5 Questions with Erin Eubank of Taste of Catalina Food Tours
We talked to Erin Eubank, owner of Taste of Catalina Food Tours in California, about where to eat when you travel to Catalina Island.
1. What should foodies know about Catalina Island?
Catalina's more spectacular food options are often overlooked. Guests tend to order items they are comfortable with and in doing so, they end up missing the real food culture of Avalon. One of the greatest things about the local restaurants is their ability to diversify their food offerings. Where else can you order conch fritters, monkey balls, Chinese broccoli, hibachi teriyaki steak w/ caramelized onions and mushrooms, duck taquitos with mole or fresh local swordfish and lobster in the span of a weekend's dining?
2. What can people expect on your food tours?
People can expect to be wowed by the variety on the tour - most guests that have taken a tour with Taste of Catalina Food Tours report they had the opportunity, more than once, to try an item they never would have ordered off the regular menu. Guests can expect to leave the tour with an increased love of Catalina Island and its residents. Our guides do a fantastic job of sharing the history of Catalina. We strive to give an overview of the people that make up the restaurants - they really are the heart and soul of the food community on the island. There is a bit of walking and plenty of time to take postcard perfect pictures in between the six provided tastes. Our most common review response reminds people that taking our tour on the first day of their visit helps set them up with info and dining locations for the rest of their trip.
3. You also make coffee and cookies. Tell us about that.
We purchased Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co. in 2003. This was actually why we moved to the island, although I had grown up here in the summers. It was a fun challenge taking over a business that had been in the community for nearly three decades. We wanted to grow the business, increasing offerings while maintaining the classics that the town had grown to love. We still make and bake the 12 original cookie recipes everyday of the week. We serve Gaviña brand coffee, which visitors and locals love. Gene, my husband, is our head baker. He is in the shop before the sun comes up every morning to prepare for our 5 am opening daily. All of our boys have worked in the shop (two are currently in college, one is in middle school) and our crew is made up of the best people you'd ever want to work with. Most of them have been with us for years and they earn our high ranking in review sites like TripAdvisor.
Our newest offering is Hot Breakfast All Day! Mouth watering egg sandwiches, burrito wraps or even a choice of a gluten free bun. All served with to die for sauces such as chipotle mayo, pesto aioli, or our original spicy sauce. We also feature our homemade 3rd St. Spices that we whip into cream cheese. This herbed spread can be enjoyed over any bagel, have it with one of our sandwiches or even buy a bag of spices to take home with you to use in your kitchen. We turn out a lot of great options from our corner cafe with a lovely courtyard to enjoy the shade or sun anytime of the year. We are the hub of the Metropole Market Place.
4. Is there a best time of year to visit Catalina Island?
Anytime is the best time, depending on what you are looking for. Summertime is a crowd favorite for the activities, beach weather and warmer water - the town is hopping, everything is open and there are events nearly every day of the week. In the Fall, the crowds thin, the weather warms up (just a smidge) and there are still activities and jazz festivals on the weekends. The holiday season sparkles in Avalon - lights in trees and festive community events are small-town charming. The off-season offers discounted rates and a calming atmosphere up until the start of Spring Break. The island offers accommodations, activities and dining options year around, so you just have to choose what pace you want to enjoy. Our best advice - sample the island at different times of the year and find your favorite!
5. If we're foodies coming in for a romantic weekend, where should we eat and why?
There are a lot of options that fit the bill for a romantic dining experience. The deck at Bluewater Avalon (lunch or dinner) or the Inn on Mt.Ada for lunch are all foodie locations with idyllic ambiance. Additionally for dinner, a window view at Seaport Bistro or similarly, Ristorante Villa Portofino on their patio are two great options. Probably the most favorite of many would have to be Steve's Steakhouse. Steve and Margaret Bray and their staff provide a welcoming atmosphere, delectable eats and views that make couples swoon nightly. They are the first stop on our food tour and the restaurant that guests often return to after the tour. All great choices with varying menus to please all palettes.