will only set you back $5.

Wednesday, February 17th starts our much anticipated “Wine, Cheese and Chocolate” pairings. Elements will be bringing together these three divine creations and explore the sensual contrasts and delights that each “element” brings to the experience. Chocolate by Jessica Foster Confections. Tastings will be available on the 3rd Wednesday each month from 4:30-6:30pm. $18

Beginning Sunday, February 21st Elements introduces “Sunday Suppers.” This concept will bring you back to your childhood roots with dishes such as Mac-n-cheese, meatloaf, paella, cioppino, specialty burgers, fried chicken and more updated versions of those delicious classics. This 2-course special will be served in addition to our regular menu from 5:30-9:00pm every Sunday. Wait, it gets better… we will also feature wine and cocktail specials all evening. $19.95

Thanks for everything!

Tina Kreider
Elements Restaurant Bar & Catering

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Say Hello To BevMo! The leading alcoholic beverage-lifestyle superstore retailer in the western United States has signed a lease at 3052 State Street (where State meets De la Vina), the former home of Thomasville Furniture. Beverages & More! (BevMo!) provides alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and “goes with” products such as specialty foods and snacks, cigars, glassware and related bar and wine accessories.
   I spoke with building owners Tim & Claudia Garrett who told me that the lease is dependent on BevMo! receiving construction approval from the city of Santa Barbara. The retailer plans to increase parking space by partially removing the back side of the building as well as eliminate a storage room on the property. BevMo! hopes to have a grand opening in July.
   BevMo! operates 100 superstores: 47 in Northern California, 43 in Southern California and 10 in Arizona. For more information visit

News From Q's: Word on the street is that the space formerly occupied by Q’s at 409 State Street has a new tenant who owns several night clubs in town. I am told that a major renovation of the interior is now underway

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rest In Peace: Here is a list of local food & drink destinations that have closed in the last six months:

  • January 2010: Dean-o's Pizzarama 1950 Cliff Dr; Melting Pot 608 Anacapa St; Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge 734 State St (new owner hopes to reopen)
  • December 2009: Grapevine Fine Food Market 126 E. Canon Perdido St; Lettuce B. Frank 413 State St; Red Mango 3967 State St
  • November 2009: Einstein Bros Bagels 7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta
  • October 2009: Jake's Café 2911 De La Vina St
  • September 2009: Boris Cake Bakery 423 N. Milpas St; Java Jones 728 State St (now Jitters Coffee)
  • August 2009: Fortune Garden 5915 Calle Real, Goleta (now Los Tarascos); Vons Market 34 W. Victoria St

Hollywood & Dine: Here are some recent celebrity sightings at local restaurants:

  • Jeff Bridges enjoyed a Valentines Day dinner at the Wine Cask.
  • Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith had dinner last Friday at a local restaurant. I am told that Mr. Smith was wearing a Hugh Hefner-style robe/jacket.
  • Luke Wilson came in for dinner at Blush last Saturday then spent the rest of the evening drinking and socializing in the lounge.

Valentines Day: My date and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner last night at the Wine Cask. It was my first visit since they reopened last October and the food & service was terrific. I enjoyed the scallops, bison (pictured) & strawberries (pictured) while she had the scallops, salmon and strawberries.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fresh & Easy Coming To Santa Barbara: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is planning to open a location at 336 N. Milpas Street next to Whitefoot Meat Market and Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant. The grocery chain, which has locations throughout California, Arizona and Nevada, has cleared architectural board of review and just needs to submit for building permits and a plan check. Last year Fresh & Easy opened locations in Orcut, Lompoc and Oxnard and will have a grand opening in Ventura this month. The average size of a Fresh & Easy market is 10,000 - 15,000 sqft which enables them to open in smaller locations than a larger grocery chain could.

New In The Guide: Today I added Saigon - Five Points, which opened yesterday, to the restaurant guide under Vietnamese cuisine.

Restaurant Of The Month: Saigon - Five Points is the "Restaurant of the Month." Their staff photo appears on the restaurant guide home page throughout February.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Soup Contest: Each year, the Channel Islands YMCA kicks off “Campaign for Youth,” in order to raise funds to enrich the lives of the kids in our community. As part of that, this year they are having soup-making contest called "Soup de l’YMCA Taste-Off" at State & A Bar and Grill (1201 State Street), on Monday, March 1st at 6pm. They have asked The Restaurant Guy to be one of the judges.
   Enter your soup recipe with a $25 entry fee before the deadline of February 18th. State & A chefs will make your soup, local celebrity judges will choose a winner and Taste-Off attendees will have the opportunity, for a $15 fee, to sample soups from the five finalists. The winning recipe will be printed in the Santa Barbara Independent and will be featured on the State & A menu for one year. All proceeds from Soup de l’YMCA event will go to the YMCA Campaign for Youth. For more information or to request a Soup de l’YMCA entry form, email:

Sambos Specials: Sambos restaurant at 216 W. Cabrillo Blvd has two specials going, available Monday-Friday: 2 strips of bacon, 2 eggs and 2 pancakes all for $4.99 or a cheese burger for $4.99.

Now Serving Breakfast: Arnoldi's Cafe at 600 Olive Street now offers breakfast Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 am to noon. Thanks to reader Steve for the tip.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saigon - Five Points Opens Thursday: William Lam is about to open his fourth Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant in Santa Barbara. This Thursday is the grand opening of the newest eatery in Five Points Shopping Center at 3987 State Street #A, next to Fresco Café. The first Saigon restaurant opened at 318 N. Milpas Street with locations recently added at 424 State Street and 1230 State Street.
   Lam tells me that he had wanted to open at this exact location in Five Points for many years and when the space became available he jumped at it. “I would like to thank everyone for their support and we hope you come visit our new location in Five Points,” he added. The restaurant will be open every day from 11am-10pm. For more information call (805) 964-0909.

Valentines Day Menus: Here are menus from local restaurants with special offerings on Valentines Day:

  • Pascucci: We are serving 5 specials on Sunday night, all  are $21 and under, each one comes with choice of 2 side dishes. 1. Almond crusted Kanaloa free-swimming Scottish salmon with a lemon -herb cream sauce and capers, 2. Scampi 3. Grilled Shalhoob 8 oz. sirloin steak with choice of marsala -mushroom cream sauce or goggonzola crumbles, 4. Halibut  Piccata, 5. Half roasted chicken with sherry-sage sauce. In addition, we are serving our regular menu ( $13.95 and under)
  • The Brewhouse is offering a great valentine prefix menu for couples. The menu is a three course meal including a choice of two soups, the gorgonzola salad with pears for two, a choice of five different entrees, plus a bottle of special valentines Mumm Champagne. Friday, Saturday and Sunday for $90.00 and that is not per person. We will be offering our Regular menu also.
  • Jade Restaurant: Executive Chef Dustin Green will be preparing a four course menu on Valentine's Day at Jade Restaurant. The menu will be Hawaiian fusion influenced and paired with our favorite California wines. The cost is $75 per person and there are reservations still available. Please call 563-2007
  • Willows at the Chumash Casino: Valentines Day Menu Specials: STARTERS: Corn bisque with lump crab & roasted pepper coulis $8. Baked buffalo mozzarella salad yellow and green tomatoes, basil and white balsamic vinaigrette $8.5. ENTREES: Pan seared local Halibut with a golden tomato nage, wild rice hash & crispy carrots $35. Chateaubriand for two with béarnaise, braised broccolini, baby carrots & duchess potatoes bordelaise $105. DESSERTS: Cour a la crème with raspberry compote $12. Trio tasting: Chocolate soufflé, Chocolate mousse, Chocolate crème brulée $15.

