Story by Nancy Ransohoff
Add some zing to your winter by checking out the roster of recently opened restaurants—you’ll crack into crustaceans, cozy cafés and chic poolside dining. Killer Shrimp (416 State St., 805/284-9262) makes a Santa Barbara splash with hearty lip-smackin’ dishes served with a friendly, festive vibe. Try the signature dish: natural ingredients (sshhh…they’re a secret) are simmered for 10 hours, then shrimp get a quick cooking in the spicy sauce and are served with French bread for dunking or with rice or pasta. Start with appetizers from oysters and mussels to fish tacos and lobster mac ’n’ cheese. Main events include steaks, crabcakes, fish and chips, and scallops. Feeling decadent? Dig into the sweet potato pecan pie. The bar offers 20 beers on tap; cocktails are mixed with house-made syrups and juices. Check out their killer happy hour from 3 p.m. to midnight daily in the bar, and late-night entertainment and dancing.
Up a stairwell atop the beautiful patio of Antioch University is the cozy Bookends Café (602 Anacapa St., 805/963-3222) from husband and wife team Dominic Shiach and Carmen Deforest, with a menu of delicious sandwiches, salads and pastries that is offering some serious competition for other local cafés. Brisket Banh Mi and Pickled Beet have near-perfect flavor combinations, and the sandwich lineup doesn’t stop there. Bookends also boasts a farm-to-fork ethos, crafting their made-daily deli salads and specials based on seasonal offerings from the nearby farmers’ market. All of their aiolis and pickles are also made in-house, and you’ll recognize several local names amidst their shelves, including McConnell’s and Silver Fork Bakery’s addictive brownies.
Prepare to be pampered in understated luxury at The Bistro (8301 Hollister Ave., 805/571-3018, bacararesort.com), the extensively renovated and newly re-opened beachside restaurant at Bacara Resort & Spa. Led by chef de cuisine Chris Turano, who earned his position after competing on Food Network’s Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell, the new restaurant blends flavors of Italy with locally sourced ingredients. Think traditional Italian dishes such as pastas and brick-oven flatbreads, complemented by lighter coastal cuisine. Signature dishes include veal Milanese, Santa Barbara cioppino, rigatoni with Italian fennel sausage and brick-oven roasted sea bass. “The Bistro celebrates the art of Italian dining with gusto,” says Kathleen Cochran, general manager of Bacara Resort & Spa. “Our goal is to serve food with love; we want our guests to feel like they’re dining al fresco at a warm and inviting villa in Italy.” (OK, sign us up.) Relax indoors or out on the oceanfront patio and soak up views of the Gaviota Coast. The Bistro is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Originally published in the Winter 2013/14 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.