By Donna Polizzi
Take an East Clark Avenue excursion to a charming Old Town and some of the best places to wine and dine in Santa Barbara County.
For those who enjoy the finer things in life, visiting California’s Central Coast is truly an adventure.
For the past 15 years, my family and friends have had a blast seeking out great places to enjoy on the Central Coast. From Carpinteria to Paso Robles, the area offers locals and visitors nearly 150 miles of pristine beaches, freshwater lakes, scenic golf courses, world-class wineries, art museums, historic and spectacular Spanish missions, and of course, simply breathtaking natural scenery with ocean views rivaling any others in the world.
If you want to see rolling hills so green and picturesque that you’ll think you’re in Ireland, now is the time to hop on Highway 101 to take a day trip that’s guaranteed to energize, rejuvenate and entertain you.
There is a sweet spot that I would love to share with you. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Orcutt, a quaint little town about an hour north of Santa Barbara and 40 minutes south of San Luis Obispo, you don’t know what you’re missing. Orcutt, with a population of around 29,000, has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature of 71.6 degrees. But that is just the beginning.
Orcutt can be found by exiting at Clark Avenue on Highway 101 south of Santa Maria. To the east, you’ll discover the breathtakingly beautiful Presqu’ile Winery, 5391 Presquile Drive. The scenic landscape, cozy fireplace, and outdoor fire pits are a great place to sip an exceptional locally produced pinot noir and chardonnay while playing a game of horseshoes, or simply sit and enjoy the spectacular views.
Another favorite winery of mine is the Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery, located only five minutes away at 3940 Dominion Road. It is a beautiful winery with a friendly staff who can show you their wine caves. Oh and the wine … it’s well worth the drive. Norm Beko, the winemaker is a Master.
If you head west on Clark, you’ll come upon numerous other places to sip, savor and shop.
Old Orcutt, which is about five miles west on Clark, offers several blocks of great restaurants like Ca’Del Grevino café and wine bar, 400 E. Clark Ave., and the Far Western Tavern, 300 E. Clark Ave.
The Far Western is a famous, and rustic, restaurant and saloon that offers up the best steak on the West Coast, according to the California Cattlemen’s Association. It is an obvious favorite local spot to enjoy cocktails in a beautiful bar or upstairs on the terrace.
Also check out a fabulous place called Deja Vu Antiques at the Loading Dock, 315 S. Broadway St. This is an old loading dock packed full of antiques, old signs, chandeliers, beautiful furniture and hundreds of unique items that you won’t find anywhere else.
For a delicious breakfast, check out Kay’s Country Kitchen, 135 E. Clark Ave., or Jack’s, 156 S. Broadway St., which serves up omelets big enough to share and at an incredibly reasonable price.
If it’s authentic Italian food you want, Trattoria Uliveto, 285 S. Broadway St., is another local favorite for a great meal with an elegant but casual atmosphere. Co-owner Alfonso Curti, who treats his guests like longtime friends, recently served me a “Moscow Mule” in a hammered copper mug that has hit my favorite drink list.
And whatever you do, don’t miss out on Rooney’s Irish Pub & Brewery, 241 S. Broadway St. Tim Rooney brews his own beers on site with friendly service and a motto that says it all: “There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met.”
If you want a great pizza, Patricio’s Pizzeria is a must, at 156 S. Broadway St., Suite E. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had, and they’re known throughout the area for their amazing crust.
All of these hot spots are literally within minutes of each other walking, so get out of your car and enjoy the great weather and friendly people.
Old Town Orcutt has so many wonderful places to visit. Take a stroll in and around the town and you’ll discover a treasure trove of quaint stores and establishments.
For antiques, visit Vintage Veranda Antiques & Mall, 225 Union Ave. For a bar open 24/7, Elmer’s is a local institution at 241 S. Broadway St., Suite 101.
For more great wine tasting, CORE Wine Co., 105 W. Clark Ave., and Lucia’s Wine Co., 125 E. Clark Ave., are known for their great wine and friendly service. Both are owned and operated by award-winning winemakers.
Orcutt offers a wide variety of things to enjoy. It’s an experience to remember and I bet that you will come back again and again. Hopefully, I’ve enticed you to get out and get here to enjoy this amazing place that is so close to home.