Local Dish: Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee and Monkeyshine Roar With Flavors

Follow the pink lanterns to the Tyger Tyger team, waiting to serve you at the new Funk Zone spot. Photo by Rob Stark.

Follow the pink lanterns to the Tyger Tyger team, waiting to serve you at the new Funk Zone spot. Photo by Rob Stark.

Follow the pretty pink lanterns to a terrific new place in the Funk Zone.

The neighborhood marketplace home to Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee Co. and Monkeyshine is finally open, and this yummy addition to the waterfront area was well worth the wait!

Acme Hospitality (of The Lark, Loquita and Lucky Penny fame, to name just a few) has created a collective that’s been a hit from day one.  The three-concept venue includes Tyger Tyger, a fast-fine restaurant with Thai-Vietnamese influenced dishes; Monkeyshine, with exotic soft serve ice cream and popsicles; and local roaster Dart Coffee Co., to keep everyone caffeinated and happy,. The marketplace is located  at 121 E. Yanonali St., on the corner of Gray Avenue near the Arts Fund.

It’s hard to miss the hundreds of illuminated pink lanterns on the interior and exterior ceilings of this pretty new food hall. Large windows peek into the building and bring all-day sunshine into the airy room. The palette of bright pink, saffron yellow, orange and turquoise warm the interiors and definitely let you know that you’re in for a unique treat, evoking elements of Thailand, Vietnam and the Central Coast—flavors which are also echoed in the menu.

Inside the Funk Zone's new marketplace, which features Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee Co. and Monkeyshine. Photo by Rob Stark.

Inside the Funk Zone’s new marketplace, which features Tyger Tyger, Dart Coffee Co. and Monkeyshine. Photo by Rob Stark.

Tyger Tyger and sister operation Monkeyshine are led by Santa Barbara born-and-raised Chef Daniel Palaima who returned home from Chicago to lead the team after stints with internationally acclaimed, award-winning chefs. Bold Thai and Vietnamese inspired dishes we’ve tried so far include melt-in-your-mouth Weeping Brisket with coconut sticky rice; almost-too-pretty-to-eat Shrimp Summer Rolls; Spicy Pork Larb Salad (we tried the impossible “pork” meatless version and it was amazing); Octopus Salad with glass noodles and nouc cham; and Curried Noodles with braised pork and fermented mustard greens, among others. Everything was delicious and great to share with friends.  

Tasty Thai and Vietnamese-inspired dishes at Tyger Tyger. Photo by Rob Stark.

Tasty Thai and Vietnamese-inspired dishes at Tyger Tyger. Photo by Rob Stark.

Offering the perfect deserts to accompany Tyger Tyger’s spicy flavors, Monkeyshine  is an ice cream counter serving frozen treats flavored with Asian spices and ingredients. The menu features soft serve ice cream flavors like Green Tea; Toasted Rice; Ginger; Thai Chili Chocolate; Orange Szechuan Pepper; Vegan Coconut Lemongrass; and Black Sesame, with exotic toppings, as well as house-made Popsicles. 

Monkeyshine offers a pretty array of toppings for soft service ice cream served in fish-shaped cones. Photo by Rob Stark.

Monkeyshine offers a pretty array of toppings for soft service ice cream served in fish-shaped cones. Photo by Rob Stark.

Dart Coffee Co. completes the trio with its specialty coffee counter. The Funk Zone’s own small-lot specialty coffee roaster, Dart Coffee offers espresso drinks, cold brew, nitro cold brew and locally-made kombucha. Fair trade organic beans are roasted onsite daily and retail coffee is available in addition to an extensive menu of espresso drinks—try the Corena Cortado for the most delicious cinnamon churro-like treat, or the June Bug for a sweet kiss of lavender with your java—and specialty loose leaf organic teas alongside locally made pastries and bites.

