Headquartered in the wee Western-style town of Los Alamos and sharing its 1880s vintage building with The Los Alamos General Store is PICO, a farm-to-table foodie destination that’s quickly building a buzz among diners up and down the coast.
Owners Will Henry and Kali Kopley, a husband and wife duo, chose the building because of its history and place in Los Alamos’s timeline. It continues to fulfill its original destiny as a mercantile through the retail portion of General Store, which includes a 2,000-bottle wine shop. The restaurant side of the business takes its name from historical figure Salomon Pico, an infamous local bandit said to have been part of the inspiration behind the legend of Zorro.
PICO’s seasonal menu is a tribute to the symbiotic farmer-restaurant relationship, using strictly in-season ingredients and primarily showcasing the bounty of Santa Ynez Valley. Dishes are created based on the food items at hand from local farmers and ranchers, all under the guidance of Chef Drew Terp.
Terp’s top-notch credentials include Michelin-starred kitchens from Napa (Auberge du Soleil) to New York City (Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Masa and barMasa), Spain (under Chef Pedro Subijana at Akelare), Las Vegas (barMasa and Shaboo), Washington, D.C. (Jaleo) and most recently with the now-shuttered Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos. Terp makes all of his ingredients in-house—including the ketchup and mustard.
PICO recently added a 2,000-square-foot outdoor area with additional seating, a fire pit, a chicken coop, bee hives and raised gardens, bringing the locally sourced menu even closer to home.
With the outdoor area, “the restaurant’s eggs come from right outside our back door; our bees will provide honey for our dishes and drinks, as well as our house-made condiments and provisions; and the garden will offer up home-grown herbs and produce, to supplement the fabulous ingredients that we receive from our local providers,” says Terp.
Current menu highlights include charcuterie (locally sourced meats, house-made by Terp) and cheese plates with delicious bread from the neighboring Bob’s Well Bread Bakery; starters like pork cannelloni with béchamel, manchego and asparagus with house-made bacon and a 63 degree egg, and mushroom salad with bacon and arugula; and entrées such as a juicy heart of rib eye, served sliced over crispy potatoes, cedar-wrapped halibut with morels, English peas and Meyer lemon or grilled local lamb loin with ratatouille mille feuille and polenta.
As for the wine, Will Henry is co-owner of Lumen Wines (with esteemed vintner Lane Tanner), and the list includes their labels, along with other gems. Definitely leave room for dessert, which includes house-made ice creams (also available from the mercantile) with mouth-watering flavors like dulce de leche, tarragon and granddaddy’s favorite (bourbon-Wild Turkey 101), the chef’s homage to his grandfather.
PICO at The Los Alamos General Store, 458 Bell St., Los Alamos, 805/344-1122, losalamosgeneralstore.com.
Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.