Summerland Beach Cafe
2294 Lillie Avenue
An idyllic beachside location in an 1893 Victorian home in an adorable California coastal town just south of Santa Barbara…what else does a cafe need? How about a giant DOG FRIENDLY sign??? That’s all it took to grab my attention. I love dog people. They’re the best kind of people persons. I think I would walk into a burning building if it had a DOG FRIENDLY sign on it (wait a minute…I would definitely do that!). So I was SO pleasantly surprised that the Summerland Beach Cafe is not only DOG FRIENDLY, but also a charming, homey, adorably-decorated cafe with REALLY GOOD FOOD. Bonus!!!
I love restaurants in old houses, and this one sits just around the corner from the iconic Big Yellow House, a long-shuttered house/restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway. The Summerland Beach Cafe has occupied a very cool old Victorian house, originally built in 1893, since 1981, and the walls still boast the original painted murals. A super-nice guy we ran into on the way out turned out to be owner Jeff Melnik, who told us that one of the original artists is now a Disney artist. Not surprising. The walls are whimsical in a very story-book way, and I love that they’ve been protected and are cherished.
But I guess you go to a cafe to eat. And for puppies. (There was a dog adoption in the parking lot when we visited). Both the puppies and the food were delicious. I had the La Rosa grilled chicken sandwich with grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, jack cheese, onions, and pesto on a Ciabatta roll. I’m still dreaming about it.
I spend a lot of time (though never enough) on Pacific Coast Highway between LA and Santa Barbara, so it’s great to find another magical stopover. I can’t wait to go back!