Have you ever seen the movie Sideways? It is a funny story of two friends, Miles and Jack, who head up to the Santa Barbara wine country for the last days of Jack’s bachelorhood. We enjoyed the movie so much (and love food and wine) that we decided to do the self-guided Sideways tour and experience many of the restaurants and wineries in which the movie is shot.
There is an average Marriott hotel in Buellton (Category 5). It is nothing special but the location is good for exploring the area.
Our first night we ate at The Hitching Post (this is the restaurant where Miles meets Mia).
This California-style barbeque restaurant serves amazing Artichokes sprinkled with The Hitching Post special Magic Dust (which we bought to spice up our meals at home), delicious dry ribs (with more Magic Dust) and tender steaks (bring on that Magic Dust!) There is always a line-up as it is just as popular with the locals as it is with the tourists. I was also very impressed with the Hitching Post HIGHLINER Pinot Noir wines. This is a must-stop when you are in the area.
The next night was my husband’s birthday so we headed to a bit more upscale but still casual restaurant, Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant. (This restaurant is where Miles “drinks and dials”). This Zagat rated restaurant has over 500 wines and serves excellent local cuisine with a good selection of dishes ranging from fish to gourmet pizzas.
Solvang is a fun place to spend a day shopping and eating as it is fashioned after a traditional Danish small town. The buildings look very dutch and many of the restaurants serve traditional dutch cuisine.
The bakeries are not to be missed!
This area is known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Like the Napa area, all of the wineries offer wine tastings for about $10/taste.
If you are thinking of heading to California and have not been to this area, I would put it on your list.