Video Blog: Video of Sandra Bullock on the red carpet of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival


Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentines Day Menus: Here are menus from local restaurants with special offerings on Valentines Day:

  • Silvergreens on Chapala: On Valentines Day, any couple eating Downtown (lunch or dinner) receives 2 complimentary glasses of champagne or wine of choice, w/ 2 entree purchases.
  • Brummis: We'll offer our "Haxen" ( pork high shank ) with sauerkraut and a pretzel for $24.95
    Reservations for the haxen please call(805) 687-5916
  • California Pasta - Five Points: Appetizers: baby field green salad, brushetta, soup or farmers market beet salad.  Entrees: pan seared chicken breast with gnocchi, seafood risotto or braised pork shank with homemade fettuccine.  Desserts: vanilla crème brulee, chocolate cake or cheesecake. Coffee or tea.  Will also include bottomless champagne!!  All for $25/person. Menu starting at 5pm. Please call (805) 683-1411 for reservations.
  • Blush Restaurant and Lounge will be offering decadent cuisine and featuring known aphrodisiacs, seductive chocolate & specialty cocktails all weekend long, inclusive of Brunch. A tableside libation trolley stocked with premium drink-making accoutrements and helmed by mixologist Josh Lewis provides a finer level of service in making your ultraprecise cocktail. Chef Mossin Sugich has prepared a special three course prix fixe menu for Sunday. The first course offers a choice of an Oyster Trio, White Asparagus Salad, or a Strawberry and Arugula Salad. Entree choices are as follows: Vanilla Poached Maine Lobster, Filet Mignon Foie Gras Duo, and Peppercorn Crusted Seared Ahi. A choice of a Chocolate Truffle Tasting or Banana Parfait offered for dessert. $59 per person. Rose Champagne flight option. Come celebrate with your Valentine or with a group!
  • Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro: Valentine's Weekend Specials Saturday and Sunday. Entree: Seared Rack of Lamb, Sachet de Yams, Roasted Brussel Sprouts w Caramelized Onions, Lamb Jus 28.00; Dessert: Chocolate Trio - Chocolate Pots de Créme, White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Tart and Chocolate Caramel Cake 14.00
  • Chef Karim's is offering a very special Valentine's Dinner with a five course meal including a very special dessert. The meal includes soup, three salads, sweet and tasty b'stilla and entrees like Honeyed Lamb, Lemon Chicken with Olives and Shrimp Kebabs. What could be more romantic than sitting together at a romantic dinner using your fingers to feed each other erotic and savory dishes. Prices for dinner are 32.00 per person and include sensuous belly dancing. Chef Karim is doing a special dish of Lamb cooked to perfection and drenched in a red wine sauce. Perfect for your special Valentine. Call 805-899-4780 for reservations.
  • Eladio's Restaurant & Bar is offering a 3 course Valentine's Day Dinner for only $16.99 from 4-7pm! First course choices include New England Clam Chowder & Vegetable Minestrone. Seconds include an 8oz Prime Sirloin Steak, Oven Roasted Chicken, Pesto Pasta with Artichoke & Sun-Dried Tomatoes. Finish with McConnell's Ice Cream for dessert. We will be extending our Happy Hour on Wine & Beer from 4pm-Close, including a number of champagne bottles under $30! For reservations call (805) 963-4466!
  • Root 246: Amuse: Kumomoto oyster with passion fruit “ice” and schezwan peppercorn vinaigrette. Second Course (choice of): Oregon steelhead trout flatbread with American sturgeon caviar, crème fraiche and chives OR
    Bradley’s blue cheese soufflé with petite lambs tongue lettuce and citrus segments OR Roasted butternut squash with curried condiments. Intermezzo: Sorbet. Entrées (choice of): Hot & cold smoked Arctic Char with Chile, lime & a honey glaze OR Prime New York strip with sweet pepper puree & tri colored marble potatoes OR Char oak grilled Pheasant with creamed shaved brussel sprouts, chestnuts and bacon froth. Dessert: A Tasting Trio. Pre-fixe menu at $55 per person. Pre-fixe menu paired with Chef’s wine tastings $75 per person. Champagne Toast and Truffles included. Gratuity and Tax not included. Seatings available 4p.m - 10p.m. Call (805) 688-9003.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival: Here are pictures of Sandra Bullock and Forest Whitaker on the red carpet at Arlington Theater and of the after party at Marmalade Cafe.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Santa Barbara International Film Festival: Here are pictures and movies from opening ceremonies at Arlington Theater and the after party at Paseo Nuevo.

February 4, 2010 - Opening Night

Valentines Day Menus: If your restaurant is planning to have special Valentines Day menus, please send me an email and I will post it here. Please include just the highlights and condense it all into a single paragraph like below.

  • Max’s Restaurant will be having a special Valentine’s Day Brunch from 7 am to 3 pm. Specials include Berry Crepes with Marscapone cheese, Oscar Benedict, Crab Cakes with asparagus, Mimosas and more. Max’s is located at 3514 State Street. Call 805-898-9121 for reservations.
  • Arnoldis Cafe is offering special Valentines Day a la carte items which include the following; Hearts of Romaine with Bacon and Fresh Bleu Cheese Dressing, Fresh Halibut Filet sauteed with White Wine, Lemons and Capers served with Spinach and Cafe Potatoes, Tenderloin with a Mascarpone Sauce, Linguine in a Creamy Mushroom Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce, Organic Tuscan Chicken Breast with Four Cheese Rigatoni ....And our special dessert will be Flowing Chocolate Lave Cake...Soup for the evening will be Tomato Basil Soup. Call (805) 962-5392 for reservations.
  • Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Biltmore: Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic five-course dinner including champagne and a long stemmed rose. Menu highlights: Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Sunchoke Watercress Soup with Bay Scallops, Carnaroli Risotto with Chanterelles. Entree choices: Pan-seared Wild Branzino, Grilled Prime NY Steak, Roasted Veal Tenderloin. Concludes with a trio of our Pastry Chef's special Valentine's creations, coffee and petit fours. February 14th, 5:00 to 9:00 pm, $105/ person, includes champagne. Call (805) 565-8237 for reservations.
  • Moby Dick Restaurant: In addition to the regular menu, on Valentines Day we offer: Choice of new England clam chowder or mix green salad, 2 8oz prime top sirloin, 2 1/2 Maine lobster stuffed with a fresh grilled salmon cake, Fresh sautéed vegetables and choice of potato, 2 red velvet cup cakes, 1 bottle of champagne, only $59.95 per couple (tax and tip not included). Call (805) 965-0549 for reservations.
  • Sly's is offering a romantic French themed fixed price Valentine's Day dinner this coming Sunday and Monday, with optional French wines paired with each course. Complimentary amuse guelles, a choice of first course from Lobster Bisque, Escargot baked in Green Butter, chilled Oysters on the half shell (4) or Mixed Greens with Hazelnuts & Warm Goat Cheese. A choice of main course includes steamed Salmon with Hollandaise, USDA Prime aged Baseball Sirloin with red wine & shallots, Thin Egg Noodles with basil, cream and vegetables, or broiled Lake Superior Whitefish with Chardonnay butter. Main courses are served with sides of Creamed Spinach and our Mashed Potatoes. Special Valentine's dessert choices include a plate of our crisp cookies and chocolate-dipped Grand Marnier Strawberries or any of Sly's home-made desserts. $45 per person/$65 per person with wines. The wine selections include glasses of three French wines. Tax & tip are extra. Please call (805) 684-6666 for reservations

