In Santa Barbara, certain things can be counted on. June will host gloom, KTYD will host the Battle of the Burbs, and The Palm’s face will continue to play host to the world’s most perfect mustache. You’ll never find a parking space at Five Points or an affordable piece of real estate in Santa Barbara, yet you’ll continue to find errant pieces of confetti in unexpected places long after Fiesta’s final cascarone has been smashed. And if you head up to Cold Spring Tavern on a sunny Sunday afternoon, you’re in for what can only be described as a perfect day.
The legendary San Marcos Pass spot, once a stagecoach way station, has become a destination unto itself, and though the food is always delicious and the setting is always romantic, oozing history and charm, Sundays are when Cold Spring Tavern is in its glory. And when last Sunday dawned, beautiful, warm, and blessedly devoid of those wild winds that had been haunting us all week, heading up the pass for a little meat, a little music, and a lot of quality peeping was a no-brainer.
Pulling onto Stagecoach Road early in the afternoon, it became clear that I wasn’t the only one who was in the mood for a quintessential Santa Barbara experience; motorcycles lined the street, people filled the yard, and the line at the bar spilled out the door with folks getting their tickets for one of the Tavern’s trademark tri-tip sandwiches, hand-carved by Big Tom. Local legends Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan provided the soundtrack, making excellent use of an empty Two-Buck-Chuck box as makeshift percussion, and I settled in with a cold beer, soaking up a dose of Santa Barbara at Its Very Best, and thankful that, while the stagecoaches of the 1860s may have been replaced by Harleys, lucky for us, some things never change.