Every time I run one of these roundups of forthcoming restaurants, we subsequently learn of several others in the works. If you know of any, please email [email protected] or text 912-209-6473. And opening forecasts are best guesses—given the way the city works, don’t be surprised if they take longer.
TAZA MEDITERRANEAN STREET KITCHEN
What was originally going to be Mezze Santa Barbara, in the former JJ’s Diner/Onus Donuts space at 413 State Street (Haley/Gutierrez), got a name change along the way. The food is eastern Mediterranean: chicken shawarma, falafel, kebabs…. Opening forecast: It just opened.
The “retro-swanky” San Diego steakhouse chain will open its third outpost in Corazón Cocina’s former Project space on State Street in the Funk Zone. Look for tufted-leather booths, seafood towers, and meat grilled over an open flame. Opening forecast: June 29.
Chris Chiarappa (Mesa Burger, Lighthouse Coffee, and many more) is opening an ice cream shop on the Mesa. It’ll be at 1826A Cliff Drive, two doors to the right of the Cliff Room, and the ice cream will come from McConnell’s. Opening forecast: Late June, early July.
Amy Rose, born and raised in Santa Barbara (and whose father once owned Harry’s Plaza Café), is unifying the former Chomp on the Rocks and current Salty at the Beach spaces in the Maritime Museum building at the harbor under one name: Anchor Rose. Downstairs will be a lounge, while upstairs will be the restaurant proper. If you’re looking at the building from the water, the upper right deck will be called Port, and it’ll be on the fancier side; the upper left deck will be the more laid-back Starboard. As you might have guessed by now, the decor will lean toward the nautical, the better to fit with the museum’s mission. Food is American with touches of Spain and South America, including ceviches and paella. Opening forecast: Salty at the Beach will get renamed Anchor Rose as of July 1, and the hope is that downstairs will be ready in August.
Ramon Velazquez of Corazón Cocina initially intended to take over the Ca’Dario Pizza space at 29 E. Victoria, but then the landlord offered him the two adjacent spaces, too. Look for different tacos than at Corazón Cocina, including ones made with guisados (braises); tamales; and churros. Opening forecast: “Really close,” says Velazquez.
David Chen is turning his Choppa Poke restaurant at 716 State Street (De La Guerra/Ortega) into a restaurant called Mokutan. It means “charcoal” in Japanese, because the restaurant will specialize in kushiyaki (i.e., skewered and grilled meat and vegetables), including yakitori (chicken). Opening forecast: July.
WE WANT THE FUNK
Greer and Ted Ellis, former owners of Oku, are opening We Want the Funk at 210 Gray Avenue, near Mollusk. (The space is being shared with La Lieff Wines.) They say to expect wine and beer on tap, a wood-burning oven with seasonal flatbreads, oysters on the half shell, music, and more. Opening forecast: Summer.
The building at the northeast corner of State Street and Ortega will be a restaurant and bar from local tequila brand Augie’s. Jeff Shelton is bringing his trademark zest to the design, while the menu will have regional specialties from Mexico. And founder Berkeley “Augie” Johnson told 805 Living that he hopes to have “the largest selection of tequilas and mezcals on the West Coast. There will be a huge wall of every tequila I can possibly find plus a spot just for local varieties of agave spirits.” Opening forecast: They’re trying for early August, but of course the building is a serious work in progress.
Here’s the description from one of the founders for the brewery coming to 102 E. Yanonali in the Funk Zone: “Validation Ale will be a fully functioning brewery with all beer brewed on site. Our concept will feature a set of ‘validated’ beers alongside a ‘vying’ or challenger beer menu. If a vying recipe outsells the validated of the same style, it will take over as validated. To bring in some community involvement, we will take ‘vying’ submissions from other brewers (home or pro) if they’re interested in testing their recipe skills against the validated. We also plan to have wine, seltzer, some non-alcoholic options, and to-go as-well. We will absolutely have food—more details to come.” Opening forecast: Summer.
DAVE’S DRIP HOUSE
An “ice cream and cereal bar” spinoff from Dave’s Dogs at the Turnpike Center in Noleta. Opening forecast: Summer.
SHALHOOB’S BAR AT THE SANTA BARBARA PUBLIC MARKET
The local meat company is expanding its footprint inside the Public Market with a bar in the rear of the building. Opening forecast: Unknown.
The mini-chain of hotels has a flagship in San José del Cabo and two in the works—one in Nashville and one at 524 State Street (Cota/Haley). The website says each hotel offers “a limited menu alongside delicious locally inspired drinks.” Opening forecast: The website says summer, which seems optimistic.
