A trip to southern California wouldn't be complete without a stop in Santa Barbara, home of many things beautiful including amazing Pinot Noir and incredible food.
With just a day in Santa Barbara, J and I wanted to make the most of our time once we arrived but we didn't know where to begin. We decided to start at the only place we knew in Santa Barbara, The Shoreline Beach Cafe, right on the water.
The Shoreline Beach Cafe is the only restaurant in all of Santa Barbara that you can actually dine with your feet in the sand and that's just what we did. We started off with one of our favorite warm weather drinks, a michelada. A michelada is like a bloody mary with beer instead of vodka and it is incredibly refreshing. It's salty, spicy, and very fresh. It's basically some tomato juice, some worcestershire sauce, some maggi or soy sauce, a dash of hot sauce, and squeeze of lime with a good light Mexican beer like Corona or Tecate. A peppered rim gives the drink a nice little kick.
And what's better with a fine Mexican cocktail than fish tacos? If you've been reading One Food Guy for a while then you know I love tacos, so when I saw these catch-of-the-day fish tacos my ordering decision was a no-brainer. Soft corn tortillas stuffed with freshly fried fish covered in fresh cabbage and cilantro with a side of pico, smokey, spicy black beans and a slightly spicy sauce. With the sun setting in front of us (we got a late start on the day,) an ice cold michelada in hand, delicious fish tacos in my stomach and a big ass pelican staring at us - what a perfect beginning to our day.
Our next stop in Santa Barbara took a little work. We were in Pinot country and wanted to taste some wines so I fired up Google Maps on my Crlackberry and before long we found ourselves at Carr Winery in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. They produce some seriously good pinot noir as well as syrah, grenache, pinto gris and cabernet franc. Tastings are available for $10 from 11am to 5pm everyday and Friday nights from 5pm to 11pm in the barrel room they have live music to go along with wines by the glass and bottle service. This place is worth checking out, trust me! If you like pinot noir you will really enjoy the pinot that Carr produces. J and I brought a few bottles home with us and are looking forward to uncorking them soon.
We made a couple more stops around Santa Barbara before heading to dinner. One at the Santa Barbara Winery, nice enough folks and decent wines but this place had TOURIST written all over it. It reminded me of the Newport Vineyards tasting room in Newport, RI where busloads of people are dropped off for tours and tastings - no thanks!!
Our last stop before dinner was at The Brewhouse, home of some fantastic Belgian style ales and an outstanding Habanero Pilsner! Yes, it's HOT but also very clean and crisp and well balanced. All this drinking certainly loosened us up and prepared us for a great dinner. Not only did my friend Gina tell us about Elements but the nice people at Carr Winery also recommended it, so that's we were headed. Stay tuned for my review of Elements Restaurant and Bar.