My apologies ahead of time if this letter reads like one big basset hound howl, but I just had a cup of coffee that has the very real potential to change my life. There is a place here called The French Press , and, thanks to their fearless leaders, Todd Stewart and Julia Mayer, they do caffeine and coffee shop ambiance ridiculously right. Come, sit, and stay awhile if you can.
Really, though, the coffee drinks are just the fuzz on the tennis ball in this town. The options for filling up your bowl are endless. Dot and I could not resist a trip to Lama Dog last week for obvious reasons. But, besides the smack of loa around the name and the loveable Tibetan mastiff that is the tap house’s namesake, this place is a beer drinker’s paradise on the ocean end of the Funk Zone; 20 different taps and a half dozen refrigerators full of bottled options had my tail wagging instantly. More of a craft-cocktail sipper? You just have to get right with big cats and hit up The Good Lion . Their drink menu rotates weekly and always features a wild and whimsical alchemy of libations with organic fresh-squeezed juices and scratch-made syrups. Can’t support anything even remotely feline? The Imperial out Goleta way is a terrific plan B.
Luckily, Dot and I have eight legs between us, so we have covered a good amount of ground across the Santa Barbara drinking landscape this past summer. Classic strong drinks — whether you are a policy maker, a mover and shaker, or just looking to jump-start your night — are always found at Joe’s Café . And martinis that raise your hackles are served at Harry’s Café . The Bloodies at the Boathouse are essentially a meal packing a buzz, and you get an ocean view with each sip. Even better, the beach outside actually takes kindly to beasts like us and encourages us tail-waggers to walk free of leash. The beach is a paradise and close to our favorite bar, The Neighborhood. The place is like catnip for humans with so many games and screens and drinks and different things to eat that smell like the best treat ever! They even let Dot and I hang on the patio.
By Paul Wellman
But, of course, I can’t bark about drinks without touching on tequila, the cactus juice of the gods. There is something perfectly poetic about a proper margarita on the rocks with a cool sea breeze ruffling your fur, especially when panting is your version of sweating. There is no better place to get your margar on around these parts than Casa Blanca on State Street. It has a prime location with a big and airy bar and an outside patio with excellent people watching. I dare you not to woof!
And then there are the grapes. Santa Barbara is all about grapes and the bewitching brew created when humans stomp on them and put the juice in a giant wooden can for a while. Dot has started sniffing grapes — it’s that good! For drinking at home, the brilliantly named Winehound, under new ownership, is the only place to get your supplies, offering a mix of S.B. and Central Coast wines as well as imports and an array of Champagnes. For imbibing in public, you cannot beat the indoor/outdoor seaside breezes of Municipal Winemakers. An always-interesting mix of locals and wayward tourists like us are found at Dave Potter’s place, and it seems his particular grape-juice mixes really help the people have fun. Bring your human here, and watch them get happy.
A couple of really great guys named Bryan Hope and Scott Bull take luxury vans of the bipeds out to the Santa Ynez Valley for wine trips. Crazy concept! It’s called Sustainable Vine Wine Tours, and they prefer to keep it small and personal. Imagine doing something like this for our kind and hitting the beach! We would be in the biscuits and gravy so fast that it’s making me drool right now.
Anyways, sorry for the long trot. As you can see, you have to come out for a visit as thirsty dogs are guaranteed to be quenched. —Dug
“We are so stoked to win both the Best Brewery and Best Funk Zone spot this year. It means a lot to our team who work so hard every day to put out the best product possible. With so many great breweries in the county and so many excellent Funk Zone libation locations, this award will hang high on our awards wall!” —Jaime Dietenhofer, owner
“It’s 10 pages of crazy goodness, from by-the-glass offerings to a bottle list with both affordable and obscure California whites. Enological explorers of the New World and bow-tied Old World snoots will be equally welcomed and impressed.” —Matt Kettmann, editor at Wine Spectator
“Fresh juices and smoothies and things are pretty popular nowadays, but Blenders has been doing it for us here in Santa Barbara for a long time. They are part of this town’s healthy lifestyle.” —Kelly Ortiz, regular at the Mesa location
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