Several Isla Vista restaurants have earned recognition in Spoon University’s annual Spoon Choice Awards.
The culinary website focuses on college campuses. Their annual awards are touted as “the best places to eat in college towns around the country as decided by college students.”
Two establishments by the same owner, one a longtime institution and the other a newbie, won top honors. For the second time, IV Bagel Café earned a spot on The Best College Town Breakfast Spots list, while IV Pizza Pub received the title of The Best College Town Pizzerias in its first year in business.
A UC Santa Barbara student and alum favorite, IV Bagel Café prides itself on preserving the time-honored tradition of bagel making, utilizing an East Coast Kosher Bagel Bakery recipe.
The process involves handcrafting the dough, boiling it, seeding the bagels on two-by-fours, and baking them in a fire-based rotating oven. In an era where convenience often trumps tradition, IV Bagel Café remains committed to using high-quality ingredients, eschewing preservatives, and upholding the labor-intensive methods that set it apart.
“The past two years have been the hardest two years for IV Bagel Café with dough prices doubling, egg prices tripling, and dairy prices skyrocketing, but we still stay true to our roots of the highest quality ingredients, no preservatives, and baking the old fashion way,” said owner Doron Friedman. “Winning this award truly makes us feel that all the hard work is worth it.”
Adding to the celebration, IV Pizza Pub, a relative newcomer with just a year under its belt, has received the title of Best Pizza in College Towns nationwide.
The achievement is especially noteworthy given the restaurant’s relatively short existence. The unexpected venture into the pizza business by the Friedman family resulted from a desire to support the community after the closure of the beloved Pizza My Heart in Isla Vista. Friedman acquired the company, retained its skilled bakers, and launched IV Pizza Pub in order to keep another New York-style restaurant with a surfer vibe in Isla Vista.
The award-winning pizzas are hand-tossed with homemade sauce and the best ingredients, including excellent vegan choices. With seven big-screen televisions, a Bose Sound System, great pizza, and great drinks, there is no better place in IV, Goleta, or Santa Barbara to watch sports and eat fantastic food.
“Owning a restaurant is not for the faint of heart, especially in the last few years,” said Friedman. ”Seeing IV Bagel Café and IV Pizza Pub recognized by our customers nationally makes all the hard work worth it.”
Coming in under “Best Coffee Shops” goes to Cajé Coffee Roasters. The caramel latte and vanilla coffee, along with the refreshing açaí bowls and friendly staff, were reasons to earn their top marks.
It wouldn’t be Isla Vista if we didn’t mention alcohol. Rockfire Grill won top stop for serving a big pitcher of beer to pair with wings, flatbreads, and burgers. Hosting karaoke, comedy, and college nights doesn’t hurt either.
Sushi Terri won best sushi restaurant, Zocalo earned best tacos, and Hummus Republic was honored in the vegan/vegetarian category.
“Best Budget Spot” went to longtime establishment Freebirds and “Best Splurge Spot” went to the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach.
See all the winners throughout the U.S. here: https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/spoon-choice-awards-2023