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Happy Hour: Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant at 424 State Street has a new Happy Hour from 3-6pm. Enjoy 1/2 price appetizers. Vietnamese beers $2.50 (regularly $4).

Photo Blog: February 3, 2010 - Goodwin & Thyne 6th anniversary party at Moby Dick Restaurant

Valentines Day Menus: If your restaurant is planning to have special Valentines Day menus, please send me an email and I will post it here. Please include just the highlights and condense it all into a single paragraph like below.

  • Corktree Cellars is offering the following three course menu. For starters we have Potato & Celery Root Soup or Baby Field Greens with Honey Balsamic. For entrees we are offering Butternut Squash Gnocchi, Dijon Glazed Salmon or Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak "Chimichurri". For desserts we are offering Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Lava Cake or Apple & Tart Cherry Bread Pudding. Price is $38 per person. Full wine menu offered. Call 684-1400 for reservations.
  • Spiritland Bistro: Instead of a fixed menu, we are offering a combination of aphrodisiac inspired specials as well as selected favorites from our regular menu. Everything is available a la carte. Amus: Raw Cauliflower Wrap, Savory Escarole Cannoli, Oysters on the Half Shell. Appetizers: Carrot Ginger soup, Citrus Fennel Salad, Ahi Tuna Tartare, Arabic Artichoke Purée, Caribbean Sweet Potato Balls, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Crusted Shrimp. Main courses: Grilled Artichoke ‘Hearts’ & Vegetable Kabobs, Cornmeal Crusted Scallops, New Zealand Lamb Loin, Greek Moussaka, Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breast, Japanese Crusted Halibut. Desserts: Honey Almond Crème Brulee, Warm Berry Bisque, Strawberries, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Flourless Chocolate Beet Cake, Vegan Chocolate Cake. Call (805) 966-7759 for reservations.
  • The Enterprise Fish Company will be featuring a special Valentines Day menu including a 2lb. Live Maine Lobster with a choice of two sides for $29.95, as well as 1.5lbs of Alaskan King Crab Legs & Claws with a choice of two sides for $37.95. Full menu available upon request. Call (805) 962-3313 for reservations.
  • Marmalade Cafe is offering a 4 course Valentine's Day Menu for two for $49.95. It includes Chef's appetizer, choice of salads (Mixed Greens or Caesar), choice of entrees (Prime Rib, Lobster Ravioli, Chicken Marsala, Grilled Salmon), and a Molten Lava Chocolate Cake for Two in a shape of a heart. Total price for Two is $49.95 excluding drinks, tax, and gratuity. Wine pairing optional. In addition we will be serving our regular menu and Dinner specials including Rib Eye Steak, Sea Bass, and Rack of Lamb. Reservations recommended 805-682-5246.
  • Stella Mare's has a four  course menu with choices for each course, $65/per person or $79 with unlimited Charles Lafitte Sparkling, and items like... Ahi tuna Carpaccio with organic micro greens, lemon aioli drizzle and lemon oil for appetizer, Wild mushroom cream soup with truffle oil and thyme whipped cream for second course, Grilled filet mignon, truffled wild mushroom salad, potato gaufrettes foie gras butter and a shallot Bordelaise for main and Mini white chocolate cheesecake and mini Stella's Chocolate & Raspberry cake... chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, raspberries and chocolate glaze, with vanilla bean and raspberry sauce for dessert. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres to start. Call (805) 969-6705 for reservations.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentines Day Menus: If your restaurant is planning to have special Valentines Day menus, please send me an email and I will post it here. Please include just the highlights and condense it all into a single paragraph like below.

  • Glen Annie Golf Club is offered a 5 course Valentine’s Day Dinner, with optional wine pairing. Soup choices: Lobster Bisque, vegetable tempura fritter, basil cream anglaise. Salad choices: Smoked Duck & Arugula Salad, Micro Greens. Appetizer choices: BBQ Pork Pot sticker, Dungeness Crab Cake.
    Entrée choices: Salmon Florentine Wellington, Cognac-Wild Mushroom NY Steak. Dessert: Red Velvet Cake & Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. $42/person, $55 with wine paring. Call (805) 968-6400 for reservations.
  • Coast at Canary Hotel will offer a three-course menu prepared by Chef Brian Parks. Highlights include Maine lobster and avocado salad, local halibut with chanterelles, cipollini onions and preserved lemon, grilled New York steak with creamed spinach and hand cut fries, and English pea risotto with bacon and caramelized onion. Dessert: Chocolate Lava Cake. $45/person. Call (805) 879-9100 for reservations.
  • Elements Restaurant Bar & Catering is offering a 4-course prix fixe Valentine’s menu. $58 ($89 with wine pairings) 1st Carpaccio of Beets or Szechuan Pepper Crusted Beef Tenderloin Maki or Classic French Onion Soup 2nd Pan Seared Scallops or Blue Cheese, Pecan & Caramelized Onion Tart or Foie Gras {$10 supplement} 3rd Grilled Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin {add lobster for a supplemental $15} or Local Sea Bass Catch or Grilled Local Lobster Tail or Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast Or Marcona Almond and Goat Cheese Agnolotti 4th Fon-deux gran marnier spiked dark chocolate fondue for 2 homemade marshmallows, coconut macaroons, farmer’s market fruit. Call for Reservations (805) 884-9218.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"The Marquee" Opens Downtown: A martini lounge named The Marquee opens tonight at 1212 State Street, immediately to the right of the front door of the historic Granada Theater. Santa Barbara’s newest night spot is owned by partners Matt Olufs and Mark Lawrence and is open every day starting at 4pm.
“With a location under the marquee at the Granada Theater, our goal with the build out was to complement the Granada's Restoration Project, with the theme of the ‘modern classic’, and to introduce a theater-worthy experience from the lip of a martini glass,” says Olufs. The lounge offers a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, a selection of small plate appetizers and fresh fruit signature cocktails.
   I went to the pre-opening party last Saturday night expecting to stay no more than 30 minutes and ended up spending most of the evening there. The ambience is elegant yet simple and the attention to detail is extraordinary – from the lighting, booths, the curved bar and custom-designed menus, right down to the stainless steel seafood fork in my Lobster Cocktail. The Marquee is without a doubt one of the best looking lounges in town and it should quickly become a very popular night time destination.

