While you or I might find nothing wrong with the Foodie Award–winning Corazón Cocina, Eileen Randall did have an issue with Chef Ramón Velazquez’s delightful spot in the Santa Barbara Public Market: no dessert. She’s been a fan for years — her partner used to scold her for going to Velazquez’s original pop-up at Three Pickles every week, as it busted their budget — and always told Velazquez that the one thing he needed was sweets.
As the person who baked the wedding cake for Velazquez’s wedding, Randall had some specific ideas, too. So when the space next to Corazón became available, the two hatched a plan.
“After owning my own business for 15 years, it was hard to work for someone,” said Randall. “But we finish each other’s sentences.” Randall, who owned the also Foodie Award–winning Bella Dolce back in the day, is totally in-tune with not only Velazquez’s palate but also his dedication to everything being made from scratch.
So Corazón Next Door was born. “What’s amazing for me is I’m getting paid money to make cake!” exclaimed Randall, whose offerings include two scrumptious tres leches cakes — one strawberry, another coconut rum. But that’s just the start. There are Mexican wedding cookies, coconut rice pudding, Oaxaca chocolate mousse cake, and a specialty flan called jericalla, from Velasquez’s hometown of Guadalajara. “A nun invented it to get the kids to eat more eggs,” Randall explained. “It’s more like a crème brûlée.” She had to search online for recipes in Spanish, rather than English, to find one worthy of adapting.
Randall, who frequently visits Mexico, is excited to be back baking at a Santa Barbara restaurant (she worked at the Wine Cask ages ago). And while Corazón Next Door is mostly just about dessert, Randall will also be selling ceviches and chips to go. And that solves the only other problem with Corazón. “If the line’s too long,” said Randall, “you can still get your fix.”
38 W. Victoria St.; (805) 845-0282; corazoncocinasb.com