Harry’s Plaza Cafe martini (October 9, 2019)

Tea Selection

Vices & Spices

3558 State St.; 687-7196; vicesandspices.net

The homey atmosphere of Vices & Spices makes one yearn for a simpler time. This small San Roque neighborhood spot has been quietly brewing teas and making coffee under the same family ownership since 1975. I have fond childhood memories of using my allowance money to buy peas and carrots and cinnamon gummy bears from the candy jars, but most people come for the impressive collection of fine tea leaves, specialty coffees, exotic spices, and botanicals. There’s also a great selection of gifts from around the world.

Runner-Up: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Happy Hour

Lure Fish House

3815 State St., Ste. G131; 618-1816; lurefishhouse.com

“Santa Barbara is not just a good place; it is a great place,” said Emily Wilmeth, spokesperson for Lure Fish House, Indy readers’ pick as the best place for happy hour. The charbroiled oysters are a delightful butter and garlic delivery system, and they pair well with wine and beer deals. Tacos, chowder, and a variety of small plates also have happy hour deals, making this a popular spot for early diners. “This award is priceless to us. Santa Barbara is such a wonderful community filled with fabulous restaurants, and to be recognized as the best by our guests is the greatest honor that we can achieve. They are the reason we are in business.”

Runner-Up: Enterprise Fish Co.

Coffee House

Handlebar Coffee Roasters

Two locations; handlebarcoffee.com

With the aim of bringing a little bit of European café culture to Santa Barbara, former professional cyclists Aaron Olson and Kim Anderson opened the first Handlebar Coffee Roasters on Canon Perdido Street in 2011. Locals quickly made themselves at home at the friendly Presidio neighborhood hangout. The couple opened a second, larger store on De la Vina Street last year, moving the roastery to the new space and adding a small kitchen with a beer and wine license to the mix.

Runner-Up: Dune Coffee Roasters

Funk Zone Spot • Beer Selection on Tap

Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop

116 Santa Barbara St.; 880-3364; lamadog.com

With a revolving tap of 20 craft beers, plus another 350 varieties available by the bottle, it’s no wonder that Lama Dog Tap Room + Bottle Shop has been voted our readers’ favorite beer selection on tap for the past three years. Santa Barbara’s favorite beer: Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. “Others include beer from some hard-to-find breweries like Alvarado Street, Westvleteren, and Bottle Logic Brewing. The alcohol kombuchas are still killing it!” said owner Pete Burnham, who named the favorite Funk Zone spot after his Tibetan mastiff. “This is certainly a cliché,” he added, “but I have the best staff in town, and it’s a delight to be able to work with such a great group of competent and decent people every day.”

Runner-Up: (Funk Zone Spot): The Lark
Runner-Up (Beer Selection on Tap): Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

S.B. County Brewery

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Multiple locations; figmtnbrew.com

Santa Barbara County is great for business because “people here have great taste and great palates,” said Jaime Dietenhofer, founder/CEO of Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. “They keep you on your toes and have high expectations, which keeps us focused and always trying to improve. It means the world to have local support and having people recognize a family-owned and independent craft brewery.” One of Dietenhofer’s funniest memories is of launching the new Point Conception IPA at six locations in one day. “Toasting patrons at each location with a pint or two ​— ​let’s just say we were glad to have a designated driver, because I couldn’t feel my legs by the end of it.”

Runner-Up: M.Special

Valley Tasting Room

Carhartt Vineyard

2939 Grand Ave., Los Olivos; 693-5100; carharttvineyard.com

“My parents started this business by either doing every job or, at the very least, heavily overseeing it. To this day, we still have at least one hand in all aspects of the company, and although an intimate family business can be problematic at times, more often than not, we prove our crazy dynamics can work,” said Carhartt Vineyard’s Chase Carhartt, who describes his job title as “co-winemaker, farmer’s assistant, ranch hand, pig farmer, sheep herder, tasting-room associate, creative director, glorified dishwasher, tour guide, cellar hand, trash man, and assistant to Mike and Brooke [his parents].” His favorite part of the gig? “The opportunity to sustainably farm our own land, and create something by hand that brings joy to others’ lives.”

