The ambiance is like a cozy fairy-light place that reminds me of Christmastime year-round. And at Christmastime, the fairylights go from “lots” to “scarily over the top.” At least, that’s what I’ve seen walking by the restaurant in the past.
Finally went there for the first time this weekend. I like the big booths, and the dark atmosphere that encourages intimate dining – could be with family, or a date. Either way, go with people you like to be with.
I had a veal dish, that came with soup or salad, and a portion of penne carbonara. Loved the pasta, it was amply packed with finely slivered bacon. The salad greens were crisp and fresh. I did think it was a little heavy-handed on the dressing – next time I would ask for the dressing on the side.
Service was very attentive, from the hostess to the buser. Perfect on all counts.
A special touch of the night – women received a long stem white rose. Sure, it was probably for mother’s day, and we were simply on a dinner date, but who am I to decline the gift of a flower?
Chase Bar & Grill
Well smack me with a challah and call me lucky.
Sure, the baker thought I was visiting from another country when she found out I didn’t know what a Black and White was, but I bought one, and I ate it, and it was good.
I also got a little raspberry chocolate ganache cake, fully meaning to share it with a friend – as you should because its size is deceiving and it’s filling – but I didn’t. But I can say I am very grateful there was an actual cake portion to the cake because it certainly was very rich and decadent. The cake was finely layered, enrobed in the ganache, and decorated with gold powder, white frosting and a fat fresh raspberry.
Truly sinful. I have a date with the devil.
Say It With Flour
What trip to New York is complete without a forage for one of my favorite street foods, a hot dog. I may have just eaten a good portion of curry, but walking towards the subway there was Gray’s Papaya.
I’d walked by the place, or one of its many fruity imitators a number of times on my stay, but never stopped in. Finally, opportunity.
Gray’s Papaya has maintained a Recession Special for years, regardless of being in a recession or not. It was apt now, and a good deal – Two hot dogs and one tropical fruit drink for just a smidge over $5.00.
I ordered just a simple hot dog, with sauerkraut, and added mustard.
The man behind the counter asked if I was from Virginia. “No, Santa Barbara.”
“Santa Barbara!” he said. Then he looked at the man standing in the queue behind me. “Santa Barbara!” he said to him. The man looked surprised and said, “How did you know?”
What is up with that, Santa Barbarans all decided to be in New York that week. I didn’t know him, but he did explain to me he was really from Carpinteria. Yes, from an east coast perspective that is Santa Barbara.
My hot dog was good.
This is the Chuck E. Cheese of Santa Barbara, meaning there are games to be played for tickets which are redeemed for little plastic prizes. So, good for kids!
The pizza was okay, nothing horrid, nothing super fabulous.
The ordering system still has me confused to this day. We ordered at the counter and were given a little flagged number to put on our table. Someone came along and took the number and walked it over to the pizza kitchen area, and that was somehow the cue to bake our pizza. So we put our reciept on the table, so they could still figure out our number, and they took that away too! I don’t even remember how the pizza eventually made it back to our table. Is this what fuzzy logic is all about?
The large pizza itself was generously portioned. One slice each and we were pretty much done. Leftovers galore.
Luigi’s Pizza & Pasta
They are open late, the owner is super nice, the chili cheese fries are TEH YUM.
Turn your dog into a combo meal for $2.50, or $3.00 if you want the beverage to be a beer. The combo includes the beverage and choice of fries, churro or giant pickle.
If you’re there at the right time, they also have fresh funnel cake. I was there at the right time and took a picture.
Extra kudos go to the owner, who has to put up with all sorts of drunken nastiness on the weekend nights, and yet every day is friendly and helpful. I haven’t even been there too many times and he recognizes me and hands me some discount cards.
Side note: if you look down at the ground at the entrance, you’ll see a colorful mosaic saying “GO FISH.” That’s from a former occupant of the space. I’m glad Mad Dogs kept the mosaic, it’s piddee.
A good place for lunch. A bad place for conversation. I’ve been here twice for business, and once for a birthday. On all occasions it was very hard to hold a conversation, and some of those times it wasn’t that crowded.
It’s neat that the staff wear nice jackets and are wonderfully polite. Is this new? The first time I went, our waitress was more of a party girl who kept draping beads on me and my co-workers. Awkward.