Panera Bread: Reliable sources told me last week that Panera Bread is actively seeking to open a location somewhere in downtown Santa Barbara. Established in 1981, the company owns and franchises 1,362 bakery-cafes in 40 states and in Canada. Their motto reads "Panera Bread bakery-cafes bring the tradition of freshly baked artisan bread to neighborhoods in cities throughout the country.” For more information visit

Islands Restaurant: I also heard from reliable sources that Islands Restaurant is interested in establishing an eatery on State Street. Islands Restaurants was founded in 1982 and has a menu featuring gourmet hamburgers, soft tacos, salads and specialty drinks all in a tropical theme. There are more than 50 Islands Restaurants throughout Southern California and Arizona. Locations were recently added in Summerlin, NV and Sacramento. For more information visit

Melting Pot Update: Last Friday I published a story about the demise of the Melting Pot Restaurant at 608 Anacapa Street. Last night I received a response from Jason Leggitt of Anacota Plaza LLC, the landlord company of the Melting Pot:

Unfortunately, the original Melting Pot business did not survive.
Ultimately, the business failed, the restaurant closed, the lease was
terminated and the keys were returned. Hoping to maintain a Melting
Pot and consequently a seamless transfer, the Ownership offered to
reduce the rent. During normal lease negotiations, the New Jersey
Group left town. They had paid no deposit, had no liquor license,
no lease, no keys and never took possession.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Film Fest Discounts: The 25th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival starts this Thursday and runs through February 14. The SBIFF has distributed a free pocket discount guide around town that can be used for a 10% discount at the dining destinations below. You can obtain these free pocket discount guides at local hotels, the SB Downtown Organization 27-B E. De la Guerra Street, and the SB CVB 1601 Anacapa Street.

  • Aldo's Italian Restaurant 1031 State Street 963-6687
  • Andersen's Danish Restaurant & Bakery 1106 State Street 962-5085
  • Bistro 1111 1111 East Cabrillo Blvd. 730-1111
  • Blue Agave 20 East Cota Street 899-4694
  • Blush Restaurant & Lounge 630 State Street 957-1300
  • Café Buenos Aires 1316 State Street 963-0242
  • Café Shell 1112 State Street 965-5742
  • Chilango's 503 State Street 897-1160
  • Chocolate Maya 15 West Gutierrez Street 965-5956
  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 811 A State Street 966-2442
  • Cold Stone Creamery 504 State Street 882-9128
  • Greek House Café 5 West Haley Street 560-0809
  • Live Culture 11 West de la Guerra Street 856-5436
  • Milk & Honey 30 West Anapamu Street 275-4232
  • Museum of Art Café 1130 State Street 884-6487
  • Panda Express 605 Paseo Nuevo 568-3688
  • Paradise Cafe 702 Anacapa Street 962-4416
  • Pascucci 729 State Street 963-8123
  • Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro 516 State Street 962-1455
  • Rockin' Yogurt 620 State Street 962-6290
  • Santa Barbara Zoo Restaurants 500 Niños Drive 962-5339
  • Spice Avenue 1027 State Street 965-6004
  • State & A Bar and Grill 1201 State Street 666-1010
  • Wahoo's Fish Taco 511 State Street 966-1586
  • Wetzel's Pretzels 723 1/2 State Street 730-1090

Cold Stone Cookies: Starting February 3rd Cold Stone Creamery (504 State Street and 5718 Calle Real, Goleta) is introducing Signature Ice Cream Cookies. A four-pack will be offered for $8.99. “I expect these new Cold Stone Creamery’s Signature Ice Cream Cookies will be come a staple treat found in every ice cream lovers home freezer,” said Cold Stone Creamery’s store owner, Mike Briggs. The four Cold Stone signature ice cream cookies are Kiss N’ Tell Chocolate (Chocolate ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chips), Cookie Crumb Yum (Sweet Cream ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, OREO cookie crumbles), Cake Batter Sprinkle (Cake Batter ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, rainbow sprinkles) and Perfect Duet (Sweet Cream ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, crushed milk and white chocolate curls).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Melting Pot Restaurant Closes: The Melting Pot Restaurant, which just changed ownership has suddenly, and unexpectedly, closed. 34 employees have been laid off. The new owners, Charlie Haney and Mike Astuto, were locked out of the building yesterday which is located at 608 Anacapa Street.
   Haney tells me that he had already worked out the terms of their new lease with Anacota Plaza LLC and was enthusiastic about operating Melting Pot Santa Barbara.
   Former owner Jeb Wilson tells me that he had just signed a lease termination agreement and that this was supposed to be followed by a new lease signing by new owner Haney. I am told that, much to Haney's surprise, Jason Leggitt of Anacota Plaza LLC, changed the lease terms at the last moment. These unexpected changes caused the deal to fall apart Haney said. "The landlord decided to pull an eleventh-and-a-half hour change in the lease terms by upping the base rent by $2,000 a month," claimed Haney. "They changed several terms and some additional expenses were now our responsibility," he added.
   The financial fall out of the Melting Plot's closure is substantial. 34 Santa Barbara employees are all now suddenly out of work with no notice. Haney said he just signed a one-year lease on a new condominium, and he covered the cost for moving expenses for a manager and his partner, both of whom had just arrived from New Jersey. In addition to the cost of purchasing the Melting Pot, Haney said he and his partner have spent about $50,000 that will be impossible to recover. They are now in the process of notifying hundreds of people who have reservations including many for Valentine's Day.
   Former Melting Pot employees have set up a Facebook page to see if they can get help finding new service industry jobs. Employees plan to stand outside the restaurant tonight at 5pm during what was supposed to have been the grand reopening VIP night. I had been previously invited to VIP night and still plan to attend (with suit and tie) even though the doors are locked...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lunch Specials: The Harbor Restaurant on Stearns Wharf has new lunch specials available: Linguini and Clams: Fresh manila clams steamed in a white wine butter sauce, fresh garlic, tomato, basil and garlic toast $10; Pulled Pork Sandwich: grilled onions, Kona BBQ sauce on a French roll served with French fries or cole slaw $10; “Greek Salad” grilled salmon, kalamata olives, tomato and cucumber, tossed with a red wine vinaigrette and feta cheese served on grilled flatbread $10; Grilled Mahi Mahi: pineapple rice pilaf, braised greens and ponzu sauce $10; Hot Meat Loaf Sandwich: Prime Sirloin Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and green beans $10.

