COCKTAIL CONTEST

The third annual “Official Drink of Santa Barbara” Cocktail Contest will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thurs., June 20 at El Paseo Mexican Restaurant, 813 Anacapa St. Visit Santa Barbara is the host of the contest and The Santa Barbara Independent is the presenting sponsor. Additional sponsors include Bright Event Rentals, Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Sunstone Vineyard and Winery, and El Paseo Mexican Restaurant.

Last year’s craft cocktail contest winner was “Biltmore Fuerte” (“Biltmore Strong” in Spanish) by Ty Lounge at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, which used Cutler’s Artisan Spirits’ 33 Bourbon as a base spirit and Super Bee Rescue “Thomas Wildfire Honey.”

Local restaurants, bars and lounges were invited to develop a new, unique signature mixed drink that celebrates the distinctive attributes of Santa  Barbara. The creation had to include a spirit from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, a locally owned, small-scale craft distillery located in the Funk Zone. Contestants were encouraged to use at least one local ingredient and take inspiration from Santa Barbara’s dramatic landscapes, architectural landmarks and culinary scene.

The five finalists that came out on top include:

  • “The Glenn Annie” by Angel Oak at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
  • “Lucky Me” by Convivo at Santa Barbara Inn
  • “Eucalyptus Lane” by Finch & Fork at the Kimpton Canary Hotel
  • “The Queen’s Rose” by Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen
  • “Sticky Fingers” by The Lark

Finalists will participate in the live competition emceed by Gabe Saglie, television personality and senior editor for Travelzoo. Judges will include senior reporter for KEYT John Palminteri, freelance writer and editor Hana-Lee Sedgwick, senior editor for the Santa Barbara Independent Matt Kettmann, and “2018 Official Drink of Santa Barbara” winner and bartender at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara Tyler Ondatje.

Tickets for the competition are on sale to the public now. Tickets are $25 and include one glass of wine, appetizers and a sample of the five finalists’ entries (while supplies last). Event-goers must be 21 or older to attend. Sunstone Winery will be pouring wine. Beer, wine and cocktails also will be available for purchase at the bar. Tickets are limited. For more information, visit SBIndyTickets.com.

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JEANNINE’S OPENING IN JULY

A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the future home of Jeannine’s Bakery, coming to Hollister Village Plaza at 7060 Hollister Avenue in Goleta, a space previously occupied by Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. I was told they hope to open in July.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Are you ever going to talk about the absolutely DISMAL results of the S.B. food scene in the recently published Michelin guide ? The truth is that there are simply NO fine dining available in S.B. There are a number of “eateries” where you can get food to keep you fed when you do not feel like cooking at home, but NO place where you really WANT to go out to to thoroughly ENJOY yourself .. So why aren’t you commenting on this ?

– Dugan

I try to stick to news and leave my opinion out of it which nobody cares about anyway. That being said, I wouldn’t say the 2019 Michelin Guide results (in which no local restaurant received a star) is a smoking gun for an unfavorable local dining scene. It could also be that Michelin didn’t spend a lot of time and money here (they don’t eat for free) and just added Santa Barbara as a covered region to sell more guides. – The Restaurant Guy

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LOCAL EATERIES INCLUDED IN CALIFORNIA MICHELIN GUIDE

Readers Dugan and Annie tell me that 2019 Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide is out. I’m hearing that the book’s “Bib Gourmand” designation is reserved for those restaurants “that serve high-quality meals which include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less” and that Santa Barbara’s Mesa Verde and Sama Sama Kitchen were included. I’ll put out an update if more restaurants are announced in other categories.

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VONS KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN COMING TO ISLA VISTA

Reader Don let me know that the Daily Nexus newspaper has announced that 2019 UC Santa Barbara alumna Sophie Xu has purchased Sweet Alley at 955 Embarcadero del Mar in Isla Vista and plans to transform it into Vons Chicken, a San Jose-based franchise that serves over 10 different renditions of authentic Korean fried chicken. With renovations set to begin next month, Xu plans to completely change the interior and is considering obtaining a light liquor license. The Nexus reports that in addition to regular seating Xu plans to make Vons Chicken “grab and go” where a customer  they can be on their way in as little as 10 minutes.

Is Alberstons Chicken coming next?

