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Santa Barbara: Wildwood Kitchen

glbtrtr | Mar 28, 2016 10:56 AM

So much to like about this new restaurant Wildwood Kitchen on East Haley Street (Funk Zone) in Santa Barbara, from the Juliene folks who set the highest standard for creative casual cuisine in this town. They appear to be big fans of 'Texas style" BBQ and realized that a major high-quality smoked and grilled meat gap existed in this town.

Their off-beat location is refreshing trend away from the main tourist areas into the fringes of the working class, industrial zone doing a beautiful remake of a former warehouse which is now a very engaging indoor outdoor location. One wants to linger during the nice evenings outdoors.

If you come saying I will have meat with my pickles you will leave a very happy diner. Who knew homemade "bread and butter" pickles side garnish would become the main draw in a full restaurant so carefully thought out, but they are hauntingly good.

DH had the brisket and declared it to be mouth-watering tender and delicious. I had the pork ribs, but was not as pleased: dry and the slightly too hot rub overwhelmed any possible taste of pork. They were edible and yummy, but not wonderful and I would not order them again.

The three sauces did nothing to enhance what was already over-seasoned and stand alone on their own. Side choices were coleslaw and BBQ beans. A little too heavy on the raisins in the otherwise fine cole slaw for my tastes, but the beans needed a lot more simmering to go from crunchy to tender and the bean saucing itself was undistinguished.

(Gawd, do I dare say it but these folks need to survey Mo's BBQ in Pismo Beach for more BBQ exploration, beyond this more austere Texas version for their pork, slaw and BBQ beans? There, I said it.)

No question we will be back (did I already mention the pickles?) and explore their sausage offerings and my turn to try the brisket. Sorry their pork ribs were not top of their game.

I hope they can get better in that regard so they can earn a 100% recommendation instead of a mere 93% recommendation. Portions were large and those pork ribs did just fine the next day cold, but still I will put my own money on Mo's (Pismo) for this particular menu option.

The metal trays for plates and the slab of a slightly eggy white bread was coy I suppose, but not sure why it was necessary. Food matters first, so Wildwood Kitchen is off to an excellent start but still has horizons to explore for more refinement.

Best wishes to them and we will be back. Soon. Service was prompt and very pleasant. They have a good team. Just remember, go for the pickles and stay for the meat.

Wildwood Kitchen
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