A Summer Beach Picnic + Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust!

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect dessert recipe for any beach picnic, BBQ or fancy dinner party!
Photo: Meg Sorel

As someone who left a sufficiently cushy job in the corporate world to become self-employed, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Do you ever miss being in an office with coworkers?” And my answer is always, “Honestly, no.” Sure, the self-employed world can be lonely at times, but I consider myself AMAZINGLY lucky to have found a solid group of like-minded ladies (and yes, even some men) who have also set out on their own and forged a path for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship, specifically in the food, beverage and entertaining bizzes.

Recently, a few of us got together to kick off summer with a beautifully styled beach picnic featuring some incredibly delicious food and wine. Since I’ve been itching to refine my pie-making skills, I offered to bring one showcasing some of my favorite fruits of the season thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was born.

A fun and fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a flaky amaretto crust. The perfect summer dessert!
Photo: Meg Sorel

Here’s what everyone else brought/contributed (with live links to their posts/websites!)

Le Petit Chef

Denisse is a private chef and food photographer based here in Santa Barbara and brought the most refreshing Poached Lobster Salad with Peaches, Shaved Fennel and White Corn and delectable Crab Toasts with Heirloom Tomato & Charred Scallion Aioli.

The Oyster Tin

Jamie (also a private chef) just started this “micro-shuckery” here in SB and, let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted these oysters. She brought both raw and BBQ oysters to our little picnic and the BBQ sauce on the cooked ones was just insane!

FOLD

Not only does Viktoriya make some of the most beautiful table linens, she’s also a pro at food and prop styling, She made our entire picnic set-up look like a dream…I only wish I could bring her (and her beautiful napkins and tablecloths) along with me for every picnic I go on!

Wander & Wine

If you plan to serve wine at any get-together you’re hosting, you’ll want to invite Hana-Lee. She chose the perfect wines to pair with each of our dishes. I couldn’t believe what a perfect match the Riverbench Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine was for my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Meg Sorel Photography

Even though she stepped in for another photographer at the last minute, Meg was an absolute dream to work with and captured all of the beautiful images you see here and on the others’ posts.

Seafood, pie, wine and friends. What more can you ask for with a summer beach picnic?
Photo: Meg Sorel

Okay, now back to this pie. First, raise your hand if you (like me) are totally intimidated by pie-making because of the difficulty of making pie dough, rolling it out and then not only getting it to fit just right in your pie plate but also baking it to a beautiful golden brown in perfect synchronization to whatever filling you put inside.

Well, I’m here to tell you good news and bad news:

First, the bad news – it is hard. And it’s most likely not going to be perfect on your first attempt. You will most likely need to refine your practice in order to get it “just right.”

Next, the good news – it gets easier! Practice makes perfect. Once you find a recipe you like and practice it a time or two, you start to get a better feel for how it should look, feel, etc. I’m happy to say that, now that I have a basic pie crust recipe that I feel totally confident in, I’ll be making so many more pies and, after trying this recipe, I hope you will, too!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect finish to any 4th of July picnic or summer BBQ!
Photo: Meg Sorel
A picture perfect summer beach picnic with seafood, pie, wine and great friends!
Photo: Meg Sorel

There are just a couple of little secrets I want to let you in on that make this “not-your-average” Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe:

  1. It’s a fairly popular notion that adding chilled vodka to your pie dough (instead of water) will make it extra tender and flaky due to the alcohol dissolving during the cooking process. You know I’m all about using booze when needed, but for this recipe you’ll find me subbing in amaretto for the vodka, adding that slight nuttiness that goes perfectly with the rest of the components of the pie. For all other aspects of the dough, I turned to my favorite Model Bakery (affiliate link) recipe as a guide – I knew they wouldn’t let me down!
  2. Although the ingredients for the filling are all pretty typical, there is one ingredient that may look a little odd – balsamic vinegar. I added this to bring depth and a slight tang to the filling that pair perfectly with all the almond notes tied in throughout.

I have to say, for being such a novice in this particular aspect of baking, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was a pretty huge hit.

