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During what seems the rainiest week in history in Santa Barbara I spent an afternoon with local restaurateur Tony Arroyo, who began his restaurant dynasty in the Santa Barbara area in 1999. Tony was born in La Piedad de Cabadas, a city in the north-west of the Mexican state of Michoacán, bordering Jalisco and Guanajuato, where he worked as a welder until he ran away to Tijuana at 13, and crossed the border into Pasadena. He was in love with Pasadena, where he worked at local restaurants, and then settled in Santa Barbara, where he attended Santa Barbara City College and worked, sometimes three jobs at once in food and hospitality venues like Four Seasons Biltmore, Carrows and the Red Lion. He also spent nine years as general manager of Moby Dicks. The successful restaurateur credits his ex-wife Maria for helping him make his dream come true. They have a wonderful son Diego, who works closely with his father in the restaurant, as well as at major charity events, and is a becoming a rising chef star in his own right.

Crab Enchalada Plate

In 1999 Tony opened his first restaurant and the rest is history. He considers his staff family, and has sponsored many of them for education opportunities at Santa Barbara City College. According to Tony “many of our employees have been with us from ten to eighteen years.” Today he owns three Los Arroyos Restaurants, #1 in Santa Barbara, #2 in Montecito and #3 in Camarillo, with rumors of another possibly coming soon. Recently, Tony traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana to open what may be the first of many co-owned Los Arroyos venues in the state of Indiana. The downtown Santa Barbara venue is a favorite of business people and families in the area, and the take-out service makes it even more attractive to everyone. Having worked nearby the State and Anapamu restaurant for several years, I personally loved being able to run over and pick-up lunch and eat at my desk, however, the service is very quick and at lunch the place is always packed with a happy hungry lunch crowd.

Tony & son Diego Arroyo at “Taste of the Town” charity event

The Montecito venue is on Coast Road and offers a charming outdoor patio, a welcoming center dining room and bar dining room, featuring rich wood, Mexican art and very hospitable service. A delightful private room that seats ten or more for special family occasions or business meetings can be reserved in advance. The art seen on the walls in the restaurant is quite beautiful and Tony said he hired a talented artisan to create these Mexican treasures he shares with his patrons. The menu at the Montecito venue is filled with so many delicious Mexican specialties that it’s difficult to make a choice. The bar offers a fine selection of wine, beer and of course magical Margarita’s, made with a variety of fine tequila including Patron.

Ensalada Tropical Plate

Specialty dishes featured are made from recipes created exclusively by Los Arroyos you will find a variety of beautifully prepared and presented plates to please your palate. A variety of tacos, enchiladas, sopas all made with fresh and healthy ingredients offer something for everyone. The salads are remarkable, and the Ensalada Tropical is a specialty loved by locals who frequent the restaurant. My favorite is the Crab Enchilada with rice and beans, which is the best I have ever had anywhere, including in some very fancy gourmet restaurants throughout Mexico. The Tacos Gobernador is another renowned dish Tony serves with pride, and for an amazing dessert the Flan or Apple Pie Taco is guaranteed to provide a sweet ending to a memorable meal at Tony Arroyos Mexican Restaurant and Take-Out.

Apple Pie Taco

On many occasions I have had the pleasure to photograph Tony and his son at local charity events, including the Santa Barbara Arthritis Association “Taste of the Town” and countless other charity gatherings. Diego, his son has grown up in his father’s food world and enjoys preparing and serving dishes with him at events. It has been a pleasure watching him grow into the fine young man he has become, and I love that he has the same caring heart his dad has regarding helping those in need.

Flan Dessert

Take out is a feature that sets Tony’s Los Arroyos Restaurants apart. They offer a menu of delicious Mexican favorites that are perfect for large parties or private gathering at home. For detailed information visit: http://losarroyos.net/group-take-out-menu
By Bonnie Carroll
Bonnie Carroll has been a food/travel/lifestyle writer since 1983. She is the founder & publisher of Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News (www.lifebitesnews.com), does travel, entertainment and food reporting on local Radio/TV, and contributes to a variety of national and international travel/lifestyle publications. She is a member of IFWTWA and NATJA. Contact her at writebc@aol.com.
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