Warren Beatty to Receive SBIFF’s Kirk Douglas Award

Legendary filmmaker Warren Beatty stars as Howard Hughes in RULES DON’T APPLY, which Beatty wrote, directed and produced. Photo Credit: Francois Duhamel.

Legendary filmmaker Warren Beatty stars as Howard Hughes in RULES DON’T APPLY, which Beatty wrote, directed and produced. Photo Credit: Francois Duhamel.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) will honor Academy Award winner Warren Beatty with the 11th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film at the Bacara Resort & Spa on December 1, with all funds raised supporting SBIFF’s free year-round educational programs.

Known for his iconic roles in films such as Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds and Dick Tracy, all of which he produced; Beatty’s next film, Rules Don’t Apply—an original story which he wrote, directed, produced and stars—will be released on November 23.

“Warren Beatty upholds the highest artistic standards of the film industry,” says Kirk Douglas, original award recipient. “His choice of material has entertained us as well as made us think more deeply about the world we live in. I’m delighted he is accepting this recognition of his extraordinary talent.”

Since 2006, the annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, which this year coincides with Douglas’s 100th birthday, has been awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Past honorees include Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris and John Travolta. All funds raised from the event will be used to support SBIFF’s free educational programs, like its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, 3rd Weekend and educational seminars.

The 32nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place February 111. For more information, please visit sbiff.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on September 20, 2016.

Java Joys

Courtesy Daily Grind

Courtesy Daily Grind

Ah, that rich, strong aroma of coffee. For some of us it’s the only thing that makes getting out of bed worthwhile. Even if you’re more interested in soaking up the atmosphere than the caffeine, it’s fun to know the 411 on local coffee houses.

Here’s my two cents. I’m sure others will disagree, and I’d be happy to debate them, as long as it’s over a latte.

Best overall

Red’s (211 Helena) – the “anti-Starbucks” in the heart of the Funk Zone, this place gets an A+ for funky ambiance and friendly staff. Red’s has an individual’s vision and personality written all over it, with eclectic art pieces, jewelry and purses for sale. Red’s serves lattes in handmade ceramic cups that are as individual as this fun new hangout. They also serve breakfast and lunch, as well as wines by the glass. This homey spot attracts an artsy neighborhood crowd that makes for interesting people watching. If only the chairs were a little more comfortable I would never want to leave.

Good Cup (1819 Cliff Dr.) – this coffee house reflects the upscale, healthy, family-oriented neighborhood the Mesa has become. In additional to first-rate coffee, they also offer gelato, smoothies, sandwiches and a great-looking quiche. The halo over the logo and the “good karma” tip jar gives you a taste of Good Cup’s spiritual bent. They offer a cool selection of things to buy with a bit of a new age/feminist bent, including a “smart women thirst for knowledge” cup and a Virgin Mary beach bag. The crowd is a mix of Mesa moms (think cute kids and Yoga pants), students and professionals from both the white and blue-collar crowd.

Best lattes

Northstar Coffee (918 State St.) – their foam is indeed a work of art. A little more expensive, but this is the place to go if you want to really treat yourself. Unfortunately, the decor is upscale generic and the place is mostly packed with tourists. Just close your eyes and pretend you’re in Italy.

Muddy Waters (508 E. Haley St.) – the service is “pierced and tattooed with attitude” and the decor is straight outta Santa Cruz, but the lattes are among the best in town. Not a bad people watching spot either.

Good strong, cups of Joe

Peet’s Coffee & Tea (3905 State St.) – Peet’s is almost a religion in the Bay Area, but here on the South Coast we tend to prefer our coffee with a little foam, and our coffee houses with a few more amenities, which is probably why there’s only one of the Peet’s chain in this area. The beans are excellent and other than at 8 a.m., there’s almost never a line.

Jeannine’s Bakery (1253 Coast Village Rd., 3607 State St. and inside Gelson’s at 3305 State St.) – also serves Peet’s coffee, along with the best carrot cake in town.

Santa Barbara Roasting Company (607 Paseo Nuevo and 321 Motor Way) – ROCO has gentrified its look with a new Paseo Nuevo store but the coffee still gets an old-school A+. It’s strong, hot and rich. On weekends I prefer the locals-only crowd on Motor/Lower State, which fills up with adorable young ballerinas (and their parents) from the nearby Gustafson Dance School.

