Just returned from a terrific weekend in Santa Barbara. Although the weather was a bit chilly, it was still great. We had some very good meals, although we realized we had gone much more than usual to places where you order at the counter and get a number! We also went to the Garagiste festival in Solvang, and realized a bit more why making wine in your garage might be a bit of a stretch...
Los Agaves--we started here with lunch and really enjoyed it although we very much over ordered. We had their ceviche, guacomole and chips, and two specials: the enchiladas verde and the fish tacos (one shrimp, one fish). The ceviche was probably the least favorite: nothing wrong with it, but not the lively flavor we were hoping for. The enchiladas were terrific, cheesy and delicious without being overwhelming. The fish/shrimp tacos were also a winner, with a delicious slaw and a really amazing side salad that stole the show. Also a very nice salsa and condiment bar. Good service (counter style)!
D'Angelos- We had breakfast at D'Angelos and had an excellent cheese danish. One of us had the egg sandwich on a croissant, while the other had pumpernickel toast with a poached egg. The egg sandwich seemed a bit dry. The pumpernickel was excellent; we had heard raves about the bread here, and they were justified. Coffee was also very tasty. Another counter order place.
Jeanine's American Bakery in Montecito-Also for breakfast; notable for the siting of a lesser Baldwin brother. A very pleasant location, marred a bit by neighboring construction. One of us had the breakfast burrito, which was pretty average but had outstanding salsa; the other had a frittata with goat cheese and asparagus, which was very tasty. They forgot our sourdough toast, but were very apologetic when reminded. Excellent mimosa deal: second one half price. Again, counter service.
The Lark-Had dinner at the Lark, which was a lot of fun. Even on a Sunday night it was pretty busy. I would use caution following the suggested ordering: I thought it we had listened to the server, we would have had way too much food.
We had a snack of brussels sprouts, which were very nicely roasted and very tasty (and a reasonable portion); a salad of asparagus and arugula with a poached egg, which was very large and filling although sadly a bit lacking in the asparagus department; tasty, but seemed like too much lettuce; a smoked salmon mid-sized platter (we wanted oysters but they were out), which was bread, salmon and creme fraiche; good salmon, not the most creative dish, but solid. Finally, we had the mussels, which were an asian preparation and which we thought were very good. We also had an ice cream sandwich for dessert, which was quite tasty. The folks next to us had the steak platter and it was very large.
A few other points: service was very good, and the interior and exterior areas were both very nice and interesting in design. There are a lot of heaters outside (although we ate inside) and people appeared comfortable, even though it was a bit chilly. Prices were in line, given the fresh ingredients and care taken in preparing. Good wine list and solid cocktails.
El Encanto-visited only for a cocktail. On a Monday night, not at all crowded, very pleasant service. We had a beer and a martini; they brought us the blue cheese olives separately to try (had onions in the martini). Very good drinks and a beautiful setting.
Arigato-Dinner on a Monday night and a half hour wait for the sushi bar at about 7.15. We browsed in the book store across the street until called. Really enjoyed the sushi bar and had some very good yellowtail, snapper, salmon as well as an oshinko roll and a couple fo specialty rolls. Everything was tasty, fresh and service at the bar was very good. Is it worth the wait? I don't know the options that well in SB, so if you are jonesing for sushi, it may well be. We enjoyed it and will be back.
Renaud's (the smaller one)--another counter order for breakfast! Excellent lattes, terrific almond croissants (atlhough they almost are more like bear claws!) and very good egg sandwich on brioche. Also a really nice egg white omelet. Small inside, but no problem finding seating. We were there later in the morning; I would guess it is a bit more of a scene earlier on.
Look forward to returning and trying more delicious meals!