Caution: Caveman Cooking

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Santa Barbara Fun

Posted by Caveman Cooking on April 14, 2010

The line at La Super Rica

The line at La Super Rica

Before I begin this post, I must apologize. We went on this fabulous jaunt I am about to describe, yet somehow forgot our cameras. I had to resort to the phone camera, which will be obvious by the lack of photo quality, especially on the food shots. But, the gist ought to be the same. I promise to try and be a bit less of a gel-head in the future! 😉
Now, for the post.
If you have never been to Santa Barbara, you are missing out on a true oasis. It is an old Spanish Mission town, situated on one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline the Pacific has to offer, and contains more delectable eateries per capita than perhaps any other city. A community small enough that you can’t go far with out knowing someone on the street, yet big enough to attract major name talent at it’s various performance venues. It is even a city with enough size to have it’s own zoo. Granted, it pales in proportion to the more well known San Diego zoo. But, it offers an amazing array of animals housed in quite spacious and natural confines.
Fresh Tortillas on the Grill

Fresh Tortillas on the Grill

So, with the Cavekids out of school, we decided to make the 50 minute drive North and spend the day strolling past Elephants, Lions, Giraffes, Gibbons, Gorillas and more. But, before we walked close enough to become a quick zoo-resident meal, save for the safety barriers, we had to stop at one of my favorite dives for Mexican fare … La Super Rica. A regular stop for SB locals, you are likely to encounter a relatively lengthy line even during “off” hours. The wait, however, is well worth it! Cooked to order, authentic south-of-the-border food accompanied by freshly made tortillas, offered at incredibly reasonable prices, make this a worthy destination.
Tamale de Verduras

Tamale de Verduras

When we finally had our turn to order, we went with Carne Asada tacos for the short-people, a Tamale de Verduras (vegetable tamale with corn, poblano chiles, and a special cheese sauce) for the herbivore Cavewoman, Chorizo (Mexican Sausage) and Chuleta (grilled pork) tacos for me, and an order of Guacamole for the table. Add drinks, and our order still came in under $20! Best of all, it was delicious!!
When we had cleaned our plates we made the short jaunt over to the SB Zoo. There we met up with some old friends from my radio daze (sic) in the seaside town. James Taylor (no, he’s not the singer … though, he is the voice of the animated Johnny Test, amongst many others), his lovely wife Allison, and their exquisite daughter Lydia. The kids, as you can see, hit it off immediately. And, it was so nice seeing friends who I wished we got to see more often. We “Oooohed” and “Ahhhhhed” at the various animals, had a blast taking the train ride around the zoo, and laughed as we slid down the little astroturf hill in the kids play area. The only disappointment was that our timing wasn’t right for feeding the Giraffes, an act that takes steady nerves when their 2 foot long tongue wraps around the hand holding the treat.
Chorizo & Chuleta Tacos

Chorizo & Chuleta Tacos

Our day of zoological fun came to an end too quickly for all concerned, but our time together was far from over. James and Allison insisted on taking us to one of their favorite restaurants in town. A vegetarian and vegan friendly establishment, that still offers plenty for the carni-crowd, called Spiritland Bistro. The diverse menu is made from locally sourced, organic ingredients and served in a nouveau cuisine presentation.
I was having too hard of a time deciding what I was going to have to pay attention to the rest of what was ordered by those at the table, which now included another friend from the “old days” … Cathy “Zookeeper” (no, she doesn’t work at the zoo). After much internal debate I settled on the Japanese Crusted Halibut – Wild Pacific Halibut crusted with toasted Nori and Gomasio, served on Wasabi Mashed Potatoes with Baby Bok Choy and Citrus-Tamari sauce. All I can say is “YUMMMMMMM!” The flavors and textures blended perfectly to create a distinctly California-style dish that still paid homage to it’s Asian origins.
Spiritland Bistro

Spiritland Bistro

For dessert, the Cavewoman and I “split” the Apple-Berry Crisp (Thinly sliced Fuji apples and mixed berries layered on a spiced granola crust served a la mode with Vanilla Bean ice cream). I put the word “split” in quotes because I only got a few bites before I looked down to see it was gone! You snooze, you lose!! 😉
Japanese Crusted Halibut

Japanese Crusted Halibut

We said goodbyes that took half an hour, finally loaded up the truck, and headed back to the cave. On the drive home I reflected on our stellar day realizing how much I miss the town in which I spent the first eight years of my adult life and launched my career, the top-notch friends I made there, and the unique lifestyle I left behind. Yet, I was quite comforted by the fact that all of it is now less than an hour’s drive from our new digs. In the infamous words of the Governator, “I’ll be back!”.

©2010 Caution: Caveman Cooking/UHearMe, Inc. All rights reserved. This originally appeared on the Caution: Caveman Cooking blog at authored by Caveman. This may be shared and reprinted as long as this entire copyright message accompanies it.

23 Responses to “Santa Barbara Fun”

  1. Ooops! Just realized that I didn’t include a picture of the kids at the zoo. Here’s the Cavekids and Lydia hamming it up between animal habitats:
    Cavekids and Lydia at the SB Zoo

  2. Claudia said

    I have never been…. and now I know what I am missing. Sigh.

    • Claudia, it really is a great town. I will document some of my other favorite eateries up there as I revisit them over the coming weeks and months. You can live vicariously through me until you make the journey yourself. 😉

  3. You are talking about our home town!! Just great to hear about you good time!

  4. bunkycooks said

    Looks like great fun and fun! I am headed your way next month for Camp Blogaway!

  5. My mother lives in SB. Looking forward to trying SpiritLand next time I go visit.

  6. boredcook said

    Sounds like a great day! I don’t know any of the places you mentioned since I’ve never been to CA, but I have a feeling I would love it. The kids are adorable and looks like they had a great time!

    • Thanks, Pam. It really was a great day. If/when you make to Cali, definitely plan some time in SB. It’s an incredible, gorgeous town with many fantastic places to eat … what’s not to love about that?!? 😉

  7. Thanks for the info Caveman,
    Definitely places I’ll check out whenever I get that way.

  8. Reeni said

    What mouth-watering Mexican food! The tamale looks excellent!

  9. This looks great! Love the tacos! We’ve been thinking of taking another non-work day trip up to SB sometime soon. Now I’ve got another reason to go. Great cave kids shot!

  10. Tamales! Chorizo! Santa Barbara! You had me at “hello”! Looks like a fabulous time!!

  11. Thessa said

    I now want to drive to Santa Barbara.. This seem like a great find, I would love to try those tacos!

  12. We spent several days in Santa Barbara a couple of years ago and I really liked it. My favorite winery, Gainey, is there. Great write-up. Made me realize we need to make a trip out there again, soon! =)

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