First Impressions of the Dutch Garden

••• When the Dutch Garden closed in June 2020, I barely noted it: I had no idea it had even existed, let alone that it was an institution. And because I have no experience with the original, I can’t really tell you how version 2.0 compares. But it sure looks and feels like nothing has changed in decades. While I’d generally prefer to sit out on the appealing terrace, the restaurant was already packed when I arrived at noon, so I was grateful for any table I could get, even if it was in the deepest, darkest corner of the room.

The restaurant is still only open for lunch, and the menu is heavy, to say the least. Perhaps that’s why the crowd was almost entirely men of retirement age—i.e., with the bandwidth to take a postprandial nap. (Not a judgment! Just setting the scene.) My friend ordered the massive pork schnitzel, I got the bratwurst, and we split a pretzel. Entrées come with German potato salad, sauerkraut, and “seasonal vegetables” (boiled carrots, in our case), and there are jars of mustard (two kinds) and horseradish on the table, which go a long way toward quelling quibbles such as the sausage being barely warm. Plus, the staff was extra nice, even by Santa Barbara standards.

P.S. The parking situation is intense. I gave up on the spots behind the restaurant and parked in the El Mercado shopping center. As I walked toward the restaurant, a man asked if I was going to the Dutch Garden, and when I admitted I was, he sheepishly pointed out that El Mercado is private property and could I at least be quick? I agreed and said if it helped, I planned on visiting the Menchaca Chocolates shop afterward. (It did.) I’m only telling you all of this so you can allow for a bit of extra time—ands have a strategy in mind—in the likely event that none of the restaurant’s spaces are available.

••• AMA Sushi at the Miramar resort added a $95 prix-fixe of six courses from the à la carte menu.

••• After I posted that Little Alex’s is said to be opening at Five Points, Eric pointed out that the restaurant is included on a Regency Centers map of the shopping center.

••• Corazón Comedor is selling tamales by the dozen for Christmas: order by 9 p.m. tomorrow (December 20) for pickup on December 24. The three options are pork, chicken, and butternut squash, and a dozen costs $60.

••• The Healthy Warrior meal-prep service is also using its headquarters at 428 Chapala Street (Haley/Gutierrez) for private events.

••• Saint Remy, the restaurant inside the new Courtyard by Marriott at State and Arrellaga, opens December 26. (Do non–hotel guests ever eat at Courtyards?) Here’s the menu. —Restaurant Guy

••• When the Biltmore never reopened, owner Ty Warner claimed it was due to construction at the property, but none was ever visible. Now, however, something appears to be happening, and what’s more, it’s in the restaurant space, which really wanted updating. Thanks to J. for the photo.

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Comment:

13 Comments

Christine!

$60 for a doz tamales? Shit- send a PT Cruiser up to Santa Maria where you can find excellent options galore for less than $20 a doz- cheaper when you order more. SIXTY DOLLARS??

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Coffee snob

I am a fan of Ramon’s cooking, but $60 a dozen tamales is just not right. I think $30 is to expensive, so you can imagine when I found out he was charging $60.00…… you can find them at Bella Rosa for $22.00 a dozen and they are some of the best I’ve tried.

$60.00 …???? Come on!

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Tamale snob

$ 60.00 for a dozen tamales is not too much for the type of tamales Corazón Comedor makes. I have been all over East LA & tamale festivals looking for a tamale that isn’t a ” hockey puck ” of masa. In Los Angles I like the pop up ” Olmeca’s ” tamales. I swooned over CC’s tamales ( the masa is light and fluffy ) and will happily pay the price . And CC’s Posole is worth every penny ! I understand everyone likes the traditional tamales that the local grandmothers make… I just happen to like a different type that I first tasted in Santa Fe. :-)

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Jennifer

I absolutely agree with Tamale Snob! The tamales at Comedor are like no other. The Comedor tamale is light on masa with a delicious flavorful filling. Definitely need to give it a try!

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Monca

Just an fyi, tamales in Santa Maria run around $30/dozen these days from the locals that make them in their home kitchens. But I agree, $60 is a bit much.

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BW

I ordered a dozen and I am looking forward to picking them up! Plus I loved the great customer service – they called me and asked if I wanted some or all of them cooked, or not, etc. I’m sure they are going to be delicious.

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Meridith Moore

Dutch Gardens was a wonderful restaurant and on our list for decades. The long awaited re-opening does not disappoint. Worth figuring out how to park: We arrived at 11 a.m., skipped breakfast for a hearty lunch. We sat at the bar, which is where we always set before. Somehow they have managed to retain all the good of the former restaurant but up the meter with excellent friendly service, and quality ingredients. The entrees are excellent and the sides of fresh (I’m guessing steamed not boiled) veg are delicious. I’m so impressed. Oh and a great wine list to accompany the all important beers.

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Erik Torkells

The pretzel was good! I wouldn’t have minded a bit more chewiness, and I could’ve done without the butter melted all over it (especially in the context of a rich meal), but I’d still order it again. And I’m not sure whether this is clear from the photo, but the pretzel is huge.

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Sharon F

I’m curious why it’s called Dutch Gardens when all the pictured food seems to be German??

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BW

The rumors I’ve heard – and not sure if they’re factual – was that it was changed to be “Dutch” during WWII due to understandable at the time anti-German sentiment. Yes, the restaurant has been around that long! I would be curious if anyone can verify this.

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