Bringing the Spanish Flair to The Funk Zone
The Funk Zone is decidedly Santa Barbara’s new “it” location for all things, art, wine and food. Attractive to residents and tourists alike, this newly transformed area of town has all the right moves: proximity to the beach and downtown, as well as nightlife and a bit of culture—not to mention more wine tasting rooms than the cast of Sideways would know what to do with.
Sherry Villanueva was one of the people who saw the potential of this area at the onset of its transformation. She conceived a vision for the properties now known under the umbrella of Acme Hospitality, a collection of boutique food and beverage concepts in the heart of the Funk Zone. Her latest addition to Acme Hospitality is the Spanish-inspired culinary adventure, Loquita, perched proudly at the corner of State Street and Yanonali. Loquita offers tapas, plates, paella and a full cocktail bar and wine menu composed of mostly-Spanish wines.
A little more on the backstory and inspiration for Loquita from Villanueva herself:
Q: How was the idea for Loquita born?
Sherry Villanueva: The idea for Loquita was inspired by the Spanish roots of Santa Barbara and the culinary pioneers from northern Spain. Loquita transports our guests to Spain through authentic Spanish cuisine, wine, cocktails and atmosphere.
Q: Part of the standout experience of dining at Loquita is the aesthetic pleasure of just being in the space – What was your design inspiration?
SV: The inspiration for the Loquita design and environment comes from a blending of traditional Spanish lines, color and shape, married together with a clean and white modern aesthetic.
Q: What is the most significant dish at the restaurant that you think is a must-try?
SV: Paella is our signature dish and represents our restaurant beautifully. We take traditional recipes and techniques right out of Valencia and blend them with the highest, locally sourced ingredients. Theses include: fresh local seafood, seasonal vegetables and meats that are farm-raised with passion and care.
Q: There seems to be a renaissance, particularly on the west coast, with the demand and appreciated for artisanal hand-crafted food and drink. What larger cultural or economic influences do you think have ushered this new era of culinary appreciation?
SV: The Internet has delivered the whole world to our fingertips and people are entranced with the cultural and culinary diversity found around the world. The public is interested in the provenance of their food and the story behind the people who make it. It’s a much richer experience when you know what went in to making food and wine.
Q: What has been one of the most interesting and/or shocking things you have learned from your business?
SV: The restaurant business is complex and fast moving. It’s fascinating to try and manage all of the moving parts and personalities that are coming at you 100 miles an hour. Because of the notoriously low margin nature of the business, there is very little room for error.
Explore Loquita’s full menu and other ACME restaurants at Loquitasb.com