Tired of spring showers and windy weather? Are those long days of tanning making you crave summery sustenance? Cruise to these nearby restaurants for some fun in the sun, and hang-10 on the patio while they serve up cool cuisine with the rich taste of three months of freedom.
Summer of ’69
Endless Summer Bar Cafe
113 Harbor Way
The Endless Summer: the search for the perfect meal. Named after the classic surf movie, the Endless Summer Bar Café gives diners a taste of authentic west coast surfer culture with a beach inspired menu and vintage surfboards on display.
Overlooking the Santa Barbara harbor and the sunset, the Endless Summer Bar Café features lightweight fare perfect for warm summer nights.
Endless Summer General Manager John Pollock said a top seller is the Fresh Sesame Crusted Ahi, which comes served on a bed of warm spinach salad with a curry bacon dressing.
“It was just written up by Sunset Magazine,” Pollock said.
According to Pollock, the restaurant’s authentic tacos are the most popular menu offerings. These classic tacos are prepared in traditional Cabo style, stuffed with fresh green cabbage, a specially made jalapeno yogurt sauce and fresh guacamole and served with refried beans and rice. Diners can choose from seemingly endless fillings, including traditional taco fillings like tender top sirloin, shrimp and beer-battered cod or more exotic options like salmon or lobster.
For those with more vegetarian inclinations, the restaurant’s Garden Burger is all-natural and is served with a side of fries.
Let your taste buds vacation to an exotic island by trying the Hawaiian Poki Salad. The green meal comes with fresh raw ahi tuna, mixed greens, wakame seaweed and carrots, and is topped with wasabi sauce and sesame vinaigrette.
Kick back during the extended happy hour, every night from 4 to 6 p.m. With many popular menu items offered for half price, dollars will stretch as far as the horizon, and use the money you save to stave off dehydration with some cool drinks – from the gnarly full bar, Pollock said the restaurant offers a swell selection of tropical drinks at breezy prices, like the $3 beers, $4 margaritas and $5 mai tais.
“We have two full bars,” he said. “And we also do catering.”
Pollock said the restaurant offers a great location for diners to enjoy the delights of the coast.
“It’s right on the beach,” he said. “Our outdoor patios have sunset views.”
Endless Summer Bar Cafe also provides free valet parking to customers, so break out the woody with some friends and cruise on over Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 until 9 p.m., or Friday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.
What a Gem!
Opal Restaurant and Bar
1325 State St.
For a cool meal, head over to Opal Restaurant and Bar on upper State Street. This popular eatery turns up the heat on competitors with eclectic and delicious meals.
The restaurant offers its patrons a menu that twinkles with flavor from all around the world, from Western European and Asian influences, to tastes from South America and contemporary American styles.
Manager Eric Snyder said a local favorite is the Pesto Sauteed Bay Scallop Salad, which features tender baby spinach tossed with carefully cooked scallops, toasted pine nuts and freshly-grated parmigiano reggiano. A drizzle of the restaurant’s just-right roasted garlic dressing completes the dish, Snyder said.
“We have an eclectic California menu,” Snyder said. “It’s pretty diverse, and we feature a new specials menu every night.”
Nightly specials always feature old favorites and go-to items, including a Wild Salmon Filet, Snyder said.
Another sample of Opal’s specials includes the Alaskan Halibut, which is crusted with macadamia nuts and cooked in an orange citrus sauce.
One of the local favorites is the Lemon Grass Crusted Fresh Salmon Fillet in a Thai curry sauce. This flavorful meal is served with sautéed julienne vegetables, orange zest basmati rice and a caramelized apple.
Customers looking for a light Italian meal with a unique flavor can catch sight of Opal’s pizzas, which are cooked in a wood-burning oven, and the Homemade Basil Fettuccine comes with sautéed Tiger Prawns and homemade pesto.
The unique mix of dishes inspires a loyal following, with some diners visiting Opal several times a week.
Be sure to take advantage of the full bar with specialty cocktails, Snyder said, and an award-winning wine list.
“If you’re looking for a strong cocktail, we pour a great drink,” he said. “And our wine list is one of the best in Santa Barbara County.”
Even though bathing suit season is coming up, dessert is a must at this sparkling restaurant. Treats like the Brown Butter Tart, which comes with fresh seasonal fruit, or the fresh vanilla bean Crème Brulee, are sure to justify the splurge.
