HIGH SIERRA CLOSES, FLIGHTLINE PLANS UP IN THE AIR

Reader Christine passed the word that High Sierra Grill & Bar at 521 Firestone Road in Goleta (once the home of Elephant Bar) has close its doors. The owner was unable to successfully negotiate with the City of Santa Barbara, which owns the property, to transfer the lease to manager Warren Butler who was in the process of transforming the eatery into a new dining concept named Flightline.

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LA MICHOACANA OPENS ON MILPAS

In July 2018 I wrote that La Michoacána, a Mexican ice cream and popsicle place, is coming to 21 north Milpas Street, near Little Caesars and a Sherwin Williams paint store. Readers Ana and Theresa says the eatery is now open with lines out the door.

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EMBERMILL OPENS

Reader Brendan let me know that Chef Harold Welch has opened Embermill at 1031 State Street  (formerly Aldo’s and the Copper Coffee Pot) offering Caribbean Creole cuisine. Welch’s runs a similar restaurant in Solvang named Hummingbird. A wood-burning oven at Embermill is the centerpiece and visible from State Street.

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HOFFMAN BRAT HAUS UPDATE

John, Just got an email from Brat Haus management as a stein member that they are closing as soon as this weekend. Sad day for stein members!
– Sara

Hi John,
FYI. According to their Instagram page, Hoffman Brat Haus is closing this weekend?
– Karl

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AUGUST 15TH PROCLAIMED JULIA CHILD DAY

To celebrate the 107th year of Julia Child’s birth, the City of Santa Barbara has proclaimed August 15 as Julia Child Day in Santa Barbara. The proclamation recognizes celebrations across the nation in honor of Julia’s birthday, all in the spirit of showcasing her admiration, respect and need for all individuals to learn about and embrace her passion for the joys of cooking, eating and drinking well.

In conjunction with this declaration, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts has announced the launch of the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience (SBCE), a three-day event scheduled for March 13-15, 2020. The event, in partnership with the Foundation and inspired by Julia’s advocacy for sharing the education of food and drink, will be an epicurean celebration involving chefs, mixologists, restaurateurs and the local community. As a longtime resident and fan of Santa Barbara, Julia was passionate about teaching others about the culinary arts. The Santa Barbara Culinary Experience aims to gather the community and visitors to celebrate the bounty of Santa Barbara’s abundant resources found in local farms, ranches, vineyards and oceans. In celebrating Julia’s spirit, the SBCE will shine a broad-reaching light on Santa Barbara’s culinary, hospitality, tourism and larger artisan communities.

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THE SPACE FORMERLY KNOWN AS OUTBACK UPDATE

This just in from reader Evan:

There’s activity at the old Outback location [at 5690 Calle Real] in Goleta. Any idea what is going into that space?

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BUENA ONDA UPDATE

This just in from reader Syd:

“Hey John, wanted to let you know about Buena Onda empanadas at 724 East Haley Street is now open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11-8pm and they are having live music on Saturdays evenings around 7pm (open late that night) with a bigger menu that includes some salads, provoleta asada and specials. Worth checking out! – Syd”

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NEW MENU AT MOSTO

Tiziano Fioretti, owner of Mosto Wine Bar & Tapas (formerly Mosto Crudo) at  7 West Haley Street, tells me that they have introduced a new dinner menu. Mosto  recently added some new dishes such as homemade pastas, traditionally from Rome, where the chef is from. They have also added some entree style plates like filet Mignon, monkfish, and lobster.  Fioretti tells me that they changed the name to only Mosto since they are not serving crudo anymore. Mosto is open Tuesday-Wednesday 4-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 4-11 p.m., and offers a Sunday brunch.

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IL FUSTINO OPENS IN LA ARCADA

This just in from il Fustino, Oils & Vinegars:

Hey John,

Wanted to give you an update on our new second location downtown. As of August 1st, guests can now visit our tasting bar located at 1100 State at the La Arcada Plaza (inside Chocolats du Calibressan). Just steps away from our previous Public Market location, this space will feature a full tasting bar of our California olive oils, balsamic, and vinegar, as well as shelves stocked with local specialty foods. We will be fully complemented by Calibressan’s display case of 36+ unique chocolate offerings and an espresso bean and gelato bar. We are beyond excited to share this space with Jean-Michel and Jill-Marie Carre and look forward to providing complimentary tastings and serving the downtown neighborhood.

