Olio e Limone Ristorante, courtesy of Olio e Limone Ristorante and
Kevin Steele / kevsteele.com
January marks the third annual California Restaurant Month, a statewide promotion set up by Visit California to promote the Golden State’s rich culinary diversity. Throughout the month, we’ll be featuring various cities and their participating restaurants.
Located on California’s Central Coast, roughly an hour and a half north of central Los Angeles, Santa Barbara offers visitors a relaxed, beach-town vibe in the confines of a big city. With miles of picturesque beaches, a vibrant downtown and the rolling hills of the San Ynez wine region just 30 minutes away, Santa Barbara offers a lot to visiting groups
Before Hollywood came of age, Santa Barbara was the hub of California’s film industry and home to the state’s first major movie studio, Flying A Studio, and early pioneers of the silent-film era. Following the release of Cecil B. DeMille’s original version of The Ten Commandments (1923), which was shot on the sandscapes of nearby Guadalupe, the city further increased its reputation within the film community. In keeping with its rich cinematic history, the city has hosted the prestigious Santa Barbara International Film Festival every January since 1985. In keeping with this tradition and coinciding with California’s Restaurant Month, the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission (SBCVB) is putting on the third annual Film Feast.
“The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is one of the nation’s most accessible festivals, offering non-film-industry visitors a chance to get up close to today’s biggest stars,” says Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of the SBCVB. “With Film Feast, we are offering our visitors the chance to travel like a star, with amazing value and unique experiences.”
During the Film Feast, which runs from Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, visitors can enjoy special packages at participating local hotels, film-inspired group activities—such as the Eat This, Shoot That! photo tour—and of course, the best of Santa Barbara’s culinary scene at discounted rates.
Here are a few of our favorite group-friendly participants:
Enterprise Fish Co.
Since opening in 1977, the Enterprise Fish Co. has prided itself on offering the freshest and finest seafood around at an amazing value. Pictured above are the Manila clams and mussels, served with a cream and shallot sauce. The Film Feast prix fixe menu, dubbed “A Fish Called Wanda,” includes your choice of entree—either a 2-pound live Maine lobster or the Mixed Seafood Grill of king salmon, sea scallops and vegetables—served with a side of your choice and an Enterprise Oreo Mudd Pie. The restaurant, located just two blocks from the city’s famous Stearns Warf pier, offers a semi-private dining room that seats up to 35 and can host up to 180 for a buyout.
Located in downtown Santa Barbara in the historic El Paseo complex, just one block off of State Street, Wine Cask is a local favorite. Started by local restaurateurs Doug Margerum and Mitchell Sjerven, Wine Cask offers some of the freshest local ingredients and one of the best wine lists in town. Pictured above is one of their many flatbreads options, this one featuring prosciutto, arugula, Humboldt Fog cheese and oven-dried tomatoes. Film Feast options include a local organic roots salad with roasted market beets, baby carrots, shaved fennel, crumble goat cheese and tarragon emulsion, as well as poached Santa Barbara Channel black cod served with market bean aligote, a fresh leek salad, cauliflower veloute and chive oil. The restaurant has seating for 120 indoors, 60 outside on its patio and 35 in its private dining room.
Olio e Limone Ristorante
When husband-wife team Alberto and Elaine Morello opened Olio e Limone Ristorante in 1999, their goal was to offer Santa Barbara creative, authentic Italian cuisine served in an inviting atmosphere. Since then, the couple has done just that, winning the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2002 and garnering a huge local following. Pictured above is the Quaglie con Salsiccia, Polenta e Caponata, or roasted quail with sausage, polenta and Sicilian ratatouille. For Film Feast, the restaurant is offering a loaded menu called Cent Anni di Julia (100 Years of Julia Child), with dishes such as Scaloppine di Vitello con Cariofi e Limone, which has thinly sliced veal, fresh artichoke hearts and a lemon sauce. The restaurant has a private dining room seating up to 40.
Nestled right off of State Street in the downtown area and just six blocks from the beach, Seagrass offers fresh, sustainable local cuisine created to pair perfectly with many of the local wines. The restaurant is a charter member of the Sustainable Seafood Program through the Ty Warner Sea Center, and Chef Robert Perez works closely with local farmers markets and producers to ensure all of his ingredients are of the highest quality. Pictured above is the oven-roasted, Broken Arrow Ranch leg of venison with root vegetables and a truffle sauce. For Film Feast, Seafood will offer a three-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairing, featuring the best locally-sourced products available that day. The restaurant can handle 60 for a buyout, has a private dining room for 20 and will open a wine shop next month that can hold 40.