Is there a better way to explore Santa Barbara than by going on a culinary adventure? It is time for you to find the best place to eat in this beautiful coastal city. So sit back, relax and enjoy your read!
Best Place To Eat In Santa Barbara: A Culinary Adventure! Santa Barbara has some of the most delicious food around. Whether it be seafood, sushi, or even tacos, so many places have great options for everyone’s taste buds (and wallets). Ready? Let’s go!
Tours & Things to do hand-picked by our insiders
Best Restaurants in Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara is home to some of the most interesting artists in the country, but did you know that their food was just as interesting?
1. BARBAREÑO – Best Steak
The Barbareño is a wonderful restaurant with amazing food and an inviting atmosphere. The executive chef, Julian Martinez, came up with all of the innovative dishes on his own while also incorporating local purveyors such as Chumash Indian heritage in Santa Barbara.
However, although it may sound like dark cuisine, if you know what I mean (I’m talking about Chef Ramsay), this place will satisfy your taste buds when only one bite can make your mouth water for more.
For a truly scrumptious, farm-to-table meal in an intimate and relaxed atmosphere, head over to Barbarino.
Located downtown just two blocks off busy State Street, this restaurant looks like pure California with its warm wood and glowing lights
That makes for the perfect setting for delicious food from sustainable meat sources (prepared by their team twice weekly) at Santa Barbara’s farmers market. You might enjoy Pacific mussels or pork belly one night or even basil ice cream on another day.
2. Cold Spring Tavern
The San Marcos Pass on Route 154 is a twisty stretch that rises north of Santa Barbara and delivers bikers to Cold Spring Tavern, an old stagecoach stop with food since 1865.
The restaurant remains popular because it has the perfect Western setting, including wagon wheels and picnic tables, as well as dishes like buffalo burgers or venison steak sandwiches for wild game lovers. For those looking for some excellent tri-tip grilling on Saturdays or Sundays, then this is your place.
In a forest nestled in the quaint town of Cold Spring, there lies an ageless stagecoach stop with four fireplaces and an idyllic setting. Here you’ll find friendly (sometimes famous) patrons enjoying hearty fare while reminiscing about their travels over the good conversation by candlelight.
Originally built as both a place for travellers to rest beside the stream and steel themselves for the trip ahead, this restaurant has been serving meals since 1865. If it’s breakfast or lunch that tickles your fancy, enjoy some eggs cooked any way you please alongside bacon served up just like grandma used to make: crispy on one side and juicy on top.
Dinner features game meats such as venison chops stuffed with mushrooms & onion sausage topped with a fried egg. This is one of the best Santa Barbara restaurants if you are a biker or a traveller.
3. BIBI JI – Best for Lunch
Bibi Ji offers a new take on Indian cuisine that locals and visitors alike will love. With the help of Chef Jesse Singh, Bibi Ji gives diners an experience they won’t soon forget with dishes such as playful spins on classics and street food.
The $50 per person tasting menu is perfect for those looking to indulge in something different while also adding wine or beer pairings if desired, which are sure to complete your meal at this hot spot.
Bibi Ji, home to some of the brightest flavours in Santa Barbara, offers a menu that highlights the abundance of local seafood served sea-to-table with traditional Indian coconut curries and fresh produce sourced from a farmer’s market.
Accordingly, dishes change with the season; start off your meal on the right foot by sampling their chutney platter followed up by uni biryani (if available) or chef’s specialities like chicken makhani curry for those daring enough to order something hot.
4. Brophy Bros Clam Bar And Restaurant
The Brophy Bros restaurant entrance is unassuming, and it’s understandable why those who do not know about the establishment would be hesitant to enter. However, if you’re willing to take a chance on this small but mighty cafe, your taste buds are in for an experience unlike any other.
The woman I saw struggling with her grandson as they entered was clearly someone that had been coming here since the beginning of time- which speaks volumes considering they have served up some seriously delicious cuisine ever since their opening day back in 1986. You need these guys on speed dial ASAP because what comes out of their kitchen will literally blow you away.
Brophy Bros Clam Bar and Restaurant is a must-dine in Santa Barbara. A table on the deck will give you an alfresco dining experience that won’t soon be forgotten, as well as views of the harbour framed by mountains in the back. Alternatively, grab a seat at the bar or window for gorgeous views from the inside.
Cioppino is a traditional Italian fish soup and clam chowder that you can’t find anywhere else on the peninsula. While they have all of these other great seafood dishes, their speciality shines through in every Cioppino bite.
They offer some good craft beers to round out your dining experience, and make sure not to forget dessert at The Fisherman’s Catch – we’ll set up one last table for just desserts, so come hungry or plan ahead because this place has something sweet waiting for you.
Cioppino is the perfect food to warm up your day – #BrophyBros #SantaBarbaraHarbor #SantaBarbara #SantaBarbaraCA #ExploreSB #SeeSB #Eeeeeats #VisitSB https://t.co/x4v5j31KFJ pic.twitter.com/8PVCnvnUXD
— Brophy Bros. (@brophys) January 16, 2020
5. THE BLACK SHEEP – Best For Romantic Dinner
Chic, unpretentious international cuisine has just made its way to the heart of downtown. The Black Sheep is a family affair that marries Chef Robert Perez’s delectable global-inspired fare with his son Ruben’s genuine hospitality. Expect an eclectic menu that draws from Latin American, European and Asian flavours while using locally sourced ingredients in this cosy space off State Street – perfect for any occasion.
The Black Sheep is a restaurant for those who love both high-end food and a relaxing atmosphere. Located in downtown Santa Barbara, this vibrant establishment caters to hungry tourists with its eclectic menu of global flavours mixed with local ingredients like shoyu ramen, potato croquettes, or heavenly scallop Crudo. Specials change nightly, so you never know what will be on offer – maybe it’s foie gras tacos or wild boar stew!
