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Dec 24, 2011 02:12 PM

NYE Santa Barbara Solo

Anyone know of any good restaurants that have bar dining in SB on NYE? I'll be solo, and should be in town after a wine tasting tour around 5 p.m.

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  1. Age? Male or female? Probably more comfortable heading out on your ownhere if you are male, but this is a small, and friendly town and when in the holiday mood, all bets off about everyone solo male or female to have a good time on that night.

    The 20-30 year old set gathers in "Old Town" State Street (600 block and up and down from there) where all the downtown bars and music are. Blush is a good restaurant down there along with most others: Bucatini is right on State Street with outdoor (heated) tables so you can see all the activity. Joe's is a great, lively hand out.

    Friendly bar/restaurant vibes at Hungry Cat and Arch Rock Fish - a few blocks off State Street. The real young action is in Isla Vista out by UCSB - just look for the crowds and the noise off Del Playa. Maybe a little older a little more sedate inside scene.

    Older folks go to the Granada Theater for an early evening of the Santa Barbara Symphony and the pops. - Historic Arts District of State Street - the 1200 block and ground zero for all the top restaurants. Very tiny bar and certainly the best dining in town is Julienne - don't know what their NYE plans are.

    Does this help narrow it down a bit? Let's keep working on this.

    20 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      Thanks so much for your response GLBTRTR, it made me see how little info (and thought) I had put in my question. I'm a 50 year old female, so I'm not looking to party, just a good meal...probably a steak after a day of wine tasting, I'd rather not drive after the tasting. I'm staying at the Doubletree on Cabrillo. Price is not an issue, just looking for a good meal. I have no problem dining alone at a table, but I figure tables will be a premium on NYE so I'm hesitant to make a reservation, instead just hoping to pop in early at a restaurant that has a bar for dining with one lone seat. Julienne looks lovely, but from their website photo it didn't look like it had a bar for dining...hard to tell from their pic. I like Hungry Cat a lot, so that's an option too. If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

      1. re: MariaFeliz

        We just ate at Julienne on Friday night- recommended to us by local chow hounders. They have five or six seats at a bar overlooking the kitchen. Call and ask about NYE! I believe they are closed until Wednesday, December 28 now. We had a delicious meal although the portions are quite small- about four oz for fish and not much else on the main plate. My hubby's halibut looked to be about 5 oz and had more veggies. No pastry chef so desserts are simple- chocolate moose, creme brûlée and ice cream- thought a bit too sweet, the texture was great and the serving ample. From a SF chowhounder and former pastry chef.

        1. re: zinfanatic

          Zin, thanks for the heads up about portion size. I'm a hearty eater, especially after an afternoon of wine tasting, so I think I'll check out Julienne another time.

        2. re: MariaFeliz

          Holdren's or Jill's Place also are good for steak - and I think Holdren's still has the long bar, though Jills Place would be more low key.

          You have one of the more pricey steakhouses in your hotel - Rodney's. And the new Hyatt has taken over a hotel close by the Double Tree and they often have some lovely dining options too.

          You present an interesting challenge - solo bar seating for dinner. I am going to keep my eyes open for this. And there is always the venerable Chase Restaurant too on State Street that does offer bar seating dining, Or Arigato for sushi - in fact any of the sushi places could offer the bar seating.

          My casual favorite when I dine solo is the very low-key SushiTeri places - one downtown - their teriyaki combo dinners are pretty hard to beat and always easy to sit at the sushi bar and enjoy both the meal and the show. (Getting NYE reservations remains the unknown and I assume you are looking these places up with just the names?)

          1. re: glbtrtr

            Thanks for all the choices, and yes I'm making a note of them by name and bookmarking on my Yelp app. My plan is just to head down to State street and just peek into some of the restaurants you've recommended and play it by ear. And if push comes to shove, it sounds like Rodney's or something at the Hyatt will work. Hopefully I don't end up with a 6 footer from Subway.

            1. re: MariaFeliz

              Nothing wrong with the Tuna salad sandwich with everything at Subway! Hope you report back what you find because you asked an interesting questions and nothing like boots on the ground to give us some real feedback on this dining challenge.

