My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. In 2018 there were 51 openings and 43 closings. The most openings were in June and October (tied with 8) while the most closings were in September (8).

OPENINGS: American (13), Dessert (5), Mexican (5), Coffee (4), Italian (4), Pizza (4), Chinese (3), Japanese (3), Seafood (2), Thai (2), Bakery (1), BBQ (1), Deli (1), Indian (1), Mediterranean (1), and Vegetarian (1)

CLOSINGS: American (17), Italian (4), Mexican (4), Chinese (2), Coffee (2), Japanese (2), Mediterranean (2), Pizza (2), Bakery (1), Dessert (1), Korean (1), Market (1), Seafood (1), Smoothie (1), and Spanish (1)

FLASH IN THE PAN: Every year since I started tracking restaurant statistics in 2007 I gather a list of restaurants that both opened and closed in the same year. For the first time last year, every restaurant that opened stayed open all year. Unfortunately that good luck was not repeated this year. Restaurants that both opened and closed in 2018 are Locavore Kitchen (1 month), Wildwood Museum Café (2 months), Frankland’s Crab & Co. (4 months), and Grilled Cheese Truck (4 months). Fortunately the owners of Frankland’s Crab & Co. quickly reopened with a new concept known as Chapman’s Martini Bar.

FALLEN ICONS: We lost several long-time food venues: Santa Barbara Brewing Company, East Beach Grill, Empress Palace, Max’s, Pizza Mizza, Sly’s, Vineyard House Restaurant in Santa Ynez, Vons in La Cumbre Plaza, and Yen Ching Restaurant.

FLOOD FOR THOUGHT: The tragic Montecito flood and debris flow resulted in two dozen residents being killed and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed. The disaster also resulted in the closure of every restaurant in the Montecito area for months, which was especially difficult for business owners considering that rent still had to be paid. In most cases workers stopped getting paid though I hear that Ty Warner kept income flowing for employees of his Montecito resort properties for another 6 months. This all happened while restaurants and other businesses across the South Coast were suffering from a dramatic slow down caused by the 2017 Thomas Fire which kept tourists away and locals at home. The Bella Vista restaurant at the Biltmore had been closed for a month as the seaside resort cleaned up ash from the fire and reopened on January 8th. Less than 24 hours later the flood devastated Montecito, directly impacting the Biltmore, San Ysidro Ranch, and several eateries at the east end of Coast Village Road.



Celebrate New Years Eve and Day at Root 246, 420 Alisal Road in Solvang. On New Years Eve the lounge is open: 4 p.m.-1 a.m. which dinner in the dining rooms is available 5-10 p.m. On New Years Day the lounge is open: 1-10 p.m. while the dining rooms are open 5-9 p.m. Call 686-8681

Leave a comment


In addition to the regular menu, Chef Peter Lee at Loquita, 202 State Street, has put together an $84 New Years Eve tasting menu including Pintxos – Smoked Hope Ranch Mussel, Chorizo, Pimenton; Padron Pepper, Morcilla; Plantain Tostone; and Pan De Crystal, Beef Carpaccio, Manzanilla Olive Vinaigrette; followed by Rabo de Toro with Garnacha Braised Oxtail, Vol au Vent, Spinach and Horseradish; Cono with Salmon Tartare, 12-Year Sherry Vinegar, Cucumber and Marinated Salmon Roe; Langoustine with New Zealand Langoustine, Miso and Togarashi; and Presa Iberica de Bellota with Acorn Fed Pork, Polenta, Maitake and Soy Glaze. The dinner is complete with a dessert of Sorbete with Grape Sorbet, Buttermilk Ice Cream, Ginger Beer Espuma. The evening includes a complimentary glass of 2009 Gramona Brut Nature “Iii Lustros” Gran Reserva Cava for toasting 2019. Loquita will be open 5-10:45 p.m. and closed New Year’s Day. Call 880.3380

Leave a comment


Chef Jason Paluska and the team at The Lark, 131 Anacapa Street, have announced their New Year’s Eve plans. Chef Paluska will present their popular á la carte alongside a holiday menu including Crispy Salsify ‘Wellington’ with Feuilles De Brick, Perigord Black Truffle, Warm Salsify Cream, Pickled French Radish, Raw Sheep’s Cheese & Nasturtium; Chicken Fried Oysters with Green Peppercorn Aigre Doux, American Sturgeon Caviar Aïoli & Pickled Sea Beans; and Absinthe-Cured Hamachi with Candied Pancetta, Black Sesame Mascarpone, Kumquat Confit, ‘Everything’ Lavash Crackers & Bronze Fennel. The Lark is closed on New Year’s Day. Call 284-0370.

