Aside California’s agricultural industry being one the largest global food economies, we’re a large part of the wine industry as well. From Ojai to Los Olivos and farther north, there are amazing vineyards and wineries (do you know the difference?) creating amazing wines. I’m not a wine expert by any means, I’ve been a expert social drinker for years –– refining my palatte enough to taste the intricacies present in anything that touches my lips. And my love of clean, organic food has made me quite discerning in what I consider “acceptable” farm-to-table cuisine. So here are the top three eating and drinking spots in Solvang and Los Olivos.
The Landsby was a new discover this summer. Previously, it was one of those god awful, kitch Swedish hotels that Sideways made only slightly more hip because of the awesome movie that featured my favorite Andrew Murray Wine. The Landsby is a reasonably price hotel (under $250 and posh) and I’d recommend it to anyone up for a weekend stay. The decor is mid century modern with a Danish and Moroccan accents. It’s clean, it’s vibrant and the staff are some of the best I’ve ever seen in the hospitality industry. The cuisine is simply to die for.
From the house cured Salmon to the Farmer Seasonal Salad, their clean, locally sourced food will not disappoint even the most discerning foodie. What’ more, the Mad & Vin wine list features some of the best of the region, make sure you hit the $5 happy hour that starts daily at 4pm. Sample the Lucas and Lewellen wine (can’t go wrong with the Pinot!) and then walk one block down Atterdog Road and join their wine club. Walk two block further and taste everything that Dascomb Cellars has to offer as well.
Located across the Hwy 246 (Mission Drive) from the Landsby is Succulent, another must eat for weekend visitors that thing the Solvang kitch is cute, but really don’t want to eat it. Again, this is another great breakfast spot. If you’re a meat lover and not against dairy or gluten, then The Succulent ($10.50) that features cinnamon & cumin pulled pork, bacon gravy, pineapple chutney is a must.
For those with dietary restrictions like me, I’m always good with The Ella ($8.50), but I get it with hard poached eggs. If you’re in for wine, the Margerum M5 and Groundwork Grenache are spectacular. The M5 is a combination of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, and Cinsault, it’s tannic, bold and full-bodies. If you want to know about the Grenache, go try it yourself!
Fess Parker Wine Country Inn
The restaurant at the Fess Parker Inn in Los Olivos is perhaps of the most amazing places I’ve ever eaten. The California-Hellenic cuisine is delightful; from Lamb Pizza to Petros Horiatiki salad, my tastebuds jumped with delight in response to flavors contained within each of the ingredients. While complex, they married well, and most of all the food tasted clean. I’d recommend the 2012 Epiphany Gypsy Blend (94 Points – $25), the black currant jam, plum and chocolate found in this medium-bodied red wine is amazing.
Central Coast Wine Resources
From Andrew Murray to Consilience, Kaena Wine to Buttonwood Farm, the central coast can quickly turn into a multiple week tasting trip. Wine begins in Ojai and goes all the way North. For those of you wanting to partake of the central coast in its entirety, here are some of the best sites to find a complete list of the wineries and vineyards. For St. Ynez, check out the valley site and wine association. You should visit Santa Barbara Vintners website for the yearly guide to events. For Pas Robles, the The Rhone Rangers Winery Guides are amazing.