1,001 Day Quest Item #20 Eat at every restaurant in Isla Vista
Last night I was able to officially cross off one of the more anticipated items from my 1,001 Day Bucket List- eating at every restaurant in Isla Vista. A short trip with my friends Ian and Andrew allowed me to cross off Dublin’s, the beloved and deficient Irish Pub that has not changed at all in the four years I’ve lived in IV. In fact, it looks like it might’ve been the same for the past twenty years. Anyways, I can now properly claim having eaten at every single restaurant in the neighborhood. Of course soon enough businesses will turn over yet again… a Habit is already in the works, and I’m not sure what will take over Chino’s old spot. But for the moment, I have conquered the food of I.V., and that’s good enough to cross that off my list.
Anyways, now being able to properly speak about all of the restaurants in my former neighborhood, I can adequately make bold claims about the best and worst of them all.
Most underrated: El Sitio
Seriously, the “Mexican food” dispute of Isla Vista between Freebirds and Super Cuca’s could be quickly ended if people bothered to walk the extra block to El Sitio. I’m fine with it underrated, though. Most authentic in I.V. for sure.
Runner up: Int’l Cafe, but I’m pretty sure it’s a mob front
Most overrated: South Coast Deli
Okay, the chalk wall is fun and the eggplant sammie is pretty good, but they are so crazily overpriced for things that aren’t all that hard to make on your own. I suppose that’s how you stay in business in I.V., and it works for them.
Runner up: Sam’s To Go… playing LMFAO party music at 8 AM doesn’t make your place a party.
Least impressive: La Cantina
Of all the places I tried on my quest, this one was the only one that felt kind of like a chore to eat at. I didn’t get all that much food either. And it was closed most of the time.
Runner up: Subway… because it’s a Subway.
Best hangout spot: Equilibrium
Nicely tucked away, and it’s a surprising peaceful quiet spot despite being smack in the middle of Pardall. The tables are small but cozy, and it’s well lit for a good one-on-one hang out time.
Runner up: Cajé? I mean, if you’re hanging out to be social, I can’t think of a better place.
Best drinks: Cajé
The bars don’t stand a chance, if you’re looking for alcohol in Isla Vista, there are easier ways. There is little on the Cajé menu that i don’t like. The apple horchata smoothie, though, that’s a good one.
Runner up: Na’an stop. Boba everywhere.
“If only you were cheaper”: Sushiya
I used to think people didn’t really eat at Sushiya because the food was crappy. Turns out people just didn’t eat there because it’s pretty expensive. There are a number of interesting, snazzy rolls on their menu, not to mention some interesting ice creams and other concoctions… it’s just tough to get to try them all at the prices they’re going for.
Runner up: Silvergreen’s. But when 10 PM rolls around…
“You will be missed”: Dogtown
The best burgers in town, and the perfect source of waffle fries. Each of the burgers and sausages were unique enough to make you want to try them all. A Habit is coming in to replace it, but it won’t be the same.
Runner up: Chino’s- birthplace of our New England Trip. At least back when Taco Tuesday was actually cheap and nachos were free.
Best service: Equilibrium
The lady who runs this place is one of the nicest people in I.V. She’s always down to let you know what she’s up to with her crêpes, and if anybody makes food with love, it’s her.
Runner up: Na’an Stop- The guy knows his customers, and he knows them well.
Best value: I.V. Deli Mart
If you’re dead broke, you can get a breakfast wrap or a full burger for $3.50 or so. If you’re not as broke, you can go with the Philly Cheesesteak or the buffalo wing sandwich and get a huge meal. Their menu is so incredibly diverse, and it’s all pretty well priced. The falafel sandwich is another great deal.
Runner up: Pho Bistro – for one item, and one item only: Their spicy pork or spicy beef bun. Perfect “grab” meal in between classes.
Most memorable meals: Sushiya – Bento Special – 26/05/12
After visiting the touch tanks with Deanna, I was in the mood for some sushi. And it was there where we got some bento box specials and started talking, and I admitted I wanted to turn our friendship into a bit more. And before she could respond, some kid named Johnny who I went to high school with came in and started talking to me for ten minutes, telling me about a huge fight. It all ended well, however.
5. Spicy Coconut Chicken Curry, Na’an Stop
4. Philly Cheeseburger, Javan’s
3. Samurai Roll, Sushiya
2. Chicken Pesto Crêpe, Equilibrium
1. Seared Ahi Salad, Silvergreens
My overall top five:
5. Int’l Cafe - I love the diverse menu, but again, I’m pretty sure they’re a mafia front.
4. Equilibrium - Great environment, super pleasant owner, and the food is really good. I want to try a lot more of their crêpes.
3. Na’an Stop - I once got food poisoning here, and yet I still keep coming back. That just shows you how much I like this place.
2. El Sitio - Super duper underrated. If you know good Mexican food, you’ll easily favor this over Cuca’s or Freebirds.
1. I.V. Deli Mart - In terms of sheer food, this is it. I mean, it’s not all that good for you, but that’s exactly what we expect out of a loveable deli-mart.