Leave a comment


Reader Jennifer sent me this photo posted at 716 State Street, the future home of Choppa Poke, and the former home of MAC Cosmetics.



Reader Steve H. tells me that Wildwood Kitchen, which closed last November, is opening a new BBQ place in the Santa Barbara Public Market.



The new Chicken In A Barrel BBQ restaurant at 5711 Calle Real in Goleta is offering a free Christmas meal on Christmas Day. I am told that it will be a traditional Christmas dinner for anyone that needs a hot meal or a place to go. 12-3pm or while supplies last.

1 Comment


Join Chef Pink and her team on Christmas Day as they transform one of the Root 246 (420 Alisal Road, Solvang) banquet rooms into a pop-up Chinese restaurant. The main menu includes Beef & Broccolini, Honey Duck Steam Bun, Sweet and Sour Pork Belly, Cashew Chicken, and Spicy Tofu. $39.95/person over 12 years old, $19.95/under 12 years old. Call 686-8681.

Leave a comment


Outpost at the Goodland, 5650 Calle Real in Goleta, invites guests to gather around their tables this Christmas Day, offering a tasteful menu. Chef Damien Giliberti will be serving a three-course menu, featuring starters like Fuji Apple & Celery Root Soup and Roasted Winter Squash Salad. Entrees includes choices like Stuffed Roasted Poussin with tarragon and mirepoix stuffing with pine nuts, parsnip puree, huckleberry glace, whipped cabernet and natural jus, as well as Roasted Prime Rib. For dessert, choose between Chocolate Mousse and Poached Pear. The meal is $55 per person. 4-8pm. Call 964-1288

Leave a comment


Join Finch & Fork, 31 West Carrillo Street, for a three-course Christmas Day dinner by Executive Chef Peter Cham, featuring a menu of seasonal dishes. The meal includes starters like Winter Duck Liver Mousse with grilled bread, huckleberry, pickled mustard seeds and sorrel, and White Bean & Escarole Soup. Signature entrees include Prime Rib with all the fixings and Pan Seared Arctic Char. Chef Cham has also created desserts like Creamsicle and Apple Cinnamon Napoleon to end the meal. Dinner is $90 per person. 3:30-8:30 p.m. Call 879-9100

Leave a comment


Rodney’s Grill at Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort will be offering seatings Christmas Eve 3-8 p.m. and Christmas Day 1-7 p.m. The main menu includes Arctic Char $75 (Butternut squash, sun chokes, rapini, Thumbelina carrot puree, Meyer lemon kohlrabi slaw), Spiced Duck Breast $85 (Braised leek, butter ball potato, pancetta, broccoli rabe, mandarin jus, crispy leeks), Prime Rib $95 (Horseradish potato puff, grilled asparagus, sumac bearnaise), and Winters Harvest Vegetables $65 (Roasted cauliflower, grilled endive, shaved Brussel sprouts, glazed carrot, scallion nage, pistachio, sesame spice)

Leave a comment


Chef Luca at S.Y. Kitchen, 1110 Faraday Street in Santa Ynez, presents several Christmas Eve Specials in addition to S.Y. Kitchen’s dinner menu. Start the evening off with a bowl of Artichoke Soup Barigoule. For the Pasta course, try Francesco’s hand-made Agnolotti with Wild Pheasant with Black Truffles and Foie Fras. Main courses include Seared Diver Scallops with Pesto alla Trapanese, Fennel, Almonds and Greens; and Wagyu Beef Brasato with Pinot Noir, Green Onion Sauce and Polenta. Finish the evening with an extraordinary Italian Chocolate Bonet prepared by Francesco Crestanelli. Lunch: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Dinner: 5 p.m. – closing. Closed Christmas Day. Call 691-9794.

