- Dress code: Casual
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The Shop Cafe Restaurant Review: Santa Barbara’s Milpas neighborhood lacked culinary diversity, other than Mexican food, until this former hot dog stand was repurposed into a neighborhood coffee shop. At first blush The Shop Café looks unimpressive, but don’t judge a restaurant by its exterior. The proprietors hired one of Santa Barbara’s top chefs, John Pettit, currently of Cádiz, to develop the menu. Breakfasts include the "McQueen," a quiche made with scallions, black beans, corn, tomato sauce and cheddar, then topped with sliced fresh tomatoes. Be sure to try the fresh-baked pastries, muffins and the killer brown-butter cookie dusted with sea salt. For lunch, a popular dish is the "General Sanders," which bests anything the Colonel can come up with --- it's buttermilk fried chicken with tarragon mayonnaise and cabbage slaw with apple slices and pickled onions. There’s a good straight-ahead burger, too. We like the "mac on crack," an elevated version of typical mac ‘n’ cheese using Gorgonzola, sliced apples, chunks of bacon and pecans. Why The Shop Café succeeds is simple: dishes are made with fresh, flavorful, creative ingredients and are served by nice people.