Trip Report: Malibu--Santa Barbara--Manhattan Beach
Malibu Seafood, Malibu
I had initially written on CH inquiring about a restaurant somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara. I got lots of excellent suggestions and in the end settled on Malibu Seafood, which was exactly what I was looking for. It was beachy, not fancy, had outside seating, a view of the water and good food. My husband got the tuna burger, which he really liked. I got the seared halibut, which was fishy—not horrible but a hint. The french fries were excellent. Despite my poor ordering I liked the place and would go again. I would try the tuna burger next time.
Bouchon, Santa Barbara
My favorite thing at this restaurant was the bread and butter. This is not to say that I did not like the place. The bread and butter were amazing. (OK, people at this point are writing off this review because so far I like fries and bread!) I liked the atmosphere—bustling, you could see the frenzy of the kitchen. The waiter highly recommended the (local) heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad. The tomatoes were unripe and there were these large triangles of fried matter. I actually asked what they were—bread. Strangest croutons I have ever seen. I had the local sea bass, which was good but not amazing. My husband again really liked his meal—he had crab cakes and tuna. One strange thing, which occurred at every Santa Barbara restaurant—no one ever seemed to notice when your glass was empty and offer another drink. I was drinking wines by the glass and my husband was drinking beer. So we had one drink where we would have normally had two.
We walked here from our hotel past all of these charming little bistro breakfast places. We show up and it is in a (cute) strip mall, but it was still a strip mall. What a pleasant surprise. Delicious/ perfect French pastries, fresh squeezed orange juice—came every day for breakfast. Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan Beach was greatly lacking in comparison.
Cold Spring Tavern
When we would tell people we were going here they would ooh and aah, “such a perfect day to go there.” When we got out of the car the air was cool and there was this lovely smell of being in a forest. We ate inside the restaurant to the soundtrack of motorcycles idling outside, kind of unfortunate. It is a popular place with the biker set. I am not a fan of onion rings but felt like we should try these—I could turn into an onion ring fan, these were delicious. Had the BBQ beef sandwich, meh.
This was my favorite restaurant of the whole California jaunt. Loved the atmosphere. Loved the food. The charcuterie plate was outstanding. My husband does not normally gravitate toward pate, but here it was a hit. Our mains were wild king salmon and pork tenderloin (I think). Would definitely go here again and recommend.
Santa Barbara Brewing Company
Cannot believe that I am listing this place, but I have to. My husband loves NFL football. Our hotel had flat screen TVs but alas no high def. So we go here to watch the Patriots play. It is SOOO loud, it is SOOO packed. The Monterey Chicken sandwich was delicious, as were the French fries. (My true colors are coming through, I LOVE French fries.) The service was excellent. Kelly, our waitress, never let our cokes or waters run dry (afternoon game).
San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito
This place is gorgeous but our waiter was asleep at the wheel. I would describe the service as inattentive. We sat on the lower patio, really gorgeous. (The upper patio is enclosed by glass and has a roof—but still more of an outside than inside feel.) It was a bustling night with lots of swell and beautiful people. We were seated immediately but it took the waiter at least 15 minutes to come to our table. We ordered dinner. My husband’s starter came out, mine didn’t. There was no one to tell. No one noticed or asked. What the heck, I ordered the $68 main course so did not really need an appetizer. Dinner is served. We would have had a second drink but there was no one to ask. We finally lasso the waiter and request the check. I scan it and my starter is not on there—he forgot it, not the kitchen (even though he tells me it is a terrific choice). He also forgets to charge me for my $24 glass of wine. I figure since I am checking to make sure he did not charge me for the appetizer, I should let him know about the wine. He adds it on. We leave. The stars in the dark black sky are gorgeous—best part of the evening. We did not leave angry, it was such a lovely night and atmosphere. I was shocked at the bad service. But it looks like you don’t have to be good to be packed.
Mistake! I was planning on going to La Super-Rica Taqueria and was talked out of it by the Latina front desk manager—“I don’t get it I can make that stuff at home.” So I end up at Cava because it is outside and Mexican. I was a ghost—I sat there and no one waited on me, but they waited on the adjacent table. I finally had to go inside and wave someone down, very bizarre. I ordered a forgettable salad. Could not get passed the bruised, slimy, expired lettuce—one of my major pet peeves with restaurants. Nasty. [Let the stoning begin because I skipped LSRT in lieu of Cava.]
Manhattan Beach Post, Manhattan Beach
While Julienne was my favorite restaurant of the trip, MBP was my husband’s favorite. In feel it is masculine, bold, in your face. Our waitress was superb, nice change after the spotty service in SB. We loved the cheddar bacon biscuits, kale salad, scallops, and brussels sprouts. The highly recommended skirt steak was lost on us. Not sure if skirt steak can be anything less than tough and chewy. I recently made it at home and my husband said he was eyeing objects in case he needed to perform the Heimlich on himself. They had a nice selection of beers on tap and wines in 3 or 6 ounce pours. We would definitely go here again—very convivial, lively, welcoming, and tasty.
Wahoo Fish Taco’s, Manhattan Beach
Loved the fish taco for lunch.
Talia’s, Manhattan Beach
I wanted to like this place. It is a pleasant atmosphere. BUT they committed the great crime of bruised, slimy, expired lettuce and arugula. I do not get this. How could I restaurant think that customers want to eat this stuff?
Manhattan Beach Creamery
Really enjoyed a clandestine scoop of butter pecan ice cream.
My husband loves excellent beer on draft. This place does not disappoint. Their selection is amazing. Nice, open air restaurant. We did not eat here but would do so in the future for a casual dinner. The guys behind the bar were very pleasant…made for a nice end to the evening.
Thank you for the comprehensive report back! Sounds like you had a decent time. Too bad about the service issues, that is totally lame, but alas, happens all the time. The expired produce is absolutely unforgivable in this state, we grow it all here, should not happen.
Santa Barbara is one of my favorite cities here, thanks for the details on one of the spots I read about, but never go to since we always end up at either LSRT or the Palace Grill, a great Cajun spot, since we don't have great Cajun down here.... And never let anyone talk you out of LSRT again! Even though she makes that stuff at home, we don't, lol!! Next time you're here, GO!