La Arcada Christmas Walk

La Arcada Christmas Walk, courtesy La Arcada.

La Arcada Christmas Walk, courtesy La Arcada.

Get ready to get in the mood for the holidays! The spirit of Christmas—both past and present—is alive and well at this favorite annual celebration taking place on Wednesday, November 29, from 5–8 p.m. The charming, historic holiday open house has all the trimmings of the season, including twinkling lights, costumed carolers, refreshments and the chance to tell Santa what a good boy or girl you’ve been this year (and even snap a photo if you’ve been really, really good!).

In its 23rd year, the La Arcada Christmas Walk is a festive way to start the holiday season, and spend time with the whole family in a beautiful setting wandering down the enchanting, tree filled courtyard as it is transformed into a winter wonderland.  Hungry? Andersen’s, Viva, Jeannine’s, La Arcada Bistro, Petit Valentien and State & Fig will all be open for dining that evening.

Waterhouse Gallery, La Arcada, courtesy photo.

Waterhouse Gallery, La Arcada, courtesy photo.

Photos with Santa are FREE, as are fresh popped popcorn, treats in shops and the chance to sing-a-long to familiar holiday tunes.

Retail stores and specialty shops including Socorro, Renaissance, Ace Rivington, Lewis & Clarke, LaTavola Fine Linen, August Ridge Vineyards, The Barber Shop, Bread & Butter, Chocolats du CaliBressan, Coast 2 Coast Collection, Peanuts Maternity & Gifts, Sanford Winery and Urban Optics will extend their hours for this very special evening.  Art enthusiasts will enjoy visiting Gallery 113, Santa Barbara Arts, Waterhouse Gallery and the historically significant permanent collection of interactive sculptures throughout the Historic La Arcada Courtyard.

La Arcada is located at 1114 State St. between Figueroa and Anapamu streets.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 20, 2017.

Cocktail Corner: Brunch at Finch & Fork

Finch & Fork Bloody Mary, courtesy photo.

Finch & Fork Bloody Mary, courtesy photo.

A Spirited Toast to All Things Alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg  

While nothing says “bloody good brunch” like a Bloody Mary, Finch & Fork bartender Joe Dohany has bumped it up a notch with some cocktails designed especially for day drinking.

New to the menu is Dohany’s Breakfast of Champions, a bold drink with bacon–washed bourbon, pecan syrup and peach bitters. He’s also added a Guava Margarita with jalapeño–infused tequila, guava and lime as well as the Stinger with cognac and crème de menthe.  

There’s always the brunch time favorite Bloody Mary, which has also been upgraded, while a variety of mimosas, like orange, grapefruit, cranberry and peach are still available refills for just $1.

Chef James Siao’s midmorning eats are also top notch. Pair the cocktails with Siao’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, served with kale slaw, pickles and smoked honey mustard, the Roasted Pork Belly & Egg with poached eggs, smashed avocado, toasted bread, chipotle hollandaise and home fries, or the Caramelized Banana French Toast.

Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday at Finch & Fork (31 W. Carrillo St.) from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.,

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor ofSanta Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on February 17, 2017.

Don’t Miss Small Business Saturday in Downtown Santa Barbara

Small Business SaturdayKicking off the holiday season this is a relatively new retail holiday: Small Business Saturday (November 29). Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

This year, Downtown Santa Barbara is promoting Small Business Saturday as a way to kick off the Holiday season.

 A complete list of participating locations are listed on the Downtown Santa Barbara website ( As of press time, participants included: 33 Jewels at El Paseo (814 State), Aveda (304 Paseo Nuveo), Bella Rosa Galleries (1103-A State), The Book Den (15 E. Anapamu), Churchill Jewelers (1015 State),The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (811 State, #A), Crazy Good Bread Co. (38 W. Victoria), Culture Counter (38 W. Victoria), Distinctive Framing ‘N’ Art (1333 State), Flagstone Pantry (38 W. Victoria, #108), Foragers Pantry (38 W. Victoria) and  Green Star Coffee (38 W. Victoria).

Courtesy Downtown Santa Barbara

Courtesy Downtown Santa Barbara

Also participating are Hampstead Village (1100 State), Harlequin’s Theatrical Supply (17 W. Gutierrez), Imagine (11. W. Canon Perdido), Indigo Interiors (1321 State), Industry Home (4 E. de la Guerra), Italian Pottery Outlet (929 State), Kernohan’s Toys (18 W. Anapamu), Kitson (651 Paseo Nuevo, #101), Oliver & Espig (1108 State), Plum Goods (909 State), Salt  Cave Santa Barbara (740 State), Salt Boutique (1-A W. Canon Perdido) and Samy’s Camera (530 State).

Additional participants include:  Santa Barbara Arts (1114 State, #24), Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W. Victoria), Santa Monica Seafood (38 W. Victoria), Sojourner Cafe (134 E. Canon Perdido), State & Fig (1114 State, #18), The Pasta Shoppe (38 W. Victoria, #122), Viva Oliva (651 Paseo Nuevo, #207), Wendy Foster State Street (833 State), Whistle Club (819 State. Suites A + B) and Wine + Beer (38 W. Victoria)

DSB staff will be on hand at Marshalls Patio (900 State), giving out Shop Small tote bags, balloons and dog bandanas. “We’re encouraging Shop Small customers to post or tweet where they are shopping or dining throughout the day, using #shopsmall and #DowntownSB,” says Kate Schwab, Downtown Santa Barbara Marketing & Communication Director.

“We have such a diverse and unique blend of small businesses downtown. It is a pleasure to support our many small business in Downtown Santa Barbara and give them an opportunity to show off great places to shop, eat or visit.”

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 26, 2014.