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Dec 30, 2012 08:44 PM

One day in Santa Barbara. Where would you go ?

I have just enough time for a breakfast, late lunch, and a delicious pastry and preferably a high quality cappachino.

Places I've liked in the past:

Taqueria El Bajio.

Palace Grille.

Tupelo Junction.

MCConnels Ice Cream.

La Super Rica.

L ombretta.

Mesa Cafe.

Square One.

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  1. I cas see your last visit was quite some time ago as several of those places are no longer there, but others are still on our local lists to enjoy: El Bajio; Tupelo; McConnells, La Superica, Palace and even the humble Mesa Cafe.

    There are some new kids on the block garnering some very good reviews too and if I were to pick the best of the best, here goes - though it is not much variety - electric Californian with a Euro twist:

    Breakfast - Renaud's French (Downtown across from Arlington Theater - yes, superb baked goods and very competent cappuccino or Scarlett Begonia (in Victoria Court) or the old timer Andersen's Danish Bakery (near Art Museum)

    Lunch: Scarlett Begonia or Julienne (across from the Presidio) if they are open for lunch; or the antipasto assortiti and and affogato at Ca Dario (E.Victoria St) remains one of my favorites

    So those are a few new ones to explore, but if you went back to those old friends who are still around you will still leave happy too. The ones I recommended are in the "casual" range for overall ambiance, but I think near the top for quality of dining itself.

    There really are dozens of others to explore too if you want to be more specific about location, scene, price and cuisine.

    Handlebar Coffee across from the Presidio is haunting for the quality of their coffee - just black is an ambrosial taste experience to remind one how good the very basics of the coffee taste can be.

    Personally for the best survey of the new tastes in town, I would do Renaud's for breakfast and Scarlett Begonia or Ca Dario for lunch - and grab a McConnell's for the drive out of town. Though watch your hours for "late lunch".

    5 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      What are your feeling on Los Agaves? I'll be in town for one night, and was thinking of stopping in for chiles en nogadas, a dish not easy to find where I live in the SF Bay Area.

      1. re: hyperbowler

        My own feeling is I stay away from Mexican restaurants that brag they don't use lard, but others like this place as a "healthy take" on Mexican food.

        Went there once and found it was okay, nothing special but it does have a good group of loyal fans. Since it appeals to the "healthy eating" crowd, it will probably offer more vegetarian options such as chiles en nogada, but you may find them lacking in essential depth and flavors.

        I would certainly try it since it intrigues you, because by all standards this is a nice choice on Milpas Street.

        Some local reviews:

        1. re: glbtrtr

          Oh--- chiles en nogadas shouldn't be vegetarian. I called them and they only serve the dish Fri-Sun. I may go with on of the other places listed above. thanks for all the tips!

          1. re: hyperbowler

            Right you are about the chiles en nogada - I was thinking of them more for their veggie, fruit and nut components and forgot about the pork stuffings.

            Saw great ones in Mazatlan, but I know that chef for sure would not have cut out the lard. (Te Amo Lucy in the Centro Historico - yum!)

            Number 15 Tocino Special at La Superica - melted cheese, bacon, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo is where my own heart is in this town on Milpas Street, though the super nachos al pastor at SuperCuca's on West Micheltorena in the heart of the Westside comes a close second.

      2. re: glbtrtr

        glbtrtr, you are so right about the coffee at Handlebar. I am still amazed at how delicious that coffee was. I'm not a huge coffee drinker but I do enjoy a quality cup or cappuccino from time to time. Theirs was hands down the best I have had. Thankfully we bought a bag of beans to bring home.Thanks for pointing me there! I will sing their praises wherever I can.

      3. I would do a croissant and capp at Renaud's upper State..
        Chase for lunch for the calamari of the best in the world..its like abalone they do it so well.
        La Super Rica for a little Mex to go for later gator.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Beach Chick

          Uhhhhh ....make that TWO croissants at Renaud's and you have a deal! They are so good.

        2. We don't go to Renauds because quality of cappuccino is really lacking. Tastes like they are using Starbucks beans. We like Verve beans at French press or Intelligenstia at Crushcakes. Handlebars is also good, just very small and usually has cyclists sprawled all over small patio. :-)

          Brophy bros is a very SB kind of place-good for lunch looking out at Marina and mountains or drinks at sunset.

          1. for lunch Santa Barbara Shellfish Co at the end of the pier. casual great fresh seafood. most of it from their own boats. if the have the local shrimp boiled in beer they are a must order.