Engaging Getaways and Venues for:
USA/West: Santa Barbara, CA
The classy Harbor View Inn cannot be beat for location — directly across the street from Santa Barbara’s beautiful beachfront, Stearns Wharf and a fabulous waterfront walking and biking path. Rooms are spacious, and many have terraces with ocean views. Spa Beaumontia is a nice place to unwind and relax within the boutique hotel.
An elegant downtown boutique hotel with an outdoor heated pool and a wine bar, the Spanish Garden Inn offers 23 spacious rooms and suites. Each room or suite has a private patio or balcony, and bathrobes are provided. The entire property can be rented for an intimate business meeting, wedding or family retreat.
The Simpson House Inn, located on a one-acre 1874 Victorian estate with English gardens, lets guests choose between 15 guest rooms, suites and cottages. Each room contains antique furnishings and top-quality linens. Book the Robert and Julia Simpson room for its garden-view wraparound veranda and oversized wicker chairs with ottomans. Gourmet breakfasts are served, and there is an evening wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres buffet.
A block from the beach, the Harbor House Inn offers 17 motel studios furnished with antiques and collectibles. The inn provides bicycles and is near shops, restaurants and Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara’s pier.
Mostly outdoors, the Lark resembles a train station and seats diners at vintage train booths and communal tables. Zagat restaurant guides recommends the deviled eggs topped with pancetta, gem lettuces with Dungeness crab and avocado vinaigrette, gnocchi with slow-cooked lamb shoulder and scallops with Ruby Red grapefruit. Other favorites are the Moroccan lamb ribs and the 72-hour marinated and grilled boneless short rib.
Central Coast cuisine with such offerings as avocado gazpacho and seared scallops with spring pea risotto has made Barbareno popular. The small restaurant in a residential neighborhood serves customers in a rustic but contemporary dining room or at a heated, covered outdoor patio. You will find some of the world’s best — and most expensive — wines on the menu. The desert list is unique with such choices as popcorn creme brulee with wild cherry ice and Milk Duds, and basil ice cream with lemon curd and candies pine nut.
Toma, which bills itself as “Santa Barbara’s most romantic waterfront restaurant,” specializes in “handcrafted cuisine” that supports “local fisherman, farmers, foragers and food artisans.” Expect such creative appetizers as tuna cones — ahi sashimi with ginger, sesame, soy sauce, chili and chives in crisp sesame cones. Various flatbreads and pastas are on the menu and such main dishes as braised beef short rib and fish stew with crab, prawns and other seafood.
“Understated elegance” are the buzzwords of Bouchon, a California-French restaurant that says it serves fish from the Santa Barbara Channel and produce from the surrounding countryside. Specials have included pan-seared foie gras, corn bisque and seared scallops. Choose from such tasty entrees as char-grilled rack of lamb and crispy skin Pacific salmon.
A casual pizza and wine bar, Olio Pizzeria also serves scrumptious salads and paninis. Paninis include grilled Kobe flank steak with roasted peppers and onions and gorgonzola cheese. Unique pizzas include one with calamari, shrimp and clams and another with robiola cheese, crimini mushrooms and black truffles. The restaurant sells rare Italian craft beers, numerous wines from Italy and California and inventive cocktails.
Finch & Fork promises fresh, simple, local food that is a “nostalgic homage to timeless American dishes” with a modern twist. Crispy shrimp po’boy sandwiches, buttermilk fried chicken and pork belly and potato hash are some of the comfort-food suggestions on the menus.
Los Agaves serves delicious Mexican food — often with a flair. Try the zucchini blossoms and the ceviche tostada — halibut marinated in lime juice, onions, cilantro and tomatoes on a corn tortilla with guacamole, lettuce and sliced avocado. Specials include grilled butterflied breast of Jidori chicken with frijoles de la Olla and a grilled poblano chile stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese.