Cathy Murillo
Paul Wellman

Where do Santa Barbara’s best and brightest eat out? That’s what this new, semi-regular corner of the food section aims to discover. Our inaugural episode features Cathy Murillo, the Santa Barbara City Councilmember who’s also worked for this newspaper and KCSB.

Breakfast: I discovered the eggs-beans-rice breakfast burrito at El Zarape Restaurant (1435 San Andres St.) one morning when I knew I was scheduled later for a big lunch and fancy dinner. I just needed something light to get the day started. The burrito was perfect, just the right ratio of scrambled egg to satisfying bean and carbo-rich rice. El Zarape, in the heart of the Westside commercial center, offers several kinds of salsa, so you can customize your meal with heat or mild chopped vegetables and onions. All this goodness for under $4.

Lunch: The deli at the Presidio Market (1236 Santa Barbara St., has excellent chile verde when I’m in the mood for something meat-y and reminiscent of my mother’s cooking. Otherwise, the deli makes crisp, fresh salads with just about anything you could want to stay cool on a warm summer day in Santa Barbara. As I usually need caffeine after lunch, the market is a great place to find … a cherry cola? … a chilled coffee drink? … sweet tea?

Dinner: My sister Carol and I eat out every couple of weeks. We talk work, politics, family stuff, and we indulge in a nice meal followed by dessert. Chuck’s Steakhouse (3888 State St., is a regular haunt. We go for steaks — Carol always gets a baked potato, but I prefer the rice pilaf. Yes, it’s a splurge to order the rib-eye, but it is so good, especially dipping bites in the teriyaki sauce. If I’ve done a hardcore yoga class that day, my body is needing the protein nourishment. Oh yes, we always order the sautéed mushrooms with our meal. As I said, it’s about indulgence! For birthday dinners, we do The Palace Grill (8 E. Cota St., and order the Palace Sampler Platter. Favorites: coconut shrimp and molasses muffins.


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