              There is a local restaurant website - Santa Barbara Dining that in my opinion gives better reviews than what I have found on Yelp (lower "amazing" quotient) but still not as good as the locals who report on Chowhound who for the most part know their stuff.


              You will be in the Lower Downtown area:

              But you can also check out the Wharf and Waterfront areas too.

              There is also an index for "steak houses" A good choice at the harbor area is Chucks - have nice outdoor tables with heat lamps - good place to perch on one of their tall tables and enjoy something good off their grill.

              And as much as I don't like this restaurant at all, the Enterprise Fish Company has a good bar and bar menu for hefty appetizers. Sitting at the bar might still be available on NYE over getting a table reservation. But the food for dinner is consistently bad and over-priced, whereas the bar and appetizers just might be okay if this is where you can get in.

              1. re: MariaFeliz

                Please do not waste time at Rodney's! Good places with bars where you can eat on or near State street include Holdren's, Paradise Cafe (I used to dine there often when I was single), Petit Valentien, Intermezzo. It seems a shame to me to have dinner in an upper State Street motel...if you are going to drive, Stella Mare's has a lovely area around their fireplace where you could eat (no real bar), or their sister Le Cafe Stella does have a bar where you can eat. Also second Opal's bar, we've eaten there a few times. The bar at the Chase Restaurant on State is also a good option, great local flavor although perhaps not a gourmet must-go. But bartender Todd makes a rockin' martini! Being a 50s-ish gal myself, I think my choice were I in your shoes would be Petit Valentien. Nice atmosphere, good food at reasonable pricces (make dinner out of the apps) and an interesting wine list at very fair prices. Have fun!

                1. re: sbgirl

                  RE: Crocodile: Let me defend this Upper State Street "motel" - the restaurant is quite stylish and the chef is inspired. Hope you can try it first before panning it on its face.

                  The challenge is finding something without reservations on NYE - this requires offering suggestions beyond the obvious places that are all quite good under normal circumstances. NYE is not "normal" so seeking places outside of the standard suggestions was the interesting venture.

                  Agree with you about Rodney's - I too had a very disappointing experience there a number of years ago, and recent reviews confirm there has been no improvement or guarantee of consistency. So delete that recommendation for anything other than it is already in the hotel, no driving after wine-tasting as OP preferred, and maybe there is a chance they can swing a spot open for one of their hotel guests if no room in the inn exists elsewhere in town.

                  1. re: glbtrtr

                    Well here we are in real time...after a very long day of wine tasting , a martini at the bar at the hotel...after that then a long soak in the tub I'm back at the bar with another martini. I decided to go with Rodney's. Just too tired to drive! Thanks much for the recommendations, wish I had the energy to try out State street...Maybe next time!

                    1. re: glbtrtr

                      I'm having the rib eye topped with crab and asparagus. Not the finest cut of steak I've ever had but OK. It's cooked med rare but for some reason they went crazy with he cracked pepper on it. Service is excellent and they have a live blues combo playing tonight in the bar area

                      1. re: MariaFeliz

                        Sounds good enough and agree, at the end of a busy day anything close to"home" can look better than maybe it really is - glad you are enjoying your self AND that you reported in.

                        Can't figure out what Rodney's is really selling since they market themselves as a "meat" place, yet they don't deliver the really good grade prime stuff. I think they are part of the low-fat, low cholesterol trend which then eliminates 90% of the flavor. Give me well-marbled, smaller portions and make it prime is my dream piece of meat.,

                        Happy New Year and enjoy the rest of your time in our town. Best wishes.

