The New Yorker in me (a) still can’t get over how long it can take to get a coffee in Santa Barbara, (b) is convinced more than half the drivers here are stoned, and (c) misses a little grit now and then. So I set off for N. Milpas Street, parking in the Sprouts lot and heading northwest.
The Indian laurel fig trees lining the street are one of the few things more easily admired while driving than walking. I had to venture out into traffic to get this photo, graced by a bird.
The sidewalks do get a little Jackson Pollock-y, though.
Speaking of mysteries, what’s up with this bus stop? Are the chairs for social distancing? (“The bus stop benches were removed pre-Covid and replaced with the single chairs to avoid loitering and ‘camping,” says E. “It has been an improvement.”)
The running theme of this walk is going to be how much I had never noticed on Milpas, even though I drive it all the time. For instance, there are a lot of houses for such a predominantly commercial street. (And look at those trees!)
There really are a crazy number of liquor stores on the street. Residents in the area understandably hate the behavior associated with drinking, and their current thinking seems to be that if you reduce the number of stores, the problems will go down, too. But I’m pretty sure that people will walk a couple of blocks for a drink, if they have to. And liquor stores might be better than vacant storefronts.
When I drive on Milpas, I pay extra attention, which must explain why I had no idea that the following businesses exist. The second one is Moto Action SB Rentals, which rents motorbikes; Big Speak is a talent agency for public speakers; Jams is a music school; Dollyia Psychic Palm & Card is self-explanatory (but she’s also a life coach); and Aikido is a martial-arts academy.
At one point, I crossed over to the other side—literally, not metaphorically—for a breakfast burrito at Taqueria El Bajio. It was good, if a bit spicy for my pathetic gringo palate. I still haven’t found a breakfast burrito I liked as much as the Better Burrito ones; here’s hoping the company starts up again. Anyway, while I was waiting for my order, the proprietor of the barber shop next door came out and put up his barber’s pole. I guess it would get stolen otherwise.
Milpas has an impressive variety of restaurants, and as I passed by some, I thought of dishes I had particularly loved—the dumplings at Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, the doughnuts at Bossie’s Kitchen, the rajas at La Super-Rica…. The former Stone Age restaurant space is ripe for something cool; you’d think the location would appeal to folks living in the Upper and Lower Riviera, and it even has a parking lot. As for Sam’s to Go, I suspect the building is more my style than the food.
I have yet to try Tacos Pipeye, but it’s definitely on the list. Another thing I had never noticed before is the way one-block Jennings Avenue splits to accommodate the restaurant. Also, Pipeye’s motto (“Diga no a la pirateria!!”), written alongside the name, translates to “Say no to piracy,” which I assume reflects irritation with imitators. (Update 10/28: “The Pipeye slogan is a cheeky homage to a popular anti-piracy phrase used in the 80’s and 90’s in film and music,” says E.)
Do you think whoever made the city’s mask signage was inspired by pull-apart glazed doughnuts? (I’d get the one at Bossie’s way before the McDonald’s one.) Because I’m not sure what kind of hairstyle that’s supposed to approximate.
Two other details worth admiring: the fountain outside the 7-Eleven, and the pretty ironwork at Ryan Technologies’s building, at the corner of Reddick Street. (From its website: “Ryan Technologies is the global leader in forensic, security, and law enforcement product distribution in China.” Who knew?)
A while back, a reader asked me about the auto-body shop at 836 E. Anapamu, across from the Santa Barbara Bowl at the northern end of Milpas. It’s such a great little building, in such a juicy spot. So I tracked down the owner. He asked me not to relay the whole story, but suffice it to say that he has been trying for a long time to convince the city that the building should be put to other use. If anyone with any authority reads this, perhaps you could look into the matter and help him out.
P.S. I only recently learned that Anapamu is not pronounced as if it’s Spanish (ah-nah-pah-moo), but in a way that I have to assume is Chumash (an-uh-pah-moo). You really hit that last syllable.
Walk With Me…
• An Aimless Wander Through Hidden Valley
• Voyage to the Heart of the San Roque Spider Web
• Where the Streets Have Full Names
• Once Upon a Time in the Hedgerow…
• On the Golden Slope of Eucalyptus Hill
• The Past Is Still Present in Old Town Goleta
• The Haley Corridor Is Keeping It Real
• The Unvarnished Appeal of Yankee Farm
• Where Montecito Gets Down to Business
• The Small Pleasures of Bungalow Haven
• The Small-Town Charms of Samarkand
• Climbing the Back of Eucalyptus Hill
• Admiring the Backsides of Beachfront Houses on Padaro Lane
• Social Distancing Made Easy at UCSB
• In the Heart of the Golden Quadrangle
• Is There a Better Neighborhood for a Stroll Than West Beach?
• Up, Down, and All Around Montecito’s Pepper Hill
• E. Canon Perdido, One of Downtown’s Best Strolling Streets
• Montecito’s Prestigious Picacho Lane
• Whitney Avenue in Summerland
• School House Road and Camphor Place
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