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SWEET ALLEY CLOSES

On May 15, the Sweet Alley dessert destination at  955 Embarcadero del Mar in Isla Vista closed its doors. The business opened in February 2009.

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TASTE AND SOUNDS OF OLD TOWN GOLETA

The Taste and Sounds of Old Town descends happily upon Old Town Goleta on Saturday June 8th. Gates open at 1 p.m., and the event starts with the sounds of Soul Machine playing their unique old school sounds of funk, dance and R&B in the Beer / Wine / Garden at 5901 Hollister Avenue.

Patrons will receive a wristband entitling them to taste at 16 destinations along the Taste Route, from historic to modern. The Habit in Old Town is the second for the chain, which launched in Isla Vista in 1969. The Old Town Habit still serves up the Original Chili Burger, the only Habit in the country to do so. Iconic Pepe’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant will serve up 3 amazing dishes. Asian stars Gimeal and Pattaya Thai are not to be missed. New kids on the block the Old Town Coffee Company are ready to show patrons why they’ve got such a strong following. The variety of tastes on offer for this event is both broad and delicious.

“One of the delights of the Taste is to try restaurants you didn’t even know were there. These are the authentic longtime mom-and-pop eateries with amazing food that only locals know about,” said Goleta Old Town Community Association Board member Phebe Mansur.

Goleta Old Town Community Association (GOTCA) is a local community non-profit that puts on the Taste event. They also host a Halloween Candy Crawl, area clean-ups, and the hugely attended Goleta Christmas Parade. They recently won national recognition in the Neighborhoods USA “Neighborhood of the Year” competition.  “People don’t know just how much life there is in Old Town. We have a lot to offer! We’re excited for people to come out and visit Old Town for a unique experience, and to discover new favorite haunts,” said GOTCA board member Grace Wallace.

This won’t be one of those events where you get a nibble and a sliver of radish as a Taste. “People need to approach this like Thanksgiving. The Taste is a restaurant crawl with over 20 unique and flavorful tastes on offer – come ready to eat!” says GOTCA board member Mark Navarro. “We’ve warned the judges to starve themselves in advance of the event: Mayor Paula Perotte, Councilmember Kyle Richards, County Supervisor Gregg Hart, and Gary from the Gary and Catherine Morning Show on KLITE 101.7 FM. Expect these restaurants to try to win you over at the door, and impress you with their cuisine. Some intend to stuff you with so much great food that you can’t make it to another Taste destination, which is not a bad strategy.” In addition to formal judging, all Taste patrons get to select their favorites for the People’s Choice awards: Best of the Taste in flavor, presentation, and hospitality.

The Taste also hosts a Beer / Wine / Cider garden at Prestigious Auto where event patrons can try local brews from hometown establishments Santa Barbara Cider Company and M Special. Windrun Wines is pouring a locally crafted Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, from very limited stock. Goleta Winery SAMsARA’s deliciously crisp wines will also be poured. Your first drink is included with your Taste ticket.

The Taste is a community fundraiser for the Goleta Christmas Parade. Tickets are on sale now at goletataste.com. Advance tickets receive a $5 discount. Members of Goleta Old Town Community Association also receive a $5 discount.

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PASCUCCI CELEBRATES SILVER ANNIVERSARY

In the early 1990’s, while I was busy building a web site that lead to the birth of this restaurant column, proprietor Laura Knight was busy starting an actual restaurant, Pascucci at 729 State Street. Her eatery was a smash hit and continues to be popular today, 25 years later. Knight send me a message about her plans for the milestone:

Hi John,

I wanted to let you know, Pascucci is celebrating our 25 year anniversary this month! From Thursday June 6th, for one week, we will be offering 25% off of our top selling 25 items on the menu!. Additionally,  for 25 days, through the end of June we will be celebrating HAPPY MONTH. Our Happy Hour prices are normally weekdays 3-6 p.m., but they will be offered all day &  night, every day of the week,  for 25 days. We would like to thank all of our loyal customers that have been  dining at Pascucci for 25 years. We really appreciate them.

