The Blue Owl (5 West Canon Perdido Street; 805-705-0991; theblueowlsantabarbara.com) is an eclectic eatery that houses some of Santa Barbara’s best vegetarian eats. At this quirky place, diners will discover an innovative way of cooking Asian food, for while head chef and owner Cindy Black uses traditional ingredients like red curry, kimchi, or Thai basil, she offers them through the familiar dishes of sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast pastries. But to say that this cozy restaurant does Asian fusion cuisine is an understatement — what Black has created is entirely in a league of its own.
The Blue Owl also serves a pleasing selection of vegetarian items. “I’ve started adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to the day menu,” Black said, “but for the people who come for late night, all they want is meat.” Black recommends that vegetarians visit for lunch, when the menu has more meat-free items to offer. She recognizes that she has two very different restaurants going from day to night, so to help bridge the gap, she’s started opening a little earlier in the evening for dinner.
Whatever time you visit, here are some vegetarian dishes you should try.
BAKED CHEESE SANDWICH: Smoked gouda, avocado, tomato, and mixed greens are loaded into a toasty baguette and lightly drizzled with a garlic-mayonnaise sauce. “I love baguettes and I love cheese, but I didn’t want to just do a simple grilled cheese,” said Black, who only recently introduced this sandwich. “I wanted something more.” The sandwich has the familiarity of a grilled cheese but with more sophisticated ingredients.
EGG SANDWICH: A hearty egg frittata is lightened by arugula, Swiss cheese, and a garlic-mayonnaise spread, all stacked between a freshly home-made English muffin. Usually made with Spanish chorizo, this sandwich can substitute eggplant to accommodate vegetarian diners.
SEASONAL BERRY SALAD WITH PEACH: This salad’s ingredients are all organic and locally sourced from the farmers market. Mixed greens are tossed with freshly sliced strawberries, raspberries, and spiced peach, flavored with mulberry vinaigrette, and topped with ground caramelized walnuts and goat cheese. “I think our salads are the best value out of everything here,” Black said, referring to the high quality ingredients and the ample portion sizes. Quite possibly the most refreshing salad you’ll ever eat, the various fruity flavors of this seasonal salad are perfect for a midsummer day’s treat.