There is a neighborhood in Santa Barbara, very near Stearns Wharf, which has come to be known as “The Funk Zone“. It’s not a large area, a few blocks in each direction. The place where the Funk Zone exists now used to be a grungy industrial zone, with train tracks running right down the middle.
The Funk Zone still shows its industrial roots in the architecture, which is one of the things Dominique and I really like about going there. Even the buildings that are new have been constructed in an industrial style, with concrete, steel, bricks and plants. The whole scene is not unlike Abbot Kinney in Venice, though less oriented towards shopping and more towards food and drinks.
The Funk Zone is a collection of restaurants, shops, breweries, distilleries, and wine tasting, even a great Tiki Bar (Test Pilot) with very authentic decor!
While on the subject of food in the Funk Zone, one absolutely has to mention Mony’s Taqueria. This is a “little hole-in-the-wall” style taco joint on Anacapa St, just near the 101 Hwy. The food is delicious, and the place is very crowded with a few tables inside, and a few more outside on the sidewalk. It is completely family run, Mony is the Patrona of the outfit, and the recipes are all hers. If you are in the area and in the mood for Mexican food, then check it out for sure.
There is one shop that Dominique absolutely insists we visit every time we are in the Funk Zone, and that is the Blue Door. Ostensibly this is an antique shop, or a vintage items shop. But the Blue Door is a cut above, with quality items which are worth looking at.
There is an area just adjacent to the Funk Zone which probably used to be the same grungy industrial area, but has been completely redeveloped in a much different way. Here you will find the Hotel Californian. The architectural style here is not industrial at all, many would say it’s Spanish, but truly this is Mission Style Architecture. Santa Barbara is a mecca for this style, and Dominique and I are very fond of it. It has clean and crisp lines, very thick walls, and is usually done in White stucco.
This was a day trip for us (about 2 hrs from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara). On the drive home passing through Santa Maria the sun started to set. It turned into one of those gorgeous Central California Winter sunsets, so we snapped some pics.
On the way home we stopped in San Luis Obispo (SLO) to stock up at the local Costco store. We were hungry so we headed downtown to see if we could scare up a meal. Little did we know it was graduation night for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Granted only for the Winter Semester, nonetheless downtown was very crowded! We had hoped to eat at Giuseppe’s, but it was packed with a 1 hour wait. Though I did snap a pic of the bar as we walked through the joint.
Having been rebuffed at our first dining choice, we strolled around a bit until eventually a local (who looked like he might have been drinking more than eating) recommended McClintocks. He said it was the finest food in SLO, so we walked across the street to check it out.
When we first arrived at the Funk Zone this day, we decided to drive down to the Wharf and walk around a bit with the dogs. Once again it was one of those winter days with incredible skies.
If you’re thinking about visiting the Funk Zone, it lies between Garden St and State St, just South of Hwy 101. Exit Garden from the 101, turn towards the Ocean, make your first right onto E Yanonali St, go a couple of blocks and there you are. We’ve always been able to park somewhere on the street. There is a public lot at the corner of Helena Ave and E Mason St (near the Hotel Californian). Some streets are not continuous due to the train tracks. If find yourself in the Funk Zone, have fun and explore. There are a lot of fun places I did not mention here.