Up off highway 154, the mtn rd between buellt on and SB just past camino cielo turn off as heading north is the old stagecoach road, with cold springs tavern, a great old place down at the bottom of it- got to see it- built in the mid 1800s still original. very original buildings, a good place for a very good, intimate dinner-serve wine and beer, great desserts, also have a seperate bar just a few yards down from restauant. need reserv. for rest. on weekends- reserv. a must!! Hope you get to see it.
Had dinner here a year or two ago. Lots of meats and game with the usual potato and veggie and salad sides. Very rustic setting; it really is an old stagecoach stop. IMHO the food wasn't that exceptional for the price. It was an above average steak & chop meal. One of the buildings is a bar/tavern, which seemed to be a motorcyclist hang out. Maybe the burger and bar menu there is more interesting. All in all it was a nice experience, for historical more than gastronomic reasons, but I don't think I'd return.
The Santa Barbara area is home, of
course, to La Super Rica, a cheese-soaked
place that is among the very finest Mexican-
American restaurants in the country, and the
very fine Palace Cafe (better Prudhomme-style
Cajun than Prudhomme himself is making these days),
the decent New Mexican restaurant Zia's
and fancy French hotel dining rooms like Citronelle
and El Encanto.
About an hour north on the 101, in the town
of Buellton, nationally famous for thousands
of road signs pointing the way to lousy pea
soup, is the Hitching Post, an amazing steak
restaurant run by a guy, Frank Ostini, who
hangs out with the wine guys, and makes a very
creditable pinot noir himself. (Look for
older vintages, which are co-made by his
ex-wife Lane Tanner.)
The Hitching Post--and its older cousin of
the same name, up in Casmalia near the
entrance to Vandenberg Air Force Base--are
true temples of Santa Maria-style barbecue:
prime, spice-rubbed steaks grilled over
red-oak coals, served with garlic bread,
juicy salsa and the local pinquito
beans. If you're heading farther afield,
Jocko's, an additional hour north in Nipomo,
may have even better steaks (though only
evenings and weekends--off-hour meat is cooked
over gas), but it's more of a Bud Lite
cowboy crowd, if you know what I mean.