Unprecedented times should also call for unprecedented treats. In the past, takeout often served as a form of self-care, affording a household’s designated chef and/or dishwasher lighter kitchen duties and, at times, takeout served as an introduction to a new dish, cuisine or meal format.

The above-referenced take-away perks remain, but in light of COVID closures, take-away also is rather benevolent. Restaurants of all shapes and sizes need community support now more than ever, and to help toward that end, this year’s rendition of Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks transitioned to a Takeout Edition (visit www.DineSYV.com).

Nearly 30 Santa Ynez Valley restaurants are participating in the promotion, which runs through Jan. 31. Pricing ranges from about $10 per person to $90 for a family-sized meal, with culinary offerings spanning the spectrum: from burgers to beef tartare, farm-fresh curry carrot soup to pastrami spiced cauliflower. Restaurants are choosing whether to run meal specials that feed one, two or more. 

In addition to more than two dozen Santa Ynez Valley restaurants, 20-plus area wineries and tasting rooms also have created special promotions for Restaurant Weeks.

Mentioned here is just a sampling of the Restaurant Weeks food and deals that caught our attention.

Chef Louise Smith of Louise’s Kitchen Table is luring locals with her signature Thai dishes. Offered in varying portions (solo, dinner for two, family of four), three courses reward with Tom Kha gai (chicken) or Tom Kha tofu soups, Thai chicken curry or marinated beef spare ribs, and Louise’s classic New York cheesecake.

In Ballard, Chef Budi Kazali’s Restaurant Weeks menu at The Gathering Table, also has an exotic bent with a braised red roast duck and pork belly as a second course, accompanied by baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. Solvang’s Ramen Kotori team, which includes Kazali, joins with a Korean bossam meal for two ($42.00, plus tax and tip).

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks also presents some hands-on and wallet-friendlier, DIY meal options. Feeding four to five people, priced at $69.00, plus tax and tip, for the whole kit, First & Oak’s Homemade Taco Kit sends diners packing with a baby gem salad, half a pint each of chile verde braised pork and chicken al pastor, 12 homemade tortillas, homemade “dirty rice” (pinto beans, Spanish rice, poblano, kimchi) and pickled vegetables.

Another fun, and affordable, take-home kit comes from Roblar Winery & Vineyards, where Chef Brooke Stockwell’s preparing take-and-bake wood-fired pizzas to go. Just $20.21, plus tax and tip, buys two pizzas from four choices, including Roblar Farm veggie or barbecue chicken options.

Stockwell is also crafting a two-course meal meant for two, also $20.21, plus tax and tip, which includes a salad straight from Roblar Farm and a Santa Maria-style barbecue dinner with Refugio Ranch Oak barbecued chicken drumsticks, Santa Maria-style pinquito beans, roasted garlic cheese bread and roasted Roblar Farm heirloom carrots.

If Santa Maria-style is your thing, Buellton’s Campfire Café at Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground is doing a $12.02, plus tax and tip, deal that includes a tri-tip sandwich loaded with peppers and onions, pepper jack and aioli, with choice of side and soft drink.

Back in Solvang, veggie lovers can take advantage of First & Oak’s Farmer’s Market Spread ($35.00, plus tax and tip, per person) which features a multicourse vegetable-based menu of shiitake mushrooms (with lemongrass, mushroom dashi), pastrami spiced cauliflower (red wine-braised cabbage, Russian dressing), salt-baked beets with goat cheese, celery root scallop (house-made linguini, roasted corn, poblano, Tahitian vanilla corn velouté) and housemade focaccia with tapenade.

Another local vegetable-based bowl is the cup of curry carrot soup from peasants FEAST, part of their $20.21, plus tax and tip, meal for one, which also includes the eatery’s sell-out carnitas taco (hand-pressed corn tortilla, slow-cooked pork shoulder, pickled red onion, salsa habanero, cilantro, lime, pinquito beans) and a Mexican chocolate panna cotta.

One of this year’s over-the-top SYV Restaurant Weeks menus arrives courtesy of new Buellton establishment, The Tavern at Zaca Creek, in the form of a three-course, $20.21, plus tax and tip, meal for one with fine-dining-on-a-dime choices like beef tartare (with tonnato, cornichons, capers, Parmigiana frito), meatloaf Wellington (duxelle, potatoes), smoked albacore with turnip horsey, or fazzoletti — a handkerchief pasta — with fennel confit, pollen and black garlic.

Another spoil-yourself Restaurant Weeks meal comes from The Landsby’s Mad & Vin: a two-course meal consisting of lobster bisque and short rib potpie.

Here for the desserts? Norman at Skyview Los Alamos is offering a choice of three different sweets. White chocolate cheesecake with salted caramel and carbonated whipped cream, anyone? While Pico has a meal for two ($45.00, plus tax and tip) which finishes with a chocolate lava cake, and fortuitously, starts with a Pico Burger Bar special: two each of Chef John Wayne’s barbecue pork belly burgers. Bell’s is bringing bananas foster cake to the table as part of its “Mard-Oui Gras @ The Franch Quarter” New Orleans-themed Restaurant Weeks menu.

At the Vinland Hotel’s V Lounge, $20.21, plus tax and tip, scores two people craft cocktails and dessert. A bottled version of the restaurant and bar’s Apple Of My Eye drink (Redemption rye, honey, apple bitters) might just pair perfectly with three snickerdoodle cookies.

Anna Ferguson-Sparks can be reached at stilettoanna@gmail.com or www.instagram.com/stilettoanna/

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