Ramon Velasquez and his mom, Imelda.
Corazon Comedor in Santa Barbara is the latest restaurant venture for Ramon Velasquez, with help from his mom, Imelda. Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

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The heart, or “corazon,” tattoo on his arm says it all. Ramon Velasquez is filled with love, and he wants to share it with the world. 

His latest venture is Corazon Comedor, a restaurant at 29 E. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara.

“In Mexico, my grandma used to say when you cook with your heart, everything tastes better,” Velasquez said. “Anything I do, I try to put my heart and soul into it first.”

Velasquez also owns Corazon Cocina and Little Heart Cafecito inside the Santa Barbara Public Market.

The idea for the restaurant was to take people to Mexico City, where diners can enjoy authentic Mexican food.

“We have good Mexican food in Santa Barbara, but we don’t have soul food, like food from your mom, from your grandma, from a market on a street in Mexico,” Velasquez said. “The idea is to create a menu where people can taste those flavors.”

Tacos de guisado and tamales at Corazon Comedor.
Tacos de guisado and tamales at Corazon Comedor. Credit: Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo

He has help from his mother, Imelda, who makes the tamales. He learned from her when he was 5 years old. The restaurant sells market-style quesadillas with mushrooms and chicken. Imelda Velasquez makes pozole on weekends. Ramon Velasquez is also proud of the tacos de guisado, which are made of slow-cooked stew.

“They have a lot of flavor, a lot of soul in them,” he said.

The space is airy — with a large, open-air kitchen and dining area, a side room filled with paintings of saints as well as movies of Mexican legendary actor “Cantinflas” playing.

Velasquez is very much self-made. He grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved to California when he was 15 years old. He worked his way to the top, learning from others in the kitchen.

“I always loved food, so I always worked in restaurants,” Velasquez said.

He worked at Arigato, but then said he felt an obligation to “make something great.”

“When I do a restaurant, I really want to take you to a place where you have never been,” Velasquez said.

He also owned Cielito, and then eventually opened Corazon Cozina.

Velasquez encourages people to check out the restaurant, where they will encounter his love for people, food and service.

“Your mind is very powerful, but your heart is such a powerful thing also,” he said. “Anything you do great in life is led by your heart. Whether it’s love, or it is cooking, or raising a child or building something, it’s out of love, the passion that comes with it. I just want people to have an honest, good meal.”

Pepe’s Is Back

Old Town Goleta restaurant Pepe’s has quietly reopened its doors after more than a year of closure. 

About two years ago, the restaurant at 254 Orange Ave. closed after a kitchen fire. 

After repairs and renovation, the spot popular with families and for happy hour margaritas is now open every day.

The company posted on Instagram on Wednesday, “Pepe’s is back.”

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday, when it’s open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Solar-Powered Bikes

Santa Barbara-based Energized Bikes is offering solar-powered electric bikes for in-town and long-distance rides.

“Since purchasing our Dost e-bikes, my family and I have personally eliminated many miles in our automobiles, especially on the majority of our short trips, which are less than 30 miles from home,” owner Bryan Hope said. “We want to see this more climate-friendly mode of transportation grow, for both recreation and transportation purposes, and safety will be a key factor moving forward.”

The company offers an hour-and-a-half City Ride and a half-day Trails to Rails.

The company is motivated to show as many people as possible just how enjoyable it is to get out of the car while still easily traveling considerable distances, according to a news release.

The company has partnered with Vancouver-based Dost electric bikes. The company also uses Sena intercom helmets.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at {encode=”jmolina@noozhawk.com” title=”jmolina@noozhawk.com”}. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.