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Coldspring Tavern, a Romantic Adventurous Lunch Date

By G. Stassi.

So every time this friend and I go on a road trip we end up somewhere very unusual but always seem to order and share a split of Qupe Syrah. Her itineraries are excellent and adventurous and she’s obsessesd with dive bars — that’s what happens when you grow up too well I guess – one feels the need to slum . There was a dive bar on every corner in my neighborhood, so I guess I have less of a need to check them out and not quite the romantic notion of them. Now, just seeing the pleasure she gets out of visiting them is well worth it to me. It’s rather amusing and to her credit, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, all of them have been very fun and unique.

Now, I have a very good and adventurous attitude that’s why I believe every girl should approach every escapade in spike heels; you can always change into yoga pants and hiking shoes, but you never get that chance to make a first impression a second time. Every good Italian girl’s mama taught her that we never, ever leave the house without lipstick and high heels. However, Cold Springs Tavern is not the place for that ensemble. When you drive up and park and you get out, you are struck by the beauty of this place. The trees are fragrant and rustling and you can hear the water rushing down the mountain — it’s absolutely enchanting and you really want to be prepared to take a hike or walk through this area. I was sorry that my shoes weren’t quite right even though the heel might have provided me some traction providing it didn’t snap off while negotiating the rocky bank of the spring.

Coldspring Tavern on a weekday, appears closed – abandoned – like a shanty town. The only sign that anyone is alive in there, is the smoke from the chimney but still you wonder if you are about to find that everyone has expired due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The place is fascinating. The history is that Cold Spring Tavern was established in 1865 as a stagecoach stop for travelers going over the San Marcos Pass from San Ynez to Santa Barbara. It was originally called Cold Springs Relay Station because it was a place to get fresh mounts and to offer rest and meals to travelers. It appears as though not much has changed. There are ruins of the old stairs with hand carved railings, the jail remains, and the wooden floors are very uneven. The dining area is warmed by a glowing fireplace which provides the only light and small but very inviting.

On the menu, there is a decent selection of California wines and lunch is what you would expect: a choice of many exotic meats, quiche, soups, salads and homemade bread. My friend ordered the buffalo burger with salad and I ordered the wild mushroom, spinach and artichoke hear quiche, salad with ollaliberry vinaigrette and freshly baked shallot-dill bread. The food is very flavorful, comforting and filling and suits the whole experience.

I recommend visiting Coldspring Tavern for lunch with the family or a romantic day trip and it is guaranteed to impress the pickiest of dates. It’s a beautiful drive and an easy escape from the hustling pace of Los Angeles.


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