Dart Coffee Co. is owned and operated by husband and wife team Erika Carter Dart (a beloved local artist) and David Dart (a beloved local dentist) who have lived and worked in the Funk Zone for more than 16 years. This location marks their first retail shop, bringing ethical craft-roasted coffee to the public, sourcing only the finest organic, fair-trade coffee beans from small-lot indigenous farmers who share their vision. Plus a percentage of every bean sold helps sustain artist studios in Santa Barbara’s diverse art districts through The Yanonali Street Artist Fund.

The Dart Coffee team (that's owner Erika Carter Dart in front) is ready to serve delicious, sustainably roasted coffee and treats. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

The Dart Coffee team (that’s owner Erika Carter Dart in front) is ready to serve delicious, sustainably roasted coffee and treats. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Follow the bright pink lanterns to the marketplace. A delicious adventure awaits!

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 15, 2018.

Enjoy the Holidays at Loquita

Paella from Loquita, photo by Laura Ray.

Paella from Loquita, photo by Laura Ray.

Executive Chef Peter Lee of LOQUITA and POQUITA—the new hot spots Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone—has special celebratory menus for Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking these restaurants out yet, the holidays are a perfect time to do so.

In addition to the complete menu that Loquita has made popular with bold flavored Mediterranean dishes of olives, lemons, tomatoes, peppers, vinegars, Jamon and Sherries, simply executed and beautifully plated, on Christmas Eve, Chef Lee’s specials feature Bunuelo de Bacalao—Salt Cod, Potato, Lemon & Nora Chili Aïoli; and Cannelloni with Mushroom, Foie Gras; Bechamel & Manchego. Reservations are recommended and are available from 5–8:30 p.m.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Then, on New Year’s Eve, Loquita presents elegant New Year’s Eve specials, in addition to their acclaimed menu, perfect for an end of year celebration. Selections include Foie Gras with Figs, Dandelion Greens & Celery Root; Paella con Costilla – Iberico Pork Ribs with Artichokes, Mushrooms, Iberico Soffrito, Grilled Lemon & Herb Aïoli; and Cochinillo Asado – Suckling Pig with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Mojo Verde. Loquita’s chefs will display a live “performance art,” preparing the Paella con Costilla outdoors on the patio in a huge paella pan for all guests to experience. Reservations are recommended and are available from 5–10:45 p.m.

Also now open is Poquita, the little sister of Loquita, a perfect choice for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve for those seeking a spontaneous evening. Drop in while exploring the Urban Wine Trail, drinking in the colorful ambiance of the Funk Zone.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Poquita serves many of the same delicious pintxos, tapas, cheeses and charcuterie as Loquita at their artful, standing-room-only pintxos bar, ideal for casual small bites without the structure of a reservation. Hours are 5 p.m. – midnight.

Also starting on New Year’s Day, Loquita begins serving Sunday Brunch. Chef Lee introduces his inspired daytime menu of exquisite Spanish specialties created with a Santa Barbara sensibility—a Paella Pan Skillet with either Mushroom, Tomato, Spinach, Potato, Eggplant, Chermoula & Eggs; or Chorizo with Bell Pepper, Tomato, Potato, Broccolini, Parsley & Eggs; Benedicts on Pan De Cristal in two versions – Jamon Serrano, Spinach, Eggs & Chorizo Hollandaise; or Cured Salmon, Pickled Red Onion, Eggs & Lemon Hollandaise. Try Lee’s two spins on the Tortilla Espanola – Traditional with Potato, Onion, Frisee & Herb Aïoli; or Especial with Avocado, Piquillo, Potato, Onion, Mushroom & Chorizo. Loquita brunch hours are 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and will continue every Sunday after the new year. 

To view all holiday menus visit Holiday Menus or www.loquitasb.com/nye.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, “an endearing Spanish colloquial term for a wild, fun loving young girl, is a playful love letter to the Spanish origins and history of Santa Barbara.” The space is designed by San Francisco restaurateur and designer Doug Washington, who created the distinctive styling at The Lark, Lucky Penny, Les Marchands, Santa Barbara Wine Collective and Helena Avenue Bakery. Architect Joe Andrulaitis and the Young Construction team led by Rick Musmecci completely restored the historic building that has served as numerous restaurants and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission over the past century. Interior finishing touches by Stephanie Greene Fuller incorporated handsome furnishings fabricated by Brothers of Industry of Carpinteria.  

