Channeling the rough-and-tumble west in its ambiance and rustic decor, Winchesters Grill & Saloon pays homage to its state's history with plentiful pictures of the Duke, cowboy memorabilia hanging from the walls, and a mélange of seafood and steak entrees. The menu resembles the geographic diversity of California, with fresh seafood entrees mingling with thick, rare steaks and juicy hamburgers. Winchesters owns up to its title as well, pouring more than 40 ales and beers on draft from Magic Hat to Moose Drool, and they serve any mixed drink under the sun on their year-round, heated outdoor patio.
Though fish 'n' chips might strike the casual diner as a simple dish, connoisseurs of the British specialty—including the chefs at Alfie’s Fish & Chips—would beg to differ. To them, the dish hinges on a delicate balance of textures: crunchy, light batter must yield to a soft-and-flaky fish.
It’s this attention to detail that has earned Alfie's Fish & Chips droves of fans and made the cross-timbered shop an anchor of Lompoc. Walk past the red telephone box at the entrance and you’ll be greeted by other charmingly english touches, such as a Union Jack flag and bread bowls filled with clam chowder. The counter area doubles as an english market stocked with biscuits, Cadbury chocolates, and other British delicacies.
At Zagat-rated Seagrass, chef Robért Perez prepares coastal cuisine with seafood sustainably fished from the Pacific Ocean. Top-shelf ingredients get a creative twist in entrees such as jumbo diver scallops with apple-smoked bacon, wilted rainbow chard, and a vanilla-and-cardamom-infused sauce. At times, Perez creates a fresh culinary experience by fusing cooking methods. The Muscovy duck breast, for example, is both seared and smoked, and the black cod is sautéed before being poached in butter. An abundant wine list, representative of Santa Barbara's diverse wine country, keeps pairing from becoming a tiresome chore like washing the dishes or organizing all the kids’ sweaters by mouthfeel. Inside the dining room, the eponymous seagrass covers the walls, and vaulted ceilings soften conversational sounds.
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.
Helmed by Executive Chef Paul Hurd, Hourglass serves up diverse interpretations of classic American fare from a menu bursting with the flavors of fresh produce, premium chops, and seafood. Start your meal by ordering a round of cocktails or wine from the extensive list and a plate or two of twice-baked-potato eggrolls ($7). The Chinese chicken salad comes laden with romaine, cabbage, carrots, snow peas, wonton strips, and red-chili peanut vinaigrette ($12) for a light but satisfying lunch or dinner. For the main course, an irresistible combination of braised-beef short rib with Yukon mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and crispy onion straws ($21) fills you up like a cartoon cat hooked up to a bike pump. If you're not too stuffed, order up a slice of cheesecake or a waffle sundae ($7) for dessert.
Ethel Reds Chop House is named for a red-haired woman hallowed in family legend and yarns: the indomitable Ethel. Her ninety-some years of life were apparently filled with daring adventures, from jumping off waterfalls to riding a bull. The Chop House still serves her famed chili, and massive cuts of steak and chops challenge patrons. The eatery brims with bone-in ribeye and pork ribs like a ballad written by a hungry cowboy, and bacon celebrates an affinity for beef by embracing cuts of filet mignon and piling on top of cheeseburgers.
Diners bond over live country music, chicken wings, and copious use of napkins in the Western-style dining room, which is decorated by saddles, horseshoes, and other riding accessories. On balmy days, visitors toting drinks from the full bar wander to the patio garden to take in the fresh air.