The Daily Nexus presents its annual “Best Of” Isla Vista awards for 2019! Our readers chose their favorites around town such as food, music and places that light up Isla Vista.
Best Place to Grab a Beer: Woodstocks
Honestly, if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty tired of doing the same stuff every weekend by the time you hit senior year. The same I.V. parties, the same daygers, the same beer die at the same houses. It gets old.
So the moment you turn 21 and you’re able to enjoy a beer where you love to eat? That, my friends, is a game changer. And, quite frankly, there is no better place to enjoy a beer than Woodstock’s.
The ability to kick back and drink a beer on a regular night is something that cannot be overlooked. A staple of I.V. culture, Wednesday Pint Nights provide a cheap way to drink a shitload of pitchers with a great group of friends. You also can’t forget about trivia nights on Tuesdays — the fun of competing against other (equally) drunk people is unbeatable.
The variety is also solid. If you’re like me and hate stouts, they have a good mix of IPAs, from Ballast Point to Sierra Nevada, and it’s all pretty damn good.
By the time senior year rolls around, the nights where you can enjoy a few pitchers with your best friends become priceless. And Woodstock’s is the place to have them.
Best Hangover Cure: Bagel Café
There is nothing more magical nor fulfilling than a bagel. Think I’m wrong? Then you haven’t had a Bagel Café bagel the morning after going unnecessarily hard.
Did you drink too much? Are you hungover? Does your tummy rumble and your head hurt? Do you love this shit? Are you high right now? Do you ever get nervous?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, the remedy is Bagel Café. A perfectly toasted ring of bread topped with a heaping glop of cream cheese can take the edge off the worst mornings that follow the best nights.
Not only are these bagels the best hangover cure in town, but walking en masse to Bagel Café with your best friends to discuss the events of the night before is a much loved Isla Vista tradition. The memories made while reminiscing over these bagels will be sure to outlast the hangover that brought you there in the first place.
Best Coffee: Cajé
An essential aspect of I.V. culture, Caje is more than just your typical coffee shop. Deserving of its title of Best Coffee, Caje offers strong coffee and cold brew, as well as unique drink options, such as the agave blended or lavender latte. The menu also extends to teas, smoothies, acai bowls, bagels, and avocado toast for the perfect pick-me-up at anytime of the day. However, this gem of a coffee shop does more for the community than just caffeinate I.V. residents.
Caje’s relaxed, yet also lively energy makes this the perfect place to catch up with friends, go on a first date, or plant yourself to study. From sorority girls to earthers, from members of the Christian Club to graduate students, Caje attracts an eclectic blend of people and provides a place where they can all coexist and feel comfortable. Located across from Embarcadero Hall and next to I.V. Theater, Caje’s prime location on Embarcadero del Norte can either be a blessing for your early morning classes or a curse for your bank account. The storefront immediately grabs your attention with its outdoor seating, succulents, and local art on the walls. When the sun finally breaks through this uncharacteristic June gloom, there is nothing better than sitting outside and soaking up the sun rays with an iced latte.
Best I.V. Band: Careless Cub
Though Isla Vista is home to several different kinds of bands and musicians, Careless Cub has truly left their mark on the community with countless performances this year, as well as the release of their new album Flophouse Palace. Comprised of members Grant Chesin, Andrew Becker, and Ray Muhlenkamp, Careless Cub has managed to encapsulate what it’s really like to be a beach-lovin’, booze-drinkin’ Gaucho through their music.
Although two-thirds of the band are fourth years and will be graduating soon, Isla Vista will never forget the band that dedicated their time to writing original music and performing it any chance they got.
In addition to they beloved house party sets, they have moved up the ladder to playing at restaurants like Rockfire Grill in Isla Vista and Telegraph Brewing Company in Santa Barbara.
Described as “singer-songwriter surf rock,” Careless Cub explore a variety of different musical genres with their work as they strive to find their niche of choice. So, if you’re ever in need of some chill beach tunes with an edge of rock and roll, make sure to immerse yourself in the world of music by Careless Cub.
