Writing about wine tasting sometimes doesn’t always leave a lot of room for other important things, like where we dined and where we laid our heads at night. This article will cover that part – something very important to travelers whether wine is involved or not.
For this trip, to the Lompoc Wine Ghetto and Santa Ynez, we chose to eat out of the busy Danish town of Solvang for our breakfast, and opted for the highly recommended Ellen’s Danish Pancake House in Buellton. (Buellton is the closest city from the Lompoc Ghetto, about 19 miles.)
Not so fancy to look at from the outside, and quite quaint and old-fashioned on the inside, it fit the bill fine. There was quadruple the parking compared to Solvang – although there are a few public lots you may still have a walk to a restaurant. The wait is less too than in Buellton. We waited about five minutes before being seated; and immediately given coffee and menus.
The menu was like the other Danish breakfast places with the thin pancakes that came with different fruits or meats, homemade cinnamon rolls, omelets, French toast and Belgian waffles.
I had something called “Fat Bread” which were large slices of cinnamon raisin bread made in French toast style, and served with tons of sliced fruit. My husband had a Denver omelet AND the cinnamon roll.
Service was quick, the crowd was friendly, the place very memorable in all. Will definitely be back. The perfect stomach-filling uber-tasty meal we needed before a day of winery appointments and no time for lunch!
Ellen’s Danish Pancake House
272 Avenue of the Flags, Buellton CA, 93427
After five hours of wine tasting in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto the last thing I wanted to do is drive a minimum of 20 minutes for a hotel. I chose O’Cairns Inn and Suites exactly for that reason. It was a three minute drive from the tasting rooms. Now I had a good two hours to rest before tackling dinner.
The woman at the reception desk was extremely solicitous; seeing our tired faces she quickly explained where we could find the free ice cream, fruit, coffee, sodas. She then pulled out a map to show us where our rooms were located and where would go for our made-to-order complimentary breakfasts in the morning.
Now, ten minutes later, we found our rooms, dropped our bags, oohed and aahed at the amenities in our suite: a larger flat screen then we have at home, a well-equipped kitchen, dining nook, a desk, large dresser, large bed and bath…and now I am sitting – with my feet up in a leather recliner – starting my 4-star review for Trip Advisor and Yelp.
Fast forward to breakfast and I had everything my tummy desired before another day of wine tasting: Eggs scrambled with sausage, mushrooms, spinach, topped with sliced avocado and a large bowl of fresh fruit while my husband had an “everything” breakfast burrito, hash browns and toast.
Note: This hotel, just like the Lompoc Ghetto, is not for the snobbish traveler anymore than it is for the elitist wine taster. These two pair well together and are perfect for the smart wine taster that is looking for cleanliness, comfort, hominess and convenience in their accommodations.
O’Cairns Inn and Suites
940 E. Ocean Avenue
Lompoc, CA 93436
After resting for two hours in our hotel we spruced up a little and made the 30 minute drive into Santa Ynez to make our 7 p.m. dinner reservations, again at a highly recommended Italian restaurant, S.Y. Kitchen.
We drove up to a mid-size building that looked like it had once been something else; either a private home or a grocery. We walked up to a porch and then into the restaurant where the hostess seated us immediately.
We were seated in what may have been the main dining room, in front of the open kitchen, but I regret not walking around to see the rest of the place. Our waiter was very solicitous. He listed every special from memory – and there had to be about six – while making eye contact with each of us as he went through each one. I got a kick out of watching him do this as he would turn from one of us to the other, and around again, knowing that his delivery was dead on enough that he couldn’t help but add a touch of a wicked smile. I half expected him to wink at each of us when he was done. Showmanship aside, he also gave swift service and checked in with us frequently.
Every table started with a bowl with ice and crudités, served with small individual dipping bowls filled with olive oil and pepper. I thought it was a nice touch – allowing us to double dip with ease.
We each ordered at least one of the specials. My husband had the New York steak that was served sliced and over a bed of dressed baby spinach, I had a duck ragu pasta, and our dining partner, Claudia Sheridan, had the fresh cream of asparagus soup. After we ate, and we were completely sated, our only regret was that we couldn’t find room in our tummies for the dessert. My husband did order a cappuccino, as this was an Italian restaurant, and it was excellent.
We looked around at the other tables; families, couples, all out for a great Saturday night dinner. I believe that the owner or manager, he didn’t identify himself, checked in with every guest throughout the course of the evening. It was obvious that their solicitous service did not end in our experience alone.
1110 Faraday St. Santa Ynez, CA 93460