The Funk Zone
By Michelle Pantoja and Katie Schmid
What is now an eccentric and lively district in Santa Barbara that is home to wineries, breweries, restaurants, and plenty of art was once the industrial, manufacturing, and marine part of town. After inhabitants fought the city to keep realtors and wealthy people from building more homes, the Funk Zone flourished as the unique hub that it is today. Many people attribute the name “Funk Zone” both to the “funky” array of artistic and quirky establishments in the area, as well as the “funky” smell that comes from the ocean and marine-processing plants nearby. Today, the Funk Zone has transformed into one of the most popular places for locals and visitors alike to enjoy a delicious glass of wine, a refreshing craft brew, a tasty cocktail, or all three! Below we outline some of the most popular wine tasting rooms, breweries, and bars to visit in the Funk Zone.
Area 5.1 winery boasts one of the most unique tasting rooms in the Funk Zone. The location features an extraterrestrial alien theme; even the tasting menu is presented in a “Top Secret” folder. With a friendly staff and well-priced wines, Area 5.1 is definitely worth a visit on your wine tasting tour. They are best known for their delicious red blends and their “sports bar” energy.
Deep Sea Winery
Deep Sea Winery Tasting Room is a wine bar located on Stearn’s Wharf with the best 360-degree view in Santa Barbara. Who wouldn’t want to sip on chilled wine on a sunny day while overlooking the Pacific coastline, Channel Islands, SB Harbor and the Riviera. Though its inside seating area is smaller than most, the outside patio has more seating and is perfect for an afternoon drink. Their wine selection is vast and reasonably priced as well.
DV8 Cellars is a boutique winery that can be found in the heart of the Funk Zone off Anacapa street. Not immediately visible from the street, DV8 is nestled between Kunin Wines and Brass Bear. This location makes it a bit of a hidden gem and usually means it is less crowded than other Funk Zone wineries. All the wine labels are designed to match the Formula One racing theme, which is a personal interest of the owners, Marc and Dominique Simon. DV8 has an excellent tasting menu of six wines (whereas most wineries in the area offer five wines for a similar price), and their selection of whites is especially delicious!
Municipal Winemakers is a fun and cozy winery that welcomes individuals from everywhere. Its outdoor patio with benches and umbrellas has the perfect amount of sunshine and shade for every wine-drinker’s preference. Municipal Winemakers also has community art events like tie-dying and printmaking for customers to collectively learn a new skill while sipping on their favorite Municipal wine. To stay connected to Municipal after your visit, Municipal’s membership program, “Club Awesome,” ships a box of wines of each member’s choice every month right to their doorstep.
Located at the heart of the Funk Zone, Oreana Winery is a historic tire-shop turned wine tasting room and shop. The large space is a magnet to bright light, as it is surrounded by large windows and garage doors. On weekends, the outside patio is the perfect place to enjoy the live music that performs on a small stage in front of the winery. A taco truck can also be found on most weekends in the driveway of Oreana, making wine and tacos an unexpected, but surprisingly delicious combination.
Paradise Springs Winery
Located right next to Test Pilot off State Street and E Yanonali, Paradise Springs Winery has a more upscale vibe and quiet atmosphere. The sleek concrete floors and metal seating make you feel like a million bucks—while still enjoying very reasonable prices. Whether you are relaxing with friends by the outdoor firepit or snacking on one of their delicious cheese plates, you’re sure to enjoy yourself at Paradise Springs Winery. It’s a great place to head if you’re seeking a quieter wine tasting experience, or to take your mom when she’s visiting!
Although located outside of the Funk Zone, Wine Therapy is still a must-visit located in the center of State Street. If you are a fan of dogs, Wine Therapy will be your new favorite weekend spot. This trendy wine bar welcomes dogs of all sizes, providing dog treats and even dog beds to make your furry companion as comfy as possible while you enjoy a glass of wine. Wine Therapy also offers a variety of board games to play with friends while enjoying your favorite glass of wine, beer, or sangria, or frosé! Throughout the week, Wine Therapy also has events like trivia nights, open mics, and live music!
