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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, running through Feb. 7, kicks into high gear this weekend, with Jennifer Aniston receiving the Montecito award for Cake at the city’s historic Arlington Theater tonight, Jan. 30 and Birdman’s Michael Keaton being handed the Modern Master Award on Jan. 31. We’ve mapped out some of the best places to stay, eat, drink and enjoy.
Where to Stay
Rejoining the ranks of Santa Barbara’s most luxurious lodgings – which includes the Four Seasons Biltmore, the San Ysidro Ranch and Bacara Resort & Spa – is the Belmond El Encanto (800 Alvarado Place; 805-845-5800). Situated above the city in the Riviera neighborhood, the hotel is unrivalled when it comes to views, offering a sweeping vista overlooking downtown and the Pacific. After a seven-year, $134-million reno, this beloved hotel, built in 1918, is back with Spanish and Craftsman bungalows featuring marble bathrooms and heated stone floors. Rooms from $425.
For something fresh and hip, head to Kimpton Hotels’ new The Goodland (5650 Calle Real, Goleta; 805-964-6241), a 158-room, pet-friendly boutique hotel (pictured below) with a vintage Woodie parked out front. With a turntable in each room and vinyl from the Carpenters and Joan Baez, you’ll feel like your spending the weekend in your cool friend’s apartment. Rooms from $229.
Where to Eat
At the Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W. Victoria St.; 805-770-7702), a gourmet marketplace and collection of cafes, purchase local seafood, sustainably and humanely raised meats and poultry from Belcampo Meat Co. or enjoy pot stickers or a bowl of noodle soup at the Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar.
For a pick me up during movie weekend, downtown’s Kotuku Elixir Bar & Superfood (25 E. De La Guerra St.; 805-897-3382) offers plant-based juices elixirs, smoothies, even omega-rich ice cream.
Arigato Sushi (1225 State St.; 805-965-6074) just hit the big leagues, with the honor of being named one of the best sushi restaurants in the country by Travel + Leisure. The uni (sea urchin) is guaranteed fresh — Santa Barbara is the uni capital of the U.S.
For a sweet organic indulgence – such as strawberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust ice cream — try Rori’s Artisanal Creamery at the Montecito Country Market (1024 D Coast Village Road, Montecito; 805-220-6019). Owner and founder Rori Trovato began her career as a pastry chef and has written for Bon Appétit and Oprah, in addition to publishing her own cookbook.
Olio Crudo Bar (11 W. Victoria Street, Suite 18; 805-899-2699) is a spin-off of one of Santa Barbara’s favorite Italian places, Olio e Limone. The Atlantic bluefin tuna belly with a ginger vinaigrette and wasabi shoots is a house favorite.
Featuring a striking penny-covered exterior, Lucky Penny (127 Anacapa St.; 805-284-0358) in the Funk Zone serves up La Colombe coffee drinks, wood-fired pizza, salads and sandwiches. As an added bonus, it will deliver its fresh fast food to nearby tasting rooms.
Also situated in the Funk Zone – an evolving warehouse area featuring bars, restaurants and art galleries situated between the beach and Highway 101 — The Lark (131 Anacapa St.; 805-284-0370) offers innovative takes on traditional favorites such as Belgian waffles paired with duck liver.
Where to Shop
Step into interior decorator Tamara Kaye-Honey’s House of Honey (525 San Ysidro Road, Montecito; 805-969-7444), an outpost of her original Pasadena location, where you can browse everything from her debut custom lighting line to accessories from Alexandra Von Furstenberg and Heath ceramics.
Nestled in the Paseo Nuevo shopping center is Whistle Club (819 State St., Suite A+B; 805-965-7782), a boutique featuring accessories, gifts and women’s apparel from A.L.C., Thakoon Addition, Cynthia Rowley, Zimmermann and Tom Dixon.
At Chocolate Maya (15 W. Gutierrez St.; 805-965-5956), Swiss-born owner Maya Schoop-Rutten has collected her favorite organic and fair trade chocolates in addition to some of her own concoctions. You might even be tempted to taste a shot of thick European-style hot chocolate.
At home furnishings shop Hudson Grace (Montecito Country Mart, 1014F Coast Village Rd., Montecito; 805-565-9600), look for classic white dinnerware and unique vintage silver serving pieces bearing the signature stamps of The Ritz, The Savoy, and The Connaught.
At Santa Barbara Guitar Bar (Funk Zone, 137 Anacapa St.; 805-770-7242), relax on a couch and peruse the dozens of acoustic and electric lines this shop has to offer, including small Australian company called Cole Clark, which produces environmentally friendly guitars. If you find something you like, give it a whirl in one of the four private lesson rooms.
Where to Drink
The Spanish Revival-style El Paseo shopping center (812 State St.), built in the 1920s, is one of the city’s newest wine hubs. Its Wine Collection of El Paseo now boasts six wine tasting rooms, including Happy Canyon and Au Bon Climat.
Three new wineries have opened tasting rooms in the Funk Zone. Lafond Winery, Fox Wine Co. and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective with selections from Babcock Winery & Vineyards, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard and Ca’ Del Grevino. They join Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, where master sommelier and owner Brian McClintic (notably seen in the sommelier documentary Somm) stocks a selection of more than 600 wines and offers 25 wines by the glass. (Lafond: 111 East Yanonali St.; Fox Wine: 120 Santa Barbara St..; Santa Barbara: 131 Anacapa St.; Les Marchands, 131 Anacapa St., Suite B)
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