A perfect piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is just what you need to cap off a summer meal.
Photo: Meg Sorel

It’s also perfectly portable which makes it a great dish to contribute to any 4th of July celebrations you may be attending this week.

Read on for the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Chilling time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced dessert that's perfect for any warm weather get-together.

Course: Dessert
Keyword: pie, rhubarb, strawberry, summer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter-flavored shortening, cut into cubes (Can use regular shortening too)
  • 1/4 cup amaretto, chilled
For the filling:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Begin making the dough at least an hour or two before you plan on baking your pie. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. 

  2. Next, using a pastry blender, cut in both the butter and shortening until dough is blended but crumbly with some pea-sized pieces. 

  3. Slowly mix in the amaretto using a fork until a loose dough begins to form.

  4. Using your hands, shape the dough into a thick disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight.

  5. To make the filling, combine strawberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar, flour and vinegar. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake your pie.

  6. Finally, assemble the streusel topping. Mix together all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers as needed to break up the butter pieces and make the mixture even and crumbly.

  7. Pull out your refrigerated pie dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start baking. This will allow it to come back down to room temperature a bit and make it easier to roll out. Once your dough is at a “roll-able” temperature, roll it into an approximately 13-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. You may need to trim some edges and work the dough a bit once it’s in the pan to get the crust as uniform as possible. Crimp the ends as desired and then freeze for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove your crust from the freezer and pour in the filling, then top with the streusel. 

  9. Bake pie in your 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also at this point I recommend putting on a pie shield or covering the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake pie at this new reduced temperature for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving (preferably with vanilla ice cream!)

 

Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta

Boy, have I got a delicious treat for you today, and it comes in the form of this Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta!

Leeks and a medley of mushrooms combine to form a delicious appetizer that's perfect for picnics, entertaining and more!

I sure hope you’re on #teammushroom, because this recipe is chock full of them. If not, you should probably stop reading now and I promise you’ll have better luck with my next post ;-P But seriously, gimme all the mushrooms and nobody will get hurt. I love those little funghi and I’m getting my fair share of them thanks to this new favorite recipe for topping bread!

I’ve made something similar before as part of my homemade Bruschetta Bar, but this Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta climbs to a whole other level with not one or two but THREE different types of mushrooms plus more leeks than you’ll know what to do with (hint: eat them.) It’s healthy yet filling at the same time and, when piled on top of hearty, freshly baked bread (my fave is a darker sourdough or multigrain loaf) it can easily pass as a light meal.

Another bonus? Even though it CAN be served warm, Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta tastes just as good when served room temperature (or even cold), making it an ideal dish to serve for entertaining or to take with you for a picnic, to the beach, to a potluck, etc.

This Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta is perfect for everything from an elegant dinner party to a casual beach picnic.

As the mother of a very small child with what seems like no time at all to spend in the kitchen, recipes like these are the ultimate lifesaver right now. In fact, don’t put it past me to make a batch on a Sunday and head to the fridge for it multiple times during the week when I want something healthy and quick. As a certified carb lover, it also makes me feel like I’m working some slightly more nutrient-packed foods into my day-to-day.

This Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta appetizer is best served over slices of your favorite rustic, crusty loaf of bread.

I’m going to keep it short today because, well, it’s 75 degrees out and there are much better things I could be doing than sitting behind my computer, but I hope you are having a wonderful week!

As I’m getting more and more back into regular posts, I’d love to hear what sort of recipes you’d like to see from me. Cocktails? Healthy food? Seasonal fare? Meal prep? Entertaining?

Let me know in the comments below!! xx

Mixed Mushroom and Leek Bruschetta
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Sauteed leeks and a medley of mushrooms create the perfect appetizer, whether served warm at home for a light dinner or chilled at a casual beach picnic.

Course: Appetizer
Keyword: appetizer, bruschetta, make-ahead, mushroom
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 leek (white part only), sliced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 12 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas, shiitake and cremini)
  • 1/2 cup cream sherry
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 loaf hearty bread, sliced
  • Olive oil to coat bread
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. 

  2. Add leek, shallots and garlic and sauté until leek is translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir to combine.