Best Drunchies: Freebirds
After a typical night of drowning their livers in as much alcohol as possible, most Isla Vistans can be found stumbling toward the holy spot on the corner of Embarcadero and Pardall: Freebirds. A tray of loaded nachos, an oozing quesadilla or a bursting burrito appears to be the desired way to end any night out on the town. With employees who seem to speak the language of the drunkards and a 3 a.m. closing time, it’s no wonder this classic I.V. joint is the favorite drunchie spot of the Gauchos. Worried about the mile-long line that forms mere minutes after the midnight curfew? Never fear — the swaying, stumbling and mumbling masses provide sufficient entertainment as you wait. And it’s worth the wait, because let’s face it — nothing beats the squish and crunch of a loaded nacho as you breath in the spirit of a classic California night.
Best Desserts: I.V. Drip
Nestled into a small, unassuming building is Isla Vista’s hidden treasure: I.V. Drip. Undoubtedly the only place in town where you can find cookies, ice cream, sandwiches, smoothie bowls and coffee all in one tiny location, I.V. Drip is unlike any other spot. The crowning glory of I.V. Drip, however, is its wide variety of high-quality desserts. From a diverse portfolio of fresh-baked cookies to an assortment of McConnell’s ice cream, patrons have the opportunity to create a colorful range of the famous cookie-wich.
There have been many a night where I have fallen prey to I.V. Drip’s enticing three-cookie deal (because why get two when you can get three?) This little hole-in-the-wall certainly lives up to its Best Desserts rep; every single option is a great one. However, here’s my biggest piece of advice to anyone who wanders into I.V. Drip: look at the menu! There are many options beyond the case of cookies, cupcakes and brownies. I highly recommend the Paradise Bowl — perfect after spending a day lying on the beach or after a night of party-hopping on DP.
Best Sandwich: South Coast Deli
If you’ve ever caught a whiff of bacon while coasting through the Pardall Tunnel, you may have been enticed by the aroma of South Coast Deli. Located on the outskirts of the Tunnel, South Coast is the perfect location to stop in on your way in or out of campus. Quick, convenient and filling, South Coast offers a wide variety of sammies for any mood you may be in.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, South Coast is appropriate at any time of day — whether you’re recovering from a rough night, or if you want to fuel up for a study session, it’s impossible to go wrong. Another area that makes South Coast impossible to beat is their excellent service. I’ve never met an employee that I didn’t want to tip.
With that, I will leave you with the South Coast tips I’ve amassed over the years: If you’re in need of a hangover cure, I recommend ordering Megan’s Grilled Cheese. If you want a sandwich on the go, you can’t go wrong with the Chicken Pesto. My biggest tip — and I cannot stress this enough — is to eat in, because underneath your sandwich you will be greeted by two lollipops.
Best Mode of Transportation: Biking
One of the prerequisites of getting admitted to UCSB is knowing how to ride a bike, or in my case, knowing how to avoid getting hit by a bike. People here bike as if they are starring in “The Fast and the Furious” except with two wheels instead of four. The roundabouts, lanes and traffic make it almost identical to driving but much more sustainable.
But biking is not just a mode of transportation at UCSB — it’s a way of life. You can often see not only students biking along the coast here but also others who travel here to ride along one of the most scenic routes in Santa Barbara. Biking is not merely a way to get to class but a way to socialize in a unique form or observe the many wonders of UCSB.
Biking at UCSB almost seems like an extreme sport rather than a mode of transportation. The population of bikers here fit into many different categories, including but not limited to: bikers who ride without helmets (99.9% of our population), bikers who ride without using handlebars (how???) and those poor souls who forget to lock their bike and find it at a frat house a few months later.
Best Hookup Spot: Campus Point
If your roommate kicked you out (again) or you drunkenly trekked backward thinking this is Sands Beach, fear not! Besides the Art Department bathrooms, Campus Point may very well be one of the most multi-purposed destinations on campus.
You can crush Yerbs, smoke, mess with tourists and, most importantly, make love. If you like Frank Ocean when doing the deed, try listening to the real thing. Research suggests that crashing waves set an ambiance like no other. And if you finish early or need a break, you and your lover can gaze at the sky to see if you’ve got what it takes to truly be star-crossed.
Campus Point hookups are coveted in the world of romance; it’s probably on the sex-scene shortlist for the up-and-coming “Fifty Shades” movie.
And if you see a mysterious flashing light, consider relocating to the next tree. It’s just your friendly neighborhood CSO attempting to keep the coast sex-free.
So throw your safe sex goodies — and anything else you might need — in a picnic bag and jump behind the nearest tree. Nobody will ever know. Just don’t pull anything stupid in middle of that maze. Trust us.