Laura Knight

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SUMMERLAND RUSTY’S SHOWING SIGNS OF LIFE

In April of 2015 I posted tips from readers Foodie Dan and Meghan that Rusty’s Pizza had acquired the property at 2315 Lillie Avenue in Summerland, the long time home of Stacky’s Seaside. In June 2017 reader Ocean let me know that Stacky’s had closed its door permanently. Exactly two years then went by without so much as a peep from me about Summerland until I received a message this week from reader Tom: “Hi – love reading your column!  I saw today construction workers at the old Stacky’s in Summerland.  Lots of activity going on and first sign of life there in over a year.” Growing up in Montecito I frequented Stacky’s and was sad to see it go, but I also have been a life long fan of Rusty’s Pizza so, for me, this story will have a happy ending.

Stacky’s Seaside in 2005

The Restaurant Guy (standing) celebrating his birthday at Rusty’s Pizza on Carrillo Street in 1977.

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PASTA VELOCE CLOSES

Ca’Dario Pasta Veloce, a small eatery inside the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria Street has closed after a year in business. A sister restaurant in the market, Ca’Dario Pizza Veloce, continues to be open for business as usual.

Ca’Dario Pasta Veloce

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GOA TACO CLOSES

Readers Cris and Andy tell me that Goa Taco, which opened at 718 State Street in June 2017, has closed its doors. Andy says there is a “Public notice of application for ownership change” sign in the window with “transfer to new owner” called out. I’m told that the interior is in some disarray and the poles marking the outdoor seating area have been broken and not repaired.  Andy says the new owner is listed as “Jagga Daku LLC” with a notice date of May 25th.

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MESA BURGER OPENS IN THE GOODLAND

Camino Real Marketplace has a new tenant. The popular Mesa Burger restaurant has opened a second location at 7010 Marketplace Drive in Goleta where Kahuna Grill called home for 17 years until they closed last February. Owners Chris Chiarappa, award-winning chef Cat Cora, and General Manager Pixie Saavedra opened the flagship Mesa Burger location at 315 Meigs Road in December 2016. Saavedra tells me that both restaurants have the same exact menu but may have a couple of different beers on tap.

Mesa Burger offers gourmet, handcrafted burgers, farm fresh salads, locally-brewed beers, Santa Barbara County wine, and ice cream in scoops, hand-spun shakes, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. their produce is sustainably grown, ingredients are conscientiously sourced, and sauces are made fresh daily. The beef burgers are fresh, locally produced USDA Choice custom blend, served on a brioche bun. Mesa Burger also has a selection of turkey, chicken, fish, vegan / vegetarian burgers.

Saavedra says that one of the most popular items on the menu is the Montecito Burger (glazed mushrooms/onion ring/arugula/grilled onions/goat cheese/truffle aioli), second only to Mesa, their classic burger, which most people modify. Other burgers include Downtown (grilled onions/fried jalapeños/blue cheese/sriracha yogurt sauce), Mission (pico de gallo/butter lettuce/pickled jalapeño/tortilla strips/pepper jack cheese/black bean aioli), Leadbetter (sliced red onions/grilled pineapple salsa/crushed avocado/lettuce/ginger teriyaki), Shoreline (veggie patty/pickled red onions/spinach/salsa verde/red pepper hummus), Hope Ranch (grilled chicken breast/bacon/lettuce/tomato/swiss cheese/pesto aioli), Funk Zone (fried egg/bacon/roasted tomato/cheddar cheese/bbq sauce), Goodland (sliced bratwurst/crispy onion strings/bacon/cheddar cheese/smoked bbq sauce), and Harbor (daily catch fish/coleslaw/tomato-olive spread/mesa burger sauce) which range from $10-$14. All burgers include fries. Visit mesaburger.com.

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RESTAURANT CLOSINGS

Here is a list of area eateries that have closed in the last year: Every few months I publish a list of restaurant openings, closings, and a list of restaurants that are coming soon.

