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Jul 9, 2013 12:56 PM

Brief Santa Barbara Report

Went up to SB last weekend...a couple notes:

La Super Rica - I love #16 - the key is to make your own tacos, not eat the plate with a knife and fork, which I see most people doing. It taste 10x better.

Ca Dario Pizzeria - One of my worst meals in recent memory. The pizza is dreadful - tastes like bad frozen pizza with a cardboard crust. Even Rusty's was better!

Via Vai - really pleasant ambiance sitting outdoors for lunch on a saturday - felt like you could be in Italy. I like the pizzas, and everything else was solid as well. Not cutting edge food, but rather your standard Italian for a high end crowd.

McConnell's - It was such a disorganized zoo, I left but my family ordered anyway. The ice cream was good, frozen yogurt not so much. Prices out of control - $4 for a small scoop, $6.75 for two scoops. Combined with the awful parking (had to circle block twice), I won't be returning.

Hitching Post - My family loves the HP, and so do I. And the trip over the 154 is one of the most scenic in the state. It helps that I don't drink anymore.

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  1. Agree the McConnell's location is terrible. They are opening a new storefront on State Street, but I have also long felt they needed a much more accessible location because even with their high prices, they are very popular.

    The amount of the cones increased along with the recent price rise, to almost too much for a single cone serving, but we still love it anyway (Brazillian Coffee Chip and the new favorite Salty Caramel Chip).

    Thanks for the tip on CaDario pizza - have not been to any of the newer "gourmet" pizza places downtown because we are happy enough with Giovanni's Upper State when we get the pizza craving - twice as much and half the price and twice as good when pizza calls.

    Hwy 154 takes every ounce of concentration and defensive driving day and especially night. We now avoid it unless necessary which is a shame because it is one of the prettiest California highways out there. Glad you made it safe and sound. Wine tasting and the Santa Ynez Valley make this narrow winding road a death trap far too often.

    Thanks for the report. Always good to get the feedback and the new ideas that nudge some of us locals out of our dining ruts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: glbtrtr

      I don't think I'd take 154 at night....seems like an accident waiting to happen.

      When I go to the HP, I like to dine early and take the 101 back...that, too, is a lovely drive and one of the the nicest "highways" in the country...especially at sunset.

    2. I must have been lucky the 100's of times I've been to McConnell's...

      I love the ice cream and their very low calorie yogurt.
      I've never had trouble with parking and I'm sorry your experience was what it was.
      It's one of the many places in Santa Barbara I look forward to when coming from LA and would never think about going back without picking up my favorite treat to eat on the way home.

      5 Replies
      1. re: latindancer

        When I first moved to SB (and was younger obviously) I had a McConnell's ice cream cone every single day for years, at their old location on Mission and State.

        Plus they sold "seconds" at a little downtown storefront across from my office where I would pick up less than full quality pints, but because the ingredients were so good, even a "second" was just yummy. (Mislabeled, refrozen ..etc)

        Over time they have tweaked my favorite (Brazillian coffee chip) and now have kind of airy, flakey chocolate chips instead of the really chunky hunks of times past, but it is still 100% good.

        1. re: glbtrtr

          The only thing we get in LA is the pints in the freezer section and the choice is limited.

          I seriously can't imagine not going there, while in the stuff and I'll wait for it :).

          Then again, I'm in Santa Barbara to regain some calmness, enjoy the surroundings....breath.

        2. re: latindancer

          What are the other places you look forward to in Santa Barbara? I drive up from L.A. about once a month and, as much as I love it, would like to try something other than La Super Rica (especially when the lines are long) and Las Agaves.

          1. re: brandygirl

            There are many places I love but here are a few I'll make sure I hit...

            Shoreline Cafe for their fish tacos. To me it's Santa Barbara extraordinaire...right on the beach and sand. I watch the boats and aquatic life and I love their very simple but, to me, delicious food. Locals may not find it worthy but, for me coming from LA, it's quiet and relaxing.

            Scarlett Begonia on Victoria for their Kale Caesar Salad with poached egg. This little gem has a very small seating in a casual setting with superb service and attention to every detail when it comes to food. There's nothing on the menu that's not wonderful, from what I've found.

            I suppose I'd have to know what you're looking for in order to recommend. One of the places I've found that I don't find anything to compare to in LA is Chase on State. It's been in operation for many years and the waitstaff is attentive. I order the Calamari Piccata, outstanding. it's old school Italian and casual. Another poster suggested it, raves about it, and so I gave it a try.

            If you're in SB at least once a month, like I, it's worth exploring.
            There's another little Indian restaurant on lower State I've been with a friend, don't remember the name, but it was very good.

            McConnell's...always, always and always.

            1. re: latindancer

              Thanks for the recommendations. I may go up next week, and Shoreline Cafe sounds perfect. Usually there's a dog or two with me, so I like to keep it fairly quick, casual, and easy. And, of course, McConnell's--I've liked their ice cream that I've bought at the grocery store, so I will definitely try it when I'm up there next time.

        3. I go to La Super Rica often, but have not memorized all the numbers. Which one is #16?

          2 Replies
          1. re: brandygirl

            Only one you have to memorize is#15 (Tocino Especial)! My favorite: melted cheese with bacon, three fresh tortillas and heaps of pico de gallo. Yum.

            Here is a link to a photo of the Superica chalkboard and you can read about #16 (though don't know why you would want to!)

            1. re: glbtrtr

              Thank you for the link. I've had the #16 a few times and love it. My favorites (which I have memorized!) are the #4, which is a small quesadilla with marinated pork, and #10, a quesadilla with chorizo. The next time I'm up there, I'll have to try the Tocino Especial; it sounds great.