One Thing in Santa Barbara: Dining

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f9f5f9a9-fa24-4b17-9311-527fcfd50871From food and nightlife to the environment and philanthropy, what were the most important stories and trends of the year in Santa Barbara? Five of our sharpest local observers weigh in on the one thing that shaped 2015.

Matt Kettmann, editor at the Santa Barbara Independent and the Wine Enthusiast, chose the rise of ramen and craft beer as the top food and drink trends of the year.

“They’re not particularly new to Santa Barbara, but in 2015 they really peaked,” said Kettmann. Last year around this time, he wrote about Chef Weston Richards’ new ramen night at the Funk Zone’s Les Marchand Wine Bar. Since then, restaurants like Black Sheep, Julienne and Sama Sama started cooking up their own bowls of hand-cut alkaline noodly goodness.

“Ramen done well is extremely difficult and time consuming, and that’s why you see it more as a pop up menu item than an actual restaurant.”

For Kettmann, the trend solidified last month at Ramen Fest. At a friendly competition hosted by Goleta’s Goodland Hotel, eight local chefs fed a sold out crowd and fought for the ramen crown.

There are also whispers of a ramen bar called Sachi Ramen opening on Chapala St. next year.

On the craft brew end, Kettmann pointed to many 2015 happenings to justify his choice. M. Special Brewery opened in Goleta, Belgian beer conglomerate Duvel Moortgat partnered with Buellton-based Firestone Walker, Figueroa Brewery celebrated five years, Pure Order Brewing Company turned one, Telegraph Brewery expanded and the Draughtsmen Aleworks is set to open next year in Goleta.

“I think we’re at the peak of the trend, here,” he said. “The cream will rise to the top, and the ones we see at the end of 2016 and into 2017 are going to be the ones that are hopefully around for long time.”

Ramen from the Outpost Restaurant and a pint at M. Special Brewery. Photos: courtesy (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

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