Love Mexican food, but ready to stray from the Freebird’s following? Whether you are looking for a delectable and affordable lunch, dinner or late night snack, Romanti-Ezer is sure to satisfy any craving with their stunning selection of authentic South of the Border fare. With homemade gorditas, taquitos and mouth-watering mole, this hole-in-the-wall eatery seriously spices up the standard burritos and nachos and will abre tus ojos to a whole new world of Mexican specialties.

701 Chapala St., Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 730-1612
Price: $5 – $10

There are few things college students search for more eagerly than Mexican food at 2 a.m., and Romanti-Ezer is at the top of the list, as far as Santa Barbara’s late-night eateries go. The joint is located on Chapala Street in downtown Santa Barbara and offers a menu that is sure to spice up the latter part of your night.

The family-owned restaurant opened six years ago, and, according to Manager-in-training Gerson Flores, has a well established customer base consistingof both Santa Barbara locals and college students.

“University and city college students are regulars because they live around here,” Flores said. “They’ll come in and say, ‘I’ll have the usual.'”

Romanti-Ezer is situated near one of Santa Barbara’s many produce markets, which is where Flores said the restaurant gets a lot of its ingredients. Other elements, like the authentic Mexican spices, are either brought in from nearby cities or made in the restaurant. Mole, for example, is the key factor in many of the restaurant’s most regularly ordered dishes.

“Anything with the mole is the most popular,” Flores said. “We make it right here in the restaurant.”

Mole is a traditional Mexican concoction and is a combination of savory flavors such as apples, cinnamon, peppers, chocolate and more. The sauce is served over tortilla chips, inside the Mole Holle Ole Burrito — which also comes stuffed with grilled chicken, rice and cheese — and with Mole con Pollo, which is offered with a side of rice, beans and handmade tortillas.

The joint offers a wide variety of Mexican dishes, ranging from enchiladas, fajitas, empanadas and nachos, all with a choice of beef, chicken or shrimp. Romanti-Ezer also offers the Gorditas de Requezon, which consists of two deep-fried gorditas filled with cheese, chiles, lettuce and sour cream. The selection of Pupusas comes with a hand-made gordita and a variety of fillings.

I had the distinct pleasure of eating at Romanti-Ezer with my roommate — who is always up for quality Mexican grub — and found that both the service and food exceeded our expectations. We were served a basket of chips drizzled with mole and knew immediately after tasting the sauce that we would be ordering something with the authentic creation. The mole flavor started out sweet, but ended with a kick as a reminder of the peppers that were mixed in.

We decided on the Mole Holle Ole Burrito and an appetizer plate to share and found ourselves staring at an enormous amount of food. The burrito was large enough for two Mexican-food loving girls to share and was chock-full of flavors. The chicken was grilled to perfection, and the rice was cooked in a delicious combination of herbs. The appetizer plate was served with a cheese quesadilla and three chicken taquitos with a side of the restaurant’s homemade sour cream and guacamole. I like to think of myself as something of a quesadilla connoisseur, and the cheese and tortilla snack at Romanti-Ezer was beyond my wildest imagination. The cheese was so fresh, and the tortilla was so perfectly crisp… I might have to retire my George Foreman.

Our server, a hospitable and attentive young man, offered us some of the best service I’ve received in Santa Barbara. His consideration, in addition to the delectable meal, has ensured the restaurant yet another regular customer.

The eatery sees a sizeable late-night crowd, Flores said, specifically those who have worked up an appetite on the dance floor.

“We see a lot of party people at night,” he said. “It gets crowded when Wildcat closes and Tonic closes.”

Keep Romanti-Ezer in mind the next time you hitch a ride on Bill’s Bus downtown, and add a little extra flavor to your night. The eatery is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and on weekends it reopens for the night owls from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m.

Tortas are authentic Mexican sandwiches served on a round, white roll called a bolillo. Bring the fresh flavors of Mexico to your kitchen with this easy-to-make recipe for tortas.


4 (3 ounce) thin-cut beef round steaks
4 Mexican-style sandwich rolls (bolillos)
1/4 cup sour cream, divided
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans – drained, rinsed and mashed – divided
2 avocados – peeled, pitted and sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced into quarters lengthwise
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce, divided
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 cup crumbled queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese), divided
1 lime, quartered


Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and pan-fry the round steaks 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. Slice the rolls lengthwise.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of sour cream onto one side of each roll, and top with about 1/3 cup of mashed pinto beans per sandwich.

Place a cooked round steak per sandwich on top of the pinto beans, and then layer each sandwich with one-fourth of the avocado slices, tomato slices and sliced pickled jalapenos, about 1/2 cup of shredded lettuce, 1/4 cup of cilantro and 1/4 cup of crumbled queso fresco cheese.

Squeeze a lime wedge over each sandwich, close and serve.

Recipe courtesy of