L’ANTICA PIZZERIA DA MICHELE
The U.S. expansion of the Naples, Italy, pizzeria continues with an outpost in the former Embermill on State Street (Figueroa/Carrillo). Opening forecast: When the news was announced in March, the goal was to open by Memorial Day. The company didn’t respond to requests for an update.
The proprietors of the restaurant coming to the former Beachside Bar-Cafe at Goleta Beach Park have landed on a new name (having dropped SeaLegs a while back). Opening forecast: Fall, but the adjacent snack shack might open sooner.
The beloved German restaurant on Upper State Street has been supposed to be reopening under new ownership for a long time now. Opening forecast: Unknown.
The folks behind the popular Mor Doughnuts pop-ups, as they used to be known, are opening a bakery in Noleta’s Turnpike Center. Opening forecast: August or September.
TAQUERIA LA UNICA
Carlos Luna of Los Agaves and Santo Mezcal will put a modern spin on traditional Mexican street tacos in the former Dunkin’ space at 3771 State Street. Opening forecast: Fall.
BELCHING DRAGON TAVERN
Belching Dragon Tavern, at State and De La Guerra in what used to be a Starbucks, will be a gastropub with local beers and wines, craft cocktails, and what proprietor Mike Sheldon (of Local in Montecito) calls a “gourmet pub menu” with raw bar, charcuterie, flatbreads, salads, and more. Opening forecast: Late fall.
ALMA FONDA FINA
In the Montecito Country Mart, where Little Alex’s was, Corazón Cocina’s Ramon Velazquez plans to offer “soul food, if you will—tacos, soups, enchiladas, and tamales. It’s home cooking.” Opening forecast: Not anytime soon, given the vehement stop-work order posted on the door.
OYE VEY MARIA’S
Lucky’s co-owner Gene Montesano has promised a “Jewish Italian delicatessen” and market in the former Letter Perfect space next to the Montecito Deli. Opening forecast: Unknown.
As had been rumored, Chris Chiarappa is indeed combining two spaces art Noleta’s Turnpike Center—but it’s not for a tap room, à la his Corner Tap on the Mesa. Instead, he’s partnering with Ramon Velazquez on a restaurant, with a full liquor license, they’ve tentatively named Corazón Cantina. Opening forecast: Late 2022, early 2023.
UNNAMED STREET TACO PROJECT
And Chiarappa and Velazquez, already two of the busiest restaurateurs in town, have a second project in the works. It’ll be a casual taqueria focusing on street tacos—i.e., corn tortillas with meat and maybe onions, cilantro, and salsa—in the former Romanti-Ezer building at Chapala and Ortega. P.S. This one won’t be branded as a Corazón establishment. Opening forecast: Late 2022, early 2023.
FORMER OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE
Chris Chiarappa’s final project in the works—at least for the purposes of this roundup—is in the former Outback Steakhouse building at 5690 Calle Real in Goleta. He confirmed that it will be Finney’s-esque, as reported in the media, but perhaps a bit more family-friendly. Opening forecast: Second quarter of 2023.
Shalhoob is following its burger joint and bar in the Santa Barbara Public Market with a restaurant at the Woody’s space at 5112 Hollister Avenue. Opening forecast: Unknown.
Sunstone Winery is working on a glamorous rooftop tasting room in the Funk Zone, atop the SB Biergarten building. Opening forecast: Summer 2023.
Lennon Silvers Lee, former chef at Sushi by Scratch Restaurants (née Sushi Bar Montecito) on Coast Village Road, is opening his own Santa Barbara restaurant. Exact location is TBA, but the scuttlebutt is that it’s in the Funk Zone. Opening forecast: Unknown.
The loved/loathed fast-food chain is opening at 4765 Calle Real, across N. Turnpike Road from the In-n-Out. Opening forecast: Unknown.
MONTECITO WINE BISTRO
Pierre Lafond’s Upper Village restaurant closed for a year ago for a renovation that was expected to take a few months. In April, Restaurant Guy posted a rumor that the proprietors are “in talks with a Napa Valley restaurant to either take over, or partner with Montecito Wine Bistro,” although that may have been complicated by the recent death of Lafond. Opening forecast: Unknown.
