After some research, I decided to go with Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours. They offer two food tours in the Santa Barbara area with the option to make it a private tour.
We decided to go with the private tour for two due to Covid and to customize our tastings.
We were delighted to learn that Georgia used to be a history teacher and loves to talk about SB history and architecture – and we loved to learn it.
Interesting Fact: The Chumash people populated this territory for about 13,000 years.
Our first tasting happened to be at the Grassini Family Wines – one of the many tasting rooms in SB – but this one had a nice garden where we sat and enjoyed a flight of wine. The server also offered a “Grazing Box” – a small box full of fruits, nuts, and crackers.
Note: During a previous visit, we went on a wine tasting tour in the Santa Ynez Valley where we spent some time at the Grassini winery. Read more about it here.
Our visit to Grassini was a great start for this 3.5-hour tour. As we walked around to our next tastings, we learned about how SB got started, the reason for the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, landmark buildings, and discovered a few hidden gems of shopping plazas.
Interesting Fact: After a devastating earthquake in 1925, the city planners decided to rebuild with the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. They passed ordinances to mandate this style and limit the building heights to 4-floors only.
Our next stop was at Los Arroyos for some unique tacos and drinks. We tasted their “Tajas Con Queso Tacos” – a vegetarian taco with grilled pasilla chiles, onions, monterey jack & queso fresco. The tacos were full of flavor. If I weren’t expecting a lot more food later, I would have ordered more of those delicious creations.
For the drinks, we tried Jamaica and Horchata – both were very tasty.
From California to Mexico and now we are heading to Thailand to try some Thai cuisine. The Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar is inside the Santa Barbara Public Market.
Interesting Fact: The city was recognized as the first “Hollywood of the North” for producing a large number of silent films in the early film industry.
The empty bowl offered us a Papaya salad and potstickers. The potstickers were great, but the papaya salad will take some getting used to. This restaurant also offers traditional Thai dishes like pad Thai, several noodle choices, and lettuce wraps.
The public market has a lot of other food choices from around the world - you can try Japanese, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Italian.
Talking about Italian, our next stop was at The Chase Restaurant and Bar. This place is right on State Street and offers indoor and outdoor seating.
We sat outside to enjoy the busy pedestrian street and tried an Italian food sampler. The food was delicious and plenty for a sampler, and we had leftovers for dinner.
We ended our tour back at El Paseo Plaza to visit Cebada Wines. The sommelier presented four wines for our tasting. They were all good, but we enjoyed the Blueberry Wine so much we ordered a bottle to take back with us.
While enjoying our last wine tasting, Georgia grabbed our dessert from McConnell’s Ice cream. We had a long list of flavors to pick from, but we ended up with Cookies and Cream, Banana Salted Carmel, Pistachios, Chocolate Chip. They were all very creamy and tasty – probably the best ice cream I had had in a long time.
Interesting Fact: Mac and Ernie McConnell spent months developing their own recipes based on the French Pot ice cream-making process. In December 1950 they opened their first shop which went on to become very popular.
The tour was very well-planned, and the food choices were excellent. Georgia was an excellent guide with her friendliness and wealth of information.
I recommend this tour for anyone visiting Santa Barbara. It is an excellent way to learn about the city and to discover new places to eat.