For those not familiar with California, the stretch of coastline roughly between San Francisco and Los Angeles is referred to as the central coast. More specifically between Monterey to the north and Santa Barbara to the south. It’s a very popular destination for Californians to beat the heat of the blistering hot California summers. The main hub of the central coast could be referred to as Pismo Beach/Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo. Anna and I go there as often as we can, but we rarely make it as far south as Santa Barbara. We were long overdue for a visit to Santa Barbara, and when we saw Guy Fieri visit Norton’s Pastrami Deli, I knew we would be visiting soon.
Our trip began with a late breakfast at Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura. The place was packed and there was quite a wait for tables. We waited out front on a convenient bench. We used that time to read the menu, but I already knew what I was having. We were happy to finally make it inside and get seated in a booth near the kitchen. Pete’s isn’t all that big, but they do have two dining rooms and there was a constant flurry of activity everywhere.
We drew a friendly waitress, but she was so busy that she didn’t make it to our table as often as we would have liked. If you’ve seen this segment, then you know that the co-owner, Lyndsay, made the most amazing looking chorizo burger with Devil Hot Salsa. It looked sensational and I knew that’s what I was ordering. Anna ordered the pancake special. I knew the waitress was having a hard time making it to our booth, and so I told her to bring a side of mayonnaise with the burger. She said the burger comes with sour cream and did I want that on the burger? I told her that I wanted the burger exactly the same way they made it for Guy. Oddly enough, they don’t offer french fries.
As you can see from the picture, the chorizo burger presented well. Unfortunately, the meat was way overdone. The salsa was served on the side (instead of the way I ordered it), and I put on the whole thimble full which looked to be about the same as what Guy ended up with. I dug in and did my best to enjoy the flavors, despite the meat being well done. I would have sent it back, but our server did not make it back to the booth. I was really hungry and so I just continued eating it. I didn’t want to ruin Anna’s breakfast too.
The waitress finally made it over and I told her about the burger. She offered to redo the order, but I told her that was not necessary. I just wanted to know if they cook their burgers well done on purpose, or if it was a fluke. True, I was disappointed; but it still tasted good and I was full. A little while later, the waitress came back to our table and explained that they were taking the cost of the burger off our check. I told her that we wanted to pay for the burger, but she said it wasn’t up to her.
About that time, Pete himself appeared out of the back and I managed to get his attention and wave him over. I told him that we were paying for the burger, although we appreciated his gesture to take it off the bill. He confided to us that most of the cooks available in that area are notorious for overcooking burgers. I realized that he wanted to remake the burger, but that just didn’t fit our plans. We left it off as a push. I paid for the burger, but he is going to redo it for me the next time we come in. As it turns out, Pete is a real friendly guy and we talked with him for quite some time. He shared some funny stories about his family and the restaurant. We like Pete a lot, and look forward to our next visit. His wife, Lyndsay was not there that morning, but I’m sure it would be fun to meet her too.
We got a room for a few nights and then headed into Santa Barbara proper. We parked near downtown (State Street) and set out on foot. Just about everything there is within walking distance.
We stopped in at Mac’s Fish & Chips. The owners were not in, but we shared an order of the fish & chips, which tasted just as good as it looks in the picture. We shared the fish and no matter how we tried to portion it out, we couldn’t get the crust/batter to stay on. It was annoying, but tasty. We also sampled a bowl of clam chowder, which was excellent. Unfortunately, we had to pass on the haggis, in order to save room for something else (I’ll come up with something).
We whiled away the afternoon with a trip out to the beach. Sadly there wasn’t much sun that day, and it was too cold to swim. But we got in a good hike.
We were good and hungry by the time we made it to Norton’s Pastrami Deli. We ordered the PLT (pastrami, lettuce & tomato) which was featured on the show, and we also ordered a pastrami Philly style sandwich on a roll. The pictures don’t do the sandwiches justice. The pastrami was excellent and the sandwiches were fun to eat. The chipotle mayo was killer. I wasn’t really in perfect harmony with the bread choices, but I look forward to going back to Norton’s and getting 100% dialed-in on pastrami sandwich nirvana. Anna was hoping Brad Paisley would show up, but she missed him. I don’t know if she wanted his autograph, or something a little more special but I had to drag her out of there. The owner wanted us to pay for the damages where Anna had scratched the paint off the door jambs with her finger nails on the way out. I tried to reason with her. I said don’t feel bad; Shania Twain didn’t show up either… get over it.