Thanks!

Brian Gloria
il Fustino, Oils & Vinegars

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FOXTAIL KITCHEN UPDATE

I recently ran into Falah Maayah, owner of Foxtail Kitchen and Bar at 14 East Cota Street, who tells me that he has remodeled the patio and now offers Turkish hookah all day. I am also told that Foxtail is now doing $3 Falafel Tacos every Tuesday from 3-7 p.m., during the Farmers Market. The tacos include hummus, pickled cabbage, pico de gallo, and tahini/habibu sauce.

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MESA GIOVANNI’S CLOSES

Giovanni’s at 1905 Cliff Drive on the Mesa, which opened in March 2009,  has closed. Rumor has it that the space is being taken over by the owners of neighboring Mesa Burger and will be turned into a beer tap room with food. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

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RESTAURANT OPENINGS

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

  • July 2019: Apna Indian Cuisine, 718 State St.; Challwa Peruvian Cuisine, 724 East Haley St.; Corazon Cocina, 214 State St.; La Cocina, 7 E. Anapamu St.
  • June 2019: Locale, 38 W. Victoria St.
  • May 2019: Caffe Luxxe, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Caje, 416 E. Haley St.; Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, 1936 State St.; Merci Montecito, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Mesa Burger, 7010 Marketplace Dr., Goleta
  • April 2019: Alito’s, 509 State St.; Caruso’s at Miramar, 1759 South Jameson Ln., Montecito; Cubaneo, 418 State St.; Hanamura Cantonese Dim Sum, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista; Malibu Farm at Miramar, 1759 S. Jameson Ln, Montecito; Sushi|Bar at Montecito Inn, 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
  • March 2019: The Little Things Bakery, 2018 Cliff Dr.
  • February 2019: Bossie’s Kitchen, 901 N. Milpas St.; Mala Town, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • January 2019: California Tacos and Taproom, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Choppa Poke, 716 State St.; Masala Spice, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta; Soul Cal Smokehouse, 38 W. Victoria St.; Sup and Jus, 7060 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • December 2018: Cafe Ana, 1201 Anacapa St.; Jersey Mike’s Subs, 1054 Casitas Pass Rd., Carpinteria; Online Pizza Company, 5756 Calle Real, Goleta; Rockfire Grill, 6583 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista
  • November 2018: Buena Onda, 1131 State St.; Khao Kaeng, 1187 Coast Village Rd. Ste. 9, 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. Unit A; 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. Ste. C; Los Arroyos, 1992 Old Mission Dr., Solvang; Mezza Thyme, 20 E. 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, 1187 Coast Village Rd. Ste. 7, 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
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ROOFTOP “SUNDAY SESSIONS” AT HOTEL CALIFORNIAN

The new Hotel Californian at 36 State Street has what might be the best view in Santa Barbara at their rooftop overlooking Stearns Wharf. Fortunately it is not just for guests staying at the seaside resort. They have a new offering for the general public called Sunday Sessions running for the next 6 weeks. Hotel Californian has setup a lounge and DJ with a $20 cover so you can enjoy a view from the rooftop starting at 4pm. Food and drinks are available for purchase. The amazing view of the Santa Barbara waterfront from the towering Hotel Californian is a must-see. The entrance is just to the left of Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen.

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BLACK SHEEP INTRODUCES SUNDAY SUPPER

The Restaurant Guy and family ended our Fiesta celebration last weekend at Black Sheep restaurant, 26 East Ortega Street. Global in scope, the Black Sheep menu features Latin, Asian, and Italian flavors but relies heavily on classic French technique. Chef Robert Perez has introduced a brand-new prix fixe “Sunday Supper” for $35. Every week will be something different and the menu will also change seasonally.

