Dishing It Out for Charity

Dishing it out for Charity, originally published in 805 Living Magazine, March 2021.In an astounding demonstration of generosity, local
restaurants stepped up to the plate for the fifth annual 805 Living Dishing It Out for Charity challenge in 2020, presented by Montecito Bank & Trust. Despite the pandemic’s
catastrophic impact on their industry, 23 restaurants participated in November and December by donating $2 per
designated dish to the charity of their choosing. Although, slightly fewer eateries participated than in 2019, those who did raised $17,182 for their charities — very nearly as much as 2019’s 27 participants, whose donations totaled $17,303. Special thanks to these community-minded eateries of 2020, who continued to give to others at a time when restaurants needed support more than ever:

BELL’S (, Los Alamos, for No Kid Hungry

BELMOND EL ENCANTO (, Santa Barbara, for the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade

BIBI JI (, Santa Barbara, for La Casa de la Raza

CELLO RISTORANTE & BAR (, Paso Robles, for Bailliage de Central Coast Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs

CHULO’S CAFE & CANTINA (, Templeton, for R.A.C.E.
Matters SLO

FINNEY’S CRAFTHOUSE & KITCHEN (, Westlake Village, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo, for Support for the Kids

Dream Foundation

HELENA AVENUE BAKERY (, Santa Barbara, for Know Your Rights Camp

THE LARK (, Santa Barbara, for Know Your Rights Camp

LIDO RESTAURANT & LOUNGE (, Pismo Beach, for the Ocean Conservancy

LITTLE CALF CREAMERY & CAFE (, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village, for Special Olympics Ventura

LOQUITA (, Santa Barbara, for Know Your Rights Camp

LOS AGAVES RESTAURANT (, Westlake Village, Oxnard, Goleta, and Santa Barbara, for the Santa Barbara Zoo

LUCKY PENNY (, Santa Barbara, for Know Your Rights Camp

MILK & HONEY TAPAS (, Santa Barbara, for Organic Soup Kitchen

OKU RESTAURANT (, Santa Barbara, for CADA (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse)

OLIO PIZZERIA (, Santa Barbara, for Teddy Bear
Cancer Foundation

OPAL RESTAURANT & BAR (, Santa Barbara, for the Arthritis Foundation

PICO RESTAURANT (, Los Alamos, for Save the
Waves Coalition

SANTO MEZCAL (, Santa Barbara, for the Santa Barbara Zoo


WATER’S EDGE RESTAURANT & BAR (, Ventura, for Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties

WOOD RANCH (, Agoura Hills, Moorpark, Camarillo, and Ventura, for the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation.

Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

Eat For Good: The 805 Living Dishing It Out for Charity Challenge

Take part in a delicious opportunity to help support worthy causes

It’s been quite a year, and the fact that 2020 is drawing to a close seems like reason enough to celebrate by dining at local restaurants in support of some worthy causes.
This issue marks the fifth 805 Living Dishing It Out for Charity challenge, and a great selection of eateries in the region have agreed to participate once again this year.

Each participant has selected a favorite dish or created a special new one for the challenge, and for each and every one sold during the months of November and December, they have pledged to donate $2 to the charity of their choosing. Last year’s challenge raised more than $17,300 for 22 deserving nonprofits. Generous local restaurants have stepped up to the plate once again, even during this unprecedented time when restaurants themselves need support just like the charities they’re supporting.

This spirit of giving is so heartwarming, we hope that you too will be inspired to participate by dining at these community-minded venues.

This year, Acme Hospitality’s ( Funk Zone restaurants, Helena Avenue Bakery, The Lark, Loquita, and Lucky Penny have all chosen to support Know Your Rights Camp ( “Acme Hospitality’s company ethos is greatly aligned with Know Your Rights Camp,” says spokesman Willie Simpson, adding “the equality and well-being of all employees is what builds a strong business and community. We know there is still much more work to be done in the fight for civil rights and equality for all Americans. We acknowledge our responsibility to be part of the solution. Know Your Rights Camp elevates a new generation of Black and Brown change leaders through education, self-empowerment and mobilization.” Details about the individual restaurants’ involvement follow.

Helena Avenue Bakery
Chef Isaac Hernandez’s Carpinteria Avocado on Sourdough Toast layers fresh local avocado, Persian cucumber, sunflower seeds, French feta, and sprouts on a toasted slice of Helena Avenue Bakery’s fresh sourdough bread; diners can further elevate the dish with a poached egg. Bakery manager Wyatt Davidson hopes the popular take on avocado toast will be a great selection to boost their donation.

The Lark
Executive chef Jason Paluska’s Hand-Cut Tagliatelle Pasta, made with grilled sweet corn, sungold cherry tomatoes, garlic, serrano chile, shaved bottarga, preserved lemon, and Old Bay–seasoned breadcrumbs, is a hearty fall favorite at The Lark. The popularity of this locally sourced, handmade pasta plate makes it a promising candidate for the charity challenge.