  • May 2019: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 1209 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (changing to a restaurant); Senior Frogs,  892 Linden Ave., Carpinteria; Smithy, 7 E. Anapamu St. (changing to a tapas place)
  • April 2019: Borrello’s Pizza and Pastaria, 3807 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria (I’m told it will reopen under new ownership with same restaurant name); Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, 6530 Seville Rd., Isla Vista (moved to 1936 State St.); Jersey Mike’s Subs, 1213 State St.; Red Pepper Restaurant, 282 Orange Ave., Goleta
  • March 2019: Green Star Coffee, 38 W. Victoria St.; La Bella Rosa Bakery, 7127 Hollister Ave., Goleta
  • February 2019: Kahuna Grill, 7010 Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta (now Mesa Burger)
  • January 2019:  Giovanni’s, 1187 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (changing to Ca’ Dario); Rodney’s Grill at the Hilton, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
  • December 2018: Big Eye Raw Bar, 38 W. Victoria St.; Hanamura, 901 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista (now Hanamura Cantonese Dim Sum); One Piece, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Mala Town); Pacific Crepes, 705 Anacapa St.; Spoon, 1222 State St. (changing to Mangione’s Italian Ice); Your Cake Baker by Wayne Kjar, 2018 Cliff Dr. (now The Little Things Bakery)
  • November 2018: Sunny Korean Restaurant, 532 State St. (now Mosto Crudo); Wildwood Kitchen, 412 E. Haley St.
  • October 2018: Basil’s, 608 Anacapa St.; Burger Barn, 3621 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez; Santa Barbara Brewing Company, 501 State St. (now 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. (now Bossie’s Kitchen); Pinkberry, 742 State St.; Sly’s, 686 Linden Ave., Carpinteria (changing to Little Dom’s Seafood); Urkeb, 413 State St.; Vons in La Cumbre Plaza, 3855 State St. (changing to Bristol Farms)
  • August 2018: El Pollo Loco, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta (now Masala Spice); Flagstone Pantry, 38 W. Victoria St.; Frankland’s Crab & Co., 1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (now Sushi|Bar); HiWi Tropical Fusion, 6555 Pardall Rd., Isla Vista (now Mala Town); Locavore Kitchen, 21 W. Victoria St.; Miso Hungry, 134 E. Canon Perdido St. (changing to a French bakery); Paesano’s Pizzeria, 1429 San Andres St.; Trattoria Mollie, 1250 Coast Village Rd., Montecito (moved to 1218 State St.)
  • July 2018: Taco Tuyo, 724 E. Haley St. (now Buena Onda)
  • June 2018: Cadiz, 509 State St. (now Alito’s); Grilled Cheese Truck, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista (now 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 (now Rockfire Grill); 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. (now Ike’s Love & Sandwiches); Wildwood Café, 1130 State St.

Goleta dining institution Red Pepper closed after decades in business

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DAVE’S DRIP HOUSE COMING TO GOLETA

Reader Don noticed a Coming Soon photo on Instagram for Dave’s Drip House, an ice cream and cereal bar coming to 193 South Turnpike Road near Vons. The new dessert destination will be brought to you by the same friendly guy behind Dave’s Dogs, across the parking lot at 149 South Turnpike Road.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

The Santa Barbara Independent has in Legal Notices for “Abandonment of Fictitious Business Name” the name of Moby Dick Restaurant. What’s Up?
– Reader Des

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CAJÉ OPENS ON HALEY

Reader Eric says he walked by 416 East Haley Street recently and noticed that Cajé has opened. The coffee shop has another location in Isla Vista that opened in January 2009. The Daily Nexxus writes that the Isla Vista location offers bagels, acai bowls and smoothies while the new downtown food menu right now consists of a tortilla española and an avocado toast. I’m told that downtown Cajé has formed a collaboration with Sama Sama Kitchen, an Asian fusion restaurant, to diversify Cajé’s menu.

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SANTA YNEZ UPDATE

Reader SY Foodie says that the people behind SY Kitchen are taking over the space on Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez, formerly occupied by Ranch and Reata Road House, and will develop a second concept. SY Kitchen will continue in its current location.

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CACHUMA LAKE CAFE READY TO SET SAIL

On April 8, 2016 I wrote that Santa Barbara County Parks department is getting set to open a new cafe near the boat marina at Cachuma Lake. Then a few years went by – we had a Presidential election, a horrific fire, a tragic flood – and the space continued to be empty. Now I am hearing from reader Steve H. that the place is partially open now and will fully open in a few months but there are some new details: it will be brought to you by Craig Lingham whose family operated the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area snack shack and marina for years, along with business partner Dustin Farnum. Lingham is a chef and partner at Roost restaurant on State Street. I am told that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors newly approved their concession agreement and that the eatery will offer Cachuma burger, breakfast burritos, and fresh seafood dishes. Word on the street is they may offer delivery to campsites and the pool area.