  3. Add sherry, vinegar and fresh herbs and cook over medium heat until mushrooms release their juices and have wilted significantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Remove mushrooms from heat and let cool. Turn oven on to medium broil and place rack in middle of oven. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. 

  5. Brush olive oil lightly over both sides of each piece of sliced bread and place on prepared baking sheet. Broil bread until golden, somewhere around 5 minutes for each side (keep a close eye on it, as oven temps vary greatly and your bread can go from golden to charred in a matter of seconds.)

  6. Let bread cool and then serve alongside mushrooms (you can either load the bread slices with mushrooms yourself before serving or let guests load their own.)

THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé

Yupppp…I’ve gone and done it.

THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé is the perfect cocktail for any summer get-together, BBQ or pool party!

And just in time for #nationalroséday! Yes, it’s a thing and yes, it’s tomorrow! So I hope you’re ready to make some of THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé to celebrate. I’ve got my blender ready and my watermelon in the freezer. This weekend is looking reallllll good.

I realize I may be a little late jumping on the frozé bandwagon, but since I was preggo last summer and couldn’t partake in the boozy fad as it took America by storm, cut me a little slack, will ya? I actually just had my first taste of this hip adult slushie a couple of weeks ago (which was, TBH, just so-so) but then I tasted it again when we got back to Santa Barbara and MAN did it blow me away. I guess the moral of my story is, you never know what you’re going to get, so if you want to guarantee yourself some tasty frozé, make your own recipe! And make my own recipe I did.

A frosty glass of THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé is the only cocktail you'll need all summer!

Chances are, if you’ve seen frozé being served somewhere, it’s being poured out of one of those fancy freezer machines. You’re also probably quite aware that alcohol does not freeze completely. Now, both of these factors alone are enough to discourage anyone from attempting to make their own frozé (um, yes, I’m well aware that the average joe does not have a freezer machine in their kitchen), but I have the magic answer for you, and that answer is frozen watermelon and a high-powered blender.

That’s right, we’re going to use frozen watermelon and blend it up real nice to give it that frozé feeling, without shelling out the serious dough for a freezer machine or watering down our beverage with silly ice cubes.

Watermelon, rosé and Aperol – that’s all we need to get this party started! I hope you’re as ready as I am.

All you need is just three ingredients to make THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé a part of your summer cocktail rotation!

Okay, enough building this up. Let’s get to the good stuff. THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé can’t wait any longer.

There’s really not much more to tell, because this recipe is just THAT easy, but I’ll walk you through it anyway. You’re only going to need three ingredients and one handy-dandy blender. Oh, and lots of friends because this recipe makes about 6 servings. You’ve been warned!

Aside from the frozen watermelon, you’ll need a bottle of your favorite rosé and about a cup of Aperol. Sure, you could leave the Aperol out if you’re a purist, but I love the bitter kick it gives to an otherwise sweet drink – plus another hit of bright red color.

THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé | CaliGirlCooking.com

Once you have all of the ingredients thrown into your blender, you’ll want to whir it up and serve it immediately. THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé is best served poolside, lakeside, beachside, or basking under the sun in your favorite hammock or lounge chair.

Oh, and on #nationalroséday 😉

THE MOST Refreshing Watermelon Aperol Frozé
Prep Time
15 mins
Freezer Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins
 

An easy-to-make recipe for the hip new boozy adult beverage, utilizing just three ingredients and one high-powered blender!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 6 drinks
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 cups cubed watermelon, frozen (about 1 small seedless watermelon)
  • 2 1/2 cups rosé
  • 1 cup Aperol
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If mixture seems to runny, place in freezer for about 15 minutes to freeze into a more slushie-like texture.

  2. Garnish with a slice of watermelon, if desired.

Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole

Good thing it’s Friday, because I’ve got an incredibly Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole to rock your weekend!

A hearty dish of Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is delicious, easy to assemble and sure to feed a crowd at brunch!

That’s right, I’ve taken just about everything that goes into your favorite bagel breakfast – we’re talking cream cheese, chives, smoked salmon, the works – and turned it into a tasty casserole that will feed a crowd. I mean, what’s not to like about that?