New Location: Simply Pies recently had a grand opening in a new location: 5392 Hollister Ave (near Patterson Ave and across from Goleta Cottage Hospital). In addition to traditional pies they offer gluten free, sugar free and vegan options, as well as quiche. They also have a "take and bake" option. They will deliver your pie for an additional charge. For more information call (805) 845-2200 or visit

"Lobster" Taco: Baja Fresh (3851 State St, 7127 Hollister Ave) now offers a Langostino "Lobster" taco for $3.59

Off Topic: Quote Of The Day: I recently overheard a little boy summing up what he believes is the primary difference between men and women. He said "Girls try to get pretty and guys watch football and fart."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Chef & Menu: This just in from El Paseo Restaurant 813 Anacapa Street:

El Paseo Restaurant Bids Bienvenidos to New Chef Alex Castillo

Renowned local culinary favorite lends his refined style to the restaurant’s Mexican fare with an all-new menu

Santa Barbara, CA. January, 2010 – A historic local restaurant has landed a culinary match made in food-heaven. The landmark El Paseo Restaurant, Santa Barbara’s oldest restaurant, has welcomed locally- renowned Chef Alex Castillo as their new Executive Chef with open arms, and is launching an all new menu inspired by Castillo, and his years of experience in the kitchens at some of Santa Barbara’s top restaurants, including the Wine Cask, Lucky’s and Piatti’s.

Chef Alex Castillo’s interpretation of delicious, quality Mexican cuisine has resulted in an updated menu featuring a mix of traditional favorites with a refined “homemade” feel. With Castillo as the creative director in the kitchen, the focus is on rich flavors and fresh local ingredients, and “back-to-basics” Mexican dishes that will you want to come back for more. Not to mention that everything on the menu is under $20.

Some highlights from Castillo’s new menu include the Huachinango al Mojo de Ajo, a crispy whole fish done like nowhere else in town, Enchiladas de Filet Mignon served with a black bean risotto, and the Alambras de Camaron featuring succulent adobo glazed shrimp with chorizo mashed potatoes.

An all-time favorite menu item remains El Paseo’s famous Caesar salad, made tableside, specifically to your own individual taste. The fresh guacamole is prepared tableside too, and served with the restaurant’s renowned tortillas, made in their “Tortilleria” fresh on the spot, delivered steaming hot.

Happy Hour is back! To celebrate Chef Alex Castillo’s arrival, El Paseo is also launching a new Happy Hour. They’re taking a walk down memory lane and offering their classic margaritas for just $1.95, and half-off prices on their entire appetizer menu, Monday – Friday, 4:00 – 6:00 pm. El Paseo has one of Santa Barbara’s most impressive selections of tequilas, so don’t miss their new Happy Hour and experience some of the most authentic margaritas in town.

Melting Pot Changes Ownership: This just in from Melting Pot 608 Anacapa Street:

The Melting Pot of Santa Barbara Welcomes New Partners

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Melting Pot of Santa Barbara located at 608 Anacapa St. would like to welcome their new partners, Charlie Haney, owner of The Melting Pot and Mike Astuto, operating partner for The Melting Pot. The Melting Pot is a dinner-only fondue restaurant that opened in Jan. of 2009. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 805-845-4444.

Haney brings more than two years of Melting Pot experience to the Santa Barbara location. Currently, Haney owns The Melting Pot of Atlantic City, N.J. that opened in November of 2007. Astuto joins The Melting Pot with over eight years of Melting Pot experience. Astuto previously was the general manager at The Melting Pot of Westwood, N.J. and has recently relocated to Santa Barbara to operate and manage The Melting Pot restaurant in Santa Barbara.

The Melting Pot of Santa Barbara encompasses more than 4700 square feet with seating for more than 145 guests. In addition to its upscale-casual dining environment, the restaurant also features a secluded lover’s lane seating area that creates a truly intimate atmosphere. The Melting Pot also has an open patio/bar area and a private banquet room that can accommodate parties ranging from 14 to 32 guests.

The Melting Pot of Santa Barbara will host their invitation only VIP night, this Friday, January 29. During the VIP night, area dignitaries will be able to sample fondue and participate in a wine tasting. The Melting Pot will officially be open to the public on Saturday, January 30. On their calendar of upcoming events, The Melting Pot will be offering a five course set menu for Valentine’s Day that will be available on both Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14. Astuto will also lead The Melting Pot in hosting their first ladies night out on Thursday, February 25.

“Dining with us can be as fun or formal as your occasion requires – and fondue dining with family and friends is a great way to escape and spend valuable time with those you love,” said Astuto. “We would like to take a moment and thank those who have already sent their support, best wishes, and breathtaking excitement for this unforgettable concept”, said Astuto.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chef Karim Retiring: Karim Chhibbane, namesake owner of Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant at 1221 State Street (inside Victoria Court), plans to retire at the end of March. His restaurant will be open through March 29th and then close its doors for good.

   “Thank you to all of Santa Barbara, to SIMA, to you John, also to people from other places that traveled and came here many many times,” said Chhibbane. “But especially those from Santa Barbara. It’s been a great experience to be with the people of Santa Barbara and feel that I’m home. I’ve never felt for one day that I’m not home.”

   Chhibbane was born in Marrakesh, Morocco. Even as a small child, his dream was to be a French Chef. He spent most of his formative years learning Moroccan cuisine in his family’s kitchen gleaning all the knowledge he could from his mother and his aunts. Then Karim took to the road and went to France where he worked as a chef in hotels and restaurants and then back to Morocco to further his craft. Eager to visit the United States, he met a couple traveling from Santa Barbara. They invited him to visit them and he quickly fell in love with Santa Barbara and its people. Since 1990, Chef Karim has been feeding the hearts and souls of his customers.

   Chhibbane will continue to teach Moroccan cooking classes at Roblar Winery and, after taking some time off, may continue to operate his catering service. You can make a reservation at Chef Karim’s online at Open Table or call (805) 899-4780.

Rumor Machine: As they travel through the grapevine rumors can take on more shapes than a character in a Transformers movies. For example it appears that a pilates studio is coming to 1233 State Street. Someone who heard about the pilates studio told someone else that a yoga studio was coming. The next person thought they heard that a yogurt store was coming who in turn told me a frozen yogurt shop was on its way. That transformed and distorted information then wiggled its way into my blog last week.