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SENOR FROGS UPDATE

There is a rumor circulating that Senor Frogs at 892 Linden Avenue in Carpinteria has leaped into restaurant Heaven. Their web site is gone and their phone number is disconnected but I haven’t had a chance to peek in the window because the eatery is 22.7 miles from my home.

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MERCI MONTECITO OPENS

Reader John let me know that Merci Montecito has opened in (you guessed it) Montecito at 1028 Coast Village Road next to the brand-new Caffe Lux (opened 2 weeks ago) and not-so-brand-new Vons (opened in 1968). Both new venues occupy the former home of Xanadu Bakery. Merci Montecito is a boutique artisanal cafe created by acclaimed pastry chef Elizabeth Colling. Elizabeth earned her degree at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris before working at Spago Beverly Hills and becoming the pastry chef at Bastide. Elizabeth was also a Food Editor of Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, where she developed and styled desserts for both publications. Merci Montecito is primarily an organic homemade food shop at the  Montecito Country Mart, serving lunch, dinner and desserts that are easy to take on the go. Visit mercimontecito.com.

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MALA TOWN OPENS IN ISLA VISTA

Mala Town has opened at 6555 Pardall Road in Isla Vista. The Chinese restaurant occupies the former home of One Piece and HiWi Tropical Fusion. Mala Town offers Mala Tang (hotpots) and Jian Bing (Chinese crepe). The eatery also serves a long list of Chinese BBQ (beef and chicken skewers, chicken wings, chicken heart, Spam, beef balls, fish tofu, crab stick, squid ball, cod fish ball, eggplant, lotus root, needle mushroom, tofu skin, bamboo shoot, potato slices, and corn), as well as Bento Box (teriyaki chicken, Spam with pan fired egg, vegan deep fried tofu). Hours are Mon-Thur 11am-3pm, 5-9pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 12-10pm.

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GROUNDED

Reports are coming in from far and wide that Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 1209 Coast Village Road in Montecito has closed.

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FIRE AT MESA BURGER

Reader Cris saw a posted on the Instagram page of Mesa Burger, 315 Meigs Road, that reads: “Mesa Burger in Santa Barbara will be closed until further notice. We suffered a small electrical fire, and want to thank our friends at the Santa Barbara Fire Department for being here for us! Thank you for your understanding.”

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RESTAURANT OPENINGS

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

  • May 2019: Caffe Luxxe, 1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito; Ike’s Love, 1936 State St.
  • 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 South 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 North Milpas St.
  • January 2019: California Tacos and Taproom, 956 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista; Masala Spice, 5796 Calle Real, Goleta; Soul Cal Smokehouse, 38 West 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: 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 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, 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
  • June 2018: 212 Hot Pot, 6533 Trigo Rd., Isla Vista; Ca’Dario Veloce Pasta, 38 W. Victoria St. (now closed); 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.

SEASIDE SPECTACULAR: Caruso’s Italian restaurant opened last month as part of the new Rosewood Miramar in Montecito.

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THE SPACE FORMERLY KNOWN AS SOJOURNER UPDATE

Reader SBMizzou passed the word that  the space at 134 East Canon Perdido Street, the former homes of Sojourner Cafe and Miso Hungry, is being renovated. Rumor has it  that it will be a French Bakery/Eatery.

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IKE’S GRAND OPENING

Ike’s Love and Sandwiches started serving customers last week at 1936 State Street, in the former home of Subway next to 7-Eleven. I stopped in and spoke to founder Ike Shehadeh, who is personally serving customers for the next week or so, and was told that his namesake eatery will be having a grand opening on Monday, May 20th, and that the first 100 people who also follow the restaurant online on Facebook or Instagram will receive a 100% discount on one sandwich. Who ever said that there is no such thing as a free lunch? If you don’t follow them online, or show up after the freebies have been exhausted on Grand Opening day, there will still be a great discount: sandwiches are for sale for $3.

