In 1973, Jerry Shalhoob opened his butcher shop, Shalhoob Meat Company, on Gray Avenue, carving a name for himself in the meat industry and foreshadowing the foodie future of the Funk Zone. Forty years and two generations later, Jerry’s son John and grandchildren LJ and Leeandra Shalhoob have evolved within the flourishing arts and epicurean neighborhood by recently opening Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio.
“I decided to open Funk Zone Patio to give Santa Barbara locals a place to eat high-quality, elegant food at very affordable prices while doing it in a casual yet very nice setting,” said LJ Shalhoob, whose inventive lunch and dinner menu ranges from an avocado salad with crispy quinoa, grilled broccoli, red onion, and Marcona almonds with buttermilk lemon dressing to a bacon-jam burger with two-year-aged white cheddar and black-pepper aioli. Said LJ, “This is Santa Barbara–style picnic cuisine.”
While you may not be parked on a blanket in the grass, the idyllic and relaxing vibe of their patio is undeniable. Joining friends at one of the large, umbrella-shaded picnic tables over cold brews, upbeat tunes, and delicious fare while gazing out at the mountains is sure to help even the heaviest stresses melt away.
For the ultimate comfort cure-all, especially after a busy day of Funk Zone frolicking, the oak-smoked tri-tip sandwich is sure to satisfy. Juicy tri-tip is smoked over oak wood, finished on a Santa Maria–style grill, and then slathered in a tangy house barbecue glaze, topped with a bright pico de gallo, and packed between two slices of house-baked garlic bread. Their fries, which come on the side of all sandwiches (marinated kale salad is also an option), are perfectly seasoned, lovingly cooked, and not to be missed. “The locals are saying that the tri-tip sandwich is the best in Santa Barbara County,” LJ noted proudly.
Another item I keep coming back for is their phenomenal falafel sandwich. Made from an authentic Middle Eastern recipe, the freshness is apparent from the first bite, which reveals a perfectly fried, tender patty bursting with bright-green herbs. It’s topped with a refreshing watermelon radish salad, which is tossed in a lemon-infused olive oil, and finished with jalapeño, Gouda, and a balsamic reduction. The zing of the citrus, nuttiness of the falafel, heat of the jalapeño, and sweetness of the balsamic play in perfect harmony.
The watermelon ribs showcase another symphony of flavors. Their meaty pork-back ribs are smoked and covered with a handmade watermelon barbecue sauce and then topped with a salad of fresh watermelon, feta cheese, cilantro, lemon, and a sherry vinaigrette. “It is an amazing experience once every flavor hits your palate,” LJ explained.
With lighter options or shareable snacks, such as the street corn “off the cob” with chipotle aioli, Parmesan cheese, cilantro, chile, and lime, and artichoke queso dip with smoked onion, roasted garlic and spinach, tortilla chips, and grilled bread or marinated vegetables, there’s a friendly menu option for whatever cravings come your way.
They also feature a selection of rotating wines, sangria, and mimosas, and draft beers from breweries such as M.Special and Topa Topa. Almost all beverage selections are from the Santa Barbara region except for one: Modelo on tap, because, as LJ said with a smile, “Everyone has that one uncle.”
With plans to incorporate more live music, institute a happy hour, deliver to an expanding number of neighboring bars, and continue its personable customer service, the Funk Zone Patio is sure to continue to foster that family feel while staying true to a legacy of fine food.
“Our commitment to upholding the history and integrity of the brand that my grandpa and dad have created is what truly sets us apart,” LJ said. “Quality is never compromised for profit.”
Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio is located at 220 Gray Avenue. Call (805) 963-7733 or visit shalhoob.com/patio/.