When Don Disraeli and his wife, Randee, turned their attention to seafood retail in 1983, they considered more than their love of tasty fish. Drawing upon his PhD in Biology and her stint as a Scripps Institute of Oceanography researcher, the duo worked to ensure that each aspect of their business would be environmentally sustainable. Those standards are still upheld today, as Kanaloa Seafood remains one of the only North American and European seafood companies environmentally certified by the International Organization of Standardization.
Environmentally responsible fisheries supply the Disraelis with sushi-grade fish, which cutters clean and slice behind large viewing windows at Kanaloa Seafood’s Santa Barbara and Napa storefronts. The succulent cuts are then sustainably packaged inside recyclable corrugated boxes. Every Monday to Friday, guests can procure fish ranging from wild-caught black cod to Hawaiian ahi tuna. Patrons who are unsure of what to pick from the vast assortment will be greeted by a knowledgable staff member who will assist in picking out an ideal choice. Kanaloa Seafood also distributes a variety of marinades, rubs, oils, and sauces, as well as prepared dishes from the staff chef.
Given its proximity to East Beach and Stearns Wharf, it’s no surprise that Santa Barbara FisHouse often serves up local, seasonal seafood. When its available, diners can order locally acquired crustaceans such as spiny lobster or Dungeness crab, or sample the imported flavor of certified Maine lobster. The regular menu touts fish transformed by inventive ingredients—macadamia nuts and creamy pineapple sauce envelop baked halibut, and sesame seeds and crispy wontons encrust a cut of Hawaiian mahi mahi. Patrons can choose to take their meals in the dining room or grab a table on the outdoor patio, which is warmed by an open fire pit and the hungry exhalations of jealous passersby.
Creating Spencer Makenzie's Fish Company was a labor of love for John and Jennifer Karayan, who spent 20 years perfecting their eclectic Californian recipes before sharing them with the public. Named after the couple's 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, the business began as a concession trailer at festivals and fairgrounds, presenting healthful alternatives to traditional fast-food options without sacrificing speedy service. The concept took off, and the trailer eventually blossomed into a permanent location a couple of blocks from the shore.
Although the chefs use only sashimi-grade fish and make everything from clam chowder to sauces and salsas in-house, they don't stray far from the restaurant's unpretentious fairground roots. The Ventura County Reporter recognized the company's dual commitment to quality and convenience in 2011, honoring the eatery with awards for Best Fish Taco and Best Cheap Eats.
The same thoughtfulness with which John and Jennifer designed the healthful and flavorful menu led them to embrace a variety of environmentally friendly practices. In addition to donating their used trans-fat-free cooking oil to biodiesel refineries, they exclusively stock the restaurant with biodegradable plates, utensils, and employees.
Chalkboards of handwritten specials, an acoustic soundtrack by artists such as Jack Johnson and Bob Marley, and 36-inch flat-screen televisions playing skateboarding, surfing, and sporting events add to Spencer Makenzie's Fish Company's casual, laid-back ambiance. At the same time, photographs of local beaches line the walls and serve as a gentle reminder of the inspiration behind the ocean-fresh menu.
Viking Garden Restaurant is right at home in historical Copenhagen Square, part of Solvang, a Danish-American colony founded more than 100 years ago. Beneath the eatery's crosshatched roof and stork's nest, cooks craft Danish classics such as Norwegian salmon smothered with lemon-dill hollandaise. They even lend Danish flavors to American favorites, such as beef burgers crowned with Danish blue cheese. Before they whip up these entrees, however, Viking Garden's cooks create Danish-inspired breakfasts with everything from kielbasa-filled omelets to Danish-style hotcakes. Imported and domestic pours from an extensive beer list can complement any of Viking Garden's hearty feasts.
It's a tradition at Arnoldi's Cafe to make things by hand, whether you're crafting meatballs or the building itself. Though the original venue was founded in 1937 by Giuseppe Arnoldi and his wife Ilda, the current location was erected in 1940. Giuseppe, known as Joe, quarried the stone himself. He made sure to include all the trappings of a rustic Italian getaway: a maple floor for dancing, a pair of bocce courts, and a mural of Lago di Como, where he was born. And, though he and Ilda ceased to run the restaurant in 1969, he appointed a bar manager who remains there to this day. His name is Bucky, and he's a tule elk who welcomes visitors from his spot on the wall.
Thankfully, guests can taste Joe's legacy as well as see it. The menu at Arnoldi's boasts homestyle Italian fare, from bruschetta drizzled in imported olive oil to veal sautéed in wine and a lemon caper sauce. Like the vases at an unscrupulous antique store, many of the pasta dishes here are made fresh from scratch. There's handmade gnocchi, homemade lasagna, and handmade ravioli. Diners enjoy their meals with wine in a romantic dining room or on a heated patio, while in the garden, teams compete in seasonal bocce tournaments.