Crave – food & drink

Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

I recently spent 2 nights in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone—home to 15+ wineries, a few brewpubs & taprooms, restaurants and more. Located just west of Highway 101, it’s right next to the beach (great for graysuits!) and easily walkable on foot from one end to the other. The Amtrak station is also located there, which makes it convenient for out-of-towners.

Below are a few of the highlights from our trip, which was way too short. I can’t wait to go back!

Funk Zone Wineries:

  • Kunin Wines, 28 Anacapa St. – 2014 Zinfandel (Paso Robles, $30) and Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley, Larner Vineyard, $38)
  • DV8 Cellars, 28 Anacapa St., Suite C – 2012 Overdrive Syrah (Larner Vineyard, Ballard Canyon, $38)
  • Santa Barbara Winery, 202 Anacapa St. – 2013 Reserve Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills, $25) and 2012 Primitivo (Joughin Vineyard, $28)
  • Lafond Winery, 111 E. Yanonali St. – 2012 Lafond Vineyard Chardonnay ($40) and Syrah ($40).
  • AVA Santa Barbara, 116 E. Yanonali St. – Visit here for the chalk drawing in the tasting room. It’s super-cool! Below is just a fraction of it.
AVA Santa Barbara Tasting Room

AVA Santa Barbara Tasting Room

Funk Zone Brewpubs & Taprooms:

I noticed 2 things right away about the beers in Santa Barbara:

  1. Many of the stouts and porters I tried had a distinct smoky flavor—very different from the coffee and chocolate flavors usually found in these beer styles.
  2. The red ales here are light in color, body and flavor. They lack the roasty, hoppy characteristics that I love in San Diego red ales. (Sorry, SB.)
  • MO’saic Pale Ale – This super-hoppy American Pale Ale is made with Mosaic hops, accented with a small amount of Amarillo hops. 4.8% ABV, 38 IBU
  • Davy Brown Ale – This American Brown Ale blends caramel and chocolate malts with Northern Brewer and Cascade hops. 6.0% ABV, 29 IBU
  • Gimme that Nut Brown Ale – This American Brown has heavy vanilla notes; as it warms up, it tastes like root beer. 6.0% ABV, 32 IBU
  • Stagecoach Stout – This Oatmeal Stout has a midnight-black smoky flavor, with notes of tobacco. 5.6% ABV, 26 IBU
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company


  • Union Ale taproom, 214 State Street – I sampled the Bell’s Porter here—deep, dark, rich and very smoky.

Funk Zone Restaurants:

  • The Brewhouse, 229 W. Montecito Street – There are lots of beers to sample in this brewpub. My favorite taste of the night? The Monday night Prime Rib Special for $20—a carnivore’s delight.
  • Enterprise Fish Co., 225 State St. – The 2-lb. Lobster Special (with 2 side items) for $37.95 is delicious & a great deal (a $22 savings)! It’s available Monday through Thursday, or until they run out.
  • Metro Fine Foods, a.k.a. Metropulos, 216 E. Yanonali St. – The gyros ($9.95) are huge, fresh & meaty with a tangy yogurt dressing.


On the drive back up the 101, we also sampled a few brewpubs we’ve never tried before, including 2 in Goleta and 1 in Paso Robles.

Goleta Brewpubs:

  • M.Special Brewery, 6860 Cortona Drive, Suite C, Goleta – Don’t be thrown by the office park location. There’s good beer to be found here! I sampled the Dozer Special American Brown. This is a very tasty & very well-balanced brown! Most brown ales are too sweet and syrupy for my taste, but this has the perfect balance of malt & hops. Refreshing! My beer drinking buddy enjoyed the Session IPA, Greatland Special IPA and Lazy Eye Double IPA.
M.Special Brewery

M.Special Brewery

  • Hollister Brewing Company, 6980 Marketplace Drive, Goleta – Here, my IPA-loving buddy enjoyed The Pope IPA and Hippie Kicker IPA.
Hollister Brewing Company

Hollister Brewing Company

Paso Robles Brewpub:

  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company, 1400 Ramada Drive, Paso Robles – I’ve been to the Buellton location several times but this was my first time here at the newer location. I enjoyed the Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout, a full-bodied stout, 5% ABV and 27 IBU. The roasted flavors in this winter seasonal provide a deep, smoky flavor with notes of toffee and fig. It’s just the thing to enjoy by the fire on a cold winter night. The Onion Rings ($6) are thick-cut & double panko breaded, served with a side of ranch and Firestone Walker’s own housemade barbecue sauce. So decadent, so good! And the beers floating along the blue lights above the bar create a mellow ambiance.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Firestone Walker Brewing Company


Firestone Walker Onion Rings

Firestone Walker Onion Rings