Best Drinking Game: Gauchoball
First thing’s first: it’s Gauchoball, not rage cage — show some school pride for crying out loud. As a show of respect to our forefathers, the inventors of this fast-paced drinking game, we as Gauchos ought to honor their contributions to the art of turning casual drinking into a frenzied panic over who’s getting the bitch cup. Masters of their craft, the alumni who pioneered this field of competitive drinking have long since put away their ping pong balls and red solo cups, but thankfully we, the current students of UCSB, have dutifully carried on their legacies.
Anyone who has played a round or two of this game can attest to the intense pressure that steadily rises as the stack of cups into which you must bounce your ping pong ball grows taller and taller. This growing tension in the game, coupled with the brilliant catharsis of the full beer awarded (most often punitively) to the person who gets the last cup, provides the perfect story arc to each playthrough of the game.
Similar to the oral histories and traditions that have been passed down through generations for millennia, perhaps Gauchoball will one day cement its place as a fundamental part of the human condition. If not that, then it’s at least certainly cemented itself as the easiest way to get drunk off free alcohol at a stranger’s party without getting caught.
Best Mascot: Mapaches
One of the first things you hear when you come to UCSB is our infamous chant: “Olé, olé, olé, olé, Gauchos, Gauchos!” whether it be at a soccer game or at a party on Del Playa.
However, many UCSB students are not satisfied with the Gaucho title. What started as a joke turned into a genuine campus-wide desire to actually change UCSB’s mascot to the furry mapache.
Do not be fooled by their cute and cuddly qualities — mapaches will stare you down as you walk back to I.V. from the library late at night, guarding its territory (or rather, its selected trash can). They are adorable, lovable, fierce, intelligent, loyal and sometimes even a tad bit intimidating — qualities that all UCSB students emulate.
Perhaps it is time to change our mascot to the mapache, as many agree that keeping “Gauchos” would be a continuation of cultural appropriation. Regardless, the mapache has already become UCSB’s unofficial mascot. Mapache-related memes are scattered throughout the UCSB Zesty Meme Cuisine for Horny Teens Facebook page, and there are various mapache stickers for sale on Free & For Sale.
Just give it five years, and maybe we’ll finally be the UC Santa Barbara Mapaches.
Best Street: Oceanside DP
It’s the quintessential Isla Vista experience: biking down Del Playa Drive after a long day at school with the sun setting, wind blowing through your hair and friends waving to you from the sidewalk. It’s the street that sold so many people on moving to I.V. in the first place, with its handful of quaint parks, eclectic houses and lively neighbors, who inevitably become friends.
From the balconies of so many houses on Del Playa Drive, one can see the local I.V. landmarks, like UC Santa Barbara’s campus to the left and Platform Holly in the far distance on the right. In the early mornings and late afternoons, surfers are seen from Del Playa Drive riding long, smooth waves toward the shore. And during the summer, who doesn’t love watching eager Isla Vistans run full-throttle into the ocean, blow-up raft in one hand, beer in the other? Of course, there’s also the more wholesome sightseeing, like the occasional pod of dolphins flipping around in the waves and the seagulls flying close enough to touch.
From the 6500 block to the 6800, Del Playa Drive offers a special experience for every I.V. resident.
Best Scooter: LIME
It’s hard to remember a simpler time when walking was the only alternative and we had to actually move our legs to do stuff. Whether your bike is MIA or you can’t bear to drag your buzzed body back home after a night on DP, Lime has proven itself to be our saving grace, more or less.
Needless to say, our hearts were stolen by Lime. The dorky kid that turns hot in college, Lime and its vibrant colors and slower speed were dismissed until Bird was out of the picture, after which Lime became our national treasure. However, having crashed at three miles per hour stone-cold sober on a Lime myself, I learned — like many — that no scooter can be trusted. At Student Health, my doctor shook her head when she heard what had happened.
“You’re the 10th case I’ve seen this month,” she said. Besides my pride and my right ass cheek, I was fine and fared much better than the rest of these daily scooter victims who come into Student Health so frequently that they’ve become their own injury classification.
Where Lime’s liability ends and riders’ liability begins may be a question that continues to require some ironing out, but for now Lime remains UCSB’s favorite scooter, mostly because no one knows what that other new orange one is about.