Bed and Breakfast Inn
1404 De la Vina St., 962-0058, uphamhotel.com
Built in 1871, the Upham is the longest-running inn statewide, let alone in Santa Barbara. And while they have certainly evolved the experience to include all the creature comforts and conveniences of these modern times you could ask for, a night or two at the Upham or adjacent Country House really does feel like a little bit of time travel. This is a definite landmark property and living bit of history. “We are a real throwback to a simpler and quieter time,” says General Manager Jan Martin Winn. “A stay with us is really quite unlike a stay with most other hotels or B&Bs you will find in the area.”
Finalist: Simpson House Inn
Place to Buy Intimate Apparel
651 Paseo Nuevo, 962-1023, victoriassecret.com
Setting ablaze the fantasies of teenage boys everywhere with their barely PG-13 catalogs since the 1980s, Victoria’s Secret is the big fish of lingerie no matter what sized pond you are swimming in. They send out 375 million catalogs a year, and their stable of models has included both household names and rising stars of the catwalk, while their annual televised fashion show gets millions of viewers around the globe. Their outpost in Paseo Nuevo is but one small part of a much bigger empire, but, for our readers, the well-staffed warehouse of intimates and delicates is #1.
Pure Joy Catering
111 E. Haley St., 963-5766, purejoycatering.com
Any catering company that can go from vegan to vegetarian to gluten-free to fried chicken and Belgian buttermilk waffles without missing a beat or sacrificing even one ounce of deliciousness is clearly a special sort of operation. Lynette La Mere’s Pure Joy Catering is exactly that type of business. As full-service an outfit as you could ask for, Pure Joy is once again our readers’ landslide pick for caterers here in Santa Barbara. No matter the occasion, from weddings and birthdays to cocktail parties, corporate affairs, or whack-a-doodle theme parties, La Mere and crew have you covered with their trademark “sexy” food.
Finalist: Omni Catering
DJ Gavin Roy
1187 Coast Village Rd., Ste. 708, 617-4650, gavinroypresents.com
If you are in the market for an event deejay, the trick, according to Gavin Roy, is to try and check out the deejay at work but not get too hung up on the playlist. “Don’t listen to the music that I’m playing,” says Roy. “Just watch the dance floor. That is how you judge a deejay, based on whether or not people are moving and dancing.” Since 1999, Roy has been spinning hits and dropping beats in Santa Barbara, his skills getting folks to shake their moneymakers at nightclubs and weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate parties, and a holy host of other get-togethers. “It takes a while to get anywhere in S.B.,” says Roy. “This isn’t a flash-in-the-pan town. But I’ve been consistent, and people know they can trust me. I think that is why The Indy readers vote for me.”
Finalist: DJ DARLA BEA
1341 State St., 962-0032, kaleidoscopeflower.com
If you are looking for a florist where you can walk in and start firing off random adjectives to describe the raison d’etre for your prospective bouquet purchase and then they manage to pull together something so excellent that it exceeds even your most lofty of poorly communicated expectations, Kaleidoscope is your place. Owner Mike Quesada is crazy about flowers. From bouquets to visual merchandising displays to custom party work, this family-style shop isn’t just up for the challenge; they live for it. “The bottom line for us is that we really just love what we do,” said Quesada. “We just can’t get enough of it.”
Finalist: Victor the Florist
1315 State St., 892-4000, panachebridals.com
“We want to make that childhood dream dress come true for each of our brides,” explains Panache Bridal’s manager, Liz Restivo. And, if that dream dress happens to cost $12,000, Panache will have you covered. Factoring in sister stores in Beverly Hills, Costa Mesa, and Pasadena, Panache has a selection of designers, silhouettes, and price points that is hard to beat and a staff that works overtime to make a bride feel comfortable and “keep ’em excited.” They carry unique one-off designs that you simply cannot and will not find anywhere else. “We provide one-of-a-kind dresses and a one-of-a-kind shopping experience,” says Restivo.
Finalist: The Dress
135 W. Mission St., 569-3334, missiontuxedos.com
For the fifth consecutive year, Indy readers selected Mission Tuxedo as the place to go in Santa Barbara for when the occasion calls for men’s formal wear but your bank account says otherwise. With tuxedo rentals starting at just $79 and hundreds of styles and color variations to choose from, Mission Tux is poised to have you looking sharp for weddings, proms, and whatever other type of fancy party you may find yourself invited to. The inevitable penguin jokes during try-ons are free!
Finalist: Men’s Wearhouse
Restaurant with a View
2981 Cliff Dr., 898-2628, sbfishhouse.com/boathouse
To be certain, the Boathouse will be one of the first places evacuated should a real-deal tsunami ever make its way to Santa Barbara. The White family’s restaurant/bar at Hendry’s Beach is one of our town’s few true ocean-side eating experiences, as the restaurant is essentially on the sand. With an outdoor patio, an indoor/outdoor bar, and windows for walls, nearly every seat in the house affords a full view of the Pacific with little to no neck craning necessary. With the heights of the Mesa and Hope Ranch bookending the scene and Arroyo Burro Creek at the far end of the parking lot, idyllic is too soft a word to describe the daily dose of sublime beauty that unfolds as the sun drops on the scene. The good food and drinks don’t hurt, either.
Finalist: Belmond El Encanto
With a fleet of limousines, RockStar has the ability to get you and a small army of your friends from point A to point B in seriously high fashion. Never mind their town cars and trolleys and SUVs; take their Lincoln, Chrysler, and stretch Charger limos and, of course, the 12-passenger, karaoke-ready Mercedes Sprinter van. They all come with flat screens and ice chests and mood lighting and all sorts of other fancy accoutrements. Your long-dreamed-of sun-roof party moment while cruising down State Street is but a phone call away.
Finalist: A and J Limousine
Hotel/Motel • Sunday Brunch
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
1260 Channel Dr., 969-2261, fourseasons.com/SantaBarbara
Understated elegance and otherworldly landscaping are but two of the reasons why the Four Seasons Biltmore is tops with our readers. Just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge in Montecito, the Biltmore has been a hot spot for the most discerning and comfort-seeking travelers since 1927. It’s a popular weekend getaway for Hollywood types, not to mention a legendary local go-to for the brunch buffet of a lifetime. There is a full-service spa, world-class dining, the nearby Coral Casino and Beach and Cabana Club at the ready for guests, and every other luxury accoutrement you could ask for.
Finalists: Bacara resort & Spa (Hotel/Motel)
Boathouse (Sunday Brunch)
Wedding Cake Shop
Your Cake Baker
2018 Cliff Dr., 845-5519, yourcakebaker.com
By his own estimates, Wayne Kjar figures more than 4.2 million people have tasted his cakes over the years. The son of the legendary Santa Barbara cake wizard Henning Kjar, Wayne is helping carry on the family tradition in mighty fine form. With more than 3,000 different combinations of cake flavors, fillings, and frostings available, Kjar isn’t kidding when he says, “We do the cake exactly the way you order it. We will do what it takes.”
Finalist: Crushcakes & CafÉ