Saved by the Bell

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It’s not very often that you come across a town with less than 2,000 people that caters to the culinary landscape as much as Los Alamos. A year ago, we travelled to one of our favorite wine destinations in California, the Santa Ynez Valley, and heard so much buzz about a few restaurants our ears couldn’t stop ringing. Unfortunately, at that time, we had too much planned that we couldn’t escape and take the 15 mile drive needed to reach the aforementioned destination. However, this problem would not exist on our most recent trip to wine country, or so we thought.

We packed our bags for a weekend getaway with two things on our minds, wine and dining in Los Alamos. Dining destinations can be tricky, especially travelling to smaller towns, because you have to be conscious of dining hours. Coming from a more urban area, we have become very used to late-night dining on almost any day of the week so it was a rude awakening to realize that most places were either closed half the week or had very limited hours, even on weekends. With this in mind, we set our sights on a lunch visit at Bell Street Farm which only seemed possible for us on a Monday but sometimes you just need to do whatever it takes.

We arrived at Bell Street before the doors opened which gave us the opportunity to explore the quaint town of Los Alamos. We drove by Flatbread Full of Life which has been on our radar for some time but like I mentioned earlier, they weren’t open on Monday and if we truly wanted to wait, our next meal at the iconic restaurant wouldn’t have been until Thursday evening. That being said, out of a handful of destinations that were recommended to us, Bell Street was the only realistic option but you can’t complain about that.

I’m not sure who coined the term ‘country chic’ but if I had to pin that on any restaurant I’ve ever dined in, Bell Street would certainly fit that description. By no means is the Santa Ynez Valley struggling with premier dining with destinations like Sides in Los Olivos and Succulent Cafe in Solvang so Bell Street is simply adding to the Valley’s dining culture. My first step inside reminded me of a well executed design that I often see in those magazines that get sent to my house without even having a subscription like Real Simple and Living. Everything seems carefully placed and well thought out which means if the menu can replicate that commitment, all is well with the world.

All menu items seem to be chosen by freshness and seasonal availability which only adds to the charm of the restaurant. The menu is concise and boasts flavors that can only be found in a local setting. I chose the pork belly with apple and jicama slaw on ciabatta which tasted fresh, most likely because it came from the oven right down street. We also tried the olive bread tartine topped with goat cheese and tender greens of arugula and fennel. Each dish came with an assortment of pickled vegetables which can only be described as “herbivore porn”.

Any future trip to the Santa Ynez Valley will definitely include a stop in Los Alamos but not without carefully planning hours of operation.

 

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