Set in the California Danish heartland of the Santa Ynez Valley, Pea Soup Andersen's evokes the Danish settlers who came to California in the 1860s. The building keeps in theme with the many Danish-style homes, shops, and hotels in the area. In addition to the restaurant, you'll find a bakery and large shop, filled with knick-knacks, Danish blue and white pottery, and road games for the kids, as well as a year-round Christmas shop.
But our favorite parts of the restaurant didn't cost us a dime (or a krone). First, just outside the front door is a long plaque with carictures of all the Danish monarchs, going all the way back to Gorm the Old. Did you know that that Danish monarchy is the fourth oldest continual monarchy in the world, at over 1,000 years? And that it is now a constitutional monarchy? We spent quite a while looking at the different monarchs, discussing what they must have been like based on their drawings and names. Harald Bluetooth, Sweyn Forkbeard, Harald the Soft, Olaf Hunger, Eric Evergood, Eric the Memorable, and on and on. What glorious names! No mention of the Hamlets, though.
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Inside, in an attempt to drag the kids away from all the shiny treasures for sale, we headed upstairs to see what we could discover. Lo and behold, an entire room dedicated to the history of Buellton! Pictures, descriptions, objects, maps. Why is it called "Buellton"? How and why was Hwy. 101 developed and improved? How did folks of yore manage to get through the Gaviota Pass? What made the dairy farmers so successful? What were some of the tools people used? Learning history on such a local level helps personalize the experience, reminding us that history is the story of people, not just dry words in an oversized textbook.
So, as you're traveling up and down Hwy. 101, stop in Buellton at least once. Even if you don't have a meal there, Pea Soup Andersen's offers food for the mind. But the pea soup is pretty good!