We tried the Sunday Supper and the food and service was fantastic, as usual. My wife and I chose different offerings so, between the two of us, we could sample most of the menu. Our first courses included Roasted Kobocha Potage (accented with apple, ginger, fenugreek, and turmeric) and Heirloom Tomatoes (with gorgonzola walnut “pate,” frisee). The second courses were Seafood Risotto (Maine diver scallops, gambas, salmon, sweet corn) and Coq au Vin (chicken braised in red wine with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and pearl onion). Perez also let us try a vegan option, Feuille de Brick, which has a thin, flaky pastry crust. It is the size of a burrito and includes roasted vegetables and tofu. Everything is cooked separately then they wrap it and bake it in the oven. It is probably best described as a described vegetarian Chimichanga. We finished Sunday Supper with a delicious dessert including Tiramisu (classic tiramisu, mascarpone and espesso-dunked lady fingers) and Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse (orange segments, coco nib brittle and vanilla bean sauce).

Sunday Supper at Black Sheep opens at 5 p.m. The menu will be posted online each week at blacksheepsb.com. Check it out.

SUNDAY SENSATION: The vegetarian Feuille de Brick is one of several menu items we tried at Black Sheep restaurant’s new Sunday Supper.

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REINTERPRETING THE TRADITIONAL PIZZERIA

Oppi’z Bistro and Natural Pizza has opened at 1026 State Street, the former home of Palazzio.  Oppi’z is a modern, non-conventional healthy food concept rooted in the tradition of the Italian cuisine and the “Slow-food” manifesto. Motivated by his love for simple but genuine and tasty foods that characterize the Italian cuisine, namesake owner Guido Oppizzi has reinterpreted the traditional concept of the pizzeria by designing a unique menu with a variety of gourmet pizzas and a selection of light and healthy dishes.

In the back of the restaurant is a display where you can see their dough naturally raising in the glass cabinet at controlled humidity. You can see both our regular and our charcoal infused dough. “Our gourmet pizzas are prepared with a secret recipe of naturally slow-fermented dough, combining high quality, farm-fresh and local ingredients,” said Oppizzi. “Our signature dishes include rice in a bottle, savory cheesecakes, fresh tartares, and many other healthy vegetarian and gluten conscious options.”

Pizza menu highlights include Oppi’z (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, cherry tomato confit, marinated anchovies, basil sauce, $18), Black Margherita (homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, fresh basil served on black dough crust, $16), Farmers Market (homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, mixed seasonal vegetables, $18), Pere e Zola (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, gorgonzola, julienned pears, walnuts, $23), Feta (Mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, feta, cherry tomatoes, roasted almonds, fresh basil, $19),  Cinque Terre (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, pecorino cheese, Taggiasche olives, pine nuts, Genoa pesto drizzle, $22),  Radicchio (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, pecorino cheese red radicchio, Amaretti cookie crumbles, honey, $23), and the Mediterraneo (mozzarella, stracciatella cheese, shaved Grana Padano, Taggiasche olives, sun-dried tomatoes, honey, olio al peperoncino, $23).

Oppi’z is open daily 11:30 am – 9:30 pm. Call 770-7390 or visit oppiz-sb.com.

OPPI’Z OPENS: Owner Guido Oppizzi and staff at the new Oppi’z Bistro and Natural Pizza on State Street. Courtesy photos.

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THE PROJECT OPENS ON STATE

Following up on a story I wrote on November 5, 2017, The Project has opened at 214 State Street in the former home of  Union Ale. The Project is an equal partnership between Corazon Cocina, which has a location in the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria Street, and Captain Fatty’s brewery whose flagship outlet is at 6489 Calle Real #D in Goleta.

Corazon Cocina

Corazon Cocina General Manager Kassia Walker tells me that the menu at The Project has some classic items from the one at the Public Market, but the majority is a new, fresh take by Chef Ramon Velazquez. Unlike a nearby pavilion, which does not allow you to bring your alcoholic beverage to other businesses under the same roof, The Project’s liquor license covers the whole building.

Chef Ramon Velazquez’s cooking is best described by those who know it best as highly innovative yet intimately and deliciously familiar. Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, his love of food was nurtured by his mother and grandmother, who taught him how to make traditional Mexican dishes and create meals inspired by the local markets. Velazquez immigrated to the United States in 1990 and began working in restaurants in Santa Barbara, most notably as a sushi chef for the beloved restaurant Arigato for almost nine years and then moving on to the role of executive chef for Cielito.

