If you’re a frequent visitor to Santa Barbara, you may have noticed the closing of a popular local eatery which has been a mainstay on State Street for many years. Tupelo Junction Cafe, one of those sure stops for Sunday brunch during a weekend excursion to Santa Barbara discontinued operations at the location last November and reopened in Newport Beach not too long after. What is sadly a loss for Santa Barbara is surely a gain for Orange County. The menu is said to be the same, including what could arguably be the best chicken salad you’ve ever had.
Tupelo’s fried chicken salad is a heavenly mix of textures and flavors all on a plate of sweet and savory goodness. Truth be told, this salad isn’t for when you’re looking to eat light. It’s for those times when you want to say you’re eating a salad but not actually feel like you’re eating one. Pieces of chicken breast are moist and crunchy with a pleasantly light cornmeal crust and drizzled with creamy herb buttermilk dressing. Adding to the crunch are toasted pumpkin seeds while cornbread pieces (in place of croutons) and dried cranberries give the plate just the right amount of sweetness to balance it out. Greens are tossed in a light vinaigrette which makes the whole salad a lot lighter than what it appears. Like all of Tupelo’s menu items, it’s a simple and thoughtfully prepared dish that you are just so happy to eat and eat again.
With a new spot to call home on 29th Street, a new Happy Hour menu and new customers to discover its soul-satisfying dishes like the fried chicken salad, Tupelo is set to gain a solid following among Orange County diners. Thank you Santa Barbara!