The decision to eat here came sort of on a whim. Nathan and I wanted to take my parents out to dinner and this place sort of just came up as the top contender for a place that was relatively new but safe enough that nearly all of us had tried it. So we were in that weird, “well—we sort of remember it and the memories aren’t terrible so let’s give it a shot!” Usually this is the beginning of a terrible foodie-experience. However, I think we were all pleasantly surprised with the exception of my father who ordered the shrimp-scampi. The plate just seemed to be lacking, but in the end I think it all worked out for the best because he ended up sampling food from all of us!
I love lamb. I love lamb shish kebabs—so I took a leap of faith by ordering the lamb shanks. This was some of the most tender and delicious lamb I’ve ever had. Unfortunately I didn’t know what the heck to pair it with so I went with the French fries and grilled veggies. My mother, who is normally not a big fan of beef, had the filet mignon with shrimp and extra veggies, and Nathan got some enchiladas. This restaurant is on the price side, but my parents ended up paying so I was a happy camper! But regarding the price? I think it’s definitely worth it.
Things started out a little rough, but once everything was settled the atmosphere and the food were amazing. We had to wait around a bit before anyone noticed we were standing around waiting to be seated. Then, when we were noticed the service was phenomenal. We got to sit outside in the patio, and with it being late summer, it was the perfect temperature. The air was a little warm and there was a swirling cool breeze blowing over us from the beach that was maybe a mile or two away.
We all had drinks but what I thought really set this place apart was the fact that our waiter overheard my father talking very fondly about a drink he had once—a long time ago—which he couldn’t find again. It was something very silly called a “Loco Coco” and after finding a recipe online our waiter promptly took my phone and carried it off to the bartender. The resulting drink was not a true “Loco Coco” but we weren’t really holding our breaths. The drink requires some pretty unique ingredients. Best part? We weren’t charged for it. The waiter urged us to find the right recipe, bring in the ingredients, and if it worked they would add the drink to their menu. It seems like a little thing, but the reality is that having that extra drink gave us all an extra hour to sit around the table and enjoy each other’s company.
Food is obviously the most important aspect of any restaurant but I think atmosphere definitely counts for something. And here in Santa Barbara, sometimes it feels like you have to pick between the two—either a place with great food but with a lot of noise or that’s overcrowded or a lovely place with subpar food options. Café Del Sol most definitely delivers on all fronts.