Best ice blended drinks

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (3052 De la Vina St., 811 State St. and 5745 Calle Real) – this is where the iced blended mocha trend started and they still make the best. Plus, the staff on State Street is goofily friendly and the De la Vina and Calle Real chains are great places to run into old friends.

Best people watching and eavesdropping

Coffee Cat (1201 Anacapa St.) – it’s cattycorner from the courthouse and right across the street from the county staff offices. Need I say more?

Starbuck’s (1046 Coast Village Rd.) – the only place in town where you simultaneously see Hollywood types discuss the latest hot screenplay with the same passion that Westmont students discuss “the word.” For some strange reason, this Starbuck’s is also a great place to see unusual breeds of dogs.

Hot Spots Espresso Company (36 State St.) – not only is this the only 24-hour coffee house in town, it’s also a living, breathing student UN. Definitely the only place in town you can routinely hear French, German, Russian and Chinese spoken simultaneously.

Vices and Spices (3558 State St.) – one of the oldest coffee places in town, this is a great place to run into old friends and find out the latest San Roque gossip. People still play checkers, read books and write in journals here, as opposed to talking on their cell phones and scanning the headlines.

Friendliest service

Mojo Coffee (7127 Hollister Ave.) – When the Beacon was in Goleta, Mojo Coffee was right downstairs. I started every day with good Mojo thanks to the friendly smiles of Chris and his staff, the only college students without attitude in town.

Espresso Roma (1101 State St.) – while the one near De la Guerra Plaza has closed, the one near the Beacon is still thriving, thanks in part to the truly nice people that brew these beans. The staff is always ready with a smile, and a fast cup of good, strong, reasonably priced coffee. Plus they make their own delicious muffins, croissants and cookies and sell them for half price at the end of the day.

Starbuck’s (Five Points Center) – Starbuck’s coffee and the decor might be consistent throughout the known universe, but the staff in Five Points is truly a notch above the others in the chain. If only it weren’t so hard to park …

Best lunch

The Daily Grind (2001 De la Vina St.) – their sandwiches are delicious and big enough to split. They also make really good soups; don’t miss the chicken and dumpling. Goleta Coffee Company (177 S. Turnpike Rd.) has the same menu but the San Marcos High School crowd and strip mall location gives it a totally different vibe.

Best breakfast

Jeannine’s Bakery (1253 Coast Village Rd., 3607 State St.) – fabulous baked goods, impeccable presentation. They have a full, cooked breakfast menu, as opposed to just muffins and burritos, and the coffee’s pretty darn good too.

Neighborhoods most in need of a coffee house

Cabrillo Boulevard – it’s hard to believe that this tourist Mecca lacks even a Starbucks, but the closest coffee house is at Hot Spots on lower State.

Milpas Street – sure there are donut and bagel places, but there’s not a single coffee house to be found on this bustling street.

Westside/San Andres – another mixed use neighborhood without a coffee house.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon


The tourists are coming! The tourists are coming!

There’s no need to fear, though. Our Sally Cappon and Leslie Dinaberg have the insiders’ story on what to do, where to go and how to just get around town at the height of summer. Follow their leads


East Beach Grill (1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd.) comes with a couple of disclaimers. First, it’s perilously close to tourist hotels, but you should be OK if you come early; tourists are not known as early risers. Another reason to get up and go: Parking is free up to 10 a.m. weekdays at adjacent city lots. You’ll probably see someone you know, especially if they’re part of the beachy athletic community. Tip: Try wheat germ pancakes. — S.C.

The Come Back Cafe (324 State St.) has toys and a play area for the kids, as well as Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes in blueberry (my favorite), chocolate chip or any other flavor your heart desires. — L.D.

Judge for Yourself Cafe (1218 Santa Barbara St.) is another great local place for breakfast or lunch. It’s near the Courthouse but enough off the beaten track that you have to know where you’re going to find it. — L.D.


Leslie’s Top 10 Places to Do Lunch Sans Tourists

1. Mexican on Milpas: La Super-Rica (622 N. Milpas St.) is always super-crowded with L.A. types, but Taqueria El Bajio (129 N. Milpas), Julian’s (421 N. Milpas) and Mexican Grill (730 N. Milpas, formerly Mr. Pancho’s) are equally good without the wait.

