The Brown Pelican | California | Living in Mexico

The Brown Pelican

Where in the world can you find good restaurants right on the beach? Santa Barbara is one such place.

The Brown Pelican could not be built today. Various special interest groups would hang it up in legal challenges for decades. The California Coastline Commission would never allow it.

But many years ago, someone bought a little beachfront lot just above the high tide line, in a declivity in the near-continuous line of coastal bluffs. They built a restaurant when regulations were few, and today, the place is grandfathered.

The lot is worth tens of millions of dollars, but only its original use is permitted, so no hotel, no condos, no mansion.


Tables are scattered under umbrellas on a pleasant patio. Palm fronds rattle in the gentle, warm breezes specified by the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce.


Jean and I went there for lunch. A surfer dude came over and said, "Hi. My name is Chad. I'll be your server today."

I wanted to smack him.

On the menu were all kinds of fresh fish, so naturally, Jean ordered a salad and I had the clam chowder, enabling us to get out of there for $25 instead of $50.

I photographed Jean, fork in hand, sitting beside a gorgeous ocean view.


Perhaps more gorgeous than Jean realized. The view beside our table was, for me, very distracting.


There's no place like Southern California. Sunny, warm, laid back. Nobody works after 2 PM. All out working on their tans.