Captain Fatty’s

I am told that the new Santa Barbara Captain Fatty’s is a little different than the Goleta location in that The Project home is not just beer but also offers cider,  wine, and guest taps. Current guest taps are provided by The Apiary and SB Cider. Captain Fatty’s Craft Brewery began its voyage into the the beer scene when friends Jon “Captain” Wadell and Bryan “Fatty” Anderson began home-brewing beer a decade ago. Friend Preston Angell soon joined the team and they set sail to The Goodland in October 2014. They have since remodeled and expanded to a 15-barrel system with 120 barrels of fermentation capacity. Captain Fatty’s at The Project is their second location.

Hours

Hours at The project are Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. (drink last call is 11 p.m., kitchen closes at 10 p.m.). Walker says The Project will be open until 1 a.m. in the coming months, and that a late night menu is coming. The Project also plans to open at 7:30 a.m. in the near future and I am told that breakfast offerings are in the works, with coffee provided by Dune.

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CARIBBEAN ON STATE

Chef Harold Welch will soon be opening Embermill at 1031 State Street  (formerly Aldo’s and the Copper Coffee Pot) offering Caribbean Creole cuisine. Welch’s runs a similar restaurant in Solvang named Hummingbird. I am told that a wood-burning oven at Embermill will be the centerpiece and visible from State Street.

Welch operated Harold’s Caribbean Kitchen on De la Vina Street in 2015 and featured popups around town. Originally from Barbados, West Indies, Welch has come “through the ranks” in the restaurant industry. In Santa Barbara, he has worked at the San Ysidro Ranch, Citronelle, and La Cumbre Country Club. Welch always wanted to offer healthy food to fellow diabetics, and in 2005, he created his business, World Cuisine Express, for that purpose.

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PERUVIAN ON HALEY

Reader CB let me know that a Peruvian restaurant named Challwa has opened at 724 East Haley Street. I am told it is only open on Sundays from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Challwa sahres space with Argentinian restaurant Buena Onda. Recent specials include Lomo Saltado $20 (Peruvian style stir fried beef tenderloin, tomatoes, red onions, rice, french fries), Papa Reyena $12 (stuffed potato with ground beef and veggies, rice, rocoto cream), and Vegetarian Mushroom Ceviche $10. Items on the main menu range in price from $7-$15. I am told that they have no liquor license but you can BYO wine/beer.

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M. SPECIAL COMING TO SB

After 12 years in business, Tonic Nightclub at 634 State Street closed in January 2018 and the space has been vacant ever since. Reliable sources tell me that M. Special brewery will be the next tenant of the 6,500-square-foot venue. I called M. Special and asked about the rumor and was told that there is no projected opening date and that remodeling is underway. M. Special opened a taproom at 6860 Cortona Drive #C in Goleta in September 2015 and was an immediate hit.

In addition to the popular taproom in The Goodland, ​M. Special is distributed between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo including SB and Ventura counties. You can find their bottles at most major retailers and independent markets such as Trader Joes, Von’s, Albertson’s, Whole Foods, Bev Mo, Lazy Acres, and most craft-centric bottle shops. M. Special is also on tap at various bars and restaurants up and down the coast of Central and Southern CA.

M. Special continues the brewery phenomenon across the South Coast. This year alone has seen the arrival of Captain Fatty’s on State Street, Shalhoob Beer Company, Modern Times Beer, Institution Ale, and more.

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OPPI’Z BISTRO OPENS

After the legendary Palazzio restaurant at 1026 State Street closed in October 2015 I spread the word that Oppi’z Bistro was planning to give the space a try. Here is an update:

Reader Steve H.:

“Oppi’z opens TODAY, Thursday, at 5pm. At long last, the old Palazzio location will again come to life.”

Reader Annie:

“Oppi’z (on State) says they are opening tonight (7/18) at 5pm.  Their regular hours will be from 11:30 to 9.  I didn’t ask what days they are closed”

Courtesy photo

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CORAZON AND THE CAPT’N OPEN ON STATE

On November 5, 2017, I wrote a story that Corazon Cocina and Captain Fatty’s are coming to 214 State Street, the former site of Rebar Coffee, Entrada Market, American Ale 02, Tri-tip Co., Yankee Noodle and Union Ale. Here is an update from reader McKennen:

“Corazon Cocina in the public market (fronted by Chef Ramon) opened their new location at 214 State St. with Captain Fatty’s called “The Project.” The first service (friends/family soft opening) was last night with a 5 course tasting menu for $35 dollars and was phenomenal. Favorite item was the Ensenada 2.0 a Baja style fish taco with black squid ink. One liquor license for entire property, so unlike Lama Dog/Topa/Nook, you can in fact bring cocktails from the front bar to meet your beer friends in the back in the taproom!”

and from reader Eric:

“Drove past 214 State St. and noticed that Corazon Cocina (currently in the SBPM) appears to have opened a location there. I saw a large neon sign inside the business. This is the former location of Rebar Coffee and American Ale, across the street from the Amtrak station.”

