The allure of avocado toast has evolved into endlessly customizable combinations. Nut butters, lox, ricotta, and eggs adorn fresh loaves with fervor, and Santa Barbarans are eating it up. Because anyone can make this simple dish at home, it’s all the more important to ensure that it’s extra special if ordered out. Below are the top toasts in town, transforming the once-humble bedrock for butter into an epic work of art.
Helena Avenue Bakery: “Starting with a good base is what’s going to make it unique,” said chef Ken Toledo of his secret. Handmade daily by sous chef Isaac Hernandez, the bread is a wonder on its own but provides a stellar vehicle for the team’s endlessly delicious toppings. Their basic version is heaped with avocados grown nearby, Aleppo salt, and a seven-minute egg. They also offer a peanut- and cashew-butter toast layered with rosemary and banana, and a ricotta toast featuring a cloud-like whipped house-made ricotta and seeded honey. Chef’s tip: Order the burrata, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich open-faced on sourdough for Toledo’s favorite take on toast. 131 Anacapa St., Ste.C; (805) 880-3383; helenaavenuebakery.com.
Juice Ranch: For one of the healthiest toasts, look no further than Juice Ranch, whose owners, husband-and-wife team Scott and Erin Walker, have taken their green thumbs for juicing and applied them to another green delicacy. Erin Walker uses gluten-free bread from her friends at Oat Bakery, then piles it high with house-made almond cilantro pesto, citrus-smashed avocado, lemon zest, paprika, and flaked sea salt. Top it with raw sauerkraut, and pair it with a fresh juice or smoothie. “A lot of these recipes come from what I have at home and how I can be creative,” she explained. Their Farm-to-Bagel features an Oat Bakery sourdough bagel topped with probiotic cashew cream cheese, tomato, lemon pepper, cucumber, red onion, sprouts, and flaked sea salt — not exactly toast, but too tasty not to note. 33 Parker Wy.; (805) 845-4657; juiceranch.com.
Scarlett Begonia: Scarlett Begonia’s charming Parisian courtyard setting and inventive seasonal cuisine consistently make for a transportive dining experience. My favorite dish is the grilled walnut blueberry sourdough topped with heirloom tomatoes, chimichurri, burrata, and prosciutto. It’s a surprising symphony of tasting notes, but the ingredients play together gorgeously. “You can taste all the flavors in each bite,” explained manager Iliana Salinas of the dish created by owner Crista Fooks. The bread is sourced from Fooks’s parents at Deux Bakery, and it also makes a lovely base for their heavenly ricotta toast topped with strawberries, blueberries, honey, and mint. Smoked salmon is served on their fresh brioche along with fried capers, sieved egg, heirloom tomatoes, and red onion. A lush poached egg is the cherry on top of their avocado toast, and each item is best consumed with a warm mug of their robust coffee. 11 W. Victoria St. #10; (805) 770-2143; scarlettbegonia.net.
Satellite S.B.: For those looking to pair their toast with something a little stronger than coffee, Satellite is your spot. The hip haunt for natural wines has an equally thoughtful toast. With a name that matches their playful vibe and spirited service, the rad toast riffs on the classic French pairing of radishes and butter. Chef Emma West’s version includes Oat Bakery’s sourdough, vegan chive compound butter, watermelon radish, pepitas, and a house-made spice blend. “It’s one of those things where if you try it, it becomes an obsession,” West said with a laugh. The flavors are both warming and refreshing, and yes, entirely addictive. Pair it with their delightful Capdevila Pujol cava for a heavenly combo. For another toast-like creation, try their smoked mushroom conserva served atop Oat Bakery’s Holy Shiitake bread. 1117 State St.; (805) 364-3043; satellitesb.com.
D’Angelo Bread: D’Angelo Bread has been crafting beautiful toasts since 2002. Baker Dietmar Eilbacher grew up in Bavaria with a family of bakers. When he finished apprenticing at his parents’ bakery, they gave him a pouch with dormant sourdough culture. “So my sourdough, cultivated on a small farm in Bavaria 55 years ago, is still going proud and strong as the backbone for all my sourdough breads,” Eilbacher said. The breads make a lovely base for any toast, but the Eggs “Rose” consistently wows diners. Fresh kalamata olive sourdough is slathered in house-made artichoke spread and topped with two perfectly poached eggs. Smoked salmon on French rye also delights. This institution continually proves that simple food done well never goes out of style. 25 W. Gutierrez St.; (805) 962-5466; dangelobread.com.