After years of visiting in-laws in Carpinteria, Luis G. Alvarez decided now was the right time to bring his mini-chain of Italian basics to the beach town.

Paul Wellman

After years of visiting in-laws in Carpinteria, Luis G. Alvarez decided now was the right time to bring his mini-chain of Italian basics to the beach town.

Guicho’s Offers Simple Solutions for Carpinteria

Luis Alvarez and Jim Donahue Open Third Location of Convenient Italian Eatery Chain

“My motto’s always been to simplify things,” says Luis G. Alvarez, owner of Guicho’s Eatery, the San Clemente–based Italian restaurant that just opened its third location in Carpinteria. That emphasis extends to all aspects of the business, from the sleek interior and clean flavors to the convenient comfort of a home-cooked meal with the ease of takeout. “We love what we do,” explained Alvarez, “and we like providing fresh food for people and families, and having it be simple, convenient, and affordable.”

Alvarez opened the first Guicho’s in San Clemente in 2001, then opened a second one there with longtime friend Jim Donahue, who co-owns the Carp eatery. Alvarez had been coming up to the area to visit his in-laws for 30 years and was waiting for the perfect time to open a Guicho’s here. “Now it’s evolving, and the town is more vibrant,” Alvarez said.

With a menu aimed at busy families, Guicho’s emphasizes the ease of picking up party trays for soccer games, wedding rehearsal dinners, or even just a weekday meal. “It really helps people who are in a rush, especially during the lunch hour when people are limited for time,” Alvarez said.

While the service is quick, what really took time for me was deciding what to order. “There isn’t anything I serve that I don’t personally love,” explained Alvarez. He highlighted the grilled shrimp salad with spring-mix greens, oven-dried tomatoes, cannellini beans, and lemon dressing; the classic homemade pork sausage sandwich with roasted peppers and onions and giardinera sauce; and the linguine with tiger shrimp, bay scallops, mushrooms, green onions, white wine, light marinara, crushed red pepper, and garlic.

I enjoyed the popular eggplant sandwich served on a fresh french roll with the delightful additions of grilled zucchini, oven-roasted tomato, spinach, and mozzarella cheese making it light yet rich in flavor. The dish that really had me in amore was the spinach tortellini stuffed with cheese; tossed with prosciutto, mushrooms, and peas; and draped in an irresistible tomato cream sauce that I would eat on its own with a spoon any day.

As a pasta cooker who typically veers on the harder side al dente, I’ve always been wary of takeout options for fear of the mush, yet the pasta at Guicho’s holds its ground beautifully. “We use De Cecco, which is the best imported pasta you can find,” Alvarez said.

With options for gluten-free or whole-wheat noodles, homemade desserts like crème brûlée and tiramisu, and a steadfast dedication to creating fresh, high-quality food at a fair price point, Guicho’s reminds us to dig into the beauty of simplicity.


Guicho’s is located at 901 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria. Call (805) 334-1008 or visit

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