Restaurant Wrap Up: Here is a list of local eateries that have opened in the last six months:

  • January 2010: Chino's Rock & Tacos 6530 Pardall Rd, Isla Vista, 968-5118
  • December 2009: China Palace 1070 Coast Village Rd, Montecito, 565-9380; The Nugget 5685 Calle Real, Goleta, 964-5200; Wine Cask Bar Cafe 813 Anacapa St, 966-9463
  • November 2009: Bella Dolce Bakery 113 W. De la Guerra St, 962-2253; Ultimate Bagels 1226 State St, 845-2511; Wine Cask 813 Anacapa St, 966-9463
  • October 2009: Dogtown 888 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, 685-7474; Los Tarascos 5915B Calle Real, Goleta, 683-1919; Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro 1324 State St, 892-2800; Sweet Alley 7034 Marketplace Dr, Goleta, 845-2672; Three Pickles 420 S. Fairview Ave, Goleta, 964-4585; Whole Foods Market 3761 State St 837-6959
  • September 2009: California Crisp 718 State St, 845-2254; Jitters Coffee 728 State St, 617-3313; South Pacific Coffee 7398 Calle Real, Goleta, 845-7348
  • August 2009: Pastavino 6920 Marketplace Dr, Goleta, 685-7300; Sushilicious 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista 968-1600; Union Ale Brewing Co. 214 State St, 845-8243

Monday, January 25, 2010

$9.95 Lunch Specials: Moby Dick Restaurant on Stearns Wharf has new lunch specials available: Fish & Chips $9.95, New England Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl with salad $9.95, Linguini Pasta with Alfredo or Marinara $9.95, Two grilled Fish Soft Tacos $9.95. For more information call (805) 965-0549

Tomorrow's Blog: The owner of a popular Santa Barbara restaurant is planning to retire and close their eatery. I was stunned by the news this morning because the restaurant is one of my favorites in town. I am gathering information now and will post the story here tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New In The Guide: Chino's Rock & Tacos - Isla Vista is the first official opening of a South Coast restaurant this decade.

Mel's Update: Last Summer I mentioned that Mel's Lounge would be reopening on Carrillo Street in February 2010. I have learned that construction has not yet started and that everything is on hold.

Rumor Machine: Of the many Christmas gifts Santa brought me last December the one I needed most was new ink cartridges (and some assorted spare parts) for the Rumor Machine. With the rain curtailing my outdoor activities I finally found the time to install them yesterday. After I powered it back up the Rumor Machine automatically started printing a test pattern page to align the print heads. To my surprise I noticed some words near the bottom of the test page that read "A frozen yogurt shop is coming to 1233 State Street next to Victoria Street Starbucks." As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

Local Vendor Day: I just received this press-release from Whole Foods Market 3761 State Street:

Whole Foods Market Hosts “Local Vendor Day” - Saturday, January 23rd 11:00am – 3:00pm

WHAT:          22 vendors from the Santa Barbara County area will be participating in Whole Foods Market’s “Local Vendor Day”.  Customers are invited to sample, for free, an array of local delights found throughout the natural and organic foods market. 

WHO:             Participating vendors include Debbies Delights Bakery, Santa Barbara Roasting Co., McConnell’s Ice Cream, Bragg’s Amino Acids, Teachino, Full of Life Flatbread Pizza, Babcock Winery and Rancho La Vina Coastal Walnuts & Oils.

WHY:             Whole Foods Market focuses on local purchasing, because it helps impact the way they do business – all while continuing to focus on Quality Standards and their commitment to bringing customers the highest quality food available.

Here are some of the things Whole Foods Market is doing:

  • increasing local product throughout their stores and improving signage to help customers find local products.
  • putting more energy into promoting local products, including bringing local producers in for demonstrations, hosting “Local Vendor Days,” and featuring local producers on their website.
  • bringing together local producers at vendor seminars, to explain how Whole Foods Market works and give producers the chance to get their products in front of buyers.
  • funding a Local Producer Loan Program, which provides low-interest loans to local producers.

Off Topic: Reader Jim sent me some new weather-related links to add to my new Santa Barbara Weather Guide. If you have any suggestions please email them to me. One of my favorite links in the guide is the Cachuma Lake real-time reservoir level. The spill gates are at 750 ft and, as of this writing, we only have 14.5 feet until Cachuma Lake is full.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Benefit For Haiti: Tonight Epiphany Restaurant & Bar is partnering with Direct Relief International and hosting a "Martini's can Make a Difference" cocktail party at Epiphany from 7pm - 10pm. 20% of proceeds from beverage sales will be donated to Direct Relief International to help provide much needed supplies and support for those in Haiti.

Rape Crisis Center Fundraisers: The Endless Summer Bar Cafe and Chuck's Waterfront Grill at the Santa Barbara Harbor will be having fundraisers for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center on January 26th. Just mention to your server during lunch or dinner that you are here for the cause and 15% of the proceeds will go to the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

IHOP Senior Special: Customers of IHOP age 55 or older receive a free entree with purchase of one entree & two drinks at the regular price. The promotion is available on Wednesdays 3pm-10pm.

Off Topic: I have put together a comprehensive Santa Barbara Weather information page for you to use year-round.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Wine Tasting Room: Thanks to reader Primetime for passing me this tip. Here is the press-release:

Municipal Winemakers to Open Tasting Room in Santa Barbara Funk Zone

Grand Opening celebration February 20th 2 – 6 pm, 28 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara

The Municipal Winemakers will open a tasting room in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara, making them the eleventh and newest winery to join the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. Each new producer has added flavor to the Urban Wine Trail, which is gaining popularity with locals and tourists alike as a premium wine tasting destination.

The cozy new tasting room is set quietly off the street towards the back of the same building that houses the Kunin/Westerly tasting room at 28 Anacapa Street, just a couple hundred yards from the beach. Visitors who discover it are rewarded with a rich tasting experience – a full immersion into the Muniverse where wine is demystified through friendliness and education.

Industrial machinery, old office furniture and found objects have been repurposed and recycled as functional design. Highlights include: tables with community seating for sharing the wine experience, and an outdoor patio to enjoy the sunny Santa Barbara weekends. The best part, however, is the lineup of reasonably priced delicious wines that represent some of the best values in Santa Barbara County.

Municipal Winemakers challenge the traditional idea that fine wine is of privilege. They work hard to reconcile the reality that wine is a social beverage by taking a light-hearted approach to its presentation. Wine Spectator has remarked, “Municipal Winemakers takes all possible pretense out of labeling wine.” All the while, Muni remains seriously meticulous about the craft of winemaking.

Current releases include the crisp, fresh and minerally dry Riesling called Bright White, while the Bright Red is a spicy, savory Cotes du Rhone inspired blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. Their latest release is the fun and bubbly FIZZ sparkling Shiraz.

Municipal Winemakers is a small production winery that has been producing honest wines since 2007. The philosophy is to craft small-lot, highest quality wines by sourcing grapes from special vineyards in Santa Barbara County and drawing on winemaking experiences in Australia, France, and California. Muni Wines balance old-world personality and elegance with the vibrancy and intensity of modern wine styles.

Muni is owned and operated by one person, David Potter, who is also a member of the winemaking team at Fess Parker Winery and Epiphany Cellars.

The Grand Opening celebration on February 20th will run from 2 to 6 pm. The event will feature a selection of gourmet goods from Whole Foods market.

