Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Dec 18, 2011 04:24 PM

Santa Barbara Trip Summary

Had a wonderful, relaxing time in Santa Barbara this week. Three days of eating as follows:

Day 1:
Breakfast at Jeannine's Restaurant, Montecito. The French Toast with bananas sauteed in Kahlua, brown sugar and butter - this was an amazing, unique experience. The breakfast quesadilla was full and satisfying. Also, the fruit was very fresh. If Mama's, San Francisco is too far, go to Jeannine's.

Lunch at La Super Rica. The line was very short, thanks probably to being a weekday and off-season. Got #1-Tacos de Bistec (steak tacos), #2-Tacos de Costilla (top round tacos), #9-Quesadilla, and special menu chicken enchiladas. And horchata. I was soooo tempted to get the #15-Tocino Especial (melted cheese with bacon) due to glbtrtr’s frequent positive comments about it, but I just needed more of a meal-like item. I’ll try it next time. The food was good. They do a very good job with their meats. The prices are low. The quesadilla was very nice.

Post lunch refresher – McConnell’s Ice Cream. Brazilian Coffee Chip. Perfect refresher after Mexican food. Beware: to get the ice cream shop on Google maps you have to type in “mc connells” or “ice cream”. If you type in “mcconnells” it doesn’t show you the shop. We ended up at their corporate office first.

Dinner at Chase. Had a minor adventure getting seated. We had reservations at 5:30. I drove by at 5:25 but had no idea about parking so ended up driving around for a while until we parked in one of those structures and ended getting to the restaurant at 5:42. We were told that they had given away our table but should be able to sit in about 15 minutes. At 6:00 they said they’re cleaning our table. At 6:15 they said they’re setting our table. We were seated a few minutes later. In retrospect, I should have called when we were parking and told them we’d be there in a couple minutes. Continuing on, the reservation was for two plus a high chair. When we were seated the hostess said there’s no high chair. I told my server that when we made reservations we said “two plus a high chair” and they accepted it. He said there should be one and went and found it. The server was good. Got lasagna and chicken piccata. Both were very good, but especially the chicken piccata.

Day 2:
Breakfast at Renaud’s. The staff was very friendly. Egg dishes were good and the croissants, like most people say, were great. A little more cooked/crispy on the outside than I’m used to but it worked well.

Lunch at Paradise Café. The burger was good but about par with, say, Islands. Not worthy of accolades. BLT was good, too.

Dinner at Cold Spring Tavern. Absolutely a unique experience. Romantic setting. Out in the middle of nowhere. One cool thing was getting out of my car and hearing a running brook. Loved the interior. Wood everywhere with older photos and art on the wall. Gas lamps at each table. Too bad the food wasn’t anywhere near the ambiance. The New York steak was of mediocre quality. The Elk chops were ok. The garlic mashed potatoes were a bit looser than I’d expect, lacking garlic, and consisting of too much sour cream.

Day 3:
Breakfast at Jeannine’s. Again. It was that good. Pancakes (great) and a breakfast burrito.

Lunch at Super Cuca’s on Micheltorena. Ok, this carne asada burrito is in my top 5 burritos of all time. Quality of ingredients, moisture and mix were all very good. Meat was better then Cold Spring. Also got a shrimp taco. That was very good. I kinda wish I could have picked it up. It is a taco after all. That’s ok. Had sticker-shock when ordering, but the size of these things…huge!

Then repeated McConnell’s for another scoop of Brazilian Coffee Chip.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the report and glad you got to see more of the local "backside"of our town where we go but most tourists miss. I think we hit pretty much a Chowhound home run -- with a few forced errors, but over all a pretty good local survey of the places we go to eat when we are not spending the big tourist bucks to dine. I can do five star and I can also do SuperCuca's and Brazillian Coffee Chip --- now you know why. ;-) Yes, I too also get two meals out of their one burrito - I think that is where the "super" gets put into their name. They are always the local winner in the best burrito category and deserve to be.

    Thanks for the tip about the McConnells ice cream location confusion - they used to have several locations around town and now only have this rather inconvenient one but since it is only a few blocks from where I live, I am not complaining. We will warn people about finding it next time. This is great feedback. Do come back and we can keep sharing our local hits and try and steer you away from our local misses.

    We stick with the house chili and their ribs at Cold Springs Tavern - you hit it right - terrific ambiance but food not worthy of the setting, but their chili is very good and hits the right rustic note for the setting, especially on a cold day.

    Uhhhh, the "crispy outside" of Renaud's croissants is what sends me to French frenzy - we have so many of the home grown soft-siders that it is rare when in the US we get the real, real thing that made this item the stuff of legends in France. I am hungry for one just writing about it.

    Haven't been to Jeannine's but you make compelling case to give it a try - again the mouth waters with your pancakes descriptions.

    Yes, you do have to come back for the #15 Special at La SuperRica to wrap it all up. Chase and Paradise are on my okay for bulk feeding and like their very local ownership and homey locations, but while they have their devoted fans I don't put them among my own top picks myself. But both are fine when you are hungry and just want to eat something very satisfying. And agree, when I go it is for their chicken piccata too which they have now been serving with great success for decades. Stick with a winner, I say and that is a very satisfying winner.