With the noble mission of “making nutritious, fresh food affordable to all,” Everytable charges more in well-off areas to subsidize meals in poorer communities. The outpost at the base of Amazon’s office at State and Carrillo was supposed to be the first outside L.A., but in the 18 months that the project has been on ice, the chain has opened locations in New York City and all over Southern California. Opening forecast: The company says it has no idea.
BRASS BIRD COFFEE
Sarah Dandona of Omni Catering and Teddy’s by the Sea (and the old Mackenzie Market space in San Roque; more on that below) is said to be opening a café in the former Omni space on Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria. Opening forecast: Unknown.
What Restaurant Guy called an “Instagram-ready food concept” will open at 6521 Pardall Road in Isla Vista, with “burgers, tacos, noodles, sushi, seafood, coffee, salads and more.” Opening forecast: Unknown.
I’ve had it on very good authority that Austin seafood restaurant Clark’s, which also has an outpost in Aspen, is taking over the former Cava space on Coast Village Road. Owner MML Hospitality won’t confirm it, though. Opening forecast: Unknown.
THE OTHER ROOM
Folks from Bell’s in Los Alamos and the Backroom in Solvang are partnering on a beer-and-wine bar in the former Community Craft space (2446 Alamo Pintado) in Los Olivos. Expect “elevated snacks”—such as tinned fish, pickled eggs, and pâté—as well as beer and wine to go. It has slowly been peeking open, with occasional sales of beer for takeaway or the patio. Opening forecast: Now.
CRAFT HOUSE AT CORQUE
805 Foodie reported that the former Root 246 space in Solvang has been leased by the Crafthouse Group, which has restaurants in San Luis Obispo and Santa Paula: “The new restaurant will feature elevated comfort food [….] Additional features are planned for the roughly 12,000-square-foot site [including] turning the building’s back rooms, previously used for banquets, into a 200-seat, New York–style supper club with live performances, changing menus and, on Sundays, a jazz brunch service.” Opening forecast: The restaurant recently opened for breakfast, but a query about lunch and dinner went unacknowledged.
INN AT MATTEI’S TAVERN
Auberge Resorts’s renovation and expansion of the historic Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos into a 67-room resort includes a bunch of food-and-beverage outlets: The Tavern, The Bar, Felix Feed & Coffee, The Shed, and Gin’s Tap Bar. The chef is Rhoda Magbitang, most recently executive chef at Petit Ermitage in L.A. Opening forecast: They’re saying fall 2022; for what it’s worth, the hotel website is taking reservations as of September 15 (although at one point earlier in the year, it was taking them as of June…).
EL ROBLAR (BELOW)
Eric Goode—of the turtle sanctuary, Tiger King, and many projects in New York City—bought the former Oaks at Ojai spa (before that, it was El Roblar hotel) with Warner Ebbink (Little Dom’s Seafood) and Ramin Shamshiri of Studio Shamshiri. They’re renovating the property with the goal of reopening as El Roblar. Brandon Boudet, Ebbink’s partner/chef at Little Dom’s, will be the chef at the hotel’s restaurants. Opening forecast: Construction has just begun, so 18 months from now at best.
And farther on the horizon:
••• The former Casa Blanca and Fit Buddha parts of the ANDALUCIA BUILDING at State and E. Gutierrez are being turned into a complex with a restaurant and bar, a “speakeasy,” and a music venue.
••• The HOTEL AT 801 STATE STREET (at De La Guerra) planned on having three food-and-beverage outlets, but the project is in question now that it’s been put on the market.
••• HANDLEBAR COFFEE ROASTERS has long been trying to turn the sweet little building at Milpas and Anapamu into a café, but getting the city on board remains a struggle.
••• The ROSEWOOD MIRAMAR BEACH resort filed plans for a third restaurant (fourth, if you count the ice cream shop only open to guests): “a remodel of two of the existing guest rooms in bungalow building #3 into a new resort food-and-beverage restaurant space within the existing building encompassing 1,604 square feet of existing building space and a 288-square-foot patio enclosure.” Rumor says it’ll be a sushi bar.
••• Sarah Dandona of Omni Catering and Teddy’s by the Sea in Carpinteria bought the former MACKENZIE MARKET (3102 State Street) in San Roque; the word on the street is that she has plans for a restaurant.
••• On land owned by the Fess Parker family, the Robert Green Company is developing an 86-room resort—with a ground-floor restaurant and a rooftop pool and bar—at 433 E. CABRILLO BOULEVARD (rendering below), at the corner of S. Calle Cesar Chavez. It will be positioned somewhere between the Rosewood Miramar Beach and the Hotel Californian, and construction could start in the next few months.