Runner-Up: Folded Hills

Urban Tasting Room • S.B. County Winery

Grassini Family Vineyards

24 El Paseo; 897-3366; grassinifamilyvineyards.com

“Being voted the Best S.B. County Winery as well as the Best Urban Tasting Room two years running cements our reputation for making and selling outstanding wines,” said CEO Katie Grassini. “This is a fantastic ‘tip of the cap’ to our vineyard crew, our winemaker, and his team, as well to the incredibly knowledgeable, friendly sales staff in our tasting room. Our family is so thrilled and honored to have all of their hard work recognized again this year!” She added, “Winning these awards again this year allows us to continue to spread the word about the incredibly high-quality wines being produced in Santa Barbara and continue to encourage people to visit Santa Barbara wine country. We’re constantly impressed by the wines being produced by so many great vintners in Santa Barbara County, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce more people to S.B. County’s amazing food and wine scene!”

Runner-Up (Urban Tasting Room): Municipal Winemakers
Runner-Up (S.B. County Winery): Sunstone Winery

Restaurant Wine List

Wine Cask

813 Anacapa St.; 966-9463; winecask.com

“Being the best means offering great value at every price point and offering selections that differ from the run of the mill,” said Nuri Monahan, beverage director at Wine Cask, which offers an expansive cellar paired with seasonal California-inspired cuisine and a beautiful, historic El Paseo locale. “We hope that winning this award demonstrates our continued commitment to providing excellent wine choices for our community. Over the next 5 to 10 years, we hope to grow and expand our list to continue strongly representing our local producers, while continuing to expand our offerings from around the rest of California, the U.S., and the world!”

Runner-Up: bouchon

Neighborhood Bar

The Pickle Room

126 E. Canon Perdido St.; 965-3445; threepickles.com

Open since 1947 as Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens in the historic Presidio Neighborhood, after a six-year hiatus, our readers’ favorite bar reopened as the Pickle Room in 2013. The funniest thing, shared Willy Gilbert, bartender since 1984: “The first time I met Bob Lovejoy [the deceased Pickle Room owner] was at Jimmy’s. The rest of his softball team had left, unbeknownst to him, sticking him with a rather sizeable tab. He had no money and wanted to borrow 20 bucks for a cab. He returned the next day, and we became lifelong friends.” Current owner Clay Lovejoy added, “I want to dedicate this to my dad ​— ​Bob Lovejoy ​— ​who didn’t get the chance to enjoy this award in his lifetime but would have been so overjoyed by this honor.”

Runner-Up: Uptown Lounge

S.B. Wine Tour Company

Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours

34 E. Haley St.; 965-1414; winetours-santabarbara.com

“We’re really proud of our growth in wine country as a premier option for Santa Ynez Valley wine-tasting tours. We are an all-inclusive provider; from the moment we pick up our guests to dropping them off, we take care of all the details so they can kick back and taste some of the best wines in the valley,” said Michael Cohen, owner of Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours. “Being the best also means our guides are top-notch ​— ​the amount of detail and knowledge they add to our wine tours is impeccable.” His favorite part of the job? “No two wine tours are the same, and that’s what makes the job so much fun.”

Runner-Up: Sustainable Wine Tours

Wine Shop

Savoy Wines

18 W. Anapamu St.; 962-5353; savoywinessb.weebly.com

Stomping out wine snobbery a bottle at a time, being voted the best means “being the most welcoming, honest, reliable, chillingly air-conditioned, and helpful place to seek out wine, from $7 to $700,” said Bob Wesley, manager of Savoy Wines. In addition to sharing the abundance of excellent producers and wines in our backyard, meeting visitors from all over the world who love Santa Barbara, and enjoying the friendship of loads of local customers, Wesley enjoys “Seeing the puzzled look on customers’ faces when they realize that we have four staircases in a one-story building. It’s our own Winchester Mystery House motif.”

Runner-Up: Liquor & Wine Grotto

Wine Bar

S.B. Wine Therapy

732 State St.; 637-7492; santabarbarawinetherapy.com

There’s sure to be lots of laughter when therapy is in session at S.B. Wine Therapy, our readers’ pick for best wine bar. Between the lovely dog-friendly patio, local beer and wine, and shelves and shelves of board games, everything about this place sings, “Pull up a chair and enjoy yourself.” “It’s an honor to be recognized for the hard work everyone’s put in to get us where we are. We love Santa Barbara and want to continue to be a place Santa Barbara loves as well,” said General Manager Byron Bryan, whose favorite part of the job is “working with the staff and being around our regulars.”