It appears that Guy Fieri is a real pastrami head, but I am relatively new at it. I’ve still not tried pastrami on a burger, but good pastrami is rare. I was going to try it at Crown Burger in Salt Lake City, but they were closed. I’m more into corned beef, but look forward to expanding my food horizons. The chipotle pastrami sandwich at Sam LaGrassa’s in Boston is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, and I’m still looking forward to the famous No.19 sandwich at Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles.
We headed back the next morning, practically next door to Norton’s, for the Savoy Café & Deli. We had other plans for breakfast and sadly could not sit down for a full meal. As it turns out, the Savoy Café is a lovely place, with lots of inviting tables, a handsome bar, and even an outdoor patio out back. Even better was the staff. The woman who took care of us, Tracy, was very friendly, warm and knowledgeable. A total pro. We ordered the Turkey Pasilla Fritter, a la carte, which was featured on the show. It wasn’t really our bag, but we like to try new things. Now that we know how nice the Savoy Café & Deli is, we will look forward to planning a full meal there and visiting with Tracy again. She rocks. We had a hard time tearing ourselves away, but of course she had other work to do and people to take care of.
Our main plan for breakfast was to head over to Lito’s for some authentic Mexican food. We ordered a breakfast burrito with chorizo, eggs and cheese, a carnitas taco, and a carne adobada taco (which is very similar to al pastor). I couldn’t resist. The food was outstanding and I especially loved the taco adobada. The carnitas were made in the copper pot which was featured on the show.
The burrito was gigantic and we had a hard time finishing it. The girl up front was very friendly and over the course of eating our breakfast, we got meet the owners and have a nice chat. We highly recommend Lito’s. They have a big menu and we look forward to going back.
We jumped out of town and headed south for Oxnard. We parked downtown near The Kitchen and set out on foot to explore the area. There was a nice farmer’s market in the nearby Plaza Park. We also walked down to Heritage Square with it’s impressive collection of restored houses from the 1800s if memory serves. We had a good time knocking around and managed to work up a little appetite by the time we made it back to The Kitchen.
Fortunately we didn’t have to wait for a table. The Kitchen is a very large and tastefully decorated restaurant, with lots of character. Our server took good care of us and we got to meet the owner, Cathie Moreno. She is a very interesting young woman and looks to have a bright future. She mentioned that she would like to be on Food Network Star and we encouraged her greatly to do that. She seemed to us to have what it takes (which is a lot). There were two lovely ladies at the booth next to ours, who couldn’t help but overhear our conversation. They were also fans of DDD and we all shared some stories. We were closing in on 200 spots and they could tell we were excited about it.
We ordered the Kobe burger (wagyu beef) with cheddar cheese on the house made bun. I was really looking forward to it, but it came out over done for my taste. Since Anna and I were sharing, I ordered it closer to medium than medium rare, but the burger came out medium well. Bummer. Besides the great atmosphere and friendly service, The Kitchen has a great selection of daily specials and happy hour every day starting at 3:00 p.m. That ought to put a smile on anyone’s face.
After our lunch, I dropped Anna off at a local mall and I went to take the factory tour for DW (drum workshop) drums. The tour was awesome and arguably the finest production drum manufacturing facility in North America, if not the whole world. I’m sold (and saving up my pennies for a new set). About a year ago I got to meet Gary Mallaber, the drummer for Steve Miller Band, and he recommended them highly. I also had the chance to gawk at Stephen Price’s DW kit at the Pablo Cruise concert.
Anna did not have a good a time as I did, but we pushed on with our day and headed back up to Santa Barbara for more tacos. First at one of Julia Child’s favorite taco stands, La Super Rica, and then at Cuernavaca Taqueria. All the food we had at both places was fabulous. We finished our day with a long and leisurely stroll on the beach; and watched the sun set. I still love the taqueria food from my favorite burrito truck the best, but it was fun trying all the different tacos in Santa Barbara. Right across the street from the last place was a Spudnuts donut shop (which we had never tried). Since it was so convenient, we just had to stop and get a couple for later. They were yummy.
It was a fun outing, and we spent the next few days at our usual stomping grounds farther north. We got home June 18th and I wondered how we were going to make it to the big 200. We were only five places short. I knew that I wanted to break 200 before we launched the website, and I was hoping to launch the website soon. Fortunately for us, DDD had made another swing through Las Vegas and the six new places would take us over 200.
Next DDD Destination: Las Vegas (DDD count: 195)