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MJ CAFE GRAND OPENING

Reader Nick let me know that MJ Cafe,  the new restaurant at Ice in Paradise at 6985 Santa Felicia Drive in Goleta has their grand opening scheduled for May 19th. They are advertising food and drink specials as well.

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RED PEPPER CLOSES

Reader Cris let me know that Chinese restaurant and Goleta dining institution Red Pepper at 282 Orange Avenue, that started serving customers long before I this column was born, has officially closed. Last November I wrote that their voicemail announced a temporary closure and that they hoped to reopen soon. They have now posted this message to for you: “Dear Customers,
After 17 years we are regrettably to inform you that Red Pepper is closed indefinitely due to family health issue. Both Sue and David of Red Pepper wants to thank you for your patronage year after year. Red Pepper maybe gone but the food and the love will live on forever. – Daughters of Red Pepper”

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SMITHY CLOSES

Readers David D., Stephine, and Bernard tell me that Smithy restaurant at 7 East Anapamu Street is permanently closed. Apparently the windows are papered over and there is a note on the wall outside the restaurant that indicates they are closed, and that a new concept is slated to open in June. I tried calling Smithy and the phone number disconnected. Reader Byard says they ate at Smithy on the eatery’s final night, May 5th, and was told it will re-open as a Mexican and Spanish tapas-style restaurant from the same owner with a different chef. Smithy opened in December 2017, replacing Somerset, an earlier concept from the same ownership that occupied the space for 10 months.

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LOS ANGELES’S CAFFE LUXXE EXPANDS TO SANTA BARBARA

Artisanal coffee roaster Caffe Luxxe, currently serving westside Los Angeles with five neighborhood caffes, has announced the grand opening of its newest location in the Montecito Country Mart, located at 1028 A Coast Village Road, next to Vons in the former home of Xanadu Bakery. Regarded for its Northern Italian-style espresso, Caffe Luxxe will offer complimentary cappuccinos and americanos to the public all day (from 7am-5pm) on Saturday, May 11 at its new caffe. In conjunction with the opening, Caffe Luxxe will launch a limited edition “Montecito Blend” coffee. The Montecito location is the first venture outside of the Greater L.A. area by owners Mark Wain and Gary Chau since opening their first caffe in 2006.

“There’s an atmosphere about Montecito that’s so essentially California, yet charmingly unique. It’s a sense of approachable luxury, which is exactly the sentiment behind why we started Caffe Luxxe: to offer the highest quality espresso and coffee, with a friendly, genuine attitude,” said Wain. With many of Caffe Luxxe’s Los Angeles patrons choosing Montecito as a weekend destination – and some even residing in town for part of the year – moving in to serve the neighborhood was a natural choice for the coffee and lifestyle brand.

To celebrate the grand opening, Caffe Luxxe has released a new limited-edition coffee named the “Montecito Blend,” that is “inspired by the well-balanced, crisp climate of the Central Coast’s rolling hills and the neighborhood’s serene and welcoming atmosphere.” The medium-bodied coffee offers an aroma of grapefruit, with flavor notes of cocoa and dark cherry, a balanced acidity, and a smooth, dried fruit finish. A blend of natural- and washed-processed coffees sustainably sourced from Guatemala and Brazil—from farms Caffe Luxxe has fostered close relationships with over the years—the coffee is hand-roasted in small batches at Caffe Luxxe’s Il Laboratorio roasting facility, which delivers freshly roasted coffee to all Caffe Luxxe locations on a weekly basis for optimum freshness. Its roasting team places emphasis on maintaining genuine relationships with farmers, sourcing coffee directly whenever possible and paying above-market prices to ensure fair labor practices and quality product. The Montecito Blend is available for purchase in-store at Caffe Luxxe Montecito, and online at caffeluxxe.com/shop/coffee

Caffe Luxxe continues to plan for expansion of new locations at a controlled pace, keeping quality, training, and education of baristas at the forefront. The company also manages a wholesale business, creating coffee programs for farm-to-table- and sustainability-focused restaurants, including Los Angeles’s Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry, Sweet Laurel Bakery, Malibu Farm, Melisse, Charcoal and Openaire, and Santa Barbara’s own Lilac Patisserie.

Leading up to May 11, Caffe Luxxe Montecito is currently holding a soft opening with regular hours every day, 7am-5pm.

Photo by Alicia Cho

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