We made some new discoveries in Santa Barbara on a recent trip and felt compelled to share. They may not be new to you, but they were to us and we enjoyed them so much we can’t wait to return to the area and indulge again. If you haven’t experienced them yourself we highly suggest you do and hopefully soon (and often). No matter what time of the day it is, at least one of them would probably be a perfect place to visit.
Bree’osh (1150 Coast Villlage Road, Montecito, 805-570-9151)
First of all, let’s discuss the awesome visual and flavor delights to be found at Bree’Osh. This French artisan bakery and café in Montecito specializes in both sweet and savory brioche bread. And, it’s genuinely French; husband and wife owners Pierre and Nelly Henry are actually from France. They’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but you can come here for breakfast, brunch and/or lunch the other days of the week.
The menu here is focused on pastries, eggs, and sandwiches, and you’re bound to find something appealing to you. Brioches, Croissants, Breakfast Sandwiches, Quiches, Omelets and Croque Monsieur (and Madame) are all on the menu (some of which also come with a side salad). Bree’osh even has high quality beverages: coffee from Handlebar Coffee Roasters and tea from Smith Teamaker.
If you’ve already been to Bree’osh and wish you knew how to make that stuff yourself at home, you can! On April 8, at 9 am, Pierre Henry will conduct a baking demonstration at the Bacara Resort and Spa (8301 Hollister Avenue, Goleta) as part of the Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend. Admission is $45 per person but that also comes with a full breakfast buffet, including Bree’osh’s Cinnamon Rolls. If you’re interested, go here for tickets.
Corazón Cocina (Santa Barbara Public Market, 38 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, 805-845-0282)
There have been some changes at the Santa Barbara Public Market since it opened and luckily, Corazón Cocina moved in last year. This open-kitchen Mexican restaurant from Chef Ramon Velazquez features Tacos, Ceviches, Salads and a wonderful Salsa Bar. They’re open seven days a week and even make their own tortillas.
Some of the highlights at Corazón Cocina are their Fresh Guacamole (with Serrano, Cilantro and Onions), Quesadilla de Mercado (with Farmers Market Seasonal Vegetables), Coliflor (Cauliflower) Taco, Norteño (Grilled Skirt Steak) Taco and Al Pastor (Spit-Roasted Pork marinated in Adobo) Taco. However, what impressed us the most was their Ensenada Taco with Beer Battered Ling Cod, Cabbage, Salsa Cruda and Mayo-Lime Crema.
If you’re heading this way, you should know they recently started a “Siesta Hour” between 3 pm and 5 pm Monday through Friday. During these hours you can select one Taco (Al Pastor, Ensenada, or Mole con Pollo) and pair that with either an Agua Fresca ($7 for the two), a Bottled Beer ($8 for the pair) or a Draft Beer ($9 for the combination).
Milk & Honey (30 West Anapamu, Santa Barbara, 805-275-4232)
They’ve been open for over a decade so we’re deeply regretting not coming here sooner. Started by Chef Alvaro Rojas, Milk and Honey playfully combines a variety of tapas, a casual environment, and nostalgic cartoons projected onto a large screen in the dining room (hello again, Speedy Gonzales!). The menu combines classic tapas (such as Patatas Bravas) with more current interpretations (Sliders on Toasted Hawaiian Roles).
Milk and Honey has an extensive menu with many options appealing to traditionalists (Manchego y Membrillo, Chorizo, Sauteéd Gambas). Less traditional items include OMG Salad (Organic Mixed Greens, Tomatoes and Goat Cheese), I Like Pig Butts (Pork Shoulder Sliders with Cilantro and Swiss Cheese), and Blue Champiñón (Filet Medallions, Blue Cheese, Mushroom and a Port Reduction Sauce).
Our personal favorites here were the Corazón Verde (Grilled Heart of Romaine, Balsamic, Blue Cheese and Shallot Reduction), Champiñones Al Ajillo (Mushrooms, Garlic, Italian Parsley, Sea Salt, and Olive Oil) and the Lamburghini (Sliders of Lamb, House-ground with Golden Raisins and Fresh Mint, served with Pesto).
There’s a Happy Hour here between 5 pm and 7 pm Monday through Saturday (the restaurant is closed on Sunday) offering Well Drinks for $6 each. Or, it’s $5 for Cava or Sangria, and $6 for a Mojito or a Margarita. Food specials include $5 for Brussel Sprouts or Two Tacos (either Creamed Chicken or BBQ Pulled Pork), or $6 for Sweet Potato Fries, Patatas Bravas, or Date with a Pig (Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Wildflower Honey and Orange Slices).
