Husband & I got married on Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara six years ago. We didn’t explore much then, so I didn’t remember much of Santa Barbara other than that it was pretty and was heavy with gorgeous Spanish influence. The past few months I’ve had a craving for SoCal, so when Grandmom came out to spend time with the nugget, we decided to revisit SB for a few days.
Oh, man. I adore Santa Barbara – I was sad when the time came to go and have been thinking about it every day since! It’s far more beautiful than I remembered and Husband loved how the casual/commuting bicycling scene seems to have exploded since our last time down there. When I have itchy feet for Spain or other travels, SB can most definitely soothe.
Last time we drove up from Los Angeles (where we were living at the time), this time we flew. Such a tiny, pretty little airport!
When we lived in Los Angeles / Santa Monica, we often walked a few blocks down from our house to eat at Gilbert’s – great Mexican food is easily found all over Southern Cali. When we moved up to Seattle, we didn’t eat Mexican for awhile because good Mexican is hard to find. After nearly 6 years here, I think we’ve forgotten how good it can be and found a couple places that are decent enough. Oh, hell – but four days in Santa Barbara has once again ruined us for Mexican food. We had breakfast at Jeannine’s – an incredible little spot that completely reminded me of sitting outside in en una plaza en España. I got huevos con rajas – ¡ay! ¡Que delicioso! Another night we went to Corazon Cocina’s pop up kitchen at the Public Market and had some of the most amazing food we’ve had all year. Lastly, for lunch before our flight home we went to Los Arroyos and had some straight forward, basic and awesome burritos, rice, and the freshest of fresh guac.
Of course, there was lots of coffee. First we tried The French Press but preferred the next place, Handlebar Coffee. AND some great pastries and coffee at a wacky but good (wacky because… How random!) old world Danish bakery and restaurant.
On our way to check out the Santa Barbara Public Market (neat place!) we passed a little restaurant with the word “Bouchon” across the awning. We did a double take. Bouchon? Like, Thomas Keller Bouchon? Someone who worked for the Four Seasons overheard our conversation and told us that no, this is not a Thomas Keller restaurant and that, in fact, THIS Bouchon opened first and is quite possibly better. She highly recommended it, so of course we went. The source all their food locally and it was delicious. Great service, lovely atmosphere and did I mention delicious?
And then, since it was only about an hour and a half’s drive, we decided to drive down to Santa Monica. (We lived in SM for almost exactly 2 years.) Going to Santa Monica, I had two goals: One, eat at Cha Cha Chicken and two, go to the Strange Invisible shop on Abbott Kinney.
Cha Cha Chicken is this really fun Caribbean/Latin place that was around the corner from corporate housing when we first moved to LA. When we moved into our rented house, we were a mile up from Cha Cha and still continued to eat there on the regular. It’s, as I said, just FUN – bright colors, nice staff and DELICIOUS food. We had lunch there on our quick drive down and man, it was even better than I remembered. I used to walk the mile from our house to the beach and I would always stop for one of their refreshing agua frescas (cantelope for me!).
Strange Invisible is my one luxury item, my “vice”, if you will. I got some perfume samples of theirs through an online eco friendly skincare & beauty site and fell in love. They are pricey but well worth it – especially if you read about their process here. Perfumes that are aged for 6months! This past Christmas, I told Husband that all I really wanted was a bottle of their “Fair Verona” scent. (I get compliments on it constantly, I wear it often.) So I was excited to see their brick & mortar shop and hopefully go home with another small bottle. I couldn’t decide, so I purchased the perfume mini bar (a pretty box of samples) to take home and see which one I fell in love with next. I love EVERY. SINGLE. SCENT but some make me swoon a little harder than others.
Our old house!:
And here, where my yoga practice really started to pick up steam for the first time since my first ever yoga class a decade earlier:
And then wandering around Main Street and Venice Boardwalk, amazed to see how many shops and things looked exactly the same after 6 years.
Also, coffee, of course. The packaging and decor at Espresso Cielo was so pretty.
And then back up to Santa Barbara. More cruising and walking around town – we checked out a couple local parks and also went to the Botanical Gardens. If I add more photos, I’ll never get around to posting this – so if you’re interested, check them out here!
But I’ll leave off with these – I’ve been trying to keep my hair natural but dying for a change, so I’ve been having fun with some colored hair extensions. And tie dye, obviously. I was in SoCal, after all!