    3 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      To all,

      Thanks for the replies and suggestions. A few clarifying thoughts:

      glbtrtr: Your numerous posts were valuable during my pre-trip research. Thank you. Yes about Cold Spring Tavern's chili. It was very good. If I ever return there I'll try to remember to order the ribs. And (thanks Beach Chick), if it's daytime I'll take a little walk and find the bridge. Sounds like the style of croissant at Renaud's is pretty authentic. I'm definitely a fan. I'm rather surprised that you haven't been to Jeannine's. Looks like they have two S.B. locations and one in Montecito. We went to Montecito twice. An employee there told me that's their busiest location and has the nicest atmosphere.

      I also wanted to clarify that I'm not upset about the experience at Chase. I really should have called when I realized we would be late. Their food was good.

      My family and I really enjoyed our Santa Barbara trip.

      1. re: Trep1

        You definitely put Jeanines on the map. Haven't been there mainly because I am not a big breakfast eater nor get out that early when at home, though tracking down great Eggs Benedicts is always Chow worthy no matter where or when.

        Best thing is learning this is a great place to recommend to others looking for this type of breakfast/lunch specialty menu. Glad to see such a ringing endorsement for this local success story. Seems when Jeanines came to town, "everyone" was doing muffins and there were local favorites all over the place back then, but Jeanines became the survivor of that culinary fad and hats off to her for now having this whole group of happy restaurants that has won many fans.

        1. re: Trep1

          Hey Trep..
          No worries..I'm just glad you had a great time and thanks again for reporting back!
          Have a wonderful holiday with your family..

      2. Adding link:

        McConnel's Ice Cream of Santa Barbara
        201 W Mission St @ De La Vina
        Santa Barbara, CA 93105
        (805) 569 2323

        McConnells Ice Cream of Santa Barbara
        201 W Mission St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

        5 Replies
        1. re: PolarBear

          Thanks Polarbear for the effort finding this website link for McConnells but it is badly out of date, confusing and even inaccurate for its location map, sad to say. I'll see if I can find something better -- meanwhile hang in there and do not use this website which will also send you too to their corporate location off of Milpas street and not their retail location on West Mission and DelaVina - easy off ramp from Highway 101 for those traveling up and down the state and passing through Santa Barbara.

          Edit: this is more current:

          1. re: glbtrtr

            Working before my second cup of caffeine is always dangerous. I found multiple listings but thought the one that showed 210 W. Mission (in the right margin) would be the most helpful. Yes, I saw the corporate link as well, and am still not sure that more coffee would have helped sort things out. My new mantra is:

            If corporations truly are people....
            why hasn't Texas executed one???

            1. re: PolarBear

              Enron, RIP. ;-)

              Sorry if I missed the West Mission Street map on your link, Polar Bear - the whole thing made me dizzy trying to sort out all the unhelpful links that website did have and the double vision of the duplicated ice-cream flavors. Perhaps I was having a hypoglycemic blackout myself for lack of Brazillan Coffee Chip 'scream. I know the solution.

              1. re: glbtrtr

                No problem, I found the dueling websites confusing as well. In fact I've been slightly irritated ever since they moved from the original location, except now you can get there easily in a few minutes just by hopping on 101 from most anywhere in the area. What happened to the Turkish Coffee, used to love bouncing back and forth between it and the Brazilian chip.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  McConnells Turkish coffee was fabulous - hadn't noticed it was gone. (Filled with intense dark micro coffee grounds for those who do not know this special flavor)

                  There is a contact for McConnells on their website (both) so I would let them know you miss this. With all the specialty coffee shops now all over one would think this intense version of ice cream would be an even stronger hit.

                  EDIT: Checked their website and see they still do list Turkish Coffee but with an asterisk saying it is only available in pints - does this mean they don't have it in bulk for cones in the stores -- I obviously have to do a little personal investigation of this fact. Soon.

                  I lobbied for them to take over a vacant spot on the corner of Mission and State street which would put them back into a prime time location, with far better parking and a visible street presence for both locals and tourists going on to the SB Mission, but there is new management/owners and they are working on other plans to widen their retail distribution and came up with pretty unappealing new carton designs -- so not sure were this beloved product and institution is going in the near future.

                  Back when they had several retail outlets I worked across the street from one that had a freezer full of "seconds" they would sell very cheaply - ones that had to be refrozen and had "crystals" or mislabeled or who knew what.

                  I would find my favorites and buy them even in their "seconds" condition because the basic ingredients were so fine and flavorful even when they were off the mark in quality they were a treat for their nicely reduced bargain price.

        2. Thanks for the report Trep1..

          I've only gone to Cold Spring Tavern during the day and the food has been decent..nothing like sitting next to the fireplace, having lunch, and then head up to the cabins and walk around..that bridge is spectacular.

          I can't believe all these years I haven't tried McConnell's..
          Renauds croissants are just like in Paris..which is a very hard feat to do.

 love love this place and they are quirky with being time, try the calamari picatta...sublime.