To be honest, I’ve been wanting to make something along the lines of an Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole for a looooong time, but have been struggling to find just the right excuse to make it – or enough people to feed it to. So when my Santa Barbara Foodie Gals decided it was time for our first picnic of the warm weather season, and a brunch picnic at that, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to test this recipe out on a critical yet incredibly appreciative crowd.

One little piece of this Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is all you need at brunch to start your day off on the right foot!

We opted to hold our season opener of a picnic at the Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden, which is probably one of the most beautiful open, public spaces you’ve ever seen. It’s our favorite spot for picnics, with a large, open grassy area framed by a lush rose garden and our own historic mission, which still functions as a church today. If you’re ever in the Santa Barbara area and looking for some scenic spots in addition to your eating and drinking, this Rose Garden (along with the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, home to the Sunken Gardens) are not to be missed.

We had quite the spread at our SB Foodie Gals get-together, and my Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole was a huge hit (although not the only star of the show as quiche, mimosas and donuts were also in attendance.) Needless to say, I got the approval on the recipe so I’m super excited to share it with you today!

There's quite a bit of deliciousness in a hearty slice of this Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole!

You know I’m the hugest fan of balanced living and whole foods eating whenever possible, so you should also know I’m not messing around when I call this dish indulgent. Gluten, dairy, cheese, CARBS – we’ve got it all in this bad boy, hence my emphasis on enjoying it only once in a while, in great company. It’s a dish that can serve a crowd, so it would be the perfect addition to an otherwise balanced brunch menu. In fact, a fresh fruit salad and crudité platter would be the perfect accompaniments!

I roughly based this Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole recipe on my savory bread puddings, however I increased the quantities of certain things to account for the crazy absorption rate of the bagels (and to make it a bit more egg-y and “breakfast-like.”)

When it comes to bagels, feel free to use whatever flavor you prefer to pair with your lox. I used a combo of onion and pretzel, but I also think everything bagels, rye, salt or even plain would be just fab here.

A boatload of bagels form the base of this tasty smoked salmon breakfast casserole, perfect to serve a crowd for brunch!

Also, I baked the casserole pretty much right after I assembled it, but I’m venturing to guess that prepping it a little bit in advance (maybe even the night before?) might be a VERY smart idea. After all, after everything is mixed together and loaded in the casserole dish, your Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is pretty much “set it and forget it,” and who doesn’t want that when you’re trying to entertain a crowd?

This Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is the perfect make-ahead dish to serve at your next brunch!

Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

This make-ahead casserole is loaded with bagels, smoked salmon, cream cheese and all your other favorite bagel toppings, and is perfect to serve a crowd!

Course: Breakfast
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 9 bagels (your choice of flavor), cubed
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 additional cup for topping
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup milk of your choice
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus 1 additional tablespoon for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour melted butter into a 15-quart baking dish and turn to coat dish. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except the 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 tablespoon of chives for topping.)

  3. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish and sprinkle 1 cup grated Parmesan over top.

  4. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until eggs are fairly set (they may continue to cook a bit after removing the casserole from the oven so don’t fret if they’re still a tiny bit runny.)

  5. Let cool slightly and sprinkle on additional tablespoon of chopped fresh chives before serving.

Travel Diaries: Santa Barbara

Hi friends! I hope you’ve missed me. Life’s been just a little crazy lately, ya know, raising a tiny human, buying a house, all that good stuff, but I’ve missed chatting with you in this little corner of the Internet and I’m going to make a sincere effort to be better about checking in.

A beautiful beach sunset in Santa Barbara, CA

Today’s post is one I’ve been wanting to write since January, but it required just a little bit of field research on my end and goodness knows how difficult even the tiniest of outings can be when there is a small babe involved. As you’ve probably heard, Santa Barbara County got hit HARD this winter. First there was the Thomas Fire, followed shortly thereafter by the Montecito Mudslide, both of which caused massive evacuations, homes lost, injury and death. They hit our little towns hard, and an area once known for its plethora of local businesses is now facing more vacant storefronts than it has seen in a long, long time.