I had the crab cakes, which were okay. Accompanying veggies were nicely crisp-tender. An order of beignets went sadly uneaten since we were trying to talk and it’s dangerous to talk with all that powdered sugar flying around.
The lunch menu is perfectly satisfying. Not big, and not small, a respectful portion with an equally respectful price, less than $10.
I’m sure I would have had a better experience if my intent was to party or charm people with my feminine wiles.
What I like about the Italian Bakery are:
* short queues
They have daily sandwich specials, and a half – which is a good size and what I always order – is only $4.25. A full size is $6.75. Monday’s special is the meatball sub, one of my favorites.
An odd note about the Italian Bakery – there is nobody Italian there and I think there might never have been. But the food is decent. Nothing to make you jones hard like a crack addiction – er, I’m speaking of the sandwiches since the macaroons are another story.
They’ve got some tough competition across the street, no doubt about it. But that other deli is expensive, has long lines and attitude. The Italian Bakery is just simple and friendly…and has macaroons.
There is another Los Arroyos in downtown Santa Barbara, but the version in Montecito has the air of being slightly more upscale. I rarely saw a big filling burrito on a patron’s plate or hurried lunchers, instead I saw proper main dishes and lingering diners.
I ordered the shredded beef sopes, my companions got grilled shrimp salad and crab enchiladas. The sopes and enchiladas came in sets of two, so two of us split and shared the dishes evenly.
Which was better? Well, they were both very good, but the Dungeness crab enchiladas were very new to me so I’ll tend towards those, simply for the new wow factor. They were very light and fresh tasting. Instead of a heavy red sauce it was covered with a fresh salsa of light green chopped chiles, lemon juice and…perhaps cucumbers? $14.95, and quite filling.
But I’m not about to ignore the sopes, they were very good too. Heartier, and rich. It was highly portioned with slow-cooked and seasoned shredded beef and fresh greens. Perhaps a little overwhelmed with sour cream, but that was easy enough to push to the side.
If the main dishes seem too heavy, it is easy enough to substitute out the side dishes of rice and beans for a caesar salad at no extra cost.
The interior was nice enough, nicely decorated and comfortable. But it tended to be a bit loud with lots of voices and music. I was there to have a power talk with some friends and I found it hard to hear them at times. Outside on the patio might have been nicer.
Parking wise, it’s pot luck. There’s a private lot, but there are few spaces and it fills up fast. It’s also very narrow, so big cars beware. In fact, big cars please avoid altogether because you take up two spaces and make it near impossible for a little car like mine to even navigate through. Thanks!
Decent and very cheap meaty treats for the working class. I don’t go here for anything fancy, just piles of bbq ribs.
Standard orders of ribs (beef, pork, pork babybacks) or bbq chicken hover in the $10 range. A basket of fries is ginormous and spiked with a chile salt. I feel full everytime I look at my photo.
You order and pick up at the counter, everything’s fairly self serve
This is not the place to come on an intimate quiet date, the Main Street Grill is one big open space with simple booth and barstool style sitting. It is loud and energized indoors, what with all the sports showing on the big screen tvs and red meat umami pervading the room.
Vegetarians will shake and quiver uncomfortably in the corner.
Main Street Grill
I admit it, I love hot dogs. I own this PBS documentary about hot dogs in America that talks about the history and popularity of hot dogs, regional variations, and popular hot dog joints across the United States.
That doesn’t mean the Hot Dog Factory got a mention on the show – it didn’t – but what I’m leading up to here is that I got a teaser of all the kinds of hot dogs out there, including the Slaw Dog. That’s a hot dog with coleslaw. Don’t say “ew!” Don’t say ew unless you’ve tried it, okay.
And you can try one at the Hot Dog Factory! This is where I had my first, thanks to their menu that offers variations normally associated with different regions. They had the standard dog, chili dog, Chicago style with the pickle wedge and celery salt, NY deli mustard and kraut…and so on.
My stomach barely has room for one dog or just chili cheese fries, but I usually order one dog and french fries, and I *want* to order two dogs and french fries. Sometimes life can be unfair that way.
Oh, and all seating is outdoors. You order at a walk-up counter outside and can eat it as some small tables. Not good if it’s raining, not that I’ve been rained on before. I can just tell.
Hot Dog Factory