Brass Bear Brewing & Bistro
Best known for their refreshing craft beer and deliciously juicy “Brass Bear Burger,” Brass Bear also serves wine, sparkling cider, and a variety of other snacks and sandwiches. Family owned and operated by a husband-and-wife duo, Brass Bear was founded after the couple ran into a family of bears on a camping trip in Glacier National Park. True to its roots, Brass Bear maintains a family-friendly atmosphere with reasonable prices and great food. Their small tap room is a great place to grab a delicious brew and bite to eat on any Funk Zone tour!
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
With a large outdoor patio featuring giant Connect 4 and inviting picnic tables, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., affectionately known as Fig Mountain, is a favorite Funk Zone spot. Founded by a local Los Olivos family, Fig Mountain has a large selection of craft beers to choose from. Can’t decide on just one? Create your own beer flight instead featuring four brews of your choice! Fig Mountain also has a monthly calendar of events featuring trivia nights, BINGO, and more. Affordable, welcoming, and family-run, Fig Mountain is a great place to stop for a refreshing beer during your time in the Funk Zone.
Topa Topa/Lama Dog
Topa Topa Brewing Company and Lama Dog Tap Room are two separate companies, yet are located adjacently to each other in the same building. Both Topa Topa and Lama Dog offer a wide variety of craft beers and wine, making it the perfect location to test and try everything. Topa Topa’s location includes a number of small shops and vendors that you can browse through while you enjoy your drink. Its weekly community and arts-driven events brings everyone together throughout the week for a refreshing drink and memorable experience. Lama Dog has a revolving list of beers that changes daily, so there’s always something new to try. Its location includes a small kitchen that cooks up elevated street food that pairs perfectly with your wine or beer, including a variety of fish dishes, burgers, and fries.
Hotel Californian Bar (Blackbird)
Located in the midst of all the Funk Zone action, the Hotel Californian Bar—Blackbird—is a classy destination for a quick cocktail and snack. While the bar/restaurant may look intimidating from the outside, the bartenders and chefs are incredibly down to earth and welcoming. Blackbird is open to anyone, not just hotel guests, and can be a great place to start your evening off. They serve cocktails, beer, and wine all at reasonable prices, and many of their small-plate appetizers fall under $10. Blackbird is a great place to get an upscale experience while still paying a reasonable price!
If you’re a fan of exotic, refreshing cocktails and savory Mexican food, Santo Mezcal is the perfect place for you. Santo Mezcal takes a modern, contemporary take on traditional Mexican meals and flavors, using seasonal and local ingredients from Santa Barbara and neighboring regions. Though a little more on the expensive side, its happy hour menu and discounted prices make for a perfect Friday lunch. Additionally, Santo Mezcal offers a rewards program that special discounts and offers.
Seven Bar & Kitchen
Seven Bar & Kitchen lives up to the “funk” part of the Funk Zone’s name with its wide selection of unique cocktails and other drinks. Its brick walls lined with new vibrant art welcome you each time you visit and make you comfortable enough to enjoy a meal, too. On weekends, Seven usually hosts live music performances, and though the place isn’t too big, guests have no problem getting up from their seats to dance along. Make sure to visit Seven’s restroom to find a grand piano sitting between the toilet and sink (make sure to wash your hands after playing your favorite song, it is the bathroom after all)!
Test Pilot offers one of the most unique Funk Zone atmospheres with their brightly colored decor and beautifully curated tiki theme. They specialize in “exotic” cocktails and booze-filled slushies. While their cocktails can be a bit on the pricey side, the exquisite ambiance and welcoming bartenders will be sure to make the experience worth it. If you want to feel transported into a tropical vacation, Test Pilot is definitely the place to go!