“I kind of consider it my baby,” admits Katie Belanger of her bright new café, The Honey B, which is located on the second story of Antioch University in downtown Santa Barbara. Decorated with her own artwork, potted succulents, and hand-painted chalkboard menus and featuring all-original menu items, The Honey B is very much the product of an attentive mother. “My heart and pride are in it,” Belanger says of each of the details that make the company’s slogan, “a little kitchen with a lot of love,” ring true.
Perched above the corner of Anacapa and Cota streets amid ocean and mountain views, The Honey B offers a lot of luxury at a small price. “You can eat a very big meal for under $10,” said Belanger, whose food is also incredibly tasty, nutritious, and versatile.
A native Chicagoan who moved to California in 2013, she describes her menu of waffle sandwiches (“handhelds”), salads, bowls, and desserts as “Midwest meets West Coast,” combining the traditional comfort foods of her hometown with lighter, California cuisine. The Boat handheld, for instance, steers toward the comfort side with an irresistible combination of crispy bacon, caramelized onions, arugula, tomato, and chipotle ranch on a warm and fresh cheddar-and-chive waffle. Those with special diets can also partake wholeheartedly, as 60-70 percent of the menu is vegan, and gluten-free bread is always an option.
A special bonus is being around the corner from the Saturday farmers’ market. “I’m a local business; they’re local farmers,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense not to support your own kind.” This steady supply of fresh produce inspires her rotating menu of seasonal salads, including Belanger’s personal favorite: the Marvelous Miso, featuring shiitake mushrooms, rice noodles, kale, edamame, carrot, and handmade miso-garlic dressing.
For those seeking something hearty, the Buddha bowls are ideal. I loved the Curry Bowl, with spiced yams, maple-roasted chickpeas, kale, avocado, cucumber, green onion, and brown rice, tossed in a coconut-curry dressing. “It’s a cross between a salad and a rice bowl,” said Belanger. “It’s a super salad.”
Belanger first chased her culinary California dreams from Chicago to Ventura. Buoyed with confidence and funds from winning the reality television show On the Menu on TNT, she started her vegan bakery, Cinnies, and subsequently expanded into The Honey B, first selling through Isabella Gourmet Foods on Figueroa Street and then opening her café in October. “Everything I’ve made and done for this restaurant, I’ve worked incredibly hard for,” she said. With hopes to feature live music, sell alcohol, and continue to support community organizations, the buzz at The Honey B is already strong, and its sweetness is irresistible.
602 Anacapa Street; (805) 895-4248; thehoneybkitchen.com