Black-Owned Restaurants & Food Businesses in Santa Barbara
Food is a bridge — it allows people to connect with their culture and also, momentarily, immerse themselves in cultures other than their own. Living in Santa Barbara, we are lucky to have access to a variety of dining establishments that offer a vast array of cultural cuisines. In honor of Black History Month, we would like to take a moment to highlight a few Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in the Santa Barbara area.
Gipsy Hill Bakery
Gipsy Hill Bakery is a pop-up, artisanal bakery that embraces the fresh, local produce of Santa Barbara. Founded by London-born chef Sandra Adu Zelli, Gypsy Hill combines Adu Zelli’s childhood memories of picking organic produce in the English countryside with her years of experience working with renowned chefs and restaurateurs. Visit their Instagram to stay updated on their menu, which changes biweekly on Mondays!
Located in downtown Santa Barbara’s La Arcada Plaza, Petit Valentien is a French and Ethiopian restaurant co-owned by Ethiopian-born chef Serkaddis Alemu. Serving French cuisine during the week and the evenings, and Ethiopian cuisine for weekend brunch (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.), Petit Valentien offers diners a unique culinary experience. Treat yourself to some veal milanese with warm brie and prosciutto for dinner or Ye’misir Wat (Ethiopian spiced red lentils) and Ye’doro Wat (Ethiopian chicken stew) for your next Sunday brunch.
Embermill is a Caribbean Creole restaurant founded by Chef Harold Welch, who was born in Barbados and came to Santa Barbara over 25 years ago. Embermill is perfect for the adventurous eater while also accommodating a range of dietary restrictions — there are plenty of items on the menu that are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan. While their original State Street location has closed, according to Welch, Embermill is in the process of relocating and reconceptualizing its menu, placing a greater emphasis on vegetarian cuisine. Until a new location is established, Embermill will be launching weekly menus on its Instagram and website and taking orders on a home-delivery basis.
Founded by licensed baker Cristy Adams, Cristy’s Cookies is a Black-woman-owned, home-based bakery. As the name suggests, Cristy’s Cookies is known for their cookies, but they also make a variety of other sweet treats, such as cakes, brownies, cupcakes, lemon bars and even apple jam. Cristy’s Cookies offers delivery to most parts of Santa Barbara — check out their Instagram account to keep up with their latest menu items and pop-ups. To place an order, text 805-570-0094.
Té ‘sTees is a home-based bakery that specializes in cupcakes, featuring unique and diverse flavors, such as lemon raspberry, Snickers and angel food. They are completely self-taught, home-based and have been serving customers in Santa Barbara for over five years. Follow their Instagram to see these delicious treats and keep up with new creations. Visit their website to get in contact!
Run by Charles Myles, Mylestone BBQ has a simple menu that includes tri-tip, chicken legs, ribs and sides, and uses a preorder pickup and delivery business model. Myles wishes to share some of the food that he grew up with and that aligns with the good times in his younger years, providing that same feeling to others through food. Additionally, they sell their spice blends on their website, where you can also order their food for pickup. Check out their Instagram for more information and to see their current menu!
Simply Marvelous BBQ
Simply Marvelous BBQ is run by Steph Franklin, who has fused styles from the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean into his own unique spice blends. Their catering menu includes up to three meat choices, with options ranging from ribs to pulled pork to chicken, and two sides and dinner rolls. They also sell rubs for those who want to try making their own at home. Visit their website to buy these products or order their catering!
From Ethiopian food to barbecue to pastries, these Black-owned food establishments are perfect for your next dinner outing or quick bite. With that being said, supporting Black-owned restaurants is one way you can celebrate Black History Month, but by no means is it the only or best way — above all, we must remember to uplift Black voices and advocate for systemic change.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of the February 17, 2022 edition of the Daily Nexus.