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Aug 7, 2007 10:01 AM

Santa Barbara - Cold Springs Tavern

Article today about the huge drop off in business for the delightful Cold Springs tavern on San Marcos Pass (Highway 154) because of the devastating Zaca fire and evacuations in this area. Let's all show support for this wonderful dining institution by giving it some extra visits when we think about dining out over the next few months in Santa Barbara.

Take a look if you don't already know about it:

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  1. Absolutely! My friend had an awesome wedding reception there a few years back. Love the place!

    2 Replies
    1. re: LANative

      Can you tell me more about the reception, how they did the food, etc??

      1. re: The Oracle

        Hi, it was a few years ago, & I have just consumed a very strong gimlet, after spending a day at Legoland, so please forgive me. It was buffet style, with a mixture of meats. If I recall correctly, there was elk on the menu. I remember the food as being excellent. They had a great blues band, & people could sit and mingle inside & outside. One memorable detail: instead of a wedding cake, they had little cookies that told the story of their romance together with a rebus story. It was casual, but very nice, with great food & a warm, inviting atmosphere. Great wedding reception.

    2. I always recommend the Cold Spring Tavern to friends who are travelling up to the Santa Ynez Valley. I should be there later this summer for my annual Sunday afternoon fix of drinking cold beers, listening to the live music, watching the bikers and savoring a delicious tri-tip sandwich. Can't wait!

      2 Replies
      1. re: DanaB

        They even make chili something to drive out of the way for.

        1. re: glbtrtr

          Cold springs tavern is awesome, I end up going almost every time I am up there.

          However, They have closed the 154 due to the fire (at least it was closed this weekend), making getting to cold springs pretty much impossible.

          The Zaca fire is really scary though--I was amazed at the ash falling all over santa barbara.On Sunday the smoke color seemed to change and I heard it was just over the mountains from us..
          Hope they can contain it soon...It was strange to visit SB and not go over in to the santa ynez valley.

      2. I was just driving by there this weekend, and they've closed the 154 (not sure at what starting point though)

        7 Replies
        1. re: The Oracle

          News article today shows CST covered with a fire-retardant foil like a big Hershey's Kisses. They are clearing brush, installing extra water resevoirs and spraying it with a fire retardant gel .......... just in case. No one wants to lose this special place and three cheers for the fire people who are trying to help in every way they can. Fire still a ways away, but if it breaks with a bad weather shift into this direction, it could come right up that canyon. No!

          Our thoughts are with you, Cold Springs Tavern - and we will be back and make you thrive again.

          1. re: glbtrtr

            Thanks so much for your update on this CA landmark, we're all praying for its survival.

            1. re: glbtrtr

              I'm glad to hear that the firefighters are using Barricade Gel on the CST... I've been there and it would be a shame to lose such a beautiful and historic site...If any one in the area needs to get the fire gel for themselves, contact Chief Buckley at the Painted Cave Fire Department or go to
              Be safe out there!

            2. re: The Oracle

              As of 8/10 - on the CalTrans website, "No traffic restrictions for Hwy 154" - thankfully!

              1. re: So Ho La

                As soon as they take the baked potato foil wrap off, I hope all us local chowhounders pay them a nicely expensive visit to help make up for what they lost. Their "firehouse" chili will taste even better than it usually does.

                1. re: glbtrtr

                  I promise, whenever I am next up =)
                  keep us updated.

              2. We'll be heading that way on 8/29 - 8/30. We've been planning to visit some wineries on that route - from what I see on-line, the highway is open. Has anyone been by CST in the last few days? Without making a phone call, does anyone know if they are open? We'd really like to give them a visit.

                Edit: I should have clicked on the link in the first post above: They say that 154 is open in both directions and that they are open for business!

                1. When I used to live in Santa Barbara I'd stop off at the cold springs tavern every time I went the back way to Santa Ynez. It's just a classic place which has survived since the days when the stage coach was the fastest way to get through that area.