Founder Of Taco Bell Dies: Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, has passed away at age 86.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chino’s Opens In Isla Vista: Last Saturday Chino's Rock & Taco (714 State Street) opened their second South Coast location at 6530 Pardall Road in Isla Vista. I am told that the menu is very affordable, starting at $1.79 going up to $9.99. Chino’s, which won the 2010 restaurant survey for “Best Taco Night,” offers $1 tacos on Tuesdays along with $2 bottled beers. On Wednesdays they offer bean-rice-cheese burritos for $2 and $1 drafts. Free chips & salsa are brought to your table at the eatery which uses a style known as “fast casual,” a blend between fast food-style dining and casual dining. Chino’s flagship location is in San Luis Obispo and they are planning on opening a fourth location in Paso Robles.

Fosters Reprieve: Last week I reported that Fosters Freeze on the Mesa is planning to go out of business. I spoke with the manager yesterday who gave me an update. He told me that they are in the process of selling Fosters Freeze to new owners who want to keep the dessert destination open. They will know more about the status of the transaction in two weeks.

Ruby's Reprieve: Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge has 734 State Street closed their doors at the end of December. I spoke with management and they told me that the business now has new owners and they plan to reopen February 1st.

Saigon Update: Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, formerly known as Saigon In & Out, plans to open a new location in Five Points Shopping Center in about two weeks.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dean-o's Closes: Dean-o's Pizzarama, an icon on the Mesa for 50 years, closed their doors yesterday. I spoke with the manager this morning and was told that they are in the process of packing up all their equipment to put in storage incase they are able to reopen in a different location.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Name Change: Saigon In & Out has changed the name of its three locations to "Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant". Saigon received a letter last year from attorneys of In & Out Burger complaining about the use of "In & Out" in Saigon's name. Saigon attorney John J. Thyne III wrote a letter back refuting In & Out's claims.

New Nightlife Guide: I have re-launched the Nightlife Guide as an advertiser-only category that will allow it to be updated on a regular basis (the old guide hadn't been changed in four years). The guide is ranked #1 on Google when you search for Santa Barbara bars, Santa Barbara nightclubs or Santa Barbara nightlife. The new guide, which will grow more comprehensive over time, starts its life highlighting Blush Restaurant & Lounge, Coast Restaurant & Bar and EOS Lounge.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Location: Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant has opened a new location in Camarillo. It is located in The Promenade at the Premium Outlets, 630 Ventura Blvd Ste 1217 in Camarillo. This Grand Opening marks the third location for Los Arroyos, founded by Tony and Maria Arroyo of Santa Barbara. Tony and Maria opened their first Los Arroyos restaurant in Downtown Santa Barbara in 1999. They opened their second restaurant, Los Arroyos Montecito, in 2004.

One Year Anniversary: This just in from Dos Carlitos restaurant in Santa Ynez:

Hello Friends of Dos Carlitos,

Please join us in celebrating our 1 YR Anniversary this upcoming Thursday, Friday & Saturday the 21st, 22nd & 23rd of January!

We will be featuring live flamenco guitars all weekend long from 6PM to 9PM, offering fantastic drink specials and will be giving away exciting gifts to commemorate our first year in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley.

Many thanks to all of you for your support and patronage.

Hope to see you at Dos Carlitos soon!

All the best,
Carlos Lopez-Hollis
Dos Carlitos Restaurant & Tequila Bar
3544 Sagunto Street
Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Off Topic: Sad but true: A visitor from Australia traveling with six friends emailed me yesterday saying that he called several hotels in the State Street area but none of them would take his group's money even though the hotels had vacancies. The reason? The hotels all had two-night minimums and his group was just passing through for one night. So they ended up bypassing Santa Barbara entirely.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

American Riviera Wine Auction: On February 20th there will be a benefit for Direct Relief International. Here is a press release about it:

Santa Barbara Vintners’ Foundation Presents - Vintners’ Express: The American Riviera Wine Auction, A benefit for Direct Relief International

Get on board the Vintners’ Express! Direct Relief International’s warehouse will be transformed with vintage-style train decor and elegant, family-style dining, featuring comfort food with a gourmet twist. Feast on delicious hors d’ oeuvres created by six local chefs and a fabulous dinner by nationally recognized Jeff Olsson of New West Catering Enjoy winery hosted tables and a live auction with exclusive wines, travel and entertainment items including wine trips to Bordeaux, France and South Africa. Vintner honoree will be Tom Beckmen, founder of Beckmen Vineyards in Los Olivos, and Beckmen wines will be served during the silent auction. For the first time, this biennial event is raising funds for Direct Relief’s USA programs supporting community clinics in Santa Barbara and across the U.S. Get your tickets now as this event always sells out!

Presale tickets are $225 until 2/1/10, $250 after.
Call (805) 879-4952 or email
When: February 20, 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Where: Direct Relief International Headquarters, 27 S. La Patera Lane, Goleta

New Belgium Brewing Company Beer Dinner: Thursday January 21st, 2010 at Glen Annie Golf Club. Highlights: Four course tasting menu presented by Chef Cesar Patino, Five New Belgium Beer Offerings, Guest Speaker from New Belgium Brewing Company, $35 per guest plus tax & gratuity. Seating 6:00pm. Reservations required. For more information call 805-968-6400

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good Earth Pizza coming to IV: David Singh, owner of Mesa Pizza Company at 315 Meigs Road, is opening a new pizza parlor at 6576 Trigo Road in Isla Vista called “Good Earth Pizza.” He hopes to open the restaurant in April. They are in final stages of getting a building permit to give the building a more contemporary look. Singh tells me it will have everything Mesa Pizza has on its menu, but with an environmental and health-conscious twist. Brown dough will be standard, white dough will be available upon request.

Australia Day Festival: Taste authentic Australian food, wine and imported Aussie beers January 23, 7pm – midnight at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum 113 Harbor Way. The top deck Sports Theatre will broadcast live cricket, rugby highlights and the Australian Tennis Open. Explore the main deck featuring a number of Aussie exhibits and performances. Tickets cost $50 and can be purchase online at

New In The Guide: Today I added China Palace in Montecito to the restaurant guide. China Palace replaces China Pavilion at 1070 Coast Village Road which is now under new ownership.

Restaurant Of The Month: Los Agaves is the "Restaurant of the Month." Their staff photo appears on the restaurant guide home page throughout January.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Martini Bar: A new martini bar is scheduled to open in late January on State Street just to the right of the front door of the Granada Theatre.

Cabana Update: Early last summer I wrote about a Brazilian restaurant named Cabana coming to 509 State Street. I stopped by over the weekend to see what progress has been made and it appears that no construction was ever started.

