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48 hours in Solvang - favorite restaurants & vineyards?

The Ballard Inn is wonderful. I would say it is similar to Mirabelle in terms of menu, price, style, so choose one. The Italian restaurant is Trattorio Grappolo. You would need a reservation. I am local and eat there often, as do a lot of other locals. Call ahead: 805 688 6899. (yes I know their number by heart).
For breakfast the best spot is Ellen's Pancake in Buellton (just outside of Solvang). Don't wait in line with the other tourists at Paula's.
Whimsy and off the beaten track would be the Wine Ghetto in Lompoc. Lots of great wine out there, about twenty minutes from Solvang. Along the way Babcock, Melville and Dierberg/Starland are great.
In the evening, Tastes of the Valleys right in downtown Solvang does nice wines by the glass and has music on Saturday nights. One of the few places that is open late. Closes at ten pm.
If you go up on Foxen Canyon make sure you stop first in Los Olivos and pick up a picnic lunch. Not a lot of food once you cross 154 and head up Foxen Canyon.

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The Ballard Inn & Restaurant
2436 Baseline Ave, Solvang, CA 93463

Tastes of the Valleys
1672 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA

Grappolo
3687 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Jun 08, 2011
ebeeeee in California

Santa Barbara weekend trip

Stonehouse is more romantic if that is what you are going for.
For seafood Brophy Bros is very casual, great food but loud, crowded, etc. If you are looking for a fun vibe, busy place it's Brophys. Arch Rock Fish is more upscale. SB Shellfish Factory is more of a tourist hangout. I would go with Arch Rock Fish or Brophy Bros.
Ca'Dario would be my choice for Italian.
For a food shop don't miss C'est Cheese.
Also in SB you might try the Wine Cask Bistro for a light lunch or dinner with a great glass of wine. Doug Margerum, owner and winemaker, makes some great wines! He has a tasting room next door and there is a newly opened Au Bon Climat Tasting room adjacent that you should not miss.

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Wine Cask
813 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Brophy Bros
Breakwatr, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Stonehouse Restaurant
107 Sacramento St, Nevada City, CA 95959

Jun 08, 2011
ebeeeee in California

SANTA BARBARA/LOS OLIVOS/SANTA YNEZ WINERY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WINE TASTING?

Oh goodie. Something I know a lot about. Rusack Vineyards has a beautiful patio, it is on Ballard Canyon off the beaten path and tends to be less crowded. Carhartt in Los Olivos definitely fits your profile too but all of the tasting rooms in LO are likely to be crowded in the week between Christmas and New Years and they are tasting room only. You do not visit the winery.
Wes Hagen, the winemaker at Clos Pepe, does an excellent tasting and tour. Private, by appointment only. Usually only at 10am on Saturdays. I would hop on that website right now and see if you can get an appointment. The others mentioned below, Demetria, etc. are all private and you will need an appointment.
On Foxen Canyon Road everyplace will be pretty busy but Riverbench, Foxen and Tres Hermanas are favorites of mine. Koehler is also great.
If you are in Solvang at night, Tastes of the Valleys has Au Bon Climat, Margerum, Arcadian and other smaller producers. Open till 8pm and Friday/Sat till 10pm.
On Santa Rosa Road don't miss Alma Rosa (Richard Sanford is the winemaker...he is no longer the winemaker at Sanford). Out on 246 towards Lompoc Melville and Babcock and Dierberg have some excellent wines.
In fact, I would go to Clos Pepe on a morning (if possible) and then go to Melville and Babcock and Dierberg on the way back to Solvang.
From what you describe skip Firestone, Fess Parker...

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Tres Hermanas
2416 K St, Sacramento, CA 95816

Tastes of the Valleys
1672 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA

Dec 16, 2010
ebeeeee in California

Solvang dinner New Years Eve

My favorite would be Trattorio Grappolo, an Italian restaurant in Santa Ynez, about three miles from Solvang. It is a locals place..great food and service. Definitely non sterile.
Root 246, the Bradley Ogden restaurant at the Hotel Corque is good. They did a fixed price dinner for Thanksgiving at $50. per person. The Christmas Eve is the same. I am not sure what NYE is and it isn't on their website yet. Also try Mirabelle in Solvang. Excellent food and service, not sterile not coffee shop.

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Root 246
420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463

Grappolo
3687 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

Dec 16, 2010
ebeeeee in California