Where: 5404 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria; 684-8893; zookerscafe.com.
What: Located in downtown Carpinteria, Zookers takes pride in a lengthy menu boasting the freshest local ingredients and nearby neighbors Island Brew Company beer on tap.
How Much: Lunch salads $5.95-$14.95, dinner appetizers $6.50-$12.95, dinner entrees $13.95-$24.95.
The Dish: Call it California fusion, but Zookers serves lunch and dinner in a tough to categorize and casually delightful fashion. Variety spices up menu options with colorfully fresh ingredients such as crisply vibrant lettuce, ripe and fruity avocado, and freshly caught seafood. The approach is down to earth, creating dishes that make you wonder what special techniques make these homey recipes so difficult to re-create in your own kitchen. The lengthy menu is updated daily, highlighting seasonal specialties in the realm of fish, beef, lamb, pork, pasta, and vegetables. Eclectic lunch dishes include black bean and brown rice burritos, quiche of the day, a medley of tofu saute, jalape±o tuna melt sandwiches, burgers, and large salads with protein options of chicken, grilled tofu, and blackened salmon. Dinner steps it up a notch with oysters on the half shell, delicately wrapped and stuffed grape leaves, and Asian-inspired spring rolls to start. Grilled rib-eye steak with a red chili sauce and turkey mushroom meatloaf are consistent evening favorites, as well as the banana-crusted salmon with a spicy yellow curry sauce.
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