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Santa Barbara Best Restaurants

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Top Restaurants in Santa Barbara

Restaurants in Santa Barbara – What’s a vacation without excellent food, delicious cocktails or fine wine in a good restaurant? Such evenings create memories. WorldTop7 offers a selection of the best restaurants in Santa Barbara. And because we know how different tastes are we cover all of the different restaurant styles!

Whether a sushi restaurant in Santa Barbara, an American steakhouse, an Italian restaurant, a Thai eatery or exotic Cajun cuisine – the lovers of culinary delights come fully at their expense and find lots of insider tips. Our restaurant tips in Santa Barbara are by locals (which should know where it tastes best!), celebrities, globetrotter and business people. And if you’ve eaten in one of these restaurants in Santa Barbara where cuisine, service and atmosphere was unbeatable and you want to tell everybody – that’s what WorldTop7 stands for! Restaurants in Santa Barbara with the x-factor!

The demands in terms of restaurant style are naturally very varied and WorldTop7 is happy to assist. Whether it is a small, cozy bistro in Santa Barbara with delicious and authentic food for surprisingly little money or a completely styled Michelin-star restaurant in Santa Barbara where movie stars and models have diner – here you find everything from inexpensive to expensive, from grunge to classy, from traditional to macro kitchen!

But not only for your vacation, also for your business lunch or business dinner in Santa Barbara you can find exactly the right place to eat. Thus, business become pleasure in no time!

Au Bon Climat

Style: Burgundy Style Wine Tasting Room

Au Bon Climat

Au Bon Climat Vineyards in Santa Barbara is known for their Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays since 1982, contributing greatly on putting Santa Barbara on the map for its great tasting wines. The talent behind the brand is owner Jim Cledenen who has garnered international recognition for his wines that have character, vision and balance. His other artisan brands of distinctive wines include Barham Mendelsohn, Clenended Family, Vita Nota, and Ici La-Bas which are all featured at the vineyard’s tasting room.
The Au Bon Climat winery does not have a retail outlet on site but their tasting rooms (opened in 2011) is conveniently located in the heart of town, just a block away from lively State Street shopping district. There are more than a hundred wines featured at the tasting room. There are options for either $10 or $15 wine tastings and wines may be purchased by the glass as well. The staff are friendly and very knowledgeable so you will surely be able to find the right bottle or two of Burgundy style pinots that would fit your occasion.
Au Bon Climat tasting room is open from noon until 6pm daily.
Good to know – they do not have complimentary charcuterie or cheeses but if you want good French Burgundy style wines then give it a go; special wine tasting packages with matching food pairings are also available but must be booked in advance.
WorldTop7 Insider Tip: they are included in one of the 6 stops of Paso Nuevo Wine Collection on the Urban Wine Trail; tasting fee is waived for every purchase of $50.
Valet parking available across Lobero Theater; public parking is a block away
Wine Club Membership perks include complimentary wine tastings, free admission to bi-annual winery open house and other wine club events, discounts for tasting room and online purchases, access to rare library wine finds, wine club only wines.

 

Address: 813 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: +1 805 963 79 99

 

Bouchon Santa Barbara

Style: Indulgent Fare and Perfect Wine Pairings

Bouchon Santa Barbara

Savour the best of SoCal Wine Country cuisine matched with excellent wine pairings at Bouchon in Santa Barbara. Passionate efforts of proprietors Amy Sachs, Mitchell Sjerven, and Executive Chef Greg Murphy have garnered multiple awards recognizing Bouchon as one of the best wine country dining experiences in town and in the region. The restaurant has a very relaxing ambiance where you can actually savour your meal. The décor is simple yet understatedly fancy. There’s also a lovely garden patio ideal for small gatherings.

Their seasonal menu features the freshest and local as possible produce in creating contemporary wine country fare with excellent dishes and perfect wine pairings like Dungeness crab cakes matched with Voignier from local Refugio Ranch or indulgent lobster pot pie matched with La Fenêtre Chardonnay. Most dishes are modern Californian and French inspired.

Delight in indulgent pairings of scrumptious food and superb wines at Bouchon any evening from 5pm until 9pm Sun – Thu and until 10pm on Fri – Sat. Call to book reservations at least a few days in advance.

Address: 9 West Victoria St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone:  +1 805 730 1160

Price: $28 – $34 main course

Handlebar Coffee Shop

Style: Hip and Trendy European-style Coffee Shop

Handlebar Coffee Shop

Pro-cycling athletes Aaron Olson and Kim Anderson have come a long way since they started roasting Guatemalan and Ethiopian coffee at cycling events (hence the store’s name).
They have since soaked up plenty of coffee knowledge from the American Barista and Coffee School in Portland and moved the 5 ft tall Probat roaster from their garage into a trendy storefront on Perdido Street serving delicious coffee along with fresh croissants and chocolates from a nearby patisserie called Renaud’s (features good gluten-free and vegan offerings too).
Their iced coffee made from fresh roasted Ethiopian coffee with a hint of chocolate is a must on hot days and a shot of their espresso are a great pick-me-upper.  They also offer batched Fetco origin coffee and non-coffee based drinks like hot chocolates and chai lattes. The interiors are brightly lit with natural light and there are plenty of outdoor seating options too.  It is the perfect spot for breakfast, afternoon people watching, or having great conversations with friends.
Handlebar Coffee Roasters is open daily from 7am until 5pm.
Good to know: near Stearns Wharf so best drop by for a coffee and croissant after exploring.

 

Address: 128 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
Area: Montecito

Julienne

Style: Fresh and Innovative Fare in Santa Barbara

Julienne

Tuesday to Saturday night dinners at Julienne Restaurant in Santa Barbara means savouring adventurous and sumptuous seasonal fare. Their menu reflects the best local ingredients that Santa Barbara Farmers Market has to offer. Owners and life partners Justin and Emma are also owners of famed eateries San Ysidro Ranch, Bacara, The Hungry Cat, and Wine Cask.
Savour flavour packed beautifully presented dishes like ricotta ravioli with mushrooms and crispy sweetbreads, cassoulet of duck confit with white beans and pancetta, or their famous everyday freshly ground in house succulent burger served with fries and fixins. Best go for the tasting menu if you want to sample their latest creations.
The 40-seater Julienne Restaurant is almost always fully booked so make sure to make reservations well in advance. They are open for dinner Tue – Sat nights from 5pm – 10pm.
Good to know: Corkage fee is $25 for every 750 ml (maximum 2 bottles).

Address: 138 E Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: +1 805 845 6488

Price: $5.- to $12.- charcuterie; $11.- to $18.- starters; $18.- to $28.- main course; $45.- to $95.- 3-/5-course tasting menu

Mattei’s Tavern

Style: Fresh Organic Fare in Historical Inn

Mattei's Tavern

Matteis Tavern is steeped in history and first opened in 1886 as a stage coach stop for San Francisco and Los Angeles travelers by its Swiss-American proprietor Felix Mattie.

It is a famous historical landmark and after a fabulous restoration in 2013, new owners Robbie & Emily Wilson, and Charles & Ali Banks did a spectacular mix of old and new having several dining rooms with its own unique ambiance.

The unique décor features brilliantly refurbished period furnishings. There’s a gorgeous room for romantic dinners, as well as a vibrant dining room ideal for families, warm oak wood hearth, and even 2 bocce ball courts amid wisteria vines and live band performance. The atmosphere is just amazing.

The menu pays a nod to the old stage coach era but also has contemporary offerings featuring locally sourced artisan products. The scent wafting from the oak-burning grill alone will make your mouth water. Enjoy sumptuous dishes like pan-seared