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Coastal Vibes: Santa Barbara California


A short list of culinary gems in Santa Barbara.

SANTA BARBARA IS THAT MOST ELUSIVE OF CALIFORNIA CITIES in that it is eminently walkable in the core, where the hungry traveller will find no end of options for dining, snacking, drinking, wine tasting, and shopping. It’s a charming seaside hub for culture and art, too — and celebrity spot- ting, if that’s your thing. The mere fact that Oprah lives in nearby Montecito seems to come up daily — best discussed over Michelin-rated pizza, tapas, and other delights.

— Dick Snyder[/vc_section]

1. Santa Barbara Shellfish Co.

At the end of the pier and worth the trek. Rumoured to be Julia Child’s favourite. Cooking is basic but solid. It’s the place for fresh local abalone — and the waterfront patio is a gem.

2. Satellite

Vegan food and natural wines by Drew Cuddy, brother of beloved Blue Rodeo rocker Jim. Charming streetside patio and lots of deep space kitsch. Try the Moon Wrangler Malbache, which seems to be a blend of Grenache and…everything.

3. Loquita

Bib Gourmand–approved Spanish “tapas” (quotation marks flag American sizing) in a convivial — nay, boisterous — and eminently cozy setting. The bar is the place to be… for gin.

4. Corazón Cocina

Mexican street food draws on daily fresh seasonal ingredients from the stalls in the Santa Barbara Public Market. Ramon Velazquez hails from Guadalajara and has been cooking around the city —he was sushi chef at Arigato — since immigrating in 1990.

5. Alessia Patisserie & Cafe

Alessia Guehr, who was born locally to German restaurateur parents, worked her way through the Four Seasons Biltmore in nearby Montecito and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Delightful pastries, baked goods, and full lunches are exquisitely turned out for a fashionable set.

6. Bettina

A mash of Italian café style and breezy Cali bohemia (affluent, mind). Co-owner Brendan Smith worked as head baker at Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s. His wood-fired pies are beautiful to behold and a pleasure to devour. Enjoy a well-crafted cocktail at the marble bar while you wait.

7. Sanguís

Wines made from the rock ’n’ roll heart of German-born Matthias Pippig. Unconventional blends and appointment-only tastings in the heart of the city’s industrial zone (ergo, hard to find but worth it, and for the vinyl, too).

8. Sushi by Scratch

Showy but sincere sushi, sourced mainly overseas and treated reverentially by a hip and well-informed brigade. Drinks pairings are thoughtful and banter playful, plus an Oprah sighting is a possibility.