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (728 State Street, Santa Barbara, 805-963-8831)
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was founded in 1949 by husband and wife Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell here in Santa Barbara. If you’ve ever been to Santa Barbara you’ve probably already visited here. In addition to an excellent Mint Chip they have other awesome flavors such as Cardamom & Gingersnaps, Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
We’ve stopped here many times ourselves so let’s tell you why they’re on our “new discoveries” list. Aside from their standard flavors, McConnell’s also rotates in seasonal and/or newly created flavors. Most recently, those additions included Wild Berry Chip and Pistachio Amaretto. However, it’s the Black Coffee Chip that blew us away. If you like coffee and chocolate, you need to come here and taste this creation. If you’re a fan of Turkish Coffee ice cream, you absolutely need to try this flavor. Soon.
You may be able to find McConnell’s in your local grocery store, or at a Scoop Shop in Los Angeles or Studio City, but it’s more fun in the town where it started. The State Street location is conveniently located and open seven days a week until at least 10 pm. Alternatively, they also have a Pint-of-the-Month club. Just sign up and you can have three pints mailed directly to you each month – please go here for more details.
State & Fig (1114 State Street, Suite 18, Santa Barbara, 805-965-1730)
Located downtown in the La Arcada Plaza, State & Fig is owned by husband and wife Marisa Moran and Patrick Casey who have over 40 years of culinary experience. Their café serves seasonally inspired menus while still focusing on products that are handcrafted, raised, or grown in California. Open 7 days a week, their weekend Brunch menu includes Portabello Benedict, Caprese Omelet, Lemon and Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes, BLTA Sandwich, and a Black Forest Ham and Fig Jam Panini. You’ll also find Bottomless Mimosas.
Lunch and Dinner menu highlights include Grilled Crostini with Roasted Peppers and Fresh Mozzarella, New England Clam Chowder, Mushroom Risotto, and Roasted Organic Chicken. But you may just want to focus on their multiple Burgers with ½ pound of meat and Fries (or Salad). We recently enjoyed their State Burger (Provolone, Avocado, Heirloom Tomato, Baby Arugula and Basil Aioli) and Fig Burger (Applewood Smoked Bacon, Bleu Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Fig Jam and Arugula).
We hope you enjoy what are (at least to us) new discoveries in Santa Barbara. It’s a lovely travel destination and there are plenty of wonderful wineries, restaurants and food purveyors nearby. To see our full list of recommendations for the area, please click on the “Favorites by Wine Region” button on the navigation menu, then follow it down to “Favorites in Santa Barbara County.”
Or, you can just click here. Because not only do you need to know about our new discoveries, it would be a shame to come to Santa Barbara and not at least consider also dropping by Ca’ Dario, C’est Cheese, Chocolate Maya, East Beach Grill, Jane, Scarlett Begonia and/or Super Cucas Taqueria.
If you’re looking for a special event to frame a trip to Santa Barbara around, here are three options coming in the next few months:
Santa Barbara Food and Wine Weekend (April 7-9, 2017) – The nonprofit Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts and Bacara Resort and Spa present this three-day event highlighted by a Reception with Chef Nancy Silverton and a four-course Grand Dinner featuring wine pioneer Richard Sanford. Other activities include Chef Demonstrations, Panel Discussions and Tastings, and a Craft Brewer Tasting event of locally produced beer, cider, mead and spirits paired with small bites. There’s also a free screening of the movie Julie & Julia.
Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend (April 20-23, 2017) – The Santa Barbara Vintners celebrate this event’s 35th year with four days of wine, food and fun throughout the County. The highlight is a Festival Grand Tasting on April 22 with new release wines, food samples, local artisans and live entertainment. Other Spring Weekend options include Wine Seminars, Wine and Cheese Pairings, and a Vintners Visa Wine Country Tasting Pass lets you choose twelve tasting rooms (out of over 40 participating wineries) for a visit throughout the four days. Many wineries also host their own events including Open Houses, Vineyard Walks and Winemaker Dinners.
Santa Barbara Food and Wine Festival (June 24, 2017) – This outdoor collective tasting takes place along the banks of Mission Creek at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Now in its 30th year, proceeds from the event help support nature and science education for adults and children. 28 restaurants and food purveyors including Barbareño, Brophy Bros., Ca’ Dario, Corazón Cocina, and Industrial Eats. Over 50 wineries including Alma Rosa, Koehler Winery, Palmina, Tablas Creek Vineyard and Tatomer Wines.