Locals are not the only fans of this eatery, as The Santa Barbara Independent has ranked Opal among the top restaurants in Santa Barbara, based on the friendly atmosphere, attentive service and high-quality food.
Stop in at Opal’s Restaurant for a summer vacation to remember Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday from 5 until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 through 11 p.m.
Orange You Hungry?
Lettuce B. Frank
413 State St.
Within easy reach for downtown diners and partiers alike, Lettuce B. Frank offers a menu of authentic east-coast tastes, including Philly-style cheese steaks and the best wings this side of Buffalo.
Manager Nate Childress said the wings at this cleverly named joint are coveted by customers from across the nation.
“We do our sauce just like they do in Buffalo,” Childress said. “We’ve had people from Buffalo tell us ours are the best wings they’ve tasted since coming to California.”
Childress said that without question, the most popular item on the menu is the Slider, those miniature hamburgers made famous by the White Castle restaurant chain.
“We do the Slider so much better than White Castle,” Childress said. “All of our sliders come on Hawaiian sweet rolls, and we’ve got beef, pulled pork, fish and veggie options.”
Each slider comes with a special combination of toppings, including fresh-made, never-canned, never-frozen sauces, Childress said. The restaurant makes all of its sauces from completely fresh ingredients, Childress said.
The eatery has a regular happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. each night, and Lettuce B. Frank also features fun weekly specials. Toss-Up Tuesdays are ideal for easy summertime living, where a winning coin flip means the most expensive item on the tab is free. Lucky customers on Rock Paper Scissors Wednesdays can beat the bartender to win a free beer. Thursday is College Night, and Fridays offer an extended Happy Hour from 8 unti1 1 p.m. Sundays really are fun days here, with sliders and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer for only $1.
The restaurant holds a beer and wine license, and serves a variety of both, as well as offering Soju, a low-proof Korean vodka distilled from barley, Childress said. At just $1 for a shot or $3 for a cocktail, this deal is sure to brighten up the day.
Lettuce B. Frank provides more than just food and drink, Childress said, as the eatery will see the completion of an outdoor beer garden and game room within the month. Combine foosball, darts and flat screen televisions with delicious food and affordable alcohol and this restaurant will have created an oasis to spend those glowing summer afternoons.
Stop by Lettuce B. Frank for a refreshing dining experience all week long from 10 a.m. until midnight.
3987 State St.
After a long day of fun in the sun, meander over to Fresco! in the 5 Points Shopping Center. With fresh, organic lettuce and tomatoes and new specials every day, this restaurant will leave your mouth watering.
Owned by the sons of the original owners, Fresco! has been helping locals beat the summer heat for the past 13 years.
According to manager Jackie Lopez, one perennial favorite is the gorgonzola walnut salad. The dish includes organic mixed greens topped with shaved gorgonzola cheese, sweet candied walnuts, diced tomatoes and a citrus balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The restaurant offers a wide range of salads – both traditional and unique – to appeal to every taste.
Lopez said the single hottest menu item is the soups, which change daily.
“I feel like people come in more for our soups than anything else,” Lopez said. “The Chicken Tortilla Soup is especially good.”
Other items on the rotating menu include pastas and pizzas with creative toppings like roasted eggplant, caramelized onions and meatballs for the adventurous types. More standard offerings, such as veggie and pepperoni, ensure meals for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
For patrons looking to appreciate the summer day from an early time, Fresco! includes a healthy and extensive breakfast menu. The Sausage Scramble is made with two eggs, Italian sausage, red bell peppers and onion, while the Veggie Scramble includes two eggs, fresh spinach, mushrooms, feta cheese, onions and chopped tomatoes. The eatery also offers more traditional morning snacks, like pastries, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs.
The café also offers fresh dessert items, many of which are made with fresh fruit flavors. The Fruit Tart and Lemon Bar are ideal for a light post-dinner treat, while the Boston Cream Pie and Cheesecake Brownies are well-suited for any sweet tooth.
While Fresco! offers a selection of beer and wine, there is no bar or bartender, making the experience more of a cool casual dining place than a hot night spot.
Fresco! is ready to serve up a refreshing meal that is sure to leave a lasting impression Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.
With these sunny Santa Barbara spots you can catch the tastes of summer and still work on your tan.