Can you remember why you chose to come to UCSB? For some of us this decision happened literally last spring; for others it may feel like a lifetime ago. I remember my high school teacher telling me that choosing a college was like choosing a romantic partner: It’s not how good they look on paper, it’s how they make you feel. I took that advice to heart when I made my decision four years ago and chose to move four hours away from my parents to come here.
There are obviously many reasons to choose Santa Barbara: the beach, the atmosphere, the renowned school, the weather, so many options but so many people forget another aspect of our new home that is really special.
I was obviously encouraged to choose Santa Barbara as my new home because of all the options that I mentioned, but there was one final experience to settle this choice for me way back when.
When I came to visit Santa Barbara for the first time my family and I stayed downtown and went out to eat that night. We strolled down State Street, and I was flooded with so many options all looking and smelling delicious. Each restaurant provided different varieties featuring different cultures and offered different price points. Everyone sitting at their tables looked so happy and I couldn’t believe the plates that I was looking at.
Seeing the culinary and cultural side of Santa Barbara really sold me on the beauty of this place, and I hope you will take the time to get to know it as well.
Santa Barbara is abundant with this sentimentality. You just have to go out and find it. We live in a city surrounded by fresh agriculture, which the city takes full advantage of. Take the lemon or the avocado festival for example. The coastal climate is teeming with sumptuous produce that you can take advantage of at a different farmer’s market almost every single day of the week.
We also have some of the freshest and most sought after seafood right here in our harbor, which makes fish and chips or sushi something beyond what it can be.
The Santa Barbara sea urchin, or Unit, as it would appear on the menu, is literally a culinary legend, and we can literally find it by wading through some tide pools on a lucky day. The seafood and harbor festival brings out some of the freshest stuff and new and sustainable ways to keep this industry booming.
There is an abundant amount of mom and pop restaurants that produce some incredible food. Everything from authentic Mexican, Brazilian cafes, French bistros, Italian lounges and Americana diners, the city really has it all when it comes to cuisine.
Each business takes pride in their craft and truly provides an experience no matter what your taste buds are craving.
On top of that Santa Barbara is saturated with so many incredible options for wine and brew, so many choices that I know in my life I will not get to try everything. There are more than 20 craft breweries alone in the county and that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Santa Barbara’s vineyards per capita.
The fast food industry is even revolutionary. Franchises like the Habit and Freebirds were started and created right here in SB, and Mickey D’s revolutionary egg McMuffin was born and bred right here in town.
These places may not be leading the pack on culinary refinement and innovation, but they sure know how to appeal to the masses and its special knowing you’re stepping foot in the original location of a truly unique franchise.
I know that we didn’t come to college to eat (although I wish that were the case). But still, as the On The Menu Editor I hope I encourage you to get out and have a little taste of the Santa Barbara life and really savor the specialness that the culinary scene here provides. Try to get out every once in a while and try a cuisine that you have always dared to try but never had the guts to do so. Make sure that when you go out to eat you take advantage of the abundance of options and opportunities a beautiful city like Santa Barbara offers you. Experiment! Explore! And, most importantly, eat!