Leave a comment


n addition to the regular menu, Chef Peter Lee at Loquita, 202 State Street, has put together Christmas Eve specials including Black Cod with Hope Ranch Mussels, Braised Fennel, Potato Purée and Apple Miso Foam; and Tuna Crudo with Foie Snow and Compressed Pear. Christmas Eve specials are priced from $23 – $27. Reservations are recommended and are available from 5- 9 p.m.

Leave a comment


Chef Jason Paluska and the team at The Lark, 131 Anacapa Street, have announced their Christmas Eve menu which will include Cast Iron-Roasted Parisienne Gnocchi with Warm Comte Fondue, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Thumbelina Carrots, Brown Butter Almonds & Cognac and a Earl Grey Semifreddo with Speculoos Cookie, Raspberry Jam, Macadamia ‘Snow’ & Coconut Cream for dessert. The Lark is closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Call 284-0370

Leave a comment


“In the late 60’s I remember a restaurant that I thought was called the “Fire House” on Chapala and Carrillo Streets where the muffler shop is today (next to Shell gas station.) We could slide down the fire pole from the 2nd floor.  Anybody remember it?
– Kiana”



I stopped by Masala Spice, coming to 5796 Calle Real in Goleta (formerly El Pollo Loco) and owner Laxman Perera told me that he hopes to open the restaurant in a couple of weeks. It looked nearly done.

Leave a comment


Jersey Mike’s Subs has opened at 1054 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria. Other area locations include 1213 State Street, 3325 State Street, and 7034 Marketplace Drive in Goleta. Jersey Mike’s Subs is an submarine sandwich chain headquartered in Manasquan, New Jersey. The Jersey Mike’s franchise has almost 1,300 locations open and about 70 more in development across the United States. Call (805) 318-1388

Leave a comment


Reader Rich says that The Sportsman Lounge has finished relocating to 1226 State Street (next to the Granada) in the spot formerly occupied by Ultimate Bagels, Coffee Bean, and Santa Barbara Sandwich Company.



Readers Jonathan and Richard let me know that Pacific Crepes at 705 Anacapa Street is closing at the end of the year after 22 years in business. I called the restaurant and was told that there is a new owner of the building who wants to renovate the space and try a different concept, possibly a marketplace.



Here’s a list of eateries that have closed so far in 2018. Every quarter I publish a list of restaurant openings, closings, and a list of restaurants that are coming soon.

  • December 2018: Big Eye Raw Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • November 2018: Sunny Korean Restaurant, 532 State St. (changing to Mosto Crudo); Wildwood Kitchen, 412 East Haley St.
  • October 2018: Basil’s, 608 Anacapa St.; Santa Barbara Brewing Company, 501 State St. (changing to Cruisery)
  • September 2018: El Pollo Rico, 5698 Hollister Ave., Goleta (now La Guerrerita); Good Cup, 1819 Cliff Dr. (now Lighthouse Coffee); Mundos, 901 N. Milpas St. (changing to Bossie’s Kitchen); Pinkberry, 742 State St.; Sly’s, 686 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Urkeb, 413 State St.; Vons, 3855 State St. (changing to Bristol Farms)
  • August 2018: El Pollo Loco, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta (changing to Masala Spice Indian restaurant); Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.; Frankland’s Crab & Co., 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (now Chaplin’s Martini Bar); HiWi Tropical Fusion, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now One Piece); Locavore Kitchen, 21 West Victoria St.; Miso Hungry, 134 E. Canon Perdido St.; Trattoria Mollie, 1250 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (moved to 1218 State St.)
  • July 2018: None
  • June 2018: Cadiz, 509 State St. (changing to Alito’s); Grilled Cheese Truck, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (changing to California Taco); Nicky D’s Wood-Fired Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St. (now Lilsey’s Wood-Fired Pizza); Rincon Brewery, 6583 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista; Worker Bee Café, 5599 Hollister Ave, Goleta (now Uniboil)
  • May 2018: Chipotle,723 State St.; Empress Palace, 2251 Las Positas Rd.; Mattei’s Tavern restaurant, 2350 Railway Ave., Los Olivos; Peet’s Coffee, 1131 State St.; Sorriso Italiano, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista (now Hanamura); Subway, 1936 State St.; Wildwood Café, 1130 State St.
  • April 2018: None
  • March 2018: La Arcada Bistro, 1112 State St. (now Mizza); Max’s, 3514 State St. (now Sunshine Café); The Nugget Santa Barbara, 21 W. Victoria St.; Vineyard House Restaurant, 3631 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez
  • February 2018: None
  • January 2018: 805 Kabob, 6578 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista (now Mojo Tea House),; East Beach Grill, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Fire & Ice Museum Café, 1130 State St.; Nectar, 20 E. Cota St. (now Mezza Thyme); Our Daily Bread, 2700 De la Vina St.; Pascucci Goleta, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta (now Vicenta’s); Yen Ching Restaurant, 2840 De la Vina St. (now New Si Chuan Garden)
Leave a comment


This just in from the Rumor Mill: “A new cocktail bar and coffee shop is in the works at The Mill, 406-414 East Haley Street. It will be a coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night, brought to you by the owner of Caje and the recently shuttered Big Eye Raw Bar.” As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.



Here is an update from C’est Cheese at 825 Santa Barbara Street:

“Hi John, Happy Holidays! I thought your readers might like to know that we’ve taken a portion of our space and opened a holiday housewares pop-up that we’re calling La Maison Rouge. We’ve brought in a really great selection of entertaining, kitchen and gift ideas such as unique cocktail & wine glasses, beautiful serving trays, cocktail infusion kits, copper tea kettles and more. We are open Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday noon-5 p.m. Thank you! – Michael Graham”

Leave a comment


Mosto Crudo restaurant which opened at 7 West Haley Street in October 2017 is adding a new location at 532 State Street, the former home of Sunny Korean Restaurant, Le Petit Bistrot, Verde, and Zia Café. Renovations are underway and they hope to complete the opening of the second location in February.



Big Eye Raw Bar which opened in the Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W. Victoria St.) in April 2017 has closed their doors for good.

Leave a comment


If you are interested in enjoying a delicious breakfast or lunch downtown, you have a new option: Café Ana at 1201 Anacapa Street, the former home of Coffee Cat. The all-day California cuisine cafe, located across the street from the historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse in the city’s Arts District neighborhood, draws from global cafe culture to offer specialty coffee, a curated wine and a beer program. Café Ana gets its name from being located at the intersection of Anacapa and Anapamu streets.

In the evenings Café Ana currently offers light bites at the wine bar.  Co-owner Katherine Guzman tells me that Café Ana plans to add full-service dinner around New Years. In the spring Café Ana will expand outdoors and offer patio dining. “Chef Ryan Whyte-Buck has a ton of experience in a lot of different cuisines,” says Guzman. “He’s trained in French cuisine and most recently was doing some Middle Eastern stuff. He has also done Mediterranean, traveled a lot in Asia, and he has infused a lot of that in our menu.” Hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and the hours will expand when they launch dinner at the end of the year. Call 888-0262 or visit cafeanasb.com.

Leave a comment


Here is a list of area eateries that have opened in the last year:

