We didn’t need to leave too early in the morning for Santa Barbara but Mom was already up around 5AM complaining of jet lag. It was just as well since I don’t sleep well in hotels and I was half awake. We took our time to have a proper breakfast and spent the morning at my cousin’s (where we had a second breakfast) before packing up the car to leave. We had a beautiful drive along the coast on 101 with the vast Pacific Ocean spreading before us; we reached Santa Barbara around 11:30.
I haven’t had any good Mexican food in well over a year so before I left for California I looked up where I could get some. On my list in Santa Barbara were two places: first was La Super Rica, which became well known as the famed chef Julia Child’s favorite Mexican place in town. The second was a small joint that only makes a selection of tacos (and nothing else) with a diehard following called Lilly’s. On La Super Rica’s website it said they open at 11:30 but when we pulled up at 11:45 I was disappointed to find La Super Rica closed. I had planned on having a quick bite there and then a taco at Lily’s… I know it’s a lot but it’s next to impossible to get good Mexican food in Pennsylvania or even in Manhattan! But it was not to be… Everyone was still full from breakfast and all the munchies we had on the drive up.
To work up our appetite we strolled around town for a while. Surrounded by mountains and under the bluest of skies, I loved the clean streets with a hint of Spanish architecture and the slow pace of the life there. It also helped that it was Wednesday as I’m sure on the weekends it would be a different scene. We stopped by Sur la Table; emo and Mom enjoyed window shopping and exclaimed how cute things were and spoke excitedly about which gadgets would be most useful in their kitchens. After a few hours of walking around and shopping (something we wouldn’t have been able to do with if we had men with us), we were finally ready for some tacos.
Lilly’s Taqueria happened to be close enough to where we parked so we leisurely walked over. I knew that they were famous for their ojo tacos (eyeballs) but when I mentioned it to my travel companions they all balked at the idea. Frankly, I wasn’t so sure about it myself. They opted for asada and adobada, and I ordered lengua and cachete. There was a line but it moved quickly and our food was ready within seconds. We had no problem getting a table and the fresh condiment bar was a nice plus. And the tacos were FABULOUS.
Speaking of fabulous, in Santa Barbara we also visited a well-known seafood restaurant called Brophy Brothers. Their Santa Barbara location has a beautiful view of the ocean and harbor, as well as the mountains. They don’t take reservations and I knew it’d be packed so we made sure to get there early for dinner. For the four of us, we ordered their cold seafood combination platter, hot combination platter, a bowl of New England clam chowder, fish and chips, and the seafood pasta. Everything was fresh and perfectly prepared, except for the pasta for which the linguini was completely over cooked. While I didn’t like the pasta dish at all, it was a hit for both my Mom and emo. They liked that it was “cooked through.” Overall the food was so good that even my 12-year-old picky eater cousin gulped down everything in front of her. We were lucky to grab an outdoor table on the second floor with a full view of the harbor and the mountains. The weather was more perfect than I could have asked for and with such impressive views, I could easily understand why the likes of Oprah Winfrey would want to have a house in Santa Barbara. Even Prince William and his new wife Kate were coming for a visit that weekend! Mountains, beaches, good food, and wonderful weather. What more could one ask for?
Lilly’s Taqueria: 310 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara, CA
Brophy Brothers: 119 Harbor way, Santa Barbara, CA