Runner-Up: Satellite

Vices and Spices tea


Santo Mezcal

119 State St.; 883-3593; santomezcalsb.com

The impressive selection of margaritas at Santo Mezcal ​— ​all of which are available with a choice of mezcal or tequila and come in regular or XL sizes ​— ​have earned Best of Santa Barbara® bragging rights for the second year in a row. “It’s an amazing feeling to know my efforts and my team’s efforts have paid off with the satisfaction of my clients, our number-one goal,” said owner Carlos F. Luna, whose favorite part of his job is “being around people and giving them one of the best things that we have in Mexico: our food.” And your drinks, we might add. Cheers!

Runner-Up: Carlitos Café y Cantina

Place for Craft Cocktails

The Good Lion

1212 State St.; 845-8754; goodlioncocktails.com

“Being the best means that our beloved community is recognizing our efforts to provide them with a fun and hospitable experience with craft cocktails. We’re humbled and honored to get this recognition,” said The Good Lion’s husband-wife owner team Brandon Ristaino and Misty Orman. “We find that Santa Barbara is adventurous with their cocktail/spirit choices, and our guests really enjoy trying new flavors and cocktails.” As for funny memories: One of the bartenders used to sketch hilarious images of his fellow bartender, nicknamed Spyder, as a spider making cocktails and doing bar tasks. “During a boozy staff appreciation party, we joked that the artist should get a tattoo of one of his Spyder sketches. Very late that night, after we’d gone to bed, we received a text with a pic of the tattoo. That glorious madman did it!”

Runner-Up: Test Pilot

Restaurant with a View • Sunday Brunch • Bloody Mary

Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach

2981 Cliff Dr.; 898-2628; boathousesb.com

The space ​— ​right on the beach, with clean, ocean-inspired décor; a glassed-in patio; and magnificent, up-close sparkling views of the Pacific from both inside and out ​— ​is lovely enough that the Boathouse would probably be packed no matter what the food tasted like. Lucky for us, the fresh seafood selections, excellent cocktails (including the readers’ fave Bloody Mary), and brunch delights such as the smoked salmon eggs Benedict and huevos Hope Ranch, are all top notch. Come for the view; stay for the food.

Runner-Up (Restaurant with a View):
The Dining Room at Belmond El Encanto
Runner-Up (Sunday Brunch): Scarlett Begonia
Runner-Up (Bloody Mary): Brophy Bros.

Stiffest Drinks

Joe’s Café

536 State St.; 966-4638; joescafesb.com

A Santa Barbara icon known for its generous pours and raucous atmosphere since 1928, Joe’s Café is once again readers’ pick for stiffest drinks. Whatever your cocktail of choice, Joe’s bartenders are sure to make a version that’s 80 percent booze with a splash of mixer, which explains the three-deep crowds that swarm the bar every evening. A comfortable spot for locals from every part of the social strata, Joe’s food is also shockingly good ​— ​try the fall-off-the-bone BBQ baby back ribs ​— ​and provides a hearty base for all of that alcohol.

Runner-Up: Harry’s Plaza Café

Juicery • Smoothie Bar

Blenders in the Grass

Multiple locations; drinkblenders.com

Smoothies and juice bars were far from ubiquitous when Blenders in the Grass first opened its doors in Isla Vista in 1995. One of the funniest things happened that year, shared owner Keric Brown, “when an employee turned on a blender without a lid, and their face and our store interior got a new color scheme.” Brown, who cofounded Blenders with two longtime friends, Scott Webber and Art Tracewell, said his favorite part of the job is “serving S.B. a quick, healthy blender on a hot day.” Our town’s most popular concoctions are the Peanut Butter Blender and the Acai Energy Blender, Brown added. In the next decade, he wants the business to be “exactly where it is right now, serving Blenders to S.B. and Ventura counties.”

Runner-Up (Juicery): Juice Ranch
Runner-Up (Smoothie Bar): Backyard Bowls