While I was hearing about all of these great places being forced to lay people off, cut back hours or completely close their doors to business, I realized that, although I am passionate about sharing my favorite restaurants, wineries and breweries when I’ve traveled to other cities, I’ve never featured some of my go-to spots in my own town. And, in these uncertain times, they certainly deserve to be recognized now more than ever.

If you’re headed to the Santa Barbara area in the near future, I urge you to check out as many of these local eateries and drinking establishments as possible. And if you haven’t been here yet, I think it’s about time you planned a trip! It’s a beautiful little oasis in the middle of California that is truly one-of-a-kind. They don’t call it the American Riviera for nothing!

Santa Barbara

Hotel Californian

Full disclosure: I haven’t had the opportunity to stay here yet, but let me just tell you I like what I see. The entire Hotel Californian property (which also includes numerous restaurants and storefronts) is reinvigorating a recently humdrum State St. It’s beautifully decorated, classy and did I mention their rooftop pool?

Front entrance of the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, CA.

I’ve eaten at (and enjoyed) the first two eateries they’ve opened, Blackbird and Goat Tree SB, and I think the entire area could be just what downtown Santa Barbara needed.

Goat Tree SB - A lovely cafe at the new Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara, CA.
Goat Tree SB

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

Formerly The Fess Parker – A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort, I have to give my former employer a mention because there are BIG things happening here. As you can probably guess by the name change, the hotel is going through a huge rebranding. They’ve been remodeling the lobby, meeting and guest rooms to give the resort an updated, beachy feel and I can’t wait to check them out now that the official name change has taken place.

Helena Ave. Bakery

All I can say is thank goodness we finally have a bakery with a legit storefront in town! Helena Ave. Bakery offers a consistent selection of fresh bread and delicious baked goods as well as a huge assortment of grab-and-go lunch options that are perfect for a day of wine tasting or brewery hopping in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

Lucky Penny

Another Funk Zone gem, Lucky Penny is the place to go for tasty wood-fired pizzas, bountiful salads and hearty sandwiches. And did I mention they also sell frozé? You also must try the mushroom bruschetta appetizer. I’m working on my own version to post on the blog as we speak!

The Lark

Of course, I have to mention the hubs’ and my very favorite restaurant for date night, whenever we have guests in town, birthday or anniversary, or any other celebration we can think of. Seriously, we’ve tried so many other “nicer” restaurants in town and nothing compares. Aside from the Brussels sprouts (which are OMG to-die-for and ALWAYS on the menu) the Lark’s menu changes seasonally yet never disappoints, and everything is served family style, so you get to taste a little bit of everything! I also should mention that Helena Ave. Bakery, Lucky Penny and The Lark are all related, so it’s no wonder they all made my list of top places to visit!

The Lark | Santa Barbara, CA

The Lark | Santa Barbara, CA

The Lark | Santa Barbara, CA

Satellite

I couldn’t leave out Santa Barbara’s hippest new wine bar that offers a delicious farm-to-table menu to boot! I love this place for its unique, sometimes kooky wine selections, blind tasting night and veggie-heavy food items that change based on weekly Farmer’s Market offerings. Yoga Pants Salad, you have my heart!

Satellite | Santa Barbara, CA

Satellite | Santa Barbara, CA

Satellite | Santa Barbara, CA
The Spritz is a must-try at Satellite!

Yellow Belly

This used to be our “neighborhood joint” when we lived at our old place, and you can bet we’ll still be making regular visits even though we live a bit further away now. It’s locally owned with a great wine and beer selection and tasty pub-like food. They also offer brunch on the weekends, have a patio (yay for dog-friendly establishments!) AND we feel perfectly comfortable bringing the little babe with us. So many bonuses!

Yellow Belly | Santa Barbara, CA

Third Window Brewing

Santa Barbara is home to its share of breweries, that’s for sure, but Third Window consistently stands out to us. Even with a frequently rotating menu, the beers are consistently top-notch and, unlike many of today’s newest breweries, they are NOT solely focusing on IPA’s, which is perfect for me since I’m not much of a hops fan!