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

Loquita, photo by Rob Stark.

“I was inspired by a quote I read in a recent issue of Food & Wine magazine that said ‘Spain is a country with a big heart, a big thirst for wine, a big appetite for great food and a big affinity for art, music and sports.’ Those who live, work and play in Santa Barbara share these values,” says Sherry Villanueva, Managing Partner for Acme Hospitality, the group behind the restaurant. Bringing a Spanish restaurant to the Funk Zone has been something she has envisioned since the space first became available more than two years ago.

“Santa Barbara’s rich Spanish colonial history has defined our city in ways that span architecture, food, wine and even informs our community celebrations. It’s the right time to dedicate our next restaurant to the incredible culture and food that Spain is known for, but interpreted by a contemporary California sensibility that is our company’s signature,” says Villanueva. “It’s no wonder that Spain is recognized as one of the greatest countries for food and dining today.

The restaurant is located at 202 State St., 805/880-3380.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 19, 2016.

The Carbs Have Landed! Helena Avenue Bakery Opens in the Funk Zone

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

It seems like there’s always something new and fun happening in the Funk Zone, including the recent opening of Helena Avenue Bakery, an artisan bakery offering rustic, wholesome breads and handmade seasonal pastries.

Located in the historic Castagnola warehouse (131 Anacapa St.)  in the rear manufacturing space that opens up to Helena Avenue just off the corner of Yanonali

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Street, the bakery provides custom-baked sweet and savory goods for Lucky Penny, The Lark, Les Marchands and other restaurants, specializing in hand-crafted baked goods made from scratch. The bakery also features a small retail counter open to the public from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. daily.

The bakery team is led by Pastry Chef Jeff Haines, former Executive Pastry Chef at The Lark. Chef Weston Richards, formerly of Spare Parts, who also has a cult following at Les Marchands for his imaginative creations, oversees the Picnic Counter, the retail section of the bakery, offering take out foods.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

“Having a bakery was a logical progression for us. The key ingredient was putting together the right talent, and we have a passionate and talented team. We’ve been serving the donuts, bagels, scones, muffins and cookies at Lucky Penny for several months now and they’ve been a huge hit,” says Sherry Villanueva of Acme Hospitality, which operates the new bakery as well as The Lark, Lucky Penny and several other businesses in the area.

 The entrance to the bakery is accessed through a shared door of the Santa Barbara Wine Collective.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

 Exclusive Helena Avenue Bakery breads include Baguettes; Country and Country Walnut Batards; Ciabatta; Pain au Lait loaves and buns; San Francisco, Chile Cheese & Olive Sourdoughs; and 100% Whole Wheat loaves. Sweet and savory pastries offered are Egg Croissants with Arugula Pesto and Prosciutto; Apricot Thyme Croissant; Hand Pies with Seasonal Jam; Stone Fruit Galettes; Mini Quiche selections; and cookies varieties of Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Brittle, Oatmeal Blueberry and Double Chocolate.

The Picnic Counter grab and go items include: House Pickled Veggies, Marinated Olives, Couscous Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumber & Feta; Potato Salad with Whole Grain Mustard & Castelvetrano Olives; Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad, Parmesan & Kale; Focaccia with Roasted Corn, Pasilla Peppers, Queso Fresco & Cilantro; Ham & House-Made Butter on Baguette with Radish; and Cold Fried Chicken Sandwich on Ciabatta, Blue Cheese & Dill Pickles. Also available are specialty Grab & Go house-made Jams, Peanut Brittle and Marshmallows.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

Helena Avenue Bakery, photo by Rob Stark.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on August 3, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Jamming at The Lark

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

Fall Jams at The Lark, sourced from Chapala Farms, include, L-R, Star Ghost Chili Vodka, Cutler Stagecoach Whiskey and Wilder Gin. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Fall Jams at The Lark, sourced from Chapala Farms, include, L-R, Star Ghost Chili Vodka, Cutler Stagecoach Whiskey and Wilder Gin. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

It takes an awfully inventive mind to look at a jar of jam or marmalade and envision a cocktail, but that’s exactly what those clever folks at The Lark have done, in partnership with Chapala Farms, and the results are quite unique—and delicious!

