Years ago, one of the perks of working in financial printing was the free employee meal. Although I hate eating at my desk and avoid doing it now, back then it was an unavoidable daily routine. One of my favorite free meals at the time was romaine salad topped with chili, and sides of pickled jalapenos, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and onions. This is hearty comfort food at its best, and I always love the interplay of textures and flavors.
I was reminded of how good this meal is on a recent visit to Lettuce B. Frank (LBF) on State Street, in Santa Barbara. We read a review that said something along the lines of "don't let the cute name fool you, it's good." None of us were in the mood for a long, complicated meal after a day of spending "quality" family time together on the road. LBF seemed to have something for everyone in our party (gender stereotype alert!): draft beer and massively loaded hot dogs for the menfolk; chili, salad, fries, and fresh aguas frescas and fountain drinks for the ladies. Another potential bonus: LBF tries to be fresh, organic, and local with its ingredients.
LBF's chili ($4.95) is a Texas red version that comes with cheese and onions. While I usually prefer chili with beans, this beefy version tasted good mixed with the Caesar salad ($6.95) I shared with my Mom. The cheese and salad offered pleasing contrasts. I stole occasional nibbles of hand-cut russet potato fries from Oscar and they pass muster. Dad and I tried the 2 house made hot sauces, which are both cayenne based. The milder hot sauce seemed to be fruitier.
We sat at the counter, and the friendly crew took good care of us. Watching Dad and Oscar chow down on their Dog Pounder ($7.50) and chili cheese, (pictured above, $5.50) dogs made me queasy yet a little envious. I miss me a good dawg. At a 1/2 pound, Dad's 100% all beef NY style Sabrette hot dog, looked massive and tasty. LBF has only been open a few months, and they seem to be working hard.
Other interesting menu items include more salads, rotisserie chicken, beef or pulled pork sliders, fish and chips, mini corn dogs ("corn pups" as pictured above), cheese steaks, dogs (turkey, veggie, or all beef) and sausages with every kind of topping and sauce (hmmm items: creamy horseradish, maple, and pesto aioli).
Lettuce B. Frank
413 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA