When you’re running through your mental list of Isla Vista food options, do you suddenly feel limited? Do you become choked by asphyxiation as the walls inch their way toward your feeble body? Please, do not panic. Fasten your oxygen masks securely around your nose and mouth and let On the Menu introduce you to the newest additions to I.V. dining.
Berry, Berry Good
Berrilicious BBQ House
956 Embarcadero Del Norte
Price: $5 to $15
Berrilicious, which is known for its frozen yogurt and fun topping selections, underwent some renovations over the summer. The eatery added a crazy-cool mural to brighten up its patio and a Korean-style barbecue joint known as the Berrilicious BBQ House. Since its opening in August, owner Lillian Jung said spreading the word has been important in getting people to come to the far corner of Embarcadero del Norte and Seville Road.
“We have some regulars; I’ve gotten used to a few friendly faces,” Jung said. “But I think just not enough people know about [the BBQ House]. We need a bigger sign.”
Though it works with a simple menu – there are only four basic options: chicken, pork, beef and ribs – Berrilicious BBQ House mixes and matches what it has so students can choose how much they’re getting and with what on the side.
“People really like it,” she said. “It’s a good portion for a good deal. It’s affordable but it fills you up.”
Jung pointed out the pork option, which can come as a plate with rice and two side salads, or as a bowl with rice and veggies or just rice.
“The pork is a popular choice,” she said. “No one really sells pork in Isla Vista.”
Jung also said their chicken dishes, which are offered with the same options as the pork dishes, have been well received. The BBQ House additionally has a salad topped with grilled white chicken and even lets you go half-and-half with steak.
“We’ve gotten positive feedback on the chicken – our chicken is really tender,” Jung said. “A lot of people go with the half-and-half chicken and beef. And of course we’re known for our ribs – famous Korean barbecue ribs.”
Eyeing the meat-filled menu, Jung said the restaurant is looking to include a few vegetarian dishes and to add a breakfast selection to the menus on each side of the patio.
“I’d like to do waffles with the yogurt and omelettes on the barbecue side,” she said.
She also said there are plans of expanding their hours that would hopefully accommodate the early classes in I.V. Theater and late-night partiers coming off Bill’s Bus.
“The students just want something simple that they can grab quickly,” she said.
Jung said Berrilicious is trying to transform its space and the way students use it. She mentioned its large patio and wireless Internet as reasons for students to stick around.
“This place was kind of dead for a few years,” she said. “Now it’s a new place to hang out. People sit with their computers or just hang out. A lot of different crowds, too.”
Grab a bowl of Korean-style barbecue from Berrilicious BBQ House, then finish your meal off with a bowl of all-natural non-fat frozen yogurt from the parent eatery. The joint is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and from 1 to 10 p.m. on Sundays.
Here Comes the Sun
6658 Pardall Rd.
Price: $10 to $15
The simple, two-toned flower boxes filled with cacti that line the patio are the first clue to passers-by that Fresh Start is not your average Isla Vista eatery. The next might be the funky lime-green and deep-purple cushions on the benches and chairs and the student art on the walls. And then, of course, there’s the menu, with crepes, paninis and ancient Chinese elixirs, which, according to co-owner Tatiana Tsareva, are designed to stimulate your taste buds, mind and body.
“We want to provide healthy food [and a] healthy lifestyle to the students,” Tsar said.
Tsareva, who knows what students need after working for years as a professor in a Moscow medical school, pointed out the Breakfast To Go menu, which is a fast, hot breakfast to grab quickly on the way to class. The menu has three crepes to choose from – including a meatless option – or a bagel or croissant with cream cheese and ham. All of the Breakfast To Go items come with coffee or tea and six mini sugarcoated doughnuts. The portable breakfast is only $5 after tax and is served until 11 a.m.
Tsareva said the most popular menu item is the Fresh Start, a dessert crepe filled with strawberries and bananas and topped with whipped cream and a Ghirardelli chocolate sauce. It comes with a small side of fruit and is the perfect afternoon snack. Another favorite is the Normandy, a savory crepe with smoked salmon, whipped cream cheese and a dill and lemon sauce. The savory crepes come with a small side salad and are very filling.
The menu also has simple crepes with just a single traditional filling like Nutella or honey, as well as an entire selection of vegan selections with tofurkey and lots of veggies. Tsareva also pointed out the Chinese tonic, elixir, that they serve along with coffee and hot teas.
“We don’t sell any sodas or drinks that contain chemicals, colorings, additives,” she said. “The different tonics do different things, like increasing energy, but it’s not like an energy drink, there is no caffeine; it’s all plant-based.
Fresh Start just received the Morning After tonic from their distributor. The drink, made to cure hangovers, hadn’t been available because of a bad crop of raspberries, which is the main ingredient.
While enjoying your panini and energy tonic, appreciate the art displayed inside, all of which was created by UCSB students. Tsar said the students and their art are key features of the restaurant.
“We’re just beginning,” Tsar said. “Art, music events, we’ve had some offers of people doing poetry readings, photos, movie screenings.”
Tsareva said the entire interior and exterior of the restaurant was designed by College of Creative Studies art students under the guidance of professor Kim Yasuda and took approximately a year to complete.
“The space was created by students, for students,” she said. “That’s kind of our motto.”
Roll into Fresh Start for a new Isla Vista flavor Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays or on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
6578 Trigo Road
Price: $5 to $15
The most recent newcomer to the Isla Vista scene just opened up on Trigo Road. The Cafe Int’L, owned by Steve Rhim, opened up its second store after seeing so many students come into its Calle Real location.
“I figured if we moved here, we’d have a better chance to reach the students,” Rhim said.
The owner said he was drawn to the large patio of the Trigo spot. The interior of the eatery remains simple, with the focus on creating an attractive, welcoming space to enjoy Santa Barbara’s sunny weather. Single Grebera daisies adorn the outside tables and a bar along the street-side of the patio provides plenty of seats for people-watching.
Rhim said he has a different idea of service than what he sees at other Isla Vista eateries.
“We’re not fast food,” he said. “Everything’s made to order, and we serve you. Some of the other restaurants [in Isla Vista] don’t treat people like people; they treat people like animals, throwing the food at them.”
But what it really comes down to is the quality of the food, and Rhim said the Cafe Int’L has that covered as well.
“Unless the food is good, it doesn’t matter if it’s good service,” he said. “I’m very confident in our food. Almost all of it is homemade.”
All-day breakfast is popular with students, who may not always keep the most regular sleeping patterns – and fortunately for these wormless birds, Rhim said the cafe’s breakfasts do not disappoint.
“A lot of our menu is our breakfast menu,” he said, motioning to the three panels of breakfast selections. Rhim pointed out his favorites: the veggie omelette, which is three eggs chock-full of zucchini, onion, mushroom, tomato, bell pepper and avocado; and the European combo, which comes with a half a Belgian waffle topped with strawberries and whipped cream, an egg and sausage or bacon.
He said the eggs benedict has proved to be another popular breakfast dish.
“Students like the eggs benedict. We’ve got three options to choose from,” he said. Those three options are the Santa Barbara, which adds avocado, the Florentine, which adds spinach and the lox benedict, which substitutes lox – or thinly sliced salmon – for the traditional Canadian bacon.
Switching to the lunch menu, Rhim said there is a significant difference in what people order at his Calle Real restaurant and the Isla Vista location.
“People in Isla Vista love the chicken sandwiches,” he said. “They all come on a dinner roll; it’s all-white chicken. I think it’s a quarter-pound of chicken.”
Those familiar with the Calle Real location may notice that some of the menu is missing from the new nearby spot.
“We decided to just go ahead and sell our best items,” Rhim said. He mentioned their pastas as an example of what didn’t make the cut.
Luckily for I.V. residents and dining commoned-out students, the menu at Café Int’L is extensive enough to overwhelm hungry Gauchos. With eggplant parmesan and meatball sandwiches, strawberry spinach and Cajun chicken salads and pasta al pesto, in addition to numerous other items, this fresh eatery will surely satisfy any food craving.
While Isla Vista may be a small city, these new establishments offer new and exciting menus. Break away from your habitual hangouts and see what else I.V. has to offer.