Since 1946, the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort has been a preferred getaway for Southern Californians. Located 30 minutes north of Santa Barbara, adjacent to Solvang, this relaxed golf resort and spa also happens to house one of the area’s best dining rooms: The Ranch Room.
An Old West decor immediately makes guests feel welcome, but it’s the food that really shines. Because the resort is unapologetically free of technology — other than complimentary Wifi — guests often grab a newspaper at the Ranch Room entranceway to enjoy with breakfast. Then they come across the full breakfast buffet table loaded with everything you can imagine, including fresh fruits, cereals, yogurt, granola, eggs, pancakes, waffles, breakfast meats, cinnamon rolls and other pastries. But there’s also an a la carte menu to order from. On that menu, the breakfast burrito is one of the most-popular.
But breakfast at Alisal is not just restricted to the dining room. Many golfers opt to start their morning at the River GC’s expansive River Grill & Terrace, which has outdoor seating that’s especially perfect on nice-weather mornings or at the Ranch GC’s Ranch Grill.
“Breakfast is a meal time we see some variability based on our guests’ plans for the day, be it golfing, horseback riding, or spending time on the lake,” says Alisal’s executive chef Anthony Endy. “However, I will say the most memorable experience for our guests at breakfast time is the breakfast hay wagon ride up the Old Adobe. We serve an al fresco pancake breakfast with all the fixings, including eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, biscuits, gravy and more. It’s a delicious and magical experience under the beautiful oak trees, complete with cowboy poetry and music.”
ALL DAY DELICIOUS
As evening approaches, the Oak Room Lounge comes alive, serving appetizers, as well as a full selection of cocktails, beer, wine and coffee drinks, along with live music. The adjacent Ranch Room is where dinner is served. Typically bustling with families and couples, it has a very friendly atmosphere. Still, it has always been custom to dress up for dinner here. Men wear a sport coat, while women dress accordingly. Chef Endy pulls out all the stops, with thick steaks grilled over local oak, juicy chicken, and the best sustainable seafood, as well as entrées featuring vegetables and herbs grown on property or sourced nearby.
“Our dinner menu is different depending on the day of the week,” says Endy. Some menu items, Endy says, are popular due to the active lifestyle guests enjoy while visiting. “Our prime rib draws much attention and demand. That’s why we offer it a couple times a week. Another seasonal item that many guests have been gravitating to when it is on the menu is our tequila marinated butterfish, made with local, wild-caught black cod. We serve it with wild rice, black eyed pea salsa, and lime vinaigrette.”
Endy and his staff prefer using local ingredients, while embracing products from the area’s food and drink suppliers. “The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort has been here for 70-plus years, making it a big part of the history of the area,” he says. “And it sits on a lot of untouched land. With that being said, eating locally-grown ingredients not only is a health benefit but also supportive of the surrounding land and farmers. We believe in serving local food and wine to showcase the great products our area has to offer. It’s one thing to believe in serving local, but it’s another when your area is producing such phenomenal items.”
And because Alisal is part of the Santa Ynez wine region that was made famous in the 2004 movie Sideways, there is never a shortage of wines to choose from, with nearly 100 local wineries.
Endy also oversees Alisal’s renowned al fresco barbecues, typically set amongst the resort’s rolling hills and other outdoor areas. “Cooking with a live fire is a special passion of mine,” he says.
After visiting, dining at Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort will certainly become a passion of yours, too.