Clustering food businesses at one address seems to be a concept that could help in some of the unique building sites in Santa Barbara. The concept is not new, but using spaces that were formerly designed for everything from auto parts to fish nets is giving architects and developers a creative challenge, often at aging sites in Santa Barbara. Three businesses have just opened in the Funk Zone at one site, 136 East Yanonali. They are Tyger Tyger, Thai-Vietnamese food, Monkeyshine soft serve and Dart Coffee. Operators say the concept works for businesses that can’t afford rent for an entire building on their own. The place has a personality that fits the unique area of town with round pink lantern lights all around Recently another cluster of businesses opened up at 1129 State street and more multi use food and drink sites. Donuts from Hook and Press are served in the morning. Beer from Draftsman Aleworks later in the day. Another similar concept is in the final stages in a large site that was formerly an auto part store in the 400 block of State Street . The city says that area needs a fresh look and more foot traffic going in and out. “It really helps these smaller or newer companies to break up the space to be able to share that lease,” said Skylar Gamble who oversees the new Funk Zone site. It’s not fast food or fine dining it’s somewhere in between. “This neighborhood is known for wine tasting and for fun restaurants now. It is a little bit more casual – counter style service we call it fine-fast cuisine,” said Gamble. He has worked for several locations in the area including the nearby Loquita restaurant. Kellie Ditch, the General Manager said, “we trained our staff for almost a month to be able to answer questions about almost anything to recommend items so there are a lot of things people won’t be familiar with and surprising flavors.” A couple of diners liked the all in one concept and their first try at the food. Jordan Sovel said, “we just asked a little bit about what was good because we didn’t know.” After finishing her meal, Rachel Hammond said,”I asked them what to get and we ordered basically what they told us to get and it was great. We had the crispy albacore rice and it was incredible and it was unlike anything I’ve had.” The food is ordered at a counter but it is carried out by the staff once the guest is seated. The location has both inside and outside dining, and a counter at the window facing Yanonali. Monday night at dusk when the pink lights were lit up many people were taking pictures of the colorful addition to the area. The property is operated by ACME Hospitality. The building was built in 1945 and originally operated by the Castagnola family for fishing nets. In recent years it has been a catering kitchen and cafe. ACME has released this information about the menus at the three businesses:
Tyger Tyger and sister operation Monkeyshine are led by Santa Barbara born-and-raised Chef Daniel Palaima who returned home from Chicago to lead the team after stints with internationally acclaimed and award-winning chefs Grant Achatz at the Alinea Group’s Next and Stephanie Izard at Duck, Duck, Goat. Palaima’s culinary career was launched locally at hometown favorites – Brothers at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos and Root 246 in Solvang.
Tyger Tyger is the star of the show and is inspired by the bold flavors discovered in street food carts from Thailand and Vietnam. Scratch-made from the year-round local bounty of fresh produce, seafood, and proteins from the Central Coast, Chef Palaima’s menu is for grazing and sharing. Dishes includeSmall Plates of Shrimp or Lotus Root Summer Rolls; Crispy Chicken Wings with caramelized fish sauce; Green Papaya Salad with seaweed and pickled carrot; Pork Jerky with ginger chili honey and Jaew sauce; Rare Beef Salad with lolla rosa and heirloom tomato; Platters include Vietnamese Crêpes with duck and shrimp confit; and DIY Summer Rolls with spicy hoisin sauce. Guests can discover a variety of Bowls including Spicy Pork Larb Salad; Weeping Brisket with coconut sticky rice; Octopus Salad with glass noodles and nouc cham; Pulled Chicken Salad with lemongrass ginger dressing; and Curried Noodles with braised pork and fermented mustard greens. Sandwiches includeCrispy Pork Belly Bahn Mi; and Curried Fried Chicken. Accompaniments include Housemade Tart Pickles; Braised Bamboo with sweet chili; and Coconut and Kaffir Lime Sticky Rice; Wine and beer selections from around the world reflect the popular and the uncommon, carefully selected by Acme Wine Director Hayden Felice who expertly matches them with Chef Palaima’s flavorful cuisine.
Also located in the marketplace is Monkeyshine – an innovative ice cream counter serving frozen treats flavored with Asian spices and ingredients. Monkeyshine is destined to be the satisfying ending to a meal at Tyger Tyger or to be enjoyed as a refreshing snack on the way to the beach or a stroll through the shops and art galleries in the Funk Zone. The Monkeyshine menu features Soft Serve Ice Creamflavors of Green Tea; Toasted Rice; Ginger; Thai Chili Chocolate; Orange Szechuan Pepper; Vegan Coconut Lemongrass; and Black Sesame. Toppings and Sauces can be added – Flaked Toasted Coconut; Chopped Candied Ginger; Fresh Fruits; Chopped Peanuts and Almonds; Puffed Rice; Caramelized Sesame Seeds; Rainbow Sprinkles; Shaved Chocolate; Kinako Powder; and Matcha Powder; Nutella; Miso Caramel; Mango and Whipped Cream. Other frozen confections include house-made Popsicles of Berry Thai Basil (vegan); Curry Mango (vegan); Black Sesame with Honey (vegan rice milk based); and Vietnamese Coffee.
Dart Coffee Co. completes the trio with its specialty coffee counter. As the Funk Zone’s own small-lot specialty coffee roaster, Dart Coffee offers espresso drinks, cold brew, nitro cold brew and locally-made kombucha. Fair trade organic beans are roasted onsite daily and retail coffee is available in addition to an extensive menu of espresso drinks and specialty loose leaf organic teas alongside locally made pastries and bites. Dart Coffee Co. is owned and operated by husband and wife team Erika Carter Dart and David Dart who have lived and worked in the Funk Zone for more than 16 years. This location marks their first retail shop. Dart Coffee Co. is dedicated to bringing ethical craft-roasted coffee to the public, sourcing only the finest organic, fair-trade coffee beans from small-lot indigenous farmers who share their vision. A percentage of every bean sold helps sustain artist studios in Santa Barbara’s diverse art districts through The Yanonali Street Artist Fund.