When it comes to neighborhood restaurants, a new owner without experience in the business can spell drastic changes to the customer experience. That’s not a problem at Terraza Café, a restaurant on upper De la Vina Street that serves Mexican and American food.
“It was a smooth transition,” said Rosalinda Monrroy, who bought the restaurant — known as Steve’s Patio Café up until February — four years ago. “It was hard for the customers not to see ‘Steve’s’ anymore.”
The eatery first opened its doors 35 years ago and has undergone a handful of ownership changes since. For a six-year span, it was known as Mike’s Place before changing hands and being rechristened as Steve’s Patio Café. Monrroy’s quest to buy an affordable restaurant coincided with the eponymous proprietor’s retirement. Aside from adding a few new dishes after taking over the reins, Monrroy elected to maintain the same service, style, and menu due to the place’s popularity. With the community assured that no fundamental changes would alter their experience at one of their favorite restaurants, she felt it was finally time to leave her mark on the establishment. So when Steve’s underwent kitchen and patio remodelling earlier this year, it emerged from the dust as Terraza Café.
A Santa Barbara resident for 30 years, Monrroy was a medical assistant until buying the restaurant. Once ready to move on from the medical industry, she scoured the city for a small restaurant. Finding Steve’s afforded her the opportunity to launch the culinary career she long yearned for, a desire inspired by her mother, who was also a cook.
“I’m thinking to maybe open another breakfast place,” she said of future plans. “But right now, I just want this one to keep the tradition alive: breakfast and lunch, and just keep going from there.”
Terraza Café is located at 3007 De La Vina Street and open daily, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Call (805) 687-3663.
What to Order
Located at the top of De la Vina Street, Terraza features both indoor and patio seating. As it has for the past three and a half decades, the eatery serves up a variety of Mexican and American cuisine for both breakfast and lunch. Some highlights:
Mamallete: This omelette is a testament to Terraza’s generous portions. With a sizeable side of hash browns, the portly Mamallete is stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, and sundried tomatoes.
Tri-Tip Sandwich: Served on a soft French roll, the tri-tip exemplifies the melt-in-your-mouth quality that high-end sandwich shops strive for. Comes with a mound of creamy potato salad.
Banana Pancakes: Accompanied by syrup, butter, and toast, the fluffy insides are packed with chunks of banana. Macadamia nuts liberally sprinkled across the top give the pancakes a tasty crunch.
“Remember Me” Salsa: Terraza’s freshly made salsa received its nickname from the notable hotness and flavor it delivers. It’s become so popular, customers buy quantities of it just to take home with them.