Under Chef Antonio’s careful eye, some additions have been made to the lunch menu. Back by customer demand is the tuna melt, a fresh ahi tuna salad with melted Swiss, garlic dill pickles, and caramelized onion on rye bread. For those who fancy a change from fish, the new chicken club sizzles with jerk seasoning, bacon, avocado, and chipotle aioli on sourdough.
I start with the tropical shrimp ceviche, a light, summery salsa that starts with ceviche shrimp folded into well-minced jicama, cucumber, and tangy pineapple. A little red onion and cilantro put this into familiar territory, but Chef Antonio throws in the twist of a little sweet passion fruit and pineapple juice. The shrimp is ethically and sustainably farmed in Asia and the flavor is sweet and clean. I scoop up a generous bite onto one of their thick, homemade corn chips, and my mouth starts to dance with the myriad flavors and textures. It’s beautiful to look at and even better to eat.
But my true objective on this visit is the new shrimp gobernador taco. A specialty of Chef Antonio’s hometown, the gobernador may well be the richest, most luxurious taco I have ever tasted. And they do it right at Kanaloa, starting with a homemade tortilla made with corn and…wait for it…butter. Yes, a buttery corn tortilla with deep grill marks holds shrimp sautéed with peppers and onions with a hint of chili and lime. Add in generous amounts of cream avocado, a smoky chipotle aioli, and melty jack cheese. This sumptuous taco left me dazzled. And that is hard to accomplish in a town known for fish tacos. I recommend this as one of the best in Santa Barbara.
Angela Borda is a Santa Barbara food writer who is delighted to be blogging about one of her favorite restaurants, Kanaloa Seafood.