On the back roads of Santa Barbara County, over San Marcos Pass and down a side road named, appropriately, Stagecoach Road, lies a piece of Old West history. Preserved and yet polished, Cold Springs Tavern was originally a stagecoach rest stop on the lonely road from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but is now a destination for delicious food, drink and live music.
Taking a turn off the modern 4-lane concrete highway 154 that snakes from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos, Stagecoach Road gets smaller and begins to wind around the hills like the original stagecoach road it was. At the bottom of the arroyo, it winds by a collection of buildings dating from the 1860s, which have been maintained to look much like they did at that time. The road was completed in 1870 and in use up until 1901.
We try to visit Cold Springs every time we’re in the area, as there’s just nothing else like it in California, and the food is really good, too! This last time we went with our extended family ages 11-83, and they let the younger boys have their own table.
Jen had their famous tri-tip beef sandwich, which they coat in spices and slow roast, and then slice thin. Rich had their baby back ribs, which were also delicious. Everything is fresh and local, and the ambiance is pure Old West.
Cold Springs hosts live music from Friday to Sunday, with Sundays being the most popular day. Reservations are recommended.