California has had a rough 12 months, but few parts of the Golden State have suffered quite as acutely as Santa Barbara County, which last year endured the devastating Thomas wildfire (the largest in the state’s history), followed by January mudslides that claimed 17 lives.
Six weeks later, this Central Coast community is bouncing back, and leaders are eager to encourage locals to get out and mingle and visitors to fly in or make the two-hour drive from Los Angeles. To that end, the city is poised to kick off the 10-day Santa Barbara Restaurant Week, a county-wide promotion designed to encourage easy sampling of unfamiliar fare and return visits to favorite haunts. The list of more than 30 participating restaurants—which includes Cal-French hot spot Bouchon, burger-and-brew innovator The Lark, and Instagram-ready Les Marchands Wine Bar—represents a tasty cross-section of Santa Barbara’s acclaimed food scene.
The long week starts on Friday, February 23, and runs through Sunday, March 4, and diners can expect prix fixe menus at price points accessible to everyone. One example: Montecito’s Cava Restaurant, under the direction of chef Armando Benítez, will serve a three-course nuevo Latino feast for $35 per person, with a portion of the proceeds going to local aid efforts via the nonprofit charitable-giving hub, Direct Relief.
We’ll drink to that.