Thursday, October 8 , 2015, 11:02 am | Mostly Cloudy 67º

Taste of Success at Inaugural Menudo Festival Leaves Organizers Hungry for More

Local restaurants will dish out their savory selections at Santa Barbara's second annual event on Sunday at Franklin Elementary

Santa Barbara Police Department Explorers and officers Kasi Beutel and Adrian Gutierrez take a break Thursday from planning Sunday’s Menudo Festival to take a group photo.
Santa Barbara Police Department Explorers and officers Kasi Beutel and Adrian Gutierrez take a break Thursday from planning Sunday’s Menudo Festival to take a group photo.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Wake up hungry on Sunday and follow your nose to Santa Barbara's Eastside, where spicy broth, cool cilantro and the mystery meat key ingredient — beef stomach — will mingle to make a delicious treat for the masses at the second annual Menudo Festival.

The event, which was such a success that it sold out last year, is the main fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Police Department's Youth Explorer Program.

The program is made up of local youth — many from the Eastside, where the festival will be held — who are introduced to what a career in law enforcement could look like for them. To read more about the program, click here.

On Sunday, the Explorers will be on hand to serve up various menudos from 10 different restaurants, which will be competing for the title of audience favorite and best menudo from a panel of judges at the event.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., but last year, the event sold out of food early, so get there early if you want a bowl of the steaming stuff.

The event will be held on the grounds of Franklin Elementary School at 1111 E. Mason St., and tickets will be available at the door for $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 4 to 12. Kids age 3 or younger get in free.

Restaurants dishing out the menudo magic are Cesar’s Place, Rosales Mexican Food, El Taco Grande, Delgado’s Mexican Restaurant, La Tapatia Bakery, Taqueria El Bajio, Tacos Pipeye Mexican Food, Tacos Y Mariscos Boca Del Rio, Taqueria El Buen Gusto and Taqueria La Colmena.

Noozhawk caught up with Santa Barbara police officers Adrian Gutierrez and Kasi Beutel, beat coordinators for the Eastside and downtown areas, respectively, to hear about this year's festival.

Beutel said about 750 people showed up last year, a turnout that was both exhilarating and overwhelming. She said the group raised $6,000 that day for the Explorer program.

Gutierrez, who grew up on the Eastside and attended Franklin Elementary, came up with the idea with another SBPD co-worker, Sgt. Lo Duarte, after the pair had traveled to the North County repeatedly to help with the Latino Police Officers Association Menudo Festival in Santa Maria.

"Every year, we'd say, 'Let's do it Santa Barbara,'" but the pair kept getting shut down, Gutierrez said.

Last year was the year to bring it to Santa Barbara, Gutierrez decided, and the event proved to be an enormous success.

For the uninitiated, Gutierrez said menudo "tastes a lot like Posole," and can come in white or red versions, with hominy or without, and varies from the different regions of Mexico.

Mexican culture holds menudo up as a hangover cure — "that's why we planned the event on a Sunday morning," Gutierrez said with a laugh.

Many Milpas businesses turned up as sponsors and will be represented at the event, selling drinks and even cappuccinos. A bounce house will be there for young children, and a raffle from local businesses will also be on hand.

Gutierrez encouraged the community to come out to try the menudo and savor it as a weekend treat.

"I have it every weekend," he said. "Just like you have eggs and sausage ... I'll have my menudo."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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