  • November 2018: Khao Kaeng, 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
  • October 2018: Bettina, 1014 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Chicken in a Barrel BBQ, 5711 Calle Real, Goleta; Dart Coffee, 121 E. Yanonali St.; Monkeyshine Ice Cream, 121 E. Yanonali St.; ParadICE Hawaiian Shave Ice, 11 W. De La Guerra St.; Tyger Tyger, 121 E. Yanonali St.; Uniboil, 5599 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Vicenta’s, 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta
  • September 2018: Crush Tasting Room & Kitchen, 432 E. Haley St.; Hanamura, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; La Guerrerita, 5698 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Lighthouse Coffee, 1819 Cliff Dr.; Los Arroyos, 1992 Old Mission Dr., Solvang; Mezza Thyme, 20 East Cota St.; One Piece, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • August 2018: Due Lune Ristorante and Bar, 1 State St.; Night Lizard Brewing Company, 607 State St.; Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro – Montecito, 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; The Middle Child, 18 E. Cota St.
  • July 2018: Creamistry, 935 State St.; Louise’s Kitchen Table, 1210 Mission Dr., Solvang; McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, 120 State St.; Old Town Coffee, 5877 Hollister Ave., Goleta; The Monarch, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
  • June 2018: 212 Hot Pot, 6533 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Ca’Dario Veloce Pasta, 38 W. Victoria St.; Lilsey’s Wood-Fired Pizza, 2840 De la Vina St.; Locavore Kitchen, 21 West Victoria St.; Mizza, 1112 State St.; Mollie’s, 1218 State St.; Sunshine Cafe, 3514 State St.
  • May 2018: Roost, 1305 State St.; Starbucks inside Albertsons, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Vegan Green GO, 3613 State St.
  • April 2018: Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen, 35 State St.; Frankland’s Crab & Co., 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (now Chaplin’s Martini Bar); New Si Chuan Garden, 2840 De la Vina St.
  • March 2018: Bluewater Grill , 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; Choppa Ice Cream, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Tacos Pipeye, 217 N. Milpas St; Wildwood Café, 1130 State St. (now closed).
  • February 2018: Bibi Ji, 734 State St.; Grilled Cheese Truck, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (now closed); Islands, 3825 State St.; PokeCeviche, 313 Paseo Nuevo;
  • January 2018: Ca’ Dario Cucina Italiana, 250 Storke Rd., Goleta; Taco Tuyo, 724 E. Haley St.
  • December 2017: Smithy Kitchen + Bar, 7 E. Anapamu St.
  • November 2017: Ca’Dario Pizzeria Veloce, 38 W. Victoria St.; Hilton Garden Inn, 6878 Hollister Ave., Goleta; Miso Hungry, 134 E. Canon Perdido St.; The Deck, 6601 Hollister Ave., Goleta
Leave a comment


The San Ysidro Ranch, still recovering from the devastating floods last January, is beginning limited operations including overnight guests in the rustic cottages and dining at the Stonehouse restaurant. The Stonehouse is now open for private dining events and will be open for public holiday brunches on December 22, 23, 29, and 30. An announcement on their Facebook page offered an update: “We are thrilled to celebrate the holidays with old friends and new this December, and excited to share this sneak peek of the updated Wine Cellar venue! For more information and availability to reserve a private event, contact salesadmin@sanysidroranch.com” I am told that The Plow & Angel restaurant is still closed and that both restaurants will offer regular service starting in March. More information about the holiday brunches will be posted on social media.

1 Comment


Executive Chef Jason Paluska and The Lark are offering their first cooking class, perfect for the at-home chef, on Wednesday, December 19. The evening class features a step-by-step demonstration of a signature dishes adapted from The Lark’s cookbook “Around The Table: Recipes and Stories from The Lark in Santa Barbara,” including both food and wine-paired tastings. Chef Paluska personally guides the class with sage advice and professional techniques that will make any aspiring chef better. The class is held at The Lark’s sister property, Santa Barbara Wine Collective, from 6-7:30 p.m. $100 per guest includes food and wine-paired tastings and a signed cookbook, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Tickets can be purchased through Nightout.com or by calling The Lark to reserve at 284-0370.

Leave a comment


Reader Brendan let me know about a pie contest, now celebrating its 4th year, is being held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 9th, at Potek Winery, 406 E Haley Street. All proceeds of the event will go to the Santa Barbara Food Bank. Judging will take place from 3-3:30 p.m., followed by an award ceremony with plenty of merry making, pie eating, wine sipping, and celebrating the holiday season. Guests who do not have a pie to enter, but would like to join the festivities (and taste the spoils) are encouraged to donate $15 at the door. To enter your pies visit tinyurl.com/sbpiecontest

Leave a comment


Doug Margerum and Mitchell Sjerven have left Santa Barbara’s Wine Cask after nearly a decade of being the public faces for the iconic restaurant. Margerum’s family founded the restaurant in 1981, sold it in 2007, stepped back into the fold with the restaurant expertise of Sjerven (who also owns Bouchon on West Victoria Street) and the financial backing SIMA. The new owner is Anda Ashkar, formerly of SIMA, and now with AJE Holdings.

Leave a comment