Staff Report

The Tavern at Zaca Creek ( will throw open their ornate, hand-crafted wood and wrought iron doors with a public grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 22. The “new” eatery and tavern, which sits on a locally revered hospitality property with roots in the Central Coast ranching community, will launch with daily lunch and dinner service. The establishment is just one part of the Zaca Creek property – an expansive event venue, inn, and all-inclusive wine country destination resort which will be opening in phases in the coming months.

The new venture, brought back to life by a collaboration of long-time Santa Ynez Valley locals, will highlight the best produce and proteins being harvested and raised by some of the most dedicated California Central Coast farmers, ranchers, and fisherman, as well as global selections to match the caliber of the locally-sourced foodie finds. The property’s culinary program will include on-site Fullblood Wagyu butchery, and an educational caviar platform, partnered with a deep wine list curated by an industry insider, an elevated craft cocktail program, and an extensive spirits and liqueurs inventory of 250+ bottles.

Chef Kailtyn Paul
Photo by Danielle Honea Photography

Helming The Tavern at Zaca Creek is  Buellton native, Executive Chef Kaitlyn Paul. Chef Kaitlyn returns home after more than a decade spent bolstering her expertise in kitchens along the Central Coast and beyond. Chef Kaitlyn most recently called Jackson Hole, Wyoming “home”, having worked in the area for four years as a chef with the prestigious, multi-restaurant enterprise, Fine Dining Restaurant Group, where she successfully launched one of the group’s restaurants and coordinated their charity food delivery services.

Chef Kaitlyn is an outdoors enthusiast with a passion for travel, and both facets are reflected in the contents of her culinary quiver. At Zaca Creek, Chef Kaitlyn has created a menu which centers on her search for the finest resources for each dish, and her utilization of skilled techniques in execution, brought to light in her whole beef program being built around 100 percent American Fullblood Wagyu cattle.

Dinner menu sections will include “Beasts & Barnacles”, with items like rack of lamb, “Roast Beast” (all Wagyu cuts), or “Mixed Shells” (steamed cockles, New Zealand green lip mussels, Venus clams, and uni, in a lemongrass beurre blanc). A “Fins & Feathers” menu section will display locally-caught fish and seafood like a Basque Chorizo-Stuffed Squid, as well as a slow-smoked and grilled, lemon and herb Jidori chicken. Lunch and dinner menus will offer a handful of desserts, with regularly-changing items including a goat cheese cheesecake with a gluten-free graham cracker crust, “Birthday Cake” of rotating flavors, and a chocolate Bundt cake with vegan chocolate ganache.

The Zaca Creek property has a decided place in Buellton’s history; the property’s original proprietor boasts a family lineage which stretches back to the founding of the community. Originally a tavern and restaurant built by Jim Buell, Zaca Creek is being resurrected after nearly two decades of dormancy. The new Zaca Creek ownership is staying true to the history of the locale, with the reclamation of the property carefully centered on the founding principle of combining timeless resources of the highest quality, with custom craftsmanship built to last. Blending the “then” and “now”, pieces of the property’s original design and architecture elements have been maintained in the revamp.

A cocktail and lamp lollipops at The Tavern at Zaca Creek
Photo by Danielle Honea Photography

The transformation of the landmark establishment – from the remodel and landscape, to menu design and layout – focuses on the simple and time-tested philosophy of world-class materials and attention to detail in every aspect. The culmination of this thought process is a masterfully-reimagined establishment exhibiting nuanced flavors and old-world techniques, but with definitive nods to the historical property’s spot on the California Central Coast and the surrounding environs’ influence on the region’s culture and cuisine.

Upon opening, The Tavern at Zaca Creek will accommodate approximately 56 diners on the restaurant’s enclosed and covered 1,000-square foot outdoor patio, with all COVID-19 safety and sanitation measures in place. Once the indoor dining room and main bar can seat customers, another 46 guests may be added to the mix.

The Tavern at Zaca Creek will feature regularly-changing and seasonal food and drink specials which will be posted at the restaurant and on Facebook and Instagram: and @Zaca_Creek_Tavern.

The Tavern at Zaca Creek is located at 1297 Jonata Park Road, Buellton, CA. The restaurant and bar’s initial opening hours will be Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.; with an early Happy Hour menu offered daily, from 3 – 5 p.m. (initial opening hours subject to change). 

The Tavern at Zaca Creek space will be available for private events and catering, in part or in whole. Lunch and dinner reservations are preferred; walk-ins will be accommodated as space permits. To reach the restaurant directly and for reservations, please call 805.688.2412 or email