I’ll admit it – I haven’t been a huge fan of Fresco. Even when it was just the one deli in Five Points, it always seemed busy, which is a good sign for a restaurant, but I sometimes get overwhelmed by crowds. Many of my girlfriends absolutely love the place.
This week, a co-worker who’d transferred out of state was in the office and suggested that Fresco was a place she’d like to revisit for a lunch. She got the quiche and the Greek side salad. It cost around $10. And we got a table without resorting to fisticuffs! However, she ended up being underwhelmed with the quiche and thought it was bland. Sometimes, memory is better than reality. But we tried.
I ordered off the Specials menu, which was offering a bbq pork sandwich, and choice of side salad, and it cost about $12.50, including tax. The pork slices were grilled, and served with a bbq sauce, cheese, and a high pile of finely shaved fried onion rings. It came open face, with the hot components on one side, and the lettuce, tomato and pickles on the other.
What I should have done was eat the salad and half the sandwich, and taken the other half home for dinner. Instead I crammed all of it in and lolled around in a food coma for the rest of the afternoon. In other words, it was tasty enough for me to accept the consequences.
Fresco does offer a selection of their sandwiches in a half portion, and the salad or soup for a couple dollars less. Also, upon sitting down, a waiter brings out a small basket of complimentary bread and butter. It’s a nice touch, considering the diner orders and pays at a front counter.
Fresco Cafe North
Visit #2, with some hungry hungry friends. After the first experience of the endless queue of hell, we had a better strategy: going well before noontime.
This time we were only 2 people back in the queue, and got our food in about 20 minutes from the initial queue-up, to the pick-up. We were also well-prepared to avoid those horrible yam chips. Really, those yam chips are bringing the rest of the burger bus experience down. Anyone I’ve chatted with makes their extreme disappointment in the yam chips abundantly clear, and they say so upfront, no goading on my part.
But this isn’t all doom and gloom. NO, we love the Burger Bus! The cheeseburger with jelly is a fabulous combination. And the onion rings, in all their deep fried greasy glory, are sweet, crisp and delicious. And why not? They are Telegraph beer battered. A sure win.
I got the standard hamburger and onion rings. AJ got the CB&J with bacon, and onion rings. Tom, the resident vegetarian, got the falafel and onion rings. McMarko, I cannot remember what he got, but I do remember he did not get the onion rings and felt woefully left out.
Warning: do not put the onion rings on your lap. Ever. The amount of oil that emerges from them will horrify you. But that is what makes them so utterly good. It’s like they didn’t drain them on kitchen towels after frying, but put them straight into your paperbag. Your lovely translucent paperbag glistening with oil.
It is a slight shame that one cannot specify the wellness of the beef in the burger. It’s all cooked well-done. But I am not fussed. The combination of grilled onions and jelly and the chewy but not too thick ciabattta roll more than make up for it. And don’t forget, all local source/local business here. Grassfed Shalhoob beef. Worth the extra money.
The Burger Bus
The great American veggie burger. Ta da! With onion rings, and ketchup and ranch dressing on the side. No charge for the ranch, I think, but they seem to only offer it with orders of onion rings.
I went for the standard burger myself. Honestly, putting “taco” in the title of this breakfast and lunch spot is misleading, I do think it’s the burgers that are done better here. I’ve heard the burritos are good, too. How about Cal Burger, or Cal Burrito?
Past words on this issue:
I haven’t been to Stacky’s since a job I had in Carpinteria, but I went recently after a wonderful afternoon at Summerland beach. Kite flying at the beach is tough work, you know, holding that string and standing there, I had to top up my energy with some fish and chips.
Left: fish and chips. Right: burger and fries.
I got the Sam Adams beer battered tilapia – 2 piece – with chips and coleslaw, for about $8. My friends got the quarter pound burgers, with fries and onion rings – their meals came to about $15 total.
The ambiance is like a beach shack, and I love the weathered wood tables and benches outside, the walls decorated with fishing nets and crabbing buoys. The dining crowd was mostly young hip folks. Um, must have been tourists since Summerland is a crotchety old witching community. Ha! Anyway, everyone was friendly and chatty.
My fish was very juicy and tender, very flaky, almost too flaky to dip into the tartar sauce. It was good, but I’ll try the other battered tilapia next time. Beach season is only just beginning, patience, my little tummy.
We pretty much inhaled our food and then went home in a fried food stupor.
Btw, that little three wheeled car outside, wot?
A nondescript joint in a nondescript section of Goleta/Ellwood Hollister. I certainly don’t feel “the magic” in its ambiance.
However, the food is perfectly good, and they make quick work of getting it channeled straight into your mouth once the order is placed at the counter.
Dining friends got the fish tacos and steak burrito – they took longer to serve up and that was fine by us – hooray for fresh prepared. The Mexican items were a few dollars more than my burger, and were also more amply portioned.
Clientele, like the business itself, was nondescript. Soft pink business park folk, some weathered blue-collar types, mostly gringos. Ah, Goleta.
Current special: $1.49 charburgers on Sundays. So stop by there after you buy your pallets of mayonnaise at Costco down the road.
Finally, I asked the main guy behind the counter – was Cal Taco short for California Taco, or is there some guy named Cal back there. Answer: the former. Mystery solved. Main guy behind the counter is super nice, too. And I think he recognizes me now! That’s hot.
The burgers are still ample and juicy, the sides can still be bought as half and half french fries/onion rings, and there are still piles of peppers and jalapenos to add on at the drinks station. Much the same to my first musings about the place.
But…there’s a sign for a new offering, called the Wipe Out, for their equivalent of chili cheese fries. Onion rings, chili, bacon, cheese and ranch dressing, for $4.95.
More like Whulp Out. The chili got a little gelatinous in a very short period of time, and the toppings were chucky enough that it was very hard to scoop it up.
Left: cheeseburger and half&half fries/onion rings. Right: the Wipe Out. More like Whulp Out.
If you’re coming here for a combo-type meal – burger, fries, drink – expect to pay about $10.50 for it. Seems like a lot, but for me, I don’t have to eat dinner if I fill up on their meal at lunch. Really filling.
Best customer sighting: two grey-haired grannies in their Sunday frocks. I turn to look at them as one clearly has a magnificent belch rolling up her chest. And she lets it go.
I had lunch here for the first time. If I could, I’d give it 3.75 stars.
Slightly hole-in-the-wall, slightly out of the way, but bustling with patrons during the lunch hour thanks to UCSB students and business parks nearby.
My companion had the bbq chicken sandwich, which looked very yummy, and she claimed was yummy where there was bbq sauce. Mysteriously, the bbq sauce was only on one precise half side of the sandwich. Imagine a grilled chicken breast with bbq sauce, served between a wheat burger bun with lettuce and tomato. Plus a little iceberg salad on the side.
I had the taquitos, which were stuffed with chicken, and they were actual pieces of chicken strips that ran the length of the taquito. This is the first place in Santa Barbara that had big pieces of chicken like that – all others are shredded. They were yummy!
There are also burgers and fries, looked like a burger, fry and drink combo is about $5.50. Then there are burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, tostadas, but really the menu looked quite simple.
Counter guys were very friendly, eager to suggest items I might like when I started hemming and hawing over choices. Maybe they just wanted me to hurry up, but they accomplished that while also making me feel good. One guy also thanked my friend for bringing a newbie into the Cal Taco fold.
There is seating inside and outside under an awning, so you get some shade. You order and pay at the counter, and pick up your stuff when they call your number. Note that number calling does not occur outside, so if you want to sit outside, you need to linger by the door to overhear your number.
I have my reservations about any eatery in a big box shopping center, which is why I shied way from Kahuna Grill for some time. But I was there recently for a co-worker lunch and am glad they finally burst my biased bubble.
These Kahuna-experienced co-workers gave me plenty of advice on what’s good there, and I ended up with a bacon and jack cheese burger, and half&half fries/onion rings. I ate the whole thing right up.
Service was really good! Normally, big groups are hard to manage, service-wise. Groups are always changing orders, arriving at odd times, asking for split checks, are rowdy and distracted. Groups can be hell and I’m sure we were no angels. Yet the staff was always smiling, always accommodating, and even the owner or manager helped bring out our orders so they could all be distributed at once.
Next time I’ll try the turkey burger that folks raved about, and yes, there will be a next time.