Beach Blanket Baguette, Part 2
So, what did we eat during our trip to Santa Barbara? Well, Baguette ate her usual array of dried fruits, Kix, and Wheat Thins, plus whatever seemed appealing from our plates. Our Motel 6 turned out to be very conveniently located; a host of restaurant options are found nearby. Our first meal was at Denny’s, largely to provide a grouchy, sick-of-the-car Baguette with an easy setting. After that, though, we avoided national chains (well, we did make daily trips to the corner 7-11 for milk) for local spots.
On Sunday morning, Max’s Restaurant provided me with an excellent omelet, and all I had to do was cross the street. And while I’m not generally a fan of homestyle potatoes, these were excellent. I stopped in at Vices & Spices for a latte–great name, cute shop, good service, weak latte. Apparently their chai tea lattes are good; I’d have ordered that if I’d read the reviews first. An early dinner next door at Madam Lu featured chicken with black bean sauce and chicken chow fun–both fairly basic (although the black bean sauce had a bit of a kick to it) but tasty. As it turns out, Baguette was just fine with a bit of a kick to her black bean sauce.
On Monday we walked half a block to Farmer Boy, where I rediscovered my mixed feelings about buckwheat pancakes. However, this is exactly the kind of local place we like–the patrons clearly are regulars, but everyone was very welcoming. We liked it so much we went back on Wednesday. Lunch came from the touristy but still worthwhile Pea Soup Anderson’s in Buellton. While the pea soup is vegetarian, the Monte Cristo was not. Neither was the vanilla milk shake, which seemed to be a glass full of soft-serve ice cream–decadent, but tasty. We spent the evening with cousins who live in the area, where we had delightful conversation and a delicious Indonesian dish featuring chicken in peanut sauce served with shrimp and rice. Their dog was a big hit with Baguette; naturally, she called him “Wicket” all evening, and was much better at remembering the meaning of “gentle” than she is with the actual Wicket.
One day later and half a block in the other direction, Jeannine’s Bakery provided us with a breakfast of salmon hash and ham-and-swiss frittata. The coffee was great, and I wanted to eat every pastry in sight–they all looked amazing. For dinner, we did eat at one other chain; after our trip to the beach, we were hungry in a way that only a burger from The Habit could satisfy.
We had thought we’d try to find some Santa Maria-style bar-b-que, since we weren’t that far from Santa Maria. Although nothing from that particular specialty emerged, we did stop by Killer B’s for pulled pork, brisket, and chicken. Our verdict? Food B+; Service C. Late that evening, Rusty’s Pizza Parlor provided us with the casual, customized meal we were looking for (I like thin crusts; Mr. Sandwich prefers pan pizza), complete with a back room illustrated by Frank Webb. If you don’t know who Frank Webb was, he’s the guy who published step-by-step drawings of faces based on letters of the alphabet–and created the original concept drawings of Disney’s Goofy.
On Thursday morning, we consulted Yelp and made our way to Garrett’s Old Fashion Restaurant. As advertised, the blueberry pancakes were excellent, and so was the service. We sat outside, to minimize the effects of a mercurial 15-month-old on other patrons, and our waiter made us feel like the most important table he was serving. That evening we joined friends at The Brewhouse, a local brewery and restaurant. I had an apricot wheat ale, and Mr. Sandwich and I each ordered wiener schnitzel. It turned out to be crispy, tender, and flavorful–and Baguette spent much of the evening working on her own piece (when she wasn’t petting the gentle pit bull she insisted on calling “Wicket.”)
Friday morning found us at Cody’s Cafe in Goleta, where the pork chili verde omelet is excellent. Even Baguette liked the slightly spicy salsa verde in which the meat had been simmered; I’m going to have to try this at home. For dinner, we had Santa Maria-style tri-tip at Woody’s; this visit pretty much convinced me that I’m underwhelmed by tri-tip. It just doesn’t seem to be a cut with much flavor, and I like beef to have flavor. Call me crazy.
We wrapped up our trip with one more breakfast at Farmer Boy, followed by a chicken gyro at the Santa Barbara Greek Festival. My conclusion: the chicken gyro was just fine, although not as good as a regular gyro. On the other hand, the line was a lot shorter. So I figure we came out ahead.
On the whole, food in Santa Barbara is worth stopping for. There are a lot of options beyond the usual fast food restaurants–and that’s good, because (a) fast food restaurants are kind of boring, and (b) they’re also not always that easy to find in Santa Barbara due to regulations on signage. So take your smartphone, and eat up.