The Black Sheep's "Decision Maker" Ruben Perez (left with "Assistant Decision Maker" Nate Curteman

Paul Wellman

The Black Sheep's "Decision Maker" Ruben Perez (left with "Assistant Decision Maker" Nate Curteman

Yum, Yum Black Sheep

Ruben Perez and Nate Curteman Open New Ortega Street Eatery

There’s always someone in the family who’s a bit more eclectic, offbeat, and quirky than everyone else, and in the case of the restaurant-running Perez clan — who’ve owned Santa Barbara’s Seagrass since 2010 — that would be son Ruben. “I’ve always considered myself to be the black sheep,” said Perez, who recently opened a 30-seat spot called Black Sheep (26 E. Ortega St.; [805] 965-1113; adjacent to Seagrass, which his dad, Robert, runs. “My concept was to be a full-service restaurant but expose a new generation of diners to great food at a great price — something fun and approachable.”

Perez and his “assistant decision maker” Nate Curteman credit the gastropub and tapas culture as influences and offer a menu that blends comfort and taste effortlessly, providing an intimate, casual, come-as-you-are hangout. Sourcing from such well-known purveyors as Shepherd Farms, Tutti Frutti Farms, and Santa Barbara Fish Market, the regionally driven menu will change seasonally.

Click to enlarge photo

Courtesy Photo

Recent highlights included the Charred Little Gem Salad, with sweetbreads, creamy house-made ranch dressing, and kumquat relish; the delicate and light Scallop Crudo, with spicy candied carrot puree, garlic chips, and broccoli green blossoms; the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio “à la Phô,” with fish sauce, jus vinaigrette, mint, cilantro, Thai chili, and shallots; and Beef Cheeks Braised in Banana Leaves with ancho chili, annatto seed, tequila, lime, and tomatoes. Ramen fans can also rejoice via a big bowl of slow-braised pork belly, with roasted shiitake mushrooms, green onion, and cilantro.

“We don’t want to be labeled as fine dining,” said Perez. “We want people to come as they are. We accept everybody. Come hang out, listen to funky music, enjoy a good beer and great service.”

In the upcoming months, Black Sheep hopes to offer farm-to-table dinners centered around seasonal favorites, as well as their very own beer club. Rotating art and music will liven up the relaxed, bohemian vibe.

“We have this ingredient called love; we put a lot of love into our food,” said Perez. “My passion has always been for the people. I do this because I love it. ”

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Hollister Ranch Settles with State to Provide Limited Public Access

A beach at Cuarto Canyon will be accessible by sea, and educational programs will expand.

School Safety Focus of Ongoing Workshops

Santa Barbara Unified will host parent meetings for next several months.

Man with Knife Arrested after Lurking in Granada Garage Elevator

Kenneth Riley Jr., 35, was hiding in the elevator and peering outside.

You Solve It,’ City Tells County on Library Money Shortage

To avoid financial shortfall, city sends ball back to county's court.

Vigil for Victims in Palestine Held at Courthouse

Community gathers to protest injustice.