Have you ever been in the middle of a road trip, realized you were starving, browsed Yelp, and just picked whatever had decent reviews and sounded good? In the world of social media, I’m sure some part of you usually factors in the overall aesthetic of the place, right? And I’d bet that when you pick a place without pictures, it ends up being an average, run of the mill joint, am I right?
Well, that has typically been the case for me at least, but it all changed on a recent trip home from Los Angeles. It was late in the day and we had originally thought we could make it the four hours north without stopping for dinner. The rest of the group was tired as we came into Santa Barbara and left the Yelp sleuthing up to me. I browsed the pages and found something that sounded interesting, “The Lucky Penny Pizza”. The reviews seemed okay and the location was easy to get to, but the page had no pictures.
We decided to give it a try.
Upon arrival, we were slightly concerned as we drove closer and closer to the beach and businesses seemed few and far between. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted it. A small building, not much larger than office cubicle (okay– that’s an exaggeration, but you get the gist) with an entire wall tiled in pennies. As we walked toward the garden patio, the scent of a wood fire permeated the ocean air. This place was about to be good, and we all knew it.
The inside of the small building was PACKED with people in line to order, but all I could think about was how good the food smelled and how cute the place was. Everything from the hand-letter menu written in chalk on the walls to the stacks of baguettes that lined the shelves screamed my name. As we waited in line, we sent part of the group to find a table on the patio while the rest of us debated what we should order. We decided to pick a few pizzas and try them all. We ordered the LP Classic (mainly for the boys), the Ciro Terranova, and the Parker 2.0.
As we waited for our food at our small corner in the back, we were able to do some excellent people watching. This patio was filled with all kinds of kinds; a young family who tried to wrangle a toddler while their baby munched on crusts, an artsy couple who quietly bickered on the side (maybe I should have ignored that), a group of teens that came on bikes and tried to grab any spare chair or bench so they could all fit together, and, behind us, a bustling kitchen with open windows that later learned belonged to Lucky Penny’s parent restaurant, The Lark. I could tell that this place must be a local favorite.
When the pizzas were ready, I could barely snap a picture before we all dug in. The pies were steaming and we were famished.
I’m not joking when I say that these were perfect pizzas. The crust was crispy and thin, but still sturdy enough to hold up the fresh mozzarella. The sauce was seasoned perfectly, not too sweet and not too bland. My personal favorite was the Parker 2.0, but I might just be partial to the fresh arugula…
When the pies were finished and the sun was dipping below the horizon, I couldn’t help but remember the cooler full of homemade popsicles by the door. Before we hit the road and finished the last two hours of our trip, I ran inside to grab a caramelized pineapple pop. As I walked back to the car, popsicle in had, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to wrap up our trip.
Needless to say, the Lucky Penny was my lucky find.
*edit: I’ve since realized that the Yelp page did have pictures, my service was just spotty and wouldn’t load anything. Whoops–it makes for a better story anyway!