Get out of Dodge: the ritual

Rituals aren’t what they used to be. Long gone are the myriad of traditional rites of passage once witnessed by and passed on to whole communities and families. In this modern world of ours, ritual is a personalized thing, sculpted to fit our contemporary needs.

Today’s thinking humans don’t find structure for life crises or clear ground rules for human development in chanting, group dances, or sage burning. In our modern age, we are more likely to ask Dr. Phil, Oprah and Dr. Spock how to raise our kids then look to the way of our ancestors. We turn to guidebooks, travel magazines and TV show hosts to teach us how to have fun. Who needs an ancient rituals of a long dead society to tell us what’s fun?

Ritual nowadays is what you make it. For many, the only daily ritual observed is the eating of breakfast, lunch and dinner. And even within these seemingly rigid constructs, there’s variance. Other’s find ritual in exercise, work, make-up application, wine drinking and vacations.


Time off from work is such a cherished and special thing, it deserves to be ritualized. The repetition of certain activities verges on becoming a meditation in relaxation. Vacation rituals allow the mind and body to ease into its new state by removing the potential anxiety-provoking decision making process.

Whenever the continuous loop of Los Angeles living and working gets to be too much, my husband and I “get out of dodge” and go to Santa Barbara. We have been making this trip for years and tend to stick to the same steps, while occasionally mixing in some variations when we find new inspirations along the way.

If you’re ever in the Santa Barbara area, here are a few of our tried and true rituals that we love to share with our friends and family. As any ritual nowadays, make it your own.

The ritual:

1) Grab a cup of coffee at the Coffee Bean and drive the gassed up car North for 1.5 hours (without traffic) on the 101.

2) Just past the first Santa Barbara exits, take the Milpas turn off. Meander your way to Superica, Santa Barbara’s most famous taco stand.

Order at least five dishes from the special’s board and never changing numbered menu. (We recommend the #18 quacamole, the #13 cheese bowl, the The #11: Lomito Suiza. See this previous post for more details.

3) Drive to the Presidio Motel

This wonderful, kitchy-cool motel has rates so low ($89-$150) we’re able to come up on a frequent basis.

4) Walk Main Street until feet are tired.

5) take a nap at the hotel. Get ready for dinner.

6) Eat dinner at The Hungry Cat, Santa Barbara.

1134 Chapala St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 884-4701

Enjoy a fresh cocktail (the margarita of the day or a Pimlico) while you wait for a table. Order fresh-off-the-boat oysters with a glass of crisp Chablis.

The pub burger is always good (especially after a day of wine tasting), but the ever changing menu continues to amaze us. Finish with cheese or the delicious chocolate bread pudding.

7) Sleep off alcohol. Go for a run in the Santa Barbara hills or go to yoga at Santa Barbara Yoga Center.

32 E Micheltorena St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 965-6045

8) Drive to Santa Ynez for wine tasting. Check out Melville

5185 East Hwy 246, Lompoc, CA 93436
Tel: 805-735-7030
Hours 11-4 PM

10)Have an early dinner at the locals favorite Italian restaurant, Grappolo in Santa Ynez. If you crave meat, have a juicy steak and an equally big house made wine at The Hitching Post or drive a bit to find the cozy bar at The Cold Spring Tavern.

Ritual is what you make of it.


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


  1. White On Rice Couple
    June 8

    thanks for all the rec’s! We head up to Santa Barbara/Solvang/San Yenez about 3 times a year. At least once is in September to pick apples and pumpkins. We’ll definitely be heading out to your suggestions.
    These trips definitely help us get out of the dodge too.

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