What’s Next in the Santa Ynez Valley Food Scene

There’s enough going on in the Santa Ynez Valley food scene that I didn’t want it to get lost in the recent roundup of new restaurants on the horizon, so here’s a whole post about it. Even more is likely in the works; if you know of anything, do tell. (Above photo: Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard by Heather Daenitz.)

The big news in the valley is the opening of the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern on February 15. The Tavern restaurant and the bar are already serving lunch and dinner (with breakfast coming soon), and Felix Feed & Coffee, The Shed, and Gin’s Tap Bar are expected to debut concurrently with the hotel. The official descriptions of the three forthcoming outlets: Felix is a “coffee bar and bakery, serving freshly baked goods, homemade sodas, and all-day breakfasts.” The Shed is “tucked into a remnant grove of olive trees beside the property’s serene swimming pool and serves a Mediterranean-inspired, laid back yet finely tuned poolside menu.” And Gin’s, which is “named for The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern’s longtime Chinese chef, is even more buzzing, leading guests to its door with enticing smokehouse aromas. Its novel menu juxtaposes traditional ranch smoking techniques with the flavors of Shanghai.”

While the Ballard Inn figures out whether/when to restart dinner service for real, it has renamed the restaurant Plume, announced that Bailey Smith is the new chef, and begun a series of Friday and Saturday pop-up dinners exploring different cuisines. The Inn will likely add breakfast and brunch service, for guests and the general public, in the next couple of months. (Photo by Brittany Taylor.)

In September, when Industrial Eats announced that it had taken over the whole building, it promised “catering, restaurant, private dining, here to go/Motley Crew and now the space right in the middle with the fancy doors, fireplace, and air conditioning. Stay tuned.” Motley Crew Ranch’s shop opened in November; a query about what else might still be coming went unacknowledged.

Multiple sources say that Companion Hospitality (Bell’s, Bar Le Côte, et al) is working on something in the former Morrell’s Farm Fresh Dining space at 225 McMurray Road.

Vega Vineyard & Farm is getting closer to opening the new the barn and farm entrance, which will lead to the existing feed-the-animals opportunity and, in the future, a new farm stand with produce and baked goods.

And the restaurant likely to make the biggest impact, should it happen, is In-N-Out, which has been trying to open at the site of the closed Parks Plaza Theatre for a year and a half, but city officials have justifiable concerns about traffic.

The 1880 Union Hotel, currently an event space, has been on the market for an undisclosed amount.

René Gross Kærskov, head of a Santa Monica–based firm that designs high-end hotels, will open two establishments in Solvang coming months: Aebleskivehuset, next to The Copenhagen House on Copenhagen Drive, serving aebleskiver (spherical Danish pancakes) and ice cream; and Brød & Kage, a bakery on Mission Drive, next to The Landsby.

Peasants Deli‘s old-school arcade annex opens February 9; it’s sure to be a hit for parties (for kids and adults).

Word on the street is that a local chef is trying to open two concepts—one on each floor—in the former Pho 805 space at 435 Alisal Road.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard recently announced food service Friday through Sunday; the host menu of “farm bites” is from the venue’s dedicated chef, Lee Gottheimer, and Peter Cham, executive chef for parent company Gleason Family Vineyards. And a new Buttonwood Marketplace “is slated to open February 25, bringing with it a year-round offering of fresh produce, Buttonwood food items such as jams, pies, and seasonal sorbets, plus farm-inspired merchandise and other wares from local crafters,” according to a press release. (Photo by Heather Daenitz.)


Sign up for the Siteline email newsletter for the freshest food news in town.



Jim Henderson

How about a shout out for Hook’d Bar & Grill at Lake Cachuma, tasty food, good service with great view!


Yeah- lets hear about the initial build and eventual redo! I am so happy for all the lake lovers