For this year’s challenge, Loquita picked executive chef Nikolas Ramirez’s signature Mariscos Paella, featuring locally sourced fish, scallops, octopus, sobrasada (cured
pork sausage), manila clams, squid ink sofrito (a Spanish sauce made from onion, green pepper, and garlic), yuzu, and salmon roe. It was manager Stephanie Perkins who
brought Know Your Rights Camp to Acme’s attention. “I believe it is crucial for the younger generation to know their rights, to truly understand who they are, and to learn they have
the power to change future generations for the better,” she says.

Lucky Penny
Chef Dante Bogan chose the Margherita Pizza for this year’s challenge, knowing its popularity among patrons getting takeout and eating on Lucky Penny’s new extended patio. A classic that appeals to many diners, including vegetarians, the wood-fired pizza is topped with San Marzano marinara, burrata, cherry tomatoes, and opal basil.

At Bell’s, where the menu is “Franch-inspired” (borrowing from both French and ranch-style cuisines), chef Daisy Ryan’s Egg Salad Sandwich is an iconic selection. “We feel something as simple and satisfying as an egg salad sandwich really speaks to our collaboration with No Kid Hungry (, whose mission is to end hunger and poverty,” says Ryan, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband, Gregory Ryan.

Belmond El Encanto
“While our doors were closed to the public due to the global pandemic, we partnered
with Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade ( to make and provide masks for those in need, and we were able to provide hundreds of handmade masks,” says Belmond Encanto spokeswoman Julia Solomon. “We look forward to supporting them in their future endeavors.” To that end, the restaurant chose sous chef Carlos Ramirez’s Seared Wild King Salmon, caught fresh and prepared with herbs, spices, summer squash, shallot confit, and tomato jus, as its featured menu item to benefit the community crisis–response organization.

Bibi Ji
“As a Latino business owner, I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to La Casa de la Raza
(, an organization that helps educate Latino youth about their culture and build community,” says Bibi Ji co-owner Alejandro Medina. “I am hopeful that one day any of these kids may own a local business themselves and be able to do the same.” The restaurant’s designated dish is Chicken Tikka, which Medina’s business partner Rajat Parr grew up eating at his home in Kolkata, India.

Cello Ristorante & Bar
Chef de cuisine Ben Drahos opted for Cello’s Certified Black Angus Filet. The oak pit–grilled steak is served in a red wine demi-glace with horseradish mascarpone and seasonal vegetables. The dish will benefit the nonprofit Bailliage de Central Coast Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs ( Currently overseen by Allegretto Vineyard Resort food and beverage manager Thomas Humphrey, the organization supports the development of young chefs and recently raised money for the culinary program at San Luis Obispo’s Cuesta College.

Chulo’s Cafe & Cantina
“The Huevos Rancheros is our signature dish,” says Chulo’s executive chef Luis Ruiz. It “speaks to our Mexican heritage, and we love sharing our delicious culture with our patrons.” The menu item will support the anti-racism organization R.A.C.E. Matters SLO ( “We are so grateful to have a local charity on the ground here in SLO doing the work and fighting the fight for equality and justice for people of all colors, religions, histories, and sexual orientations,” he says. “We love to support them in any way we can.”

Finney’s Crafthouse
“My family has supported this amazing charity Support for the Kids ( for many years,” says Finney’s owner Greg Finefrock. Dedicated to providing educational enrichment and comprehensive services to underprivileged and foster children and their families in Ventura County, the organization provides essentials like food, clothing, and school supplies. For this year’s challenge, Finefrock has selected a new menu item: executive chef Eric Bosrau’s Bison Burger, made with bison sourced from Flocchini Family Ranch in Wyoming.

Goat Tree at Hotel Californian
“In the wake of the current pandemic, it has become more important than ever to feature whole-animal butchery,” says Goat Tree executive chef Travis Watson. “The Braised Oxtail Tagliatelle features an often-overlooked cut of beef in a dish that nurtures the soul as we welcome the cooler seasons.” The pasta entrée is earmarked to support the Dream Foundation (, which helps realize the dreams of terminally ill adults
and provides emotional support to them and their families.

Lido Restaurant & Lounge
Lido’s picked Crab Cakes, a favorite starter among locals. “Being nestled along the Central Coast and having the privilege to sit and watch the sunset while dining on these tasty morsels is the perfect recipe for a truly breathtaking experience,” says spokeswoman Christina Stieb. “That wouldn’t be possible without our beautiful Pacific Ocean. That’s why we chose the Ocean Conservancy ( as our charity, to protect and conserve the very thing that gives us the main ingredients of the dish and many others.”

Little Calf Creamery
“We are creating unique spins on a frozen dessert classic just in time for the holidays,” says Little Calf Creamery owner Scott Levin, whose two new treats will support Special Olympics Ventura (, an organization that enriches the lives of nearly 600 athletes who have intellectual disabilities. For the November Mud Pie, a graham cracker crust is filled with Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream topped with an oatmeal crumble. For the December Mud Pie, an Oreo cookie crust is loaded with peppermint-stick ice cream
sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy.

Los Agaves Restaurant
Los Agaves Restaurant’s Land & Sea Molcajete, a hearty stew with steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, pork, and grilled nopal, is the ultimate Mexican comfort food and a cult favorite, especially during the cold season. “We serve you so we can be of service to others,” says owner Carlos Luna. “For every dish sold, Los Agaves will donate $2 to the Santa Barbara Zoo ( to support and sustain a beloved community treasure that educates so many children, families, and visitors in the region.”

Milk & Honey Tapas
“Burrata is always in season at Milk & Honey, so this is our nod to the cheese we love so much and the earthy flavors of fall,” says chef-owner Alvaro Rojas of the Falling For Burrata plate he designated to support the Organic Soup Kitchen (, which produces and delivers soup meals to the elderly and
low-income cancer patients. “ ‘Take your food as your medicine or your medicine will
be your food,’ is a quote that resonates with me, given that my father, grandmother,
and uncle all died of cancer,” says Rojas, who admires the nonprofit’s nutritional
approach to treatment.

Oku Restaurant
Oku executive chef Koji Nomura happily created a new dish for this year’s 805 Living
challenge to support the work of CADA (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse;, which provides addiction prevention, education, and treatment services to teens and adults in Santa Barbara County. The 805CADA Roll is as delicious as it is beautiful, says co-owner Tina Takaya. Featuring fresh wild-caught salmon, crispy shrimp tempura, avocado, and cucumber, and a sauce made from fresh shiso leaf, miso, and yuzo, the roll is finished with flying fish roe and served with a side of sriracha aioli. “We enjoyed creating a special sushi roll for an amazing cause,” Takaya says.

Olio Pizzeria
“Our Umbra pizza is a signature favorite,” says Alberto Morello, executive chef and co- owner of Olio Pizzeria. “You may need to order an entire pizza just for yourself, it’s so addictive.” Morello selected the dish, which showcases Umbrian black truffles, to support
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (, an organization that provides financial, educational, and emotional support to Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San
Luis Obispo county families with a child who has cancer.

Opal Restaurant & Bar
Since they opened Opal Restaurant & Bar 20 years ago, owners Tina Takaya and Richard Yates have been deeply committed to supporting the Arthritis Foundation ( by
participating in and often chairing its Taste of the Town fundraiser, Santa Barbara’s oldest wine and food event. That event could not be held this year, but Takaya and Yates offer their continuing support to the organization that provides assistance to people living with the disabling disorder by taking part in the 805 Living challenge with a riff on a local Opal favorite, the Chicken & Wild Mushroom Chipotle Pasta Charity Special.

Pico Restaurant
Earmarking Pico’s donation to the Save the Waves Coalition (, a nonprofit founded by the restaurant’s co-owner Will Henry to protect surf ecosystems across the globe, executive chef John Wayne Formica designates his Crispy Viet Brussels, made with garden herbs, carrot, red onion, chilis, fried shallot, and coconut-chili-lime agrodolce (sweet-and-sour sauce). The starter manifests the chef’s desire to share his experiences while traveling.

Santo Mezcal
Santo Mezcal executive chef Ricardo Garcia picked Enchiladas Verde—two chicken or beef enchiladas topped with special house-made verde sauce and served with rice and pinto beans—to support the Santa Barbara Zoo ( A cause that’s close to
owner Carlos Luna’s heart, the zoo relies on donations to provide the best possible care for its resident animals and to impart conservation education.

Vina Robles Vineyard & Winery
“Our communities rely now more than ever on the support of food banks for access to wholesome nutrition,” says spokeswoman Catherine Jaeger. “Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery supports the SLO Food Bank ( to raise awareness as it works to meet the increased demand in our communities.” Served at the winery’s alfresco bistro, the Vina Robles Burger—made with grass-fed beef and topped with roasted portabella
mushrooms, garlic aioli, arugula, and red onions sautéed in a rosemary-infused reduction of Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and balsamic vinaigrette—is the dish designated for the challenge.

Water’s Edge Restaurant & Bar
“It’s an ode to our local strawberries,” says Water’s Edge executive chef Alex Montoya of his Straw-Brie Crostini, which he says has “bright and light flavors, each with a different texture for you to enjoy in every bite.” The starter will support Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties (, because he says, “being able to make a child’s wish come true or to even be a part of that process has always been a dream of mine.”

Wood Ranch
The rich, decadent WR Butter Cake is a proven favorite at Wood Ranch. Served with vanilla bean ice cream, fresh raspberries, and raspberry sauce, “it’s popular beyond all our expectations,” says director of culinary development Alejandro Benes. The dessert will benefit Happy Trails Children’s Foundation (, a nonprofit whose mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of child abuse and provide fun activities and support for foster children.

To see more 805 Living Dishing It Out For Charity challenge chefs and dishes, visit

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

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

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.


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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.”


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

—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.