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RESTAURANT SPACE BEING DEVELOPED ON ANACAPA

After enjoying dinner at the FisHouse restaurant I noticed a sign across the way at 11 Anacapa Street, announcing the development of a space for a restaurant. This is what the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review had to say about it last May:

“Proposal for a commercial remodel of an existing structure. Project consists of remodeling and adaptive re-use of the existing 11,201 net square foot warehouse building located at 11 Anacapa Street. The project includes conversion of 2,500 net square feet to a restaurant use with 1,834 square-foot outdoor dining patio, conversion of 1,291 net square feet to retail, demolition of 1,310 net square feet of second floor area, a parking lot reconfiguration and accessibility improvements, and a new trash enclosure and transformer.”

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EMBERMILL COMING TO STATE STREET

Reader Annie sent me a photo of a new sign for Embermill that has appeared at 1031 State Street, the former home of Aldo’s and The Copper Coffee Pot. I Googled “Embermill Santa Barbara” and there is very little information available but I did notice that they filed an application to trademark their name in the restaurant category.

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MESA GIOVANNI’S TO CLOSE

Giovanni’s at 1905 Cliff Drive on the Mesa, which opened in March 2009, is closing. I called the restaurant and they confirmed that the business is set to shut down at the end of the month. A rumor that flew past my binoculars up here in the Food News Control Tower is that the soon-to-be-former Giovanni’s space is being taken over by the owners of neighboring Mesa Burger and will be turned into a beer tap room with food. As always, this rumor might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

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FIESTA PATIO PARTY AT BIBI JI

With Old Spanish Days Santa Barbara – Fiesta rapidly approaching, Bibi Ji is getting all of the final touches together for their Fiesta Patio Party on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3.  From 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. each day, the private outdoor back patio will be a good spot to enjoy the celebration with the local Michelada using Santa Barbara’s own Pacific Pickle Works Michelada Shrub and Calidad Beer.

The festivity is exclusively for those 21+ with a $20 cover charge – which includes a Michelada or two 12oz beers. Additional beverages available: Michelada ($12), 12 oz Calidad Beer ($8), Bucket of 6 (12oz) Calidad Beers ($35), and Hoxie Wine Spritzers ($8).

The restaurant’s indoor seating and front veranda will open on Friday and Saturday at 5pm for regular dinner service. For large groups, call Bibi Ji at (805) 560- 6845 to reserve a spot

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BREAD BAKING CLASS AT BETTINA

Husband and wife team Brendan Smith and Rachel Greenspan of Bettina, their new restaurant located in the Montecito Country Mart, 1014 Coast Village Road, announced sourdough bread baking class on Sunday, July 21, 2019.

Since opening in October of 2018, Bettina has become a known for their  breads. Now guests can master the fundamentals and science of baking sourdough bread as Head Baker/Owner Brendan Smith shares his secrets. Brendan’s hands-on class teaches the key points of bread baking: hand mixing and folding, shaping, and proofing. He showcases multiple methods of baking bread, observing what a fully proofed loaf looks like before it goes into the oven. Guests also discover the basics of keeping a healthy sourdough starter, including a complete feeding schedule. Everyone receives a sample of a sourdough starter and recipe for Bettina’s sourdough bread. Coffee, a light lunch and wine are included.

Pricing for this event is $125 and includes coffee, wine and light lunch. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets are required and can be purchased by visiting tinyurl.com/bettinabread. Call 770-2383

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LITTLE DOOR TEMPORARILY CLOSED

Reader Jennifer spotted this sign at The Little Door, 129 East Anapamu Street:

“Dear Patrons, Unfortunately we’ve closed  our doors temporarily for improvements. Good news is we will be back better than ever. Please keep in touch with us for updates. reservations@thelittledoorsb.com. Thank you!”

