In a recent post I gave you an overview of our short and sweet getaway to Santa Ynez Valley where we indulged in wine tastings along California’s beautiful Central Coast. As I mentioned before, Santa Ynez Valley is comprised of several small communities including: Ballard, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, and Solvang. Because we based ourselves in Solvang, for the sake of convenience, we primarily focused on Solvang restaurants. In this post, I’m sharing our favorites…
Paula’s Pancake House
Everybody knows that a trip to Solvang is incomplete without a visit to Paula’s Pancake House for some Danish pancakes and typical American breakfast fare. So don’t be surprised when you’re told that your wait time for a seat may be 20 minutes or so, especially on weekends. Paula’s was our first stop when we got to Solvang a little after 10am on a Saturday morning, and the crowds were already up and out waiting for the chance to indulge in some deliciously thin, slightly sweet Danish pancakes.
Jave and I decided to take a quick walk around town while we waited only to discover when we returned that our name had been called. So we had to wait another 15 minutes or so. My advice is to stay put! Although it’ll be hard to sit outside with your stomach grumbling as the waitstaff carries one delicious plate after the next full of pancakes, omelets, bacon, and the like to customers dining outside, the food is definitely worth the wait.
Jave and I both ordered Danish pancakes – mine were plain while he topped his with cinnamon apples. Both versions were excellent! The portions were rather large, so I was surprised that we both pretty much cleaned our plates.Contact 1531 Mission Drive Solvang, CA 93463 805.688.2867
Avant Tapas & Wine
While not technically in Solvang, Avant Tapas & Wine is just a quick five minute drive from the heart of Solvang in Buellton. As Jave and I drove up to the restaurant, we wondered if we were at the right address. You see, the restaurant is in a huge warehouse style building, and the entrance around the back almost looks like a spot where trucks load and unload supplies. But there’s a perfectly good explanation for the restaurant’s industrial setting – wine is produced on site by the Terravant Wine Company!
When we entered Avant, it looked dark and closed, but then we saw a sign indicating that the restaurant was upstairs. When we entered the dining room, everything began to make sense. At the far end of the large, open dining space, you’ll find windows that offer views of the onsite winemaking facilities. Another cool thing about dining at Avant is the wine vending system along the wine wall that features 52 wines. Our waitress gave us a wine card that we could swipe to taste the various wines in quantities of our choosing. We were still recovering from a day of wine tasting, so we decided to have a wine-free dinner, but the concept is quite unique nonetheless.
Although Avant’s menu features larger plates, Jave and I decided to order a wood-fired spicy Italian pizza with sweet red peppers, a medium plate of seared scallops, and small plates of the wood-fired shrimp and stuffed mushrooms. While the shrimp was quite bland, every other dish was packed with flavor. My favorite dish was the mushrooms which were stuffed with spicy sausage, garlic, panko, and topped with crumbled cheese.Contact 35 Industrial Way Buellton, CA 93427 805.686.4742
Birkholm’s Bakery & Café
Aside from Paula’s Danish pancakes, you can’t go to Solvang and not go to a Danish bakery. It would just be wrong! While there are several bakeries to choose from, we chose to get our sugar fix at Birkholm’s Bakery & Café. Founded in 1951 by a Danish immigrant, Carl “Cookie” Birkholm and his wife Charlotte, this bakery has been a family owned and operated business since.
It took us a few minutes to choose from Birkholm’s array of goodies, but our server patiently waited for us to make our selections despite the growing line behind us, and she even gave us her recommendations. We ended up buying an assortment of pastries and all of them were winners. We also took home a loaf of squaw bread, and while it was good, if I’d been thinking straight (I stop thinking straight when it comes to sweets), I would’ve bought a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. The good news (bad news for my waistline) is that Birkholm’s accepts online orders, so more Danish sweets and treats are just a click away!Contact 460 Alisal Rd. Solvang, CA 93463 805.688.8188
New Frontiers Natural Marketplace
If you’re looking for a quick, affordable lunch spot in Solvang, consider the deli counter at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace. This organic foods market has its roots in Salt Lake City but has since expanded throughout Arizona, and it opened for business in Solvang in 1997. Several years before that time, New Frontiers bought a 53-acre ranch near Buellton in an effort to foster year-round growing and provide shoppers with affordable, organic produce all the time.
After stuffing your face with Danish pastries, New Frontiers is the perfect place to detox and get back on track with healthy eating. The deli counter offers a wide selection of salads and small appetizers, but Jave and I each ordered a half soup, half sandwich combo. The sandwiches are made to order, and there were two soup specials on the day of our visit. I ordered minestrone while Jave ordered pork posole. The minestrone was so-so, but the posole…WOW – it was so delicious! Our meals were completed by a side of chips and salsa.
We decided to take our lunches to Clairmont Farms for a picnic. This lavender farm is in Los Olivos which is about a 10 minute drive from New Frontiers. The farm is open year round, and it’s free to visit. When we arrived, no one appeared to be onsite except for a lazing cat. The little lavender boutique store on the grounds was wide open, but no one was inside. Although one other family showed up, we essentially had the farm to ourselves for a leisurely picnic, and I’d definitely recommend you to enjoy a picnic there as well.Contact New Frontiers Natural Marketplace 1984 Old Mission Dr. Solvang, CA 93463 805.693.1746 Contact Clairmont Farms 2480 Roblar Ave. Los OIivos, CA 93441 805.688.7505