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The Fig Marmalade Burger and some serious onion rings.

Paul Wellman

The Fig Marmalade Burger and some serious onion rings.


Eureka! I Made It to Eureka!

Amid Constantly Long Lines, I Get Last Seat at the Bar


Tuesday, October 9, 2012
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Despite being flush with food options, downtown Santa Barbara was apparently lacking in the gourmet burger/craft beer/small-batch whiskey category. Just walk along Paseo Nuevo’s Chapala Street backside around lunch or dinnertime, and witness the hordes waiting — with excited smiles no less — for a seat at Eureka!Burger, a small California-based chain that’s dialing in a formula proving popular from Fresno to La Jolla.

Eureka!
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Paul Wellman

Eureka!

After being stifled with a long wait the night before, I lucked into the last seat at the bar on Friday around 1 p.m. and ordered the Black’s Dawn Imperial Stout, made by the little-known (to me, anyway) Cismontane Brewing Company in Rancho Santa Margarita. A few sips of 8-percent-ish coffee-caramel excellence later, I ordered the Fig Marmalade Burger, though I easily could have chosen options featuring fried egg and jalapeños, ground lamb and brie, buffalo mozzarella and basil, or wild mushrooms and chipotle ketchup. Mine came fast, loaded with gooey goat cheese, crispy bacon, sweet fig jam, and spicy porter mustard. Almost too fast — I barely had time to order the Shallow Grave Porter by Heretic Brewing Company in Pittsburg, California, a fine complement to the fries, the only not-stunning-but-perfectly-okay part of my meal.

Better yet, upon simultaneous requests for more napkins to manage our messes, I met the woman seated beside me; it turned out she’s a wine distributor. So as I finished digging to the bottom of my Shallow Grave, the rest of my lunchtime conversation involved the intricacies of selling fine wine. That meant, as someone who writes about such intricacies professionally, I could write off the $30 tab, for my midday escape had become a business lunch. Eureka indeed.

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That place has been busy ever since it opened. Had the bison burger ($15) for lunch. It was OK but the sweet condiments (sugar infused peppers?) over-powered the burger. Fries were kinda stringy, think I like In-N-Out's fries better.

Definitely a great social spot, esp. in warm weather. Next time I'll head down for something on tap and a plainer burger.

BTW, it's strange the new Snack Shack on the other side of the mall just closed after maybe a month or two of opening. Maybe they couldn't compete with the Habit?

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2012 at 1:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It won't last.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2012 at 8:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The snack shack was a disappointment. I was excited to try it out with my kids but the low prices were definitely an indicator of not so great food. Haven't gone to Eureka yet, it's still too trendy, but will have to try it out. Silvergreens across the street is pretty good!

santabarbarasand (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2012 at 9:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The food is merely good. Meh. The beer selection is FANTASTIC, but the servers, while kind, clearly don't know beer.
It's also a major problem that you are not informed how much beer you'll be getting. A $7 beer may be a pint, a half-pint, a snifter...or it may be a lot bigger and cost a lot more. I've gotten beers from 4 oz to 22 oz there, and it was a surprise every time. Just this weekend, my husband and I sat on the patio and ordered the "special bottle" the waitress described and were surprised when two large bombers were delivered. We would have chosen to share one had we known the serving size. Maybe it was explained on the chalkboard inside, but we were on the patio. Phoo.
Many pubs that offer specialty beers vary the serving size--that is not uncommon, HOWEVER, they make it clear in advance what you will be getting, rather than explaining after the fact that the pint of the night isn't actually a pint.
Inform your staff, inform your customers.
And stop putting cheese on tempura. That's just bad.

SBthinksso (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2012 at 10:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

food is just ok, it underwhelms the menu description. beer is decent........ too hip to have any staying power....we'll see.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2012 at 11:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Haters gonna hate... I have a feeling Eureka is going to be there for the long haul, like CPK next door. I found the food delicious, the Friday night ambience really fun, and overall the experience great. Yes - we waited for a table. Yes, some of the beer comes in different sizes. No - I am not a person overwhelmed by such trivialities when the overall experience is so fun and warm.

surfimp (anonymous profile)
October 11, 2012 at 9:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I miss Ruby's.

Muggy (anonymous profile)
October 12, 2012 at 4:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah we miss Ruby's too.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
October 12, 2012 at 5:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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