by Stephanie Byrd
One of the great things about Santa Barbara is the sheer amount of fantastic restaurants available for both tourists and residents to try out, but you don’t have to look far for some local favorites. Right here in the Presidio neighborhood, we have Three Pickles and La Playa Azul Café, both of which have historical ties to the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. SBTHP would like to kick off the New Year by inviting visitors to picnic with history! Patrons can simply order their food to-go, present their receipt to the Presidio Visitor’s Center front desk attendant, and be welcome to dine in the Presidio backyard without paying an admission charge.
Three Pickles, located directly across the street from the Visitor’s Center, was once Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, the last Chinese-owned business of Santa Barbara’s new Chinatown until Tommy Chung (Jimmy’s son) sold the property in 2007 to SBTHP. When Three Pickles opened up in half of the space, their pastrami sandwich – named The Presidio – quickly became a neighborhood favorite, and the daily soups are wonderful! The second half of the space is now open in the evenings as The Pickle Room, a fun neighborhood bar with pieces from Jimmy’s – like the beautiful electric lanterns – proudly on display.
While Three Pickles is connected to SBTHP’s more recent past, La Playa Azul Café goes back to SBTHP’s founding. On Santa Barbara Street next to the reconstructed Northeast Corner, the building was once home to the Plans and Planting Committee, which once prominently featured Pearl Chase – SBTHP’s founder – as a member. The lunch specials – all under $10! – are a steal, and devilishly delicious, especially the shrimp enchiladas! For a larger portion, how could a patron go wrong with scallop fajitas?
Grab your lunch and celebrate the Presidio Neighborhood culinary icons in style at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. Amidst the orange and lemon trees, resting comfortably on new picnic benches, you’ll be sure to soak in both some sun and some history while enjoying a delectable meal.
Stephanie Byrd is the weekend supervisor at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation