With an adventurous spirit and love for California's central coast, Captain Jack began his tour company to give him a platform to share his passion with others. After gathering the best team of tour guides he could find, each exhibiting the same enthusiasm and upbeat outlook he has, he devised tours that got people outdoors to experience physical activities such as kayaking the sea caves at Channel Islands or paragliding over Santa Barbara's verdant, rolling landscape. The tour ideas he has in mind know no bounds, involving everything from wine-tasting tours and glider rides to whale watching, sailing, and fishing the deep sea for the sneakers that fell out of Davy Jones's locker. To ensure safe and memorable outings, Captain Jack backs up his guides and tours with required licenses, insurance, and years of experience in various backgrounds.
Whether they're seated in an oversized booth in the dining room or splitting a plate with nearby pelicans on the outdoor patio, Killer Cafe grants its diners picturesque views of the sparkling harbor. Eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes are among the caf?'s morning fare. These dishes can be accompanied by fresh-squeezed juices, fruit smoothies, espresso drinks, and brunch cocktails. Later in the day, the menu is filled with loaded salads, and hearty burgers and sandwiches to indulge lunchtime appetites.
The Secret Family Recipe
It takes patience to properly prepare an order of the Michaels family's "Killer Shrimp". The secret spice blend must first simmer atop the restaurant's stove for 10 hours. Only then, when the sauce's piquant flavors are rich and intensely concentrated, do chefs place the shrimp directly in the sauce. Then, they add the crustaceans to specialty plates, such as omelets and breakfast burritos.
Upscale yet unpretentious, like a hood ornament in the shape of Morgan Freeman, Coast Restaurant offers landlubbers a comfort food menu that avails itself of Santa Barbara’s aquatic adjacency. Local farms and wharfs supply ingredients, and a raw bar stocks recently netted oysters, clams, crabs, and shrimp. Dip a toe into the local rock fish, pan-roasted with brussel sprouts and roasted onions ($25), or dive delicately into the crab cakes, with poquillo peppers, local citrus salad, and a smoked paprika vinaigrette ($14). Sea-shunners can shimmy toward the popular tortilla soup, with avocado, chicken, poblano chiles, and cheddar cheese ($9), letting Coast’s warm wooden furniture and soft lighting belly-dance captivatingly across pleasure receptors.
Though Enterprise’s menu focuses solely on seafood, the offerings are still diverse. The fresh fish dishes include British Columbian salmon sweetened with a Coca-Cola barbecue glaze, Costa Rican mahi-mahi topped with toasted macadamia nuts, and basa swai paired with citrus jasmine rice and Asian slaw. Seafood also bulks up pastas and sandwiches, and the dessert roster presents molten chocolate cake and key-lime pie.
Upon entering Enterprise, patrons may feel as though they’ve waded onto an immense sailboat. A blue-green marlin perches above the bar, and ship wheels and colorful buoys hang on the walls. Dock lights hook over each table, and an old-fashioned diving suit with a bronze helmet stands above the open grill, haughtily asking patrons how many leagues they can go under the sea.
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.
From its perch at the end of Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara Shellfish Company looks over the rolling ocean waters where much of its menu originates. Established more than three decades ago as a buying station for locally caught seafood and a rumor mill for the whereabouts of the kraken, the restaurant was a natural outgrowth of the market. Today, chefs turn the sea’s bounty into specialties that range from ceviche and oysters rockefeller to cioppino—a medley of crab legs, shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels in a bread bowl. The culinary explorers also embrace the seasonality of aquatic life, filling their menu with timely dishes of local delicacies, such as spiny lobster and dungeness crab, as well as catches shipped from afar, such as Alaskan king crab and Maine lobster.