If a title as boss sounding as the Dogfather isn’t enough to convince patrons to give this house-made sausage on a toasted hoagie a go, it might help to know it’s a staff favorite at the Santa Ynez Sausage Company.
“I love to add caramelized onions, chopped-up house pickles, and Dijon mustard to make it perfect for my taste,” said Mara Jaffe, co-creator of the restaurant’s menu. She also recommends grabbing a side of garlic Parmesan fries to “share with the table as well.”
For Jaffe, the eatery’s best sausage is a close tie between the Dogfather (an Italian pork sausage topped with peppers and onions) and the Buellton Tailgate (a chicken and pork sausage with celery, carrot, blue cheese, and Buffalo sauce, topped with ranch dressing). Although she can’t make heads or tails of which dog ranks higher, one thing for certain is that unlike the Dogfather, Jaffe orders the Buellton Tailgate without customization.
“I love it exactly as it’s prepared on the menu—mostly because anything with Buffalo sauce and ranch is my absolute favorite,” Jaffe said.
Parked next to the famous Sideways Inn in Buellton, the Santa Ynez Sausage Company operates within the rounded, aluminum walls of a vintage Airstream. Whether you’re a guest at the hotel or not, customers are welcome to enjoy their food on-site, as there are plenty of outdoor tables located near the trailer, spread out enough to accommodate social distancing.
The idea to launch this new dining option, which first opened at the Sideways Inn in January, came about as a proposed solution to the suspension of indoor seating at the Sideways Lounge, a casual eatery at the hotel known for both its food and wide selection of beers, wines, and cocktails.
“In line with COVID-19 regulations, we had to shut the doors to Sideways Lounge with the exception of takeaway offerings, which, for many businesses in the region, had quite an impact,” Jaffe said. “With limited outdoor seating, we had to get creative with how we could safely invite guests back to dine with us, while offering great food options to go along with our beverages.
“That’s when the concept for a new Airstream eatery and expanded outdoor seating came to life,” explained Jaffe, who works as the director of food and beverage for Highway West Vacations, the parent company behind the Sideways Inn.
Highway West Vacations also owns the hotel’s sister property, Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground. The two locations are within walking distance of one another.
“Integrating the Santa Ynez Sausage Company as part of our food and beverage offerings for the brand and the hotel itself was an ideal fit,” said Jaffe, who explained that the choice to establish the Santa Ynez Sausage Company as an Airstream trailer was a loving nod to “the vintage trailers and Airstreams at neighboring Flying Flags.”
To create the new eatery’s menu, Jaffe collaborated with Karoline Schwartz, a chef at the Grand Lake Lodge, a resort in Colorado also owned by Highway West Vacations. The duo worked in tandem to assemble the recipes for the company to base its sausage selection on.
“She is an incredibly talented chef and is extremely energetic and hospitable,” said Jaffe. She and Schwartz also created the menu to include hand-cut Belgian and Cajun fries, garlic broccoli salad, other side dishes, and a wide range of house-made dipping sauces, from chipotle mayo to Parmesan aioli.
Like the aforementioned Buellton Tailgate, a few of the eatery’s sausage concoctions celebrate cities along the Central Coast, including the Lompoc Link (a lamb and pork sausage with roasted garlic, caramelized onion, rosemary, and goat cheese, topped with scallion pesto and arugula) and the Lamb Ynez (a lamb sausage with roasted red pepper and red wine, topped with pickled red onion and “spicy ketchup”).
Other sausages include the Ginger Snap (a chicken and pork sausage with fresh ginger, sage, and apple, topped with caramelized onion) and the Southwestern Veggie (a mushroom and lentil sausage with roasted red and green peppers, topped with chipotle lime crema and toasted chickpeas).
Before the restaurant opened in January, Jaffe and Schwartz had ample time to finalize the menu, as roadblocks prevented an ideally swift grand opening.
“The main challenge of getting it up and running centered around complying with current COVID restrictions,” Jaffe said. “We remained flexible and took the opportunity to fine-tune the menu and built out the outdoor dining space, and we’re thrilled with the responses from diners so far.”
While the Santa Ynez Sausage Company mainly attracts guests staying at the Sideways Inn, Jaffe added that non-guests are more than welcome to venture onto the hotel property to try the new eatery.
“We would love more locals to know that it’s open to the public, and [we] are waiting for them to come on in,” Jaffe said. “It’s the perfect spot for light bites or a casual meal.”
Send business-casual comments to Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood at [email protected].