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PRE-FIESTA TAMALE MAKING CLASS

Local Chef Richard Lambert teaches the techniques he uses to make his award-winning tamales and salsas. This 90-minute class is set for Sunday, July 21st, from 1:00 PM
to 2:30 PM. The classroom is located at 125 Harbor Way, next to the Maritime Museum at the breakwater in Santa Barbara. The class, Secrets of a Tamale Chef , is designed for home cooks who want to make tamales that are fun to eat. Lambert says, “Our cooking methods originated in Mexico City and are very traditional.” He adds, “One of the secrets I share during the class is the special technique we use to make our tamales extra plump and moist.”

Each attendee will be served a variety of tamale samples and be shown how each flavor can be created at home. A tropical fruit escamocha completes the experience. Additional class handout materials include Chef Lambert’s recipes, a listing of ingredient sources, plus tamale reheating and storage guidelines. Free cookbook: Attendees also receive the ebook version of Chef Lambert’s cookbook, “Preheat to 350 Degrees”, featuring recipes along with personal anecdotes gathered over his lifetime. Tuition is $45 per person and class attendance is limited to 35 participants. Enroll online at
tinyurl.com/0721class.

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INDIAN RESTAURANT “APNA” OPENS ON STATE

Apna Indian Cuisine has opened at 718 State Street, the former home of Goa Taco (which closed in May), Gandolfo’s New York Delicatessen, Killer B BBQ and Bar, Kozmo’s, California Crisp, and Fat Burger. Some of Goa Taco’s popular dishes live on at Apna including the Paratha tacos, with pesto, pork belly, and tofu. Apna owners/brothers Ninder Josan and Kuldeep Singh operate two other restaurants in California: Tantra in Oak Park and Saffron in Newbury Park. Chef Josan specializes in Indian fusion creates and cooks all the Indian dishes. Seafood will be a future addition to the menu. Thanks to readers Brendan and Cris for the tips!

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FRENCH FESTIVAL RETURNS TO OAK PARK

The 31st annual Santa Barbara French Festival returns to Oak Park, 300 West Alamar Avenue on July 13 and 14 to celebrate Bastille Day and French cultural history. Admission is free and the festival is a non-smoking event. The Santa Barbara French Festival is a community event that draws people from corners near and far. It’s a Dance Festival, a Music Festival, an Arts & Crafts Festival and, of course, a Food Festival. This community fun supports Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories, two wonderful non-profit organizations fostering the arts in Santa Barbara.

For two days Santa Barbara celebrates its nickname “the American Riviera,” as the French Festivities transform Oak Park. Our little French village comes to life at 11:00 am when the entertainment kicks off on three different stages and continues non-stop until 7:00 pm both days. The stages will be filled with dance and music from more than 30 different acts including performances, audience participation and instruction. The favorites return every year: Tango, Django Reinhardt tributes, and the Femme Fatales Drag Revue, the Can-Can and French Polynesian dancers, and West African Belly dancing. Fans also return every year to peruse over 60 booths that offer everything from delicious French food and wine, phenomenal art and photography, to French conversation, Pétanque, face painting, French tablecloths, Fairy wings, and the official French Festival booth that sells T-shirts and Berets.

History

Santa Barbara has a history of outdoor festivals celebrating various cultures.  Through the years, in addition to Old Spanish days there has been the Greek Festival, the Italian Festival, Jamaican Festival and so many more.  In 1988 long time Santa Barbara resident and Francophile, Steve Hogerman, turned his passion for all things French into the Santa Barbara French Festival.

Incorporating food, entertainment, arts and French themed vendors the Festival grew to be one of the largest of the Santa Barbara cultural festivals.  Bringing the Festival to life each year is a huge undertaking and after helming the ship as largely a solo operation for more than 20 years Steve began looking for someone to take over and carry on the legacy of this great community event.

In 2011 the Festival actually had a one year hiatus, but in 2012 Center Stage and Speaking of Stories stepped forward to bring it back.  The two local non-profits bring their theatrical and performance knowledge to the operation and things have been going strong ever since.  I’m told that you can still see Steve Hogerman each year hosting the performances on the Moulin Rouge stage and manning his Journeys to Hidden Provence Booth.

All proceeds from the Festival now support Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories, forming a strong foundation for their annual fundraising efforts.

Photos by Steve Sherrill

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