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Mar 23, 2009 11:53 PM

Central Coast Lunch or Dinner Recommendation?

We're heading to Zaca Mesa Winery this Friday for a media event and will be looking for a lunch or dinner reservation in the Los Olivos area, Any recommendations? We're open to any cuisine and price.


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  1. It is going to be PERFECT weather- bring a hat!

    For lunch you have several options in Los Olivos. Sandwiches and salads, served mostly outdoors at Panino- pricey but delicious. Excellent beer choices.

    Lunch at Los Olivos Cafe is always good- the patio is very popular and always packed past 2pm for lunches. Good meatball sandwich- pizza and great salads here. Patricks Side Street Cafe has a regular group of fans hanging our daily...not me though.

    Restaurant Marcella, located inside the Fess Parker Inn- has closed and will be re-opening soon as a Greek Restaurant.

    As for dinner- Matteis Tavern in Los Olivos is the place to go, for the bar full of locals and great kobe burger, tacos, and specials. The restaurant itself has a formal menu and can always be counted on for a great meal- fantastic desserts- the brownie/banana ice cream is always how we finish dinner.

    Ballard is just a few quick miles down Alamo Pintado- and for the meal of a lifetime (well for us here in the Valley!), join Chef Budi for the ride you'll want to take over and over. The Ballard Inn has a nice, if small dining room with a fireplace- and a small menu- but it is big on flavor- experience and know how. Nice tasting room here- open Fri Sat Sun only...

    If you are looking for a cowboy meal- the Red Barn in Santa Ynez is a perfect place to do it. Full bar, great local wines and a crew in the pit who will satisfy your perfect requirements of red meat temps- ask for rare- and you'll get it! Great place to soak up the local flavor!!!

    Dos Carlitos is new to Santa Ynez- expensive cocktails- expensive tacos...but a great vibe and worth the $$ if you are able.

    Enjoy your visit- hopefully you are here for more than a few hours.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JalamaMama

      I love these recommendations. Thank you so much for taking the time. I'm probably going to buy a cookbook or two on the trip. as well.

      1. re: JalamaMama

        Thank you so much for the Brothers Restaurant at Mattei's Tavern recommendation. We loved it. Arrived at 5:30, so was still quiet. We were seated in the sun room (porch) area, which is so peaceful. Had a red pepper tart and mussels in a Pernod cream sauce to start. Both were excellent, especially with the rosemary focaccia and cornbread, which is baked on premises every day. For entrees we ordered the pork chops with bacon mashed potatoes and chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, served with mashed potatoes and au jus. All perfectly cooked, tender, moist, delicious. Wine list offered a lot of local wines, of course, so if you know the region, you can pick a winner and avoid the less-than-stellar selections. We chose Great Oaks Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. For dessert we chose a mud pie with homemade whipped cream, coffee ice cream and an Oreo Crust.

        We'll be going back. Again and again.

        1. re: brieflunchcounter

          Fantastic!!!! Matteis is where my group of ladies gets together to celebrate our bdays etc., glad it is a hop skip and a jump away! My husbands Grandfather used to raise chickens for Felix Mattei- the original owner!!

          How was Zaca Mesa?

          1. re: JalamaMama

            We ended up going in the other direction and went to Foley, Melville, Buttonwood and Rideau. Foley was our favorite. Will do the Foxen Canyon Trail on the next trip, which will be for the Vintner's Festival, in April. Bought amazingly huge strawberries across the street from Buttonwood.

            Oh! We also ended up, in a very funny crossing of signals, at the industrial park in Lompoc, where Sea Smoke has their production facility. Fortunately, we needed some things from Home Depot! Excellent strawberry banana smoothie and tofu dog at the snack stand outside the Home Depot in Lompoc.

            1. re: brieflunchcounter

              Palmina is also located in that industrial park. They have some interesting and a couple of unusual wines.

              Palmina Winery 805-735-2030; 1520 East Chestnut Court

              Also there are:

              Nicolaysen Family Vineyards 805-736-4500;1509 East Chestnut

              Fiddlehead Cellars 805-757-3915; 1597 East Chestnut Ave.

              Flying Goat Cellars 805-737-GOAT; 1520 East Chestnut Court

              and just around the corner:

              La Vie Vineyards Winery 805-291-2111; 308 North 9th St., Unit D

              1. re: PolarBear

                Thank you, PolarB for the list. Do they all have tasting rooms at this i.p. or just production and storage?

                1. re: brieflunchcounter

                  IIRC, these were all tasting room listings. Sorry, I was on a Palmina mission, otherwise would have stopped at Sea Smoke, Fiddlehead, La Vie, and a couple of others... oh yeah, and I had to drive.

                  Also wanted to check out Sissy's tasting room (and cafe), and really regretted not getting to Loring, Cargasacchi, and Nicolaysen while in the area. Damn, I could have had the lovely LadyPB take over the driving... but that would have been stretching things since she had graciously agreed to the detour just so I could pick up a couple of the obscure Palminas.

                  (Note: Cargasacchi and Loring are by appt. only)

                  Another tasting room is:

                  D'Vine Wine Bar
                  107 W Ocean Ave
                  (805) 735-8771

                  Looking back, however, we both enjoyed the mellow drive so much, we just may detour off 101 in SM from now on when we're headed to Santa Barbara and points south.

                  As for a couple of dining options that I've culled from the threads:

                  Maggie’s Kitchen – New Orleans creole, African, hummus, tabouleh, fried chicken, pork chops, shish kebab and falafel
                  910 North H St. (E side just S of North Ave, @ 1.5 mi N of 246)

                  Sissy's Uptown Café and Wine Tasting Room
                  112 S I St
                  (805) 735-4877

                  Sushi Teri - calamari salad
                  213 W Ocean Ave (1.5 blks W of H St.
                  )(805) 740-0123

                  OK, anyone up for a road trip???

                  PS Don't forget Jalama Beach, @ 15 miles west off the road btw Lompoc southward to 101. Been dying to just have a burger on the beach there. Look for Jalamama's posts on this board.

      2. My favorite is Grappalo in the tiny enclave of Santa Ynez - Northern Italian, bistro stye dining.

        2 Replies
        1. re: glbtrtr

          BIG seconds to Grappalo!!

          We "missed" our reservation at Los Olivos Cafe and were unwilling to wait the 45min for another table. I remembered something about Grappalo from Chowhound-ing pre-trip and we ended up in Santa Ynez.
          It was fantastic - I kick myself daily for not having picked up the cookbook that seemed ubiquitous in the Central Coast wineries, doh!

          1. re: CampySD

            Grappolo has several cookbooks-a new one about Italy is out...The first one- with the pizza on the cover is available at our local Goleta and Santa Maria Costco as well.