The Mecca is once again fabulous. The easily missed entrance on Milpas hides a whole lot of history — and some mystery — behind its boxy little neighborhood bar appearance. Bathed in blue light and ringing with a guitarist playing Ranchero ballads, The Mecca was bumpin’ low-key style on a Thursday night. A bar full of regulars were chatting away while bartender SunRize Szekely whipped up drinks and manager Rafael Fernandez ran back and forth from bar to floor.
The Mecca goes back to the 1930s, making it one of the oldest bars in Santa Barbara. For a brief while in the late 2000s, it tried to be a different kind of bar, the up-market Legends Lounge, and then Chocolat, but a neighborhood needs a neighborhood bar, so when Fernandez and his brother bought it back a few years ago, the old name returned. According to Fernandez, people are going to call it The Mecca (or The Fabulous Mecca) no matter what an owner tries to do, so why fight it?