Inspired by the "North of Little Italy" neighborhood of Manhattan?which is lined with quaint and authentic family-owned restaurants?Nolita Ristorante serves up classic Italian cuisine alongside an extensive craft beer selection at a contemporary bar, featuring 24 taps and a myriad of specialty cocktails. The impressive menu lists off a plethora of dishes, each composed with a nod toward sustainability, such as fresh produce and meats that are locally sourced whenever possible. Tender shrimp ravioli are tossed in a saffron cream sauce, while a bone-in pork chop is plated alongside a crispy polenta cake and sweet grilled peaches.
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.
Between the disco ball that glitters above the dining room, the toy sharks swimming in bucket-sized cocktails, and the Pop Rocks that crackle in watermelon margaritas, it's pretty obvious that Baja Sharkeez is a lot of fun. These playful touches are the handiwork of Ron and Greg Newman, a father-son team for whom Sharkeez is a labor of love. Ron had found success with the Red Onion chain of restaurants in the '70s and '80s, but upon Greg's graduation from USC, the pair decided to start fresh with a new concept. According to The Tasting Panel, Greg enlisted some of his fraternity brothers to help develop the brand, and today, the small chain maintains a boisterous, beachy vibe that reflects Greg's Hermosa Beach upbringing.
In that spirit, Sharkeez hosts plenty of special events, including July 4th hot-dog-eating contests and bachelorette parties with drink specials and party favors. But even on a normal day there's generally a crowd, whether it be families ordering off the kids' menu at lunch, or coworkers stretching happy hour into a late night. The kitchen cooks up an extensive selection of Baja-Mexican dishes, such as burritos stuffed with mesquite chicken or the very popular mahi-mahi tacos. Those looking to drink with their meal can order spiked lemonades and fresh-fruit margaritas or build their own cocktail at the bloody mary bar.
Between the two of them, longtime friends David Schwartz and Gary Nardilla have nine children. That is a number of mouths to feed, and the fathers do it with fresh, healthy ingredients. So when the friends opened Epic Bowl, they decided to cook for every guest as they would for their own families. Using whatever organic fruits and produce they receive from the farmers’ market that week, the chefs fashion dishes they think will taste great, whether that includes sprout salads, smoothies infused with young-coconut water, or pesto-caprese sandwiches layered with cucumbers, tomatoes, and hearty slabs of cheese. Hot and cold bowls include ingredients such as organic acai, organic chicken, quinoa, and swiss chard. Through the stone-flanked entryway, an outdoor patio is scattered with tables and oversized umbrellas that protect patrons from feral satellites.
Stan Nicolaides often recalls eating at the kitchen table of his “yia yia,” the affectionate Greek term for one’s grandmother. There, he was unable to go play until he’d downed plates and plates of moussaka and gyros. Even then, it was clear he belonged in the kitchen.
Now, Stan makes his own rules while dishing out falafel, kebabs, and gyros named Best Greek Food two years running by SantaBarbara.com. After sopping up creamy hummus with fresh pita bread, guests have Nick whip up a chicken breast with thyme and lemon while he chatters in Greek.
Mad Dogs calms cravings from noon until 2:30 a.m. with classic ballpark franks and a variety of specialty sausages. Cold draft beers temper the smoked Santa Fe turkey sausage’s jalapeños and pepper jack cheese, and crispy fries echo the delicious snap of a sizzling pork bratwurst. Thirteen flavors of Hawaiian shaved ice cool down meals with sweet flavors, and bearded ices wait patiently for a lumberjack who will appreciate them.