When Pico opened in the Los Alamos General Store three years ago, they wanted to support North County locals by offering half-off meals every Wednesday night to card-carrying residents. “But when winter came,” Chef Drew Terp explains, “we knew we were not going to make any money if we kept charging half price.”
Instead, Terp started making a secret burger menu every Wednesday night just for those regulars. Week one, they sold 19 burgers. Week two, 70. Week three, Terp says, “We sold out of burgers in an hour.”
With a hit on their hands, Pico owners Will Henry and Kali Kopley started opening on Sundays, strictly serving Terp’s Burger Night menu. You could get a regular with customized toppings, the special burger of the week, or a Dagwood, Terp’s homage to the Blondie comic’s physics-defying mega-sandwiches. And the crowds kept coming.
One Sunday, the dining club Epicurean Santa Barbara (ESB) showed up with a dozen people. “They asked, ‘How do we get this in Santa Barbara so we don’t have to drive here?’” recalled Terp.
The next thing he knew, ESB’s Amy Baer Robinson was looking for a Santa Barbara location to host the night and found one in Farmer Boy, the big breakfast-focused classic diner on upper State Street. So on Sunday, April 14, Pico won’t be serving burgers in Los Alamos — instead, Terp is bringing the whole crew down to host Santa Barbara Burger Night at Farmer Boy.
“Not only is Drew a great chef, but his personality makes dining at his restaurant — especially Burger Night — even more fun,” said Robinson. “You can hear his laugh all the way from the kitchen, and he speaks about his dishes with so much enthusiasm and expertise. He is the type of talent we like to celebrate and share with the public.”
Reservations are required via independent.com/burgernight.
Pico Burger Night @ Farmer Boy Menu
Regular (ha!) Burger: For the “basic” option, you choose any five toppings, from five cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Drunken Goat, Manchego, provolone) to sautéed mushrooms and more, atop Terp’s ¾-pounder blend of ribeye, short rib, and brisket that he developed working for years at a butcher shop in Alabama. “We do a double grind on a third of the meat,” he explained, “and the different textures hold the burger together, so you get a nice crust on the outside but it’s soft on the inside.” He uses cast-iron pans to add that outer sear.
Carnitas Burger: For the burger of the week, Terp reprises a Los Alamos favorite: an eight-ounce burger with four ounces of house-made carnitas. The unctuous pile of meat is cut with “smoked guacamole, which adds some acid, and fried shoestring onions, which add some crunch.” It’s the special side of dirty rice that makes Terp ooh with pleasure. Zipped up with jalapeño, pork fat, and schmaltz, all Terp can confirm is that: “It’s dirty.” (The other burgers come with a mixed green salad and mustard vinaigrette, for as Terp put it, “I’d be happy to eat a salad after a 12-ounce burger.”)
The Dagwood: Terp just laughs like an evil villain when asked about this creation, so take Baer Robinson’s description: “It’s an experience in its own right.” Expect an average of 15-20 items per burger, something as tall as a wine glass, and each one is different as they’re made from “leftovers” from the kitchen. That means kimchi and/or beet risotto, Hasselback potatoes and/or oxtail jus, and so on. “I’ve only seen one person eat it by picking it up,” Terp reported, “but then he had to get a straw to drink his glass of wine because he couldn’t put it down.”