I tried my first “Jam” over the summer, a delightful concoction of Star Ghost Chili Vodka (made locally by Ascendant Spirits in Buellton)  and Chapala Farms Plum Jam. Not only was it yummy, with a nice kick of sweet and spice, I also loved the fact that Chapala Farms is an urban backyard farm venture from locals Jason Banks and Michelle Decaris, located right down the road on Chapala Street.

The Lark’s “Fall Jams” have kicked up the fun even further.

Local "Jam Cocktail" ingredients at The Lark, photo by Macy Kremzar.

Local “Jam Cocktail” ingredients at The Lark, photo by Macy Kremzar.

You really have to try these cocktails to fully appreciate the unique flavors and textures.

For fall, Star Ghost Chili Vodka is now combined with Chapala Farms Strawberry Passion Fruit Jam for a spicy glass of sweet deliciousness that’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

We also liked the Cutler Stagecoach Whiskey (from Funk Zone local Ian Cutler‘s Cutler’s Artisan Spirits) with Chapala Farms Cinnamon, Mint, Fig Jam, a perfect holiday libation, as well as the Wilder Gin (from Ventura Spirits Company) and Chapala Farms Tangelo Jam combo.

The genesis of these clever cocktails comes from Buffalo, New York, where following a visit to a family wedding, Acme Operations Manager Dan Russo (The Lark, Lucky Penny, Les Marchands and the Santa Barbara Wine Collective) discovered Jam Cocktails, conceived at Ballyhoo, a popular Buffalo bar owned by Tim Stevens and managed by his nephew, Frank Pusateri. Russo was then

Chef Jason Paluska's Housemade Charcuterie at The Lark, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

Chef Jason Paluska’s Housemade Charcuterie at The Lark, photo by Leslie Dinaberg

inspired to bring the concept to The Lark’s beverage program and teamed with Decaris and Banks of Chapala Farms to design distinctive summer cocktails made exclusively with local spirits— Cutler’s Artisan Spirits, Ventura Spirits and Ascendant Spirits—and a rotating menu of Chapala Farm’s premier jams and marmalades. That tradition has now continued into the fall.

“The flavors from the jams produce a subtle sweetness and tartness that is different from muddling fruits and other methods. And when combined with our Central Coast spirits they make a great … cocktail,” says Russo. All Fall Jam cocktails are priced at $11 are subject to change with seasonal harvests.

The Lark is located at 131 Anacapa St., 805/284-0370.

Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on November 20, 2015.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa 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.”

THE LARK UNVEILS NEW ART INSTALLATION BY ARTIST KEVIN EDDY

Image by Kevin Eddy

Image by Kevin Eddy

The Lark has unveiled a new installation by Kevin Eddy, a local fine art photographer specializing in landscapes and architecture using color for a personalized expression of his subject.

Raised in Tucson, Eddy discovered his father’s camera at the age of four, beginning his exploration in the art of photography. His education eventually brought him to the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. His new work showcased at The Lark is created with a Nikon Digital SLR and includes over a dozen stunning images.

Eddy recently won a national award from The Stone Crop Gallery in Maine. The gallery’s 3rd annual exhibition featured cell phone photography and recognized Eddy for his broad range of color and versatility in landscapes.

The installation is featured along the front hallway of The Lark. Other public art includes the outdoor murals at Lucky Penny and five rotating murals on the front building’s doors on Yanonali Street by other local artists.

The Lark is located at 131 Anacapa St., 805/284-0370. For further information on The Lark, visit thelarksb.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Image by Kevin Eddy

Image by Kevin Eddy

Photo by Kevin Eddy, courtesy The Lark

Photo by Kevin Eddy, courtesy The Lark

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on August 20 2014.