Third Window Brewing | Santa Barbara, CA

August Ridge

I’m so glad I stumbled across this gem of a tasting room! With its main winery and tasting room in Paso Robles, August Ridge recently opened a smaller tasting room downtown, just off La Arcada. Because they specialize in Italian varietals, they’re a welcome change from Santa Barbara Wine Country’s largely Pinot Noir and Chardonnay focused repertoire. I’ve loved everything I’ve tasted from them and need to plan another trip back soon to restock!

August Ridge | Santa Barbara, CA

Handlebar Coffee

Handlebar Coffee has been a Santa Barbara establishment for many years, but its newest location on upper De La Vina Street has everyone abuzz. It’s much bigger than the downtown location, with a great outdoor seating area, a full-service kitchen to make tasty breakfast and lunch offerings, plus beer and wine on tap! They also do lots of fun pop-ups and benefits for local organizations. We have yet to attend any but we hope to soon!

Handlebar Coffee | Santa Barbara, CA

C’est Cheese

If you’re a cheese lover like me, you’re not going to want to miss this stop. I was so happy when what started as a small, local cheese and wine shop that hosted my favorite annual Sparkling Wine & Cheese Pairing Class every year tripled in size to open its own café, only to see it have to shutter the restaurant portion after this winter’s hardships. I have high hopes they’ll once again be able to operate in their full capacity, but until then you can still buy lots of delicious goodies at their shop and support a great local business at the same time!

Carpinteria

The Food Liaison

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty jealous that Carp has this awesome food establishment in its repertoire. You know I’m all about balance and tasty, quality food, and TFL delivers on all fronts. They offer plenty of vegan and gluten-free dishes, but also plenty of non-special diet items…and it is all soooooo good! Not only do they serve lunch Monday-Friday (try the Crack Bowl…it will not disappoint) they also have a stellar catering program AND offer cooking classes. I know where I’ll be eating lunch every time I’m in the area!

The Food Liaison | Carpinteria, CA

The Food Liaison | Carpinteria, CA
Crack Bowl @ The Food Liaison

Lucky Llama

Okay, Lucky Llama is probably THE cutest little coffee shop in Santa Barbara County. Their coffee drinks are top notch, but they also make delish acai and oatmeal bowls. It’s the perfect place to plop down with your laptop and get some work done or meet a friend to catch up on the lovely outdoor patio. Plus, it’s totally kid-friendly, which I’m learning to appreciate more and more these days!

Lucky Llama | Carpinteria, CA

Lucky Llama | Carpinteria, CA

The Apiary

What a one-of-a-kind tasting room! The Apiary specializes in mead but also offers ciders and lots of other interesting fermented elixirs. My dear friend @gojohannogo and I shared the tasting flight and it was the perfect way to take a little foray into the world of mead and everything related. I’m not sure I’d be able to drink large quantities of the different options, but it was so fun to experience all the different flavors. Definitely pay them a visit if you’re looking for a change-up from your average winery or brewery!

The Apiary | Carpinteria, CA

The Apiary | Carpinteria, CA

Goleta

Draughtsmen Aleworks

Our favorite pre-Costco shopping trip stop for a refreshing beverage. They have lots of entertaining names for their beers like Meat & Potatoes Porter!

Draughtsmen Aleworks | Goleta, CA

M. Special

Another great (newer) brewery in the Goodland that’s always sure to have a food truck or live band on hand, especially on the weekends. It’s also got some good outdoor space and is kid-friendly!

Outpost at the Goodland

This hip little eating and drinking establishment at a Holiday Inn turned Kimpton hotel is just what Goleta (“the Goodland”) needed. It’s a great spot for Happy Hour or brunch, and another one we feel completely comfortable bringing the baby to. If you’re lucky to visit on a Sunday during the summer, you might just catch a raging pool party, live DJ and all!

These are all just a few of my favorites, and I’m sure there are some places that I missed. If you know of any, please leave them in the comments below! I’m all about supporting local right now and love discovering new places. Until next time!

Hendry's Beach | Santa Barbara, CA