The staff are also friendly and knowledgeable about wine, which makes it easy to enjoy delicious dishes while sipping one of their respectable beers before heading out into town, where there might even be more restaurants waiting for your culinary cravings.
6. La Super-Rica Taqueria – Best Mexican Restaurant
La Super-Rica is the most famous Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara. They are a family-run business that has been around since 1980, and they serve delicious food like their alambre plate, which contains tri-tip with peppers and onions grilled to perfection and then topped with bacon; it’s awesome!
Their Lomito Suizo dish is trendy too, as it features pork marinated in garlic, vinegar, herbs de Provence, or other seasonings wrapped up between two tortillas while melted cheese seeps out of its top – this dish will make your mouth water for sure! La Super Rica should be on any smart traveller’s list when looking for something good to eat during vacation time. One thing they should add is a happy hour menu.
Though there are some who deem them overrated (though many flocks here anyways), most come here for their delicious fresh tortillas made continuously throughout each day – bravely waiting in line and ordering up rajas tacos (sautéed strips of pasilla chillies, onions, herbs and melted cheese) or try something new like their tasty chilaquiles.
7. Yoichi’s – Best For Seafood
Chef Yoichi Kawabata, who had gained years of experience in Japan, opened his traditional kaiseki-style restaurant, Izakaya Kikufujiya, along with his wife and business partner Mogi.
The restaurant is currently open only on Thursdays through Sundays for 10 guests per evening, but they are planning to expand their hours soon regardless of whether or not the Santa Barbara community wishes them well. I love their fresh fish and seafood.
Yoichi’s Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese tasting menu that highlights the best of what this season has to offer. The freshest seafood, sashimi and Waygu beef are only some of the items you’ll find at Yoichi’s in downtown Vancouver – as well as other dishes such as grilled crab.
You can’t go wrong with any meal choice because they’re all served from their set menu by chef-owner Masato Yoshizawa himself. Sake, beer or wine may also be offered depending on your taste preference. Reservations are highly recommended for these multi-course dinners, which last up to two hours; it’s an experience not soon forgotten.
8. Taqueria El Bajio
Located on the quieter side of Downtown, Taqueria El Bajio has been open for over 20 years. Unlike its more popular counterpart next door, this unassuming taquería does not host as many people; but it is full of quality and offers ample outdoor seating to go along with your meal.
We recommend ordering any one of their delicious quesadillas: try the adobada (shredded pork in a cheese tortilla) or chorizo y papas (potatoes).
The best crispy tacos you’ll enjoy. Get the tacos dorados, with 3 of the tastiest fried taco options: chicken, carnitas and potato & bean. All come packed with freshly shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes for a perfect combo to dress your dish! With an ample salsa bar available too – beans served on the side – El Bajio is definitely worth checking out if it’s been more than two decades since you’ve had their delicious fare.
Imagine the best possible pizza you’ve ever had. It was so good that as soon as it finished, your mouth watered for more and all the other foods served before or after just couldn’t compare anymore. That’s how delicious Bettina is.
The wood-fired pizzas are blistered to perfection with a crunchy crust, while the rest of their menu relies on local wines and fresh vegetables to complete a fulfilling meal where everyone leaves full, contentedly happy faces smiling even if they’re from out-of-towners who might not know about this gem yet but will be sure to tell anyone in need of some great foodie experience once they find out what I’m talking about.
For a date night with that special someone, head to Bettina for the best pizza in Santa Barbara. You’re sure to find something delicious on this menu with naturally leavened organic dough fermented for at least 48 hours and toppings like meatballs made from scratch.
And don’t forget about all of their other dishes! A full bar means it’s never too early or late for some wine tasting while waiting on your entree, and we can guarantee they will be prompt because these servers are also courteous.
10. BOUCHON SANTA BARBARA – Best For Dinner
With a menu designed by Chef-Owner Mitchell Sjerven and his team of culinary talents, Bouchon brings the intimacy of fine dining with California wine country cuisine.
Located in Santa Barbara’s sought-after wine region since 1998, this restaurant is no relation to Thomas Keller’s famous French Bistro! They offer wines from all over the world as well as locally sourced ingredients that are fresh for every dish they serve.
Santa Barbara’s Bouchon restaurant is the perfect place for a romantic date. Their menu offers dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients from Santa Ynez Valley, wine selections from Central Coast vineyards, and more than 40 wines by the glass chosen to match any taste preference you pick out!
The team at Bouchon in Santa Barbara has crafted an amazing tasting experience of some of California’s best produce paired with excellent service and top-notch food. You can enjoy their fantastic cuisine while sipping over forty different varieties of wine offered by the glass or bottle, accompanied by live music every evening until 9 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 pm Friday & Saturday, and 7 pm Sunday, including brunch, starting 11 am.
Hello, and welcome to Travel Crog, a site where I share my travel advice for your dream vacations. My name is Molly Martin, and I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. I have a passion for travelling and exploring new destinations, and I want to inspire you to do the same. Six years ago, I left my job as an HR professional and embarked on a three-month trip around the world. It was an amazing experience that changed my life and perspective. Ever since then, I have been travelling as much as I can, and writing about the best things to do, see, and eat in every place I visit. Whether you’re looking for a city break, a beach getaway, or a mountain adventure, I have something for you. Travel is not only fun, but also empowering and enriching. Join me on my journey and discover the world with Travel Crog. My motto is: “Life is short, travel more.”
1 thought on “10 Best Restaurants In Santa Barbara You Must Try”
I’ll be sure to use this post as a guide for our trip to Summerland this summer. I’m a big fan of Brophy’s, La Super-Rica and Cold Spring Tavern. The rest are new to me.