Santa Barbara is such a lovely city. The beach side community is bustling with activities like renting beach cruisers, surfing and wine tasting. The Funk Zone, a new wine area in downtown, is about a year old and located just a few blocks from the train station. There are approximately 30 wineries within walking distance of each other which makes it easy to taste some great wine. A few of my favorites include Riverbench from Santa Maria and Kunin Wines. Both are pouring some incredible vintages — Kunin specializes in “old world” wines with some age and Riverbench has great pinot noir and sparkling wines.
Dining is always fun in Santa Barbara as well. Some of the best taquerias and Mexican restaurants are here. La Superica is Julia Child’s favorite, but this trip we tried Los Agaves just a few doors down and it was pretty delicious. For starters, their salsa bar is out of this world. The freshest handmade salsas and avocado dip are made daily to add to any dish. The beer battered shrimp and fish tacos are always popular with salad and rice on the side.
Tacos Pastor with pork and pineapple are rich and flavorful. These tacos were made in a quesadilla style, served flat with cheese, delicious!
After strolling around State Street Shops and a quick nap at The Montecito Inn, it was time for dinner at Toma Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant is located in the former Emilio’s space, just past the pier and the ambiance is open and airy with a bar located to one side of the restaurant.
As for food, we started with the Tuna Cones, fresh ahi tuna cut-up and dolloped in a crispy sesame cone. The flavor was fresh and slightly sweet from the sesame seeds. A great start to dinner with friends.
Next, we sampled the Squash Blossoms stuffed with fresh cheese and pan sauteed until lightly brown. The herb oil and sweet peas drizzled around the blossoms gave the dish additional fresh flavors, very nice.
Squid Ink Pasta with clams and calamari was our next dish. The pasta was freshly prepared in-house, but the broth was flat and didn’t provide much of a sauce for fresh pasta.
Our entree – Rack of Lamb – we split, which had huge Mediterranean flavors. The meat was seasoned perfectly with corriander and pepper and I loved the turmeric yogurt sauce. Sorry the pic isn’t so lovely, ate too soon.
The next day we stopped in at my favorite bakery in Montecito, Jeannines. The Espresso Chocolate Chip Scone is to die for good. Trust me, do not miss this scone when in Santa Barbara area, it is worth every calorie.
Taking a weekend trip to Santa Barbara is great anytime of year. The wineries are abundant and the sun filled activities are endless. Local restaurants are ever changing as well as some old standard favorites to make for a great vacation.