Graffiti murals illuminate the walls like the budding East Side of Austin, Texas. A flight of quintessential California rosé is being poured at a tasting room on every corner. Five star restaurants sit between breweries and quaint coffee shops. It comes as no surprise that the Funk Zone has become a top destination spot for both Santa Barbara locals and tourists.
However, Pete Burnham thought the district nestled between Highway 101 and the Pacific Ocean was missing one thing: a “truly diverse” taproom and bottle shop.
Burnham’s solution? Lama Dog. The unique name came from his Tibetan Mastiff, Lama, who can be seen riding shotgun in Burnham’s convertible.
Upon walking in the Waterline building, the scent of lobster and French fries wafts from a blue shipping container, also known as the Nook. After opening their first restaurant together 35 years ago, Master Chef Norbert Schulz and partner Brigitte Guehr opened the Nook, a small walk-up eatery in the shared Waterline building. Seafood burgers, crab cakes, and fried chicken are just a few items on the Nook’s menu that compliment Lama Dog’s beer and wine selection in their shared space.
After passing the appetizing scent of waffle fries, libations flow as both locals and tourists convene at high wooden tables and gather ‘round Lama Dog’s rotating beer menu.
Burnham’s winemaking background and passion for craft beer is displayed on the diverse menu featuring more than 20 beers and 3 wines on tap. While the tap selection is more California centric with beers from Lagunitas, Almanac, Bear Republic, and Ballast Point, the bottle shop offers a wide range of selections such as Deschutes, that can be purchased and consumed on site.
“You name it, we’ll have it. Our taps will follow trends in beer as they’re happening and anything we don’t have on tap, we’ll have in bottle form,” says Burnham on Lama Dog’s website.
However, guests shouldn’t mistake the first-rate beer options for a ritzy first-class experience.
“Beer is fun, it’s never stodgy,” Burnham says. “The brands are fun, the branding is fun and the people are fun. Laid-back, everyday people. It’s something that’s completely accessible for everyone.”
Although beer and wine are nothing new to the Funk Zone, Burnham’s intention to create a truly diverse taproom and bottle shop exceeds expectations.
You can read more about Lama Dog and check their hours here.