By Jessica Gelt, Tribune Newspapers
11:42 PM EDT, September 21, 2012
For a one-horse town, Los Alamos, Calif. (population 1,890), has an impressive assortment of art galleries, antiques shops and tasty restaurants. The picturesque community, near the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, also has two fun wine-tasting rooms that offer a breezy respite from those in nearby tourist-clogged wine towns.
The bed: The 1880 Union Hotel (362 Bell St.; 805-344-2744, 1880unionhotel.com; rooms for two, from $105) was built in 1880 as a stagecoach stop — and it looks as if it hasn't changed much since. Each of its 14 rooms has its own cozy country-home design scheme; some have sinks only, with bathrooms down the hall. The hotel also has a lovely back garden, a sitting room worthy of your finest smoking jacket and a rowdy saloon with a pool table.
The meal: There are two must-eat restaurants in Los Alamos: Full of Life Flatbread (225 W. Bell St.; 805-344-4400, fulloflifefoods.com;no single item more than $25) and Bell Street Farm (406 Bell St.; 805-344-4609, bellstreetfarm.com; no single item more than $14.50). The former, an organic frozen flatbread-pizza maker during the day, transforms into a restaurant four nights a week (5-10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, and 4-8 p.m. Sundays) when it serves up a fine menu of flatbreads and other entrees made from local, seasonal ingredients. Waits can be as long as two hours, so arrive early. The latter is a lovely market/restaurant serving delectable sandwiches, salads and rotisserie chicken (10 a.m-6 p.m. Fridays-Mondays).
The find: Babi's Tasting Room (448 Bell St., Suite B; 805-344-1900, casadumetzwines.com. Bottles $25-$35) is a bright and cheerful room run by Malibu-based Casa Dumetz winemaker Sonja Magdevski and her fiance, actor-director Emilio Estevez. Effervescent and knowledgeable, Magdevski can be found pouring Casa Dumetz wines at Babi's on most weekends, and Estevez, who tends the vineyard, can be found sampling them when he's not working. Small-batch varietals include Gravitas Grenache, Rosebud Syrah Rosé and Clementina Viognier. Sit and sip as long as you'd like; the room functions as the town's relaxed social hub.
The lesson learned: If you're not careful, you can get lost inside the town's four antiques stores. Gussied Up Antiques (349 Bell St.; 805-344-2504, facebook.com/gussiedupantiques) is a maze of 10 cluttered rooms in a house that dates to 1880; the well-curated Gentleman Farmer (363 Bell St., 805-344-4111, the gentlemanfarmer.net) specializes in country, farm and equine sporting antiques.
The tab: If you don't count getting there, we spent about $300, including $148 for a night at the 1880 Union Hotel and $55 at Bell Street Farm.
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