In years past, my coverage of our Santa Barbara International Film Festival was just an add-on to my regular week of work, so I’d fit in screenings as my schedule allowed, bumping back to the office in between each. So I guess that’s why I never noticed that there’s occasionally as much as two hours of downtime between screenings — such as my full day of Quebec films on Monday, when the 1:15 p.m. showing of Polytechnique got out at 2:30 p.m., but the City of Shadows screening didn’t kick off until 4:15 p.m.
In that case, I had enough time to actually ride my bike home, but usually, I’m left with an hour or so to kill. (Admittedly, with a press pass, I needn’t wait in the long lines that certainly kill that extra time for regular ticketholders.) Over the past few days of festing, I’ve hit up some old favorites and new finds to entertain myself. Here are some highlights:
Paradise Café: About a block from the Metro 4 on Anacapa and Ortega streets, the Paradise’s reliably quick service and oak-grilled grub makes for quick and tasty sustenance. Sit at the bar like I did last Friday, sip a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, chow a turkey burger, and be back on the street within 30 minutes.
California Crisp: A recent addition to the State Street dining scene, this West Coast chain eatery provides good salads, wraps, and sandwiches at a remarkably decent value. The salad, with three toppings, is just $5. I did the Asian Persuasion salad on Monday, which was good enough, and the patio seating in the midday sun gave a nice Vitamin D recharge for a day otherwise spent indoors.
The Press Room: The afternoon break between the “Twilight” and “Primetime” screenings hits right around happy hour, and The Press Room serves up tasty ales in an unpretentious British atmosphere with soccer or rugby always on the tube.
Dargan’s: Whether you need some Irish eats for dinner or just a couple Guinness to get you primed for that crazy Korean flick playing the late-night screening, Dargan’s is located about pissing distance from the back exit of the Metro 4, always ready and able to comfort with the warmth of a fire.
Romanti-Ezer: Probably not on many film festers’ maps, Romanti-Ezer is one block off State Street, at Chapala and Ortega. It’s got some of the best tacos in town, and you can huff them down while standing on the corner. The ideal getaway if you’ve only got about 20 minutes to kill.
Opal: Not everything at the film fest goes down at the Metro 4. For those special Arlington events and screenings, Opal rules for both food and drink. Last week, I went for the chile-crusted filet and this week I had a glass of a Spanish tempranillo before the Tuesday night screening of Zero.
But don’t just take my word for it. Our veteran fest writer Josef Woodard also hit up some of his highlights — namely Jitters Coffee, Chino’s Rock & Tacos, and the ubiquitous free cranberry Raisenets — in this report.
And what about head honcho Roger Durling? Where does he go between screenings? “I don’t kill time,” laughed Durling. “I always crack up when people tell me, ‘This is a slow day for you.’ We’re always running around.”