Since 2008, Backyard Bowls has been Santa Barbara’s quintessential beach-town eatery. Their downtown location at 331 Motor Way has been the town’s go-to place for eco-friendly açaí bowls. Now, the restaurant is growing into a small chain, expanding to Goleta, La Cumbre Plaza, and soon Los Angeles.
The concept was created by founder Dan Goddard and his college friend Pete Heth, who together had “this crazy idea … when living in Hawai’i, where we fell in love with açaí.” The açaí berry, valued for its high amounts of antioxidants, protein, and essential fatty acids, is the main ingredient in most of Backyard Bowl’s dishes.
Their most popular menu item is the Island Bowl, which is “beginner friendly” for diners who have never eaten an açaí bowl. With a blend of açaí, banana, mango, pineapple juice, and coconut milk and topped with hemp granola, strawberries, blueberries, coconut shavings, and honey, the dish is a tropical cornucopia of juicy sweet fruit. Though it tastes like a dessert, guests can be assured that it is packed with healthy nutrients.
The eco-friendly eatery has a wide selection of breakfast options, as well. Mama’s Oatmeal, for example, combines steel-cut oats, milk, almonds, and bananas, which are livened up with a dash of rich berry jam; diners can substitute quinoa for oats if desired.
If diners crave fresh vegetables more than sweet fruits, the Popeye smoothie is a refreshing choice. With spinach and broccoli as its star ingredients, it is only slightly naturally sweetened with hints of banana, strawberry, lime, ginger, apple juice, and honey.
Yet Backyard Bowls is more than just a place to grab a healthy snack. With its ecological business operations like using local, organic ingredients and as many compostable and recyclable materials as possible, Goddard and his team “do as little harm as possible in every way we can.”
According to Goddard and Heth, when they came back from Hawai’i, there was not a single açaí bowl in Santa Barbara. After six years, however, Backyard Bowls has gained a consistent loyal following of locals and has established its position in the community as a healthy alternative for breakfast or lunch.