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Must Try Pop-Ups & New Restaurants in Santa Barbara

a plate of food on a table

You don’t need us to tell you what a struggle 2020 was, but you may want to hear a little more good news. While this past year was definitely a struggle for some, others were seeing their dreams come true as new foodie pop-up ventures with some going on to open their own brick and mortar digs.

We’ve put together a list of pop-ups, delivery eats, and new digs you absolutely must check out next time you’re in Santa Barbara. (Click the titles to find their Insta pages or websites.) A word of advice: come hungry!

Creaminal Ice Cream

We’ve been screaming about how good these Thai-inspired ice cream flavors are for months now! Find them on Instagram to place the occasional delivery order or simply stop by Your Choice Restaurant to pick up a pint.

Must try: Vietnamese Coffee Mud Pie

Riviera Bread

This bread sustains us. Literally. We’ve had this bread on repeat this past year and now nothing else will do. Choices range from staple sourdough loaves to rotating herb infused boules. If you’re lucky you’ll find Vanessa selling her bread at fun pop-up markets like Farmer and The Flea or our beloved 100 year old urban Fairview Gardens farm stand. But to be sure you’ll get the goods, place your online order by Wednesday and opt for pick-up or local delivery.

Must try: Coastal Sourdough and Jalapeno Cheddar

Lu’s Strawberries

Treat yourself next time you’re in town to a decadent box of chocolate or sea salt caramel covered strawberries. Coating options range from chocolate to sea salt carmel with sugar free and vegan friendly choices. Choose different toppings like oreo, churro, cotton candy and other unique flavors or put in a special request all your own. Insider Tip: Orders must be placed via Instagram DM at least 7 days in advance.

Must try: Milk Chocolate Strawbs with Oreo Topping

Marui Me Sushi

These weekly sushi boxes–available only on Wednesdays–are as fresh as they come and are packed with both sashimi and rolls. Place your order via Instagram DM to get all the details of where to pick up, what’s on the menu, and more. Place your order by Monday afternoon or earlier as boxes are limited.

Must try: Whatever the chef is making for the week!

Secret Bao

Former head chef of Loquita–one of our favorite restaurants in the Funk Zone!–ventured out this past year with his partner/wife to create an incredible Chinese pop-up turned full restaurant. Traditional and creative bao buns like thier KFC or PB&J, fried rice, and comforting noodle dishes are what’s on the menu at this hip corner eatery adjacent to the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Must try: Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice, Shrimp Bao Bun, and Sour Cream & Onion Prawn Chips

Rascals

Take care of that quarantine bod with a few dishes from this 100% vegan pop-up on State Street. Offerings of orange tofu burritos and elote with takis are sure to hit the comfort food spot without tipping the scales too much. (wink wink) Find these guys inside Bibi Ji every Tuesday and Wednesday. Check out their latest Insta post for exact hours.

Must try: Torta of the week and Elote w/Takis

Dang Burger

Spend some time during the weekend to head south of SB to Carpinteria for a sloppy, in your face, dang good burger. Double decker, triple decker, and quad cheese covered meat patties are sure to hit the spot while you breath in that salty ocean air. Kick back on the patio at Corktree Cellars or take it to-go and enjoy it like a local with your toes in the sand.

Must try: The Hot Dang

SB Munchiez

Started years ago as a delivery service and now they on top with a new brick and mortar shop found off the beaten path on Hollister Avenue in the Noleta area (just out of SB, but not quite Goleta). This late night grub spot will help you soak up the hooch, satisfy those cravings or get ready for a night on the town with heavy dishes like pasta, bbq chicken fries, and double bacon cheeseburgers. Hours are 2pm-2am.

Must try: Breaded Ravioli Aflredonara, East Side Boogie, and Deep-Fried Mini Cinnamon Rolls

The Bagel Boiz

Whoever says the best bagels only come from New York clearly haven’t tried an order from these guys. Stay in the know about weekly menu offerings and delivery drops from their Instagram stories, but don’t sleep on your order as they tend to sell out fast and are only available weekends.

Must try: Bacon Bagel with Maple Syrup Schmear (if they have it!)

Eating with Jo

Easy, fun recipes and boodle boxes are our reasons for religiously following this foodie on Instagram. Indulge in authentic Filipino dishes like chicken inasal, pork belly adobo, pancit, bagoong and lumpia when you DM your order to Jo. Give her a follow and jump on those orders before she gets too Insta famous!

Must try: Any of her recipes at home and a Boodle Box when you’re in town

Below are a few more favorites that are currently on hiatus until they find new pop-up digs or simply because they needed a break. But keep an ear to the ground and an eye on these guys as they will be back again soon and you won’t want to miss out!

Better Burrito

After a full night of dancing, singing, or drinking the night away there is nothing better than having a hot breakfast burrito delivered right to your doorstep the next morning. Place your order the night before and stay in those pj’s the morning after while you chow down on the best hangover cure in town.

Must try: Relleno Burrito

MOR Doughnuts

Take your taste buds down the road less traveled for a taste of mochi doughnuts. Forget what you know about traditional or even “cracked out” doughnuts and dive into these beaded rings topped with flavors like ube, passionfruit, matcha berry cheesecake and more!

Must try: All of them

 

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