Whole Foods Calendar: Here is a calendar of events at Whole Foods Market 3761 State Street:

  • January 14 - Kids in the Kitchen: Mason Jar Bean Project,3:30-5PM Free. Kids of all ages can join in this hands-on arts and educational activity. Learn how to harvest seeds, the nutritional benefits of beans, a brief history on types of beans, and a recipe on making bean soup. Email to reserve a spot.
  • January 21 - Twenty Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget. 12Noon, Free. Join healthy lifestyle author and local holistic health counselor, Amira Elgan, in a discussion on how to choose, store, cook and eat the healthiest possible foods while being financially conscious. Signup by emailing
  • January 23 - Local Vendor Day, 11AM-3PM. Come out and taste local foods in every department.
  • January 31 - Healthy Bodies, Healthy Budgets: Value Tour, 11AM Free. This tour will help you learn to shop Whole Foods for "quality, health and value." Signup by emailing
  • February 25 - Cooking Class with Chef Mike, 6:30PM Free, space is limited. Join Chef Mike, Team Leader in Whole Foods Seafood Department, as he prepares a special menu fresh from the sea. Signup by emailing

Dean-o's Update: I just received this press-release from Mesa Center Investec, the landlord of Dean-o's Pizza

January 11, 2010


Lou Torres purchased the Deano’s Pizza business June 30, 2004. Today, 5-1/2 years later, his rent, including the cost of reimbursements, has increased a total of 20%, or an average yearly increase of 3.8% per year.

The Mesa Center wants Mr. Torres and Deano’s to continue to be a successful local business at the Mesa Center. We support Mr. Torres’ efforts to improve his operations in the very competitive pizza business during these difficult economic times. However, we disagree with Mr. Torres’ ploy of intentionally misstating the facts regarding his past rent adjustments in an attempt to manipulate the media and cast us in a poor light. Investec supports local business because it is our business.

We are hopeful we can continue to have productive sessions with Mr. Torres regarding his business at the Mesa Center.

Mesa Center Investec

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fosters Update: I called Fosters Freeze on the Mesa and spoke to the manager who confirmed that they are closing. He said they won't know exactly when until they receive some paperwork from their landlord.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fosters Freeze Closing?: It appears that Dean-o's Pizzarama isn't the only business planning to say goodbye to the Mesa Shopping Center. After receiving a tip from a reader I called their next door neighbor Fosters Freeze and spoke to an employee who said that he was told that they are closing but doesn't know when. The owner isn't available until tomorrow when hopefully I can get more information about this.

The Goodbye Train: In the last two weeks we have seen closure announcements from Left at Albuquerque, Grapevine Fine Food Market, Ruby's, Dean-os and now possibly Fosters Freeze.

January Beer Dinner: This just in from Hollister Brewing Co. at 6980 Marketplace Drive in Goleta:

Hollister Brewing Company
January Beer Dinner
Wednesday, January 13 - 6:30 p.m.

Dear Friend of Hollister Brewing Company:

It is our pleasure to announce our first Beer Dinner of 2010 which promises to be a very unique dining experience. This special evening will be a five-course dinner featuring young lamb and other beautiful bounty from Bill and Barbara Spencer’s Windrose Farm. Windrose is a small family farm on the Central Coast of California offering a wide variety of delicious organic fruits and vegetables and, of course, lamb.

Once again this is an opportunity to enjoy the creations of Chef Dylan Fultineer paired with the hand crafted beers of Brewer Eric Rose. This will also be a chance to hear from Dylan, Eric, Bill and Barbara and enjoy an interactive evening of food and beer.

The menu is still a work in progress but it will feature lamb and other offerings from the Paso Robles farm including winter squash, beans, hearty greens, apples, cider and whatever Dylan, Bill and Barbara gather.

Seating is very limited and reservations are a must. Tickets are $75/per person (tax and gratuity included) and need to be purchased in advance.

Hollister Brewing Company
6980 Marketplace Drive
Goleta, CA 93117

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dean-o's Closing: I spoke with a staff member of Dean-o's Pizzarama and was told they are closing soon, perhaps on Sunday, January 17th. The final day will be decided this Friday. Here is an official announcement to the public:

January 5, 2010

To Our Valued Customer:

It is with deep regret that we announce to you that after 50 years in business, serving the community of Santa Barbara on the Mesa, Dean-o's Pizzarama will be closing its doors for the last time.

The community will lose a place where family and friends gather for food, fun and entertainment for over four generations. Dean-os has always supported the community and encouraged family members of all ages to enjoy our pizza and family atmosphere.

Unfortunately, in about six years, the rent has doubled. The recent construction of the Mesa Shopping Center, which took place about a year ago, has also resulted in a loss of revenue along with the current status of our economy have all been contributing factors. Several attempts have been made to request some type of reduction in rent. Dean-os still attracts the community at all levels. We feel a reduction in rent would have prevented closing our doors in order to keep our family establishment open for business. We would much rather continue to serve our community than close our doors.

In closing, we thank you for the many years of success serving you and your families. You will be missed, Dean-os will be missed. It is another part of Santa Barbara history lost in the shuffle of big business.


Dean-os Management & Staff

Ruby's Closed: Word on the street is that Ruby's Cafe & Spirits Lounge has 734 State Street has closed their doors. Though a note on the door says "closed for remodeling," reliable sources tell me that a new business is coming soon to replace them.

And The Winner Is... Based on web site statistics, here is the most-viewed New Years Eve photo and the runner-up. They were part of Friday's photo album documenting a New Years Eve celebration at Canary Hotel.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Best Of" 2010: These are the winners of the Restaurant Guide online poll that started Thanksgiving 2009 and ended on New Years Eve. Thousands of locals participated in the Santa Barbara Survey and the results will be displayed online at throughout 2010. Survey participants considered 104 different food & drink categories. Due to a software error that I didn't discover until I started tabulating the poll results, we have no data for "Best Brewery" or "Best Place for Cheese." :(

Santa Barbara Restaurants - "Best Of" 2010

Winners of multiple awards (including both first place and finalist) are: Brewhouse (6), Brophy Bros (4), Cava (4), French Press (4), Fresco (4), Opal (4), Bouchon (3), Ca Dario (3), Cajun Kitchen (3), Elements (3), Lazy Acres (3), Los Arroyos (3), Natural Café (3), Pascucci (3), Sandbar (3), SOhO (3), Sojourner (3), Tonic (3), Tupelo Junction (3), Whole Foods Market (3), Alcazar (2), Backyard Bowls (2), Bella Vista at the Biltmore (2), Blush (2), Carlitos (2), Carr (2), China Pavilion (2), Costco Food Court (2), Dargan's (2), Epiphany (2), Freebirds (2), Hollister Brewing Co. (2), Jeanine's Bakery (2), Kalyra (2), Lilly's (2), Los Agaves (2), Mad Dogs (2), Madam Lu (2), Madison's (2), McConnell's (2), Mediterra (2), Melting Pot (2), Palace Grill (2), Palazzio (2), Petit Valentien (2), Rusty's Pizza (2), Santa Barbara Brewing Co. (2), Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. (2), South Coast Deli (2), Sunstone (2), Three Pickles (2), Wildcat (2), Wine Cask (2), Zaytoon (2).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Santa Barbara Survey: Votes for the Santa Barbara Survey are in and I am working today tabulating the results. The "Best of 2010" will be announced tomorrow!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Photo Blog: December 31, 2009 - New Years Eve celebration at Canary Hotel