                        And if you have some time, tell us about your SB wine tasting experience. If the weather is good, you may want to pop across the street and down a few blocks along the bike path to the Cabrillo Bathhouse East Beach Grill for breakfast - not the best food so stick to the basics but a great outdoor way to start the day and you get to walk there too. (Be sure to find out if they are open New Years Day)

                        1. re: glbtrtr

                          You're absolutely right about Rodney's. The steak was an everyday, pedestrian, cut of beef that you pick up a your local Ralphs. Ah well, I did have a nice time all in all. For the wine tour, I used "Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours". I'd seen those jeeps at tasting rooms in the past and thought it would be kinda cool to ride in one of those. Glad I got to check it off my list, but next time I'd do just a regular shuttle bus tour. The guide was great and we went to some nice places in Los Olivos and Solvang. We started out at Kalyra Winery, we took the LONG way through some hills to get to this place, the better to get the full effect of riding in a jeep The winery is owned by Australians, some nice white wines, a pinot bianco and chardonnay were my favorites. Then it was onto Bridalwood. Had a nice pinot noir, I thought the reds were the best bet here. Our tour included lunch, so while we were tasting in Bridalwood, our guide John, picked up our lunch order from Panino's in Los Olivos and brought it back so we could eat on the grounds at Bridalwood. The sandwiches from this place were great and I will definitely try it the next time I'm in town. From there we headed to Tensley in Los Olivos. Great tasting room, very very friendly and knowledgeable person behind the bar, Mimi, we all just loved her and the wines were very good, really liked the syrah and pinot here. Our last stop was in Solvang, "Sort this out Cellars". Wines were OK here, but no stand outs, although it could be that the time we reached this place, our fourth, your palate really starts to get worn out, at least mine does. By the time I got to SB (day 6 of my trip), I had already been to other wineries and tasting rooms in Paso, Cambria and Solvang, so I had already purchased my quota for my trip, so I didn't make any more purchases. Here's a short summary of some of the other tasting rooms I did:

                          Paso Robles (2 days): Orchid Hill, Parrish Family (loved this place, friendly staff, good wine, I bought a pinot), Clayhouse (good wines, GREAT prices, make friends with Laura, and ask her about tasting cards and recommendations for other wineries, she's the BEST). Cypher (this place is next to a great place to eat Farmstand 46 and Zin Alley is next door, which I didn't get to try, but heard good things about).

                          Cambria, I always taste at Fermentations, I like the staff, and besides the wine, I always buy some nice vinegar and oils here. I bought a couple bottles of a wine called "dazzle" from Washington state a Pinot Grigio Rose. Not something you see too much of this time of year and not common, but hey, it's 88 degrees today in L.A., and we have more summer coming up this winter, so I plan to drink these soon.

                          Two days in Solvang, my new favorite tasting room in Solvang is now Taste of the Valleys, just loved the guys working here and some fabulous wines. Here you have real discussions with the staff on your likes and they come up with some real winners at EXCELLENT prices.

                          Thanks so much for all your help, and I look forward to my next long weekend in SB in about 6 months or so.

                          1. re: MariaFeliz

                            Thanks for your great report. After following the thread for the past week, it is good to read about your great adventures, and great to hear about wines I have yet to experience. A pinot grigio rosé indeed! How dazzling!

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              I'll go out on a limb here, rather than a PG rose', I suspect that the wine is instead Pinot Grigio made in ramato style, giving it an orange-ish tint. Point Concepcion "Celestina" Pinot Grigio, made by Peter Cargasacchi, is a new world example from the region.

                              Edited to add: Found some info on Dolan & Weiss "Juliette's Dazzle". It indeed starts out ramato-style, fermenting the Pinot Grigio grapes on the skins. But it has 3% Sangiovese added for even more color, so technically, yes, it can be considered a rosé.

                              1601 W Central Ave Unit F, Lompoc, CA 93436

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Melanie, any TNs on the Pt. Concepcion pinot or syrahs? TIA

                                1. re: PolarBear

                                  Don't think I've tasted the Syrah . . . don't have my Cargasacchi TN's with me. The Pt Concepcion pinot is made from the riper, more accessible lots for early drinking. Quite jammy but good acidity supporting. While not my style, it's a good buy at 3/$54. The wine of the tasting that thrilled me was the 2009 Cargasacchi "Cargasacchi Vineyard" Pinot Noir.

                            2. re: MariaFeliz

                              Agree, Maria this was a great report and some new tips to pass on about wine tasting in this area. Appreciate you taking the time and look forward to hearing more when you return. Where did you dine in Solvang?

