18 East Ortega Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily
An Irish taste bomb
If you walk along State Street, you can pretty much experience every culture you can think of. Just off the beaten path, literally less than a block, you find Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant on East Ortega Street.
The extra few steps are worth it — for your belly and your FitBit.
The food, the deals, the service — if it’s any reflection of Ireland at all, the trip across the pond would be worth it.
Here are a few items that are definitely worth a look:
Basically an appetizer version of fish & chips, the fish bites proved to be a hit, as the Happy Hour special was a good-sized plate of bite-size fish pieces, and honestly would fill most people up on its own.
They do the work for you — no tails to deal with and good-sized bites. It was a bit more golden-brown than usual, but actually wasn’t off-putting, as the crunch was nice and the dipping sauces helped tone down the extra crispiness. Dargan’s spicy dipping sauce definitely has a kick, so make sure to have a tissue nearby.
Beer-battered Fish & Chips
An absolute staple for the Fork, as it is quickly becoming a barometer of comparison amongst those offering the dish. And, as expected, the Irish know what they are doing when it comes to fish and chips. A bit heavier than others in terms of weight, it was still flaky on the outside, allowing the real star to be the fish, which was tender and moist. Definitely the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to fish and chips.
Tasty, thick and served incredibly fresh. The lettuce was a bit soggy due to the burger juice, which didn’t allow for that crunchy feel. While entirely unhealthy, the fries were fantastic — and a healthy portion as well.
Wow. Obviously prepared fresh, the apples were piping hot, but were tasty through the heat. The crumble wasn’t too much, a nice layer that gave a balance to the sweetness of the apples. Definitely worth the extra wait. With a healthy side of ice cream and whip cream, the Fork definitely suggests sharing dessert.
The Happy Hour specials were a nice surprise, getting $7 plates that very much looked like what you’d pay $12-$15 elsewhere. The service was outstanding, with refills on drinks taken care of before you could ask, and the food quickly to the table. The dessert took a little longer, but it was well worth it.
The lighting is dim, not the most ideal for a get together or meal, which hurts the ambiance a bit. In addition, there is no greeter at the door, which leaves you a bit in limbo on what to do when entering, something that should be fairly easy to address.