“Downtown”—the land of nonsensical chaos where Gauchos, of legal drinking age, tend to congregate every Thursday night. The majority of UC Santa Barbara students frequent the bars Sandbar, Tonic, Wildcat and other large venues located on State Street, but there are many other lesser-known digs about town.
There are two semi-hidden treasures in downtown Santa Barbara: EOS, a nightclub, and The Neighborhood, a bar. They’re both great options to explore once the scene of overpriced mixed drinks and Lady Gaga remixes begin to lose their appeal.
Both of these venues fall slightly off the beaten path. Instead of being in prime locations on State Street, EOS Nightclub is at 500 Anacapa, the street that parallels State.
Although EOS is about a five minute walking distance from the main drag, the club compensates for the extra effort by providing an “EOS-only” transportation alternative to Bill’s Bus, which usually drops club-goers off next to Sharkeez on State Street.
The EOS bus is comparable to Bill’s Bus in décor and luxury, although additional perks include Christmas lights on the interior and a shot of alcohol or a beer of your choice with purchase of a roundtrip ticket.
Fortunately for fashion-minded Gauchos, the multicolored paper wristbands are as equally flattering as those from Bill’s bus.
When traveling with a large group, Bianca Triano, Manager of EOS, recommends calling in advance to arrange a special group price for transportation.
As is the case for most clubs in downtown Santa Barbara, the most college-friendly scene is on Thursday nights, but Saturdays are usually the busiest. EOS generally has a five dollar cover charge, but since it’s open until 2 AM, it’s a great alternative to other popular venues that usually shut down at midnight.
In 2009, the club made several renovations that included an extension of the dance floor—a change that got positive reviews from most club-goers.
“EOS is the best for its dancing, and they don’t play awful cheesy music,” said Ashley Lovence, a foreign exchange student at UC Santa Barbara. “It does feel quite European to me—I like it.”
EOS offers booths that hold a lot of people and may fit your fancy.
“Bottle service is also really popular, private tables are definitely something prominent,” says Triano.
If the night calls for a more low-key scene, The Neighborhood could be a better option. It’s a spacious bar located on West Montecito Street that has been around since 2005.
Although the bar doesn’t sponsor its own transportation service directly from Isla Vista, it does promise a good time with a number of bar games, including beer pong, pool, a beanbag game and a few gaming machines. Every Wednesday night, The Neighborhood hosts a Beirut league competition.
The bartender, Dustin Jefferies, says that Fridays are usually the busiest and that the crowd generally consists of locals with occasional groups of Santa Barbara City College students.
So if boredom strikes, think outside the box. EOS and The Neighborhood might not be the most talked-about hangouts, but they’re diamonds in the rough that are worth exploring.