                              1. re: glbtrtr

                                Let's see, I'll try to do the dining report for my entire trip. Some other solo travelers might benefit as well. I'm having a lovely glass of that pinot rose (wish I could figure out how to do that thing with the 'e' in rose that Tripeler did!). Anyway, started out last Monday and went to Atascadero, I like Hush Harbor, but it was closed for the holiday (day after xmas), so i ate next door at El Compardre and had an excellent green (pork) burrito. The chips were good, and they have a salsa bar. On to Paso. I ate at McClintocks, which has an all day happy hour on Mondays. Also went to Roberts (ate at the bar, they have an excellent menu) pork chop was great. Also ate breakfast at Chico's, pancakes with 2 eggs and bacon $9, good deal and good food. Farmstand 46, a deli. In Cambria, ate at French Corner Bakery, good sandwiches, nice to pick up something here and eat at Moonstone beach. For dinner in Cambria ate at the Sea Chest. They only take cash and on a Tuesday, I couldn't get in until 9p.m. at the bar. I had a couple of cocktails at a bar down the road there before dinner (I was staying at a hotel on moonstone beach so NO DRIVING if you're drinking). I splurged and had the lobster ($70 no alcohol or appetizer, dinner includes soup or salad) and it was very good. On my way to Solvang I started in Santa Ynez with a cocktail at the Maverick. Walked around, did some shopping, then ate at Dos Carlitos. Pricey for mexican, but it's a nice place and their mexican is upscale and very good. In Solvang, I ate at Big Boppers, hamburger place, nothing special, I wouldn't go back again. I had dinner one night at a relatively new place, Succulent Cafe. VERY good and nice to see some nice upscale places in Solvang (besides Root 46) . It's really small, so I got there when it opened around 6. The appetizer of bacon wrapped scallops were excellent. I had the halibut for my main, cooked peruvian style (I thought) with a light tomato sauce, the waiter recommended a real nice wine with my meal, I believe it was a sauvigonon blanc from Margerum (sp?). I had a another dinner at guess where, glbtrtr? SUBWAY...for some reason it stuck in my head our conversation about subway tuna with everything. but I took it up a notch and added avocado to my tuna sandwich. Of course, you can't visit Solvang without some danish for breakfast and a visit to Paula's for their pancakes. Well I think that's it, I hope you all enjoy this report.

                                1. re: MariaFeliz

                                  Didn't know about the Succulent Cafe in Solvang, so this was a very good field report. We will have to look into this. Menu looks like a worthy addition to the Solvang choices:

                                  Mirabelle in Solvang gets very good reviews and a few miles down the road from Los Olivos is the legendary Ballard Inn restaurant you may want to put on the top of our list on your next foray up this way - and look for their weekday specials with room, breakfasts and dinner credit - a deal.

                2. re: MariaFeliz

                  Uhh, I guess I could have read your name and figured out you were female! Sorry. ;-) But age can matter because this town does seem to cluster restaurants that appeal to different age groups, but plenty that cut across the board too.

              2. Another sleeper place that just might not be over-booked for NYE is Crocodile in the Lemon Tree Inn, in midtown State Street around 3000 block at the corner of Alamar. We go there for special occasion dinners because it is in our back yard and it never disappoints and more often surprises.

                Because of its out of way location and motel setting, many do not think about this place but it has been a welcome surprise for us. It has a stylish dining room and a chef that cares -- it shows in the pride of food and the pride of service.

                2 Replies
                1. re: glbtrtr

                  This place looks great and is now at the top
                  of my list. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks

                  1. re: MariaFeliz

                    I think you are making a good choice to look into the Crocodile -- you will have to drive - about 10-15 minutes from the beachside. Just go up State Street about two to three miles from the waterfront to Alamar and State - major intersection with stop lights. Red Cross Building on the corner on the left and across Alamar also on the left is the Lemon Tree Inn - edgy, retro architecture for Santa Barbara, which keeps this even more of a local hidden secret place. Lovely, quiet poolside garden patio for outdoor dining when the weather is right too.