Eating (and drinking) in IV

Two UCSB posts in a row, sorry but this one was a request from a friend!
Food and drink in Isla Vista pretty much reflects the lifestyle there, simultaneously chilled out and slightly debauched.  I'm talking fast food.  It's all stuff you can eat with your hands, outside on the mini-plaza or on the go.  It's calorific - but this is a town where everyone cycles everywhere, plays at least one sport, and goes surfing on the weekends, so people are still enviously fit.  Living there for 9 months I came to have my favourite places for every mood or time of day, and after turning 21 I got to sample the bars too.  Isla Vista is really small and you can definitely manage to try everything once, but here's a look at my top picks).

As you'd expect in Southern California, Mexican food is well-represented in IV.  There's Freebirds, which people come from out of town to visit, but personally I found it overpriced ($13 for steak nachos & guacamole!!) and always packed.  It does have the added value of being open until like 4am, perfect for a snack on the way home from a party/booty call.  El Sitio is apparently the "most authentic" Mexican food, but having never been to Mexico I have low standards to meet.  For me, the top spot for burritos or carne asada fries was Rosarito's.  A steak California Burrito (fries instead of rice, I know it's unhealthy SHUT UP) is still an unbeatable hangover food as far as I'm concerned.  I used to hit up the place at every opportunity.

Do not recommend, although it's hard to judge a place fairly when you're drunk and it's past midnight
Pardall St is where you'll find the majority of the cafes, fast food and the two bars (no, really) as well as book shops and copy places.  Blenders in the Grass is a great local chain that make fruit smoothies and can be found Downtown as well as in the local town of Goleta.  Another local chain is Silvergreen's, they make a variety of ostensibly healthy food - I particularly recall a breakfast sandwich with fried egg in an English muffin that was fantastic.  On the intersection there used to be Dogtown, which served up a massive range of hot dogs and waffle fries to-die-for, but sadly it closed while I was there.  Although it's a Habit Burger now which is still good.  Next door are the ubiquitous Subway and Starbucks: but Sams to Go or IV Deli Mart do better sandwiches, and quality coffee can be found at Caje or the Coffee Collab.  As for desserts: my friends used to go mental for cookiewiches, but I can't remember where they were, except that the cafe was next to that Pho place.  I always preferred a cup of 'fro-yo' from Sweet Alley, laden with brownie bits and caramel sauce.

Now: drinking!

Picture quality probably relative to my state of intoxication
Dublin's is the best bar in Isla Vista, and for a Brit abroad, probably the closest thing you can find to a proper pub.  Become a regular and you might even get your name put up on the wall (as I am proud to state my fabulous Brazilian friend achieved).  It seems like Americans don't have their own beer of choice, at least not yet if they're students, so the thing to do is buy a pitcher for share.  IV Gold was our usual choice, but they have a few options of local brews.  In terms of alternatives, there's Study Hall, which is the only other actual bar in Isla Vista.  It's very narrow and never appealed to me much, but I've been told it's a good time. The thing is though, both Dublin's and Study Hall are indoors, and in a town like this you really want to make the most of the weather and atmosphere outside.  The pizza place Giovanni's has a deal on Saturdays where pitchers are half-off (and the pizza's pretty good too).  You can also drink at Sams to Go, Woodstock's (I recommend the Tuesday trivia night), and maybe one or two other places.  There's a pub crawl called The Loop, for which presumably the new fancy apartment building was named, which involves getting a beer at every place that serves it in town.  I never tried it but it sounds like a surefire way to get fucked up.

If you get sick of being surrounded by bros (a shocking thought) but can't be bothered to go all the way Downtown, the local town of Goleta offers a few alternative locations.  The Chilean crowd I knew used to love hitting up Old Town Tavern on a Wednesday night for karaoke.  I preferred the Goleta Beachside Bar which served cocktails, and had a seafood restaurant attached, and was just a short walk down the beach from the Engineering side of campus.

No comments:

Post a Comment