••• After five years in its current location, Bibi Ji is moving four blocks up State Street, into the former McDonalds space (1213 State Street, between Anapamu and Victoria), and owner Alejandro Medina couldn’t be happier about it. The new restaurant, which he hopes to have ready within six months, will be bigger and brighter, with more seats and a much larger kitchen; the spirit will be the same, but the atmosphere will be “a little more hip and new, with a more visually appealing dining room,” including a chef’s counter, and the plan is to increase the wine bar aspect as well. (Interior and exterior renderings are above and below.) Plus, and this is no small thing, there’s a huge parking lot in the back. P.S. In other Bibi Ji news, its Las Vegas sibling, Dhaba Ji, opened recently.
••• Thanks to the reader who sent in a tip (since confirmed) that Stella Mare’s won’t be closing at year end after all, because its lease has been extended for at least another year.
••• Organic Soup Kitchen‘s new outpost, in the same center as Renegade Wines, is now the place to go to buy soup in person (instead of the old counter inside the parking garage on E. Cota). I love having the white bean and kale soup in the freezer for lunch on cloudy days.
••• The conversion of the Montecito Vons into a Pavilions is underway. The new checkout area:
••• Refugio Ranch Vineyards has given its Los Olivos tasting room an upgrade, and it’s also “in the process of transforming the cabin next door into extended patio space! This means more wines to taste and creating an overall shared experience between buildings! A new farmstand will be in the heart of the space, stocked with organic fruits and vegetables daily. In addition, we’re expanding our offerings to include a marketplace carrying provisions from local purveyors. Think local honey, jams, you name it!” Look for it to open this summer!
••• I stopped by Beast Taqueria, a Corazón-related counter inside M. Special’s State Street taproom (Cota/Ortega), to check out the menu. Haven’t tried anything yet…. And here’s a photo of the smash burger taco, if you dare. UPDATE 6/26: D. says the menu changed after I stopped by, so I replaced the one I posted with the one he sent over.
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