2. Padaro Beach Grill (3765 Santa Claus Lane). If you have kids, this is the place for you. A huge, outdoor picnic-type space, sand, toys and plenty of grass for cartwheel practice, plus the occasional train for entertainment. And the food’s not bad either.

3. Cucas (626 W. Micheltorena St. or 2030 Cliff Drive). Best shrimp enchiladas in town. In fact, it’s all pretty bueno.

4. Pierre La Fond (516 San Ysidro Road). The two downtown locales are great, in the winter. But go to the Montecito location year-round to avoid tourists. The salad bar is great, especially with the air fries.

5. Red’s (211 Helena Ave.). The Funk Zone’s favorite coffee house is also a great place for lunch.

Derf's Cafe

Derf’s Cafe

6. Derf’s (2000 De la Vina St.). Good food at good prices, a great patio and great service, and lots of great memories.

7. Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch (2618 De la Vina St.). Owner Matt Benko says his busiest time of year is Fiesta, when the place is filled with locals trying to avoid the crowds. But the chicken, tri-tip and burritos are great year round.

8. Freebird’s (879 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista). The burritos are great — and big enough to split — and you can get exactly what you want in them.

9. Lazy Acres (302 Meigs Road). A wonderful salad bar and the soup are always terrific. Also worth trying is the turkey sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes.

10. El Sitio (7398 Calle Real, 2830 De la Vina St., 102 S. Fairview Ave., 138 S. Salinas St.). Try No. 14; it’s totally greasy; it’s totally unhealthy and one of the best things you’ll ever taste that’s not chocolate. I promise.

Dinner and Drinks

For atmosphere, you can’t beat Cold Spring Tavern (5995 Stagecoach Road). The historic stagecoach stop is tucked in the Santa Ynez Mountains just over San Marcos Pass. Great food in cozy rooms in a rustic, creekside setting. Menu features game and chili. Warning: It can look like a Harley convention on the weekends. — S.C.

The best oceanside dining is the Beachside Bar-Cafe (Goleta Beach County Park). Seafood is king at this restaurant where you can dine inside or out, overlooking the ocean. Best-seller night after night: Halibut stuffed with goat cheese and crab. Other favorites: Clam chowder and Caesar salad. Tip: Don’t even think about going here around UCSB graduation. — S.C.

Chuck’s (3888 State St.) is the ultimate locals place. Not the easiest place to find, but pop in almost any evening and you’ll run into an old friend. Famous for decades for steaks and service — and don’t miss the salad bar. — S.C. (Plus, you won’t find a better Mai Tai anywhere, even in Hawaii. — L.D.)

Pepe's Goleta (courtesy photo)

Pepe’s Goleta (courtesy photo)

Another great, nontouristy place is Pepe’s (254 Orange Ave.) in Old Town Goleta. It’s very kid-friendly, the margaritas are excellent, and you’ll never hear a patron talking about Michael Torena Street. There’s also a great patio for private parties or loud friends. — L.D.

Best Reflection

Mount Calvary Retreat House (Mount Calvary Road). For serenity, scenery and sublime R&R, nothing tops this monastery operated by the Episcopal Order of the Holy Cross. Perched off Gibraltar Road above Santa Barbara, it offers a spectacular panorama of the South Coast. Quiet rules, with silent times, and services that guests may attend if desired. A small bookstore sells arts and crafts made by brothers of this friendly community. — S.C.

Casa de Maria (800 El Bosque Road, 969.5031). It’s worth attending a program just to have access to the grounds of this Montecito treasure. — L.D.

Don’t Forget Dessert

McConnell's (courtesy photo)

McConnell’s (courtesy photo)

Want that creamy, cold, rich ice cream taste without the calories? In addition to its award-winning ice creams, McConnell’s (201 W. Mission St. or 7034 Marketplace Drive) also has a wonderful invention called Wow Cow, delicious frozen yogurt at only 9 calories an ounce. — L.D.

Next Week …

Recreation’s the game, with beaches, parks and shopping on our map.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on June 3, 2004.