During the summer months, the food scene in Santa Barbara County has witnessed drastic changes — the loss of longtime Isla Vista eatery Pho Bistro, the opening of Isla Vista’s first mini food hall and announcements of projected restaurant arrivals. Just in time for the upcoming school year, read on for more on these Isla Vista and Goleta closures and openings.
Pho Bistro closes, ASIA 101 opens
Vietnamese restaurant Pho Bistro closed in June. An Isla Vista staple since its opening in 2007, the restaurant served menu items including pad thai, pho, fried rice and more. The space’s new tenant, another Asian eatery called ASIA 101, recently opened in mid-August at 903 Embarcadero del Norte. ASIA 101 is a sister restaurant of Mojo Asian Fusion Cafe, a cafe specializing in bubble tea drinks on Seville Road. The eatery offers Asian fusion cuisine, noodles and fried tapas.
Crumbl Cookies expands to Goleta
Signage announcing the arrival of Crumbl Cookies has appeared at 5562 Calle Real. Founded in 2017 in Utah, the viral cookie chain has expanded rapidly since the onset of the pandemic with over 800 stores in the U.S. While customers can always expect a classic chocolate chip cookie on the menu, the bakery features a weekly rotating menu at all locations with flavors including caramel shortbread and cookies and cream. An opening date has not yet been announced.
Maria’s Tacos opens on Pardall
On June 27, Mexican restaurant Maria’s Tacos celebrated its grand opening on 6545 Pardall Road. The restaurant prides itself on using homemade tortillas for all of their tacos. Their small menu features burritos, tortas and a variety of tacos, including al pastor and baja fish tacos. All menu items are under $13 with tacos priced between $3.50 to $4.75 each. Customers can order housemade agua fresca and horchata to pair with their meal. Maria’s Tacos is currently still in its soft opening phase with plans to expand its menu offerings.
Isla Vista gets its first food hall
Los Angeles-based food hall Social Eats first debuted in 2018 on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. Their food hall concept presents offerings from several different eateries all under one roof, giving customers the ability to order items from different restaurants. In comparison to a large scale food hall such as the Santa Barbara Public Market, each restaurant featured at Social Eats operates in the same kitchen rather than at different stands. The Isla Vista location on 6521 Pardall Road currently features two of Social Eats’ vendors: Pop!s Burgers & Shakes and Street Noods. There is extensive indoor and outdoor seating as well as drinks on tap.
Luna Grill is coming to Isla Vista
The Restaurant Guy reported that Luna Grill is expanding its locations in Santa Barbara County. Luna Grill specializes in Mediterranean cuisine with menu items ranging from falafel pitas to chicken kabob plates. With one location on upper State Street, the Southern California-based chain plans to open restaurants in Montecito and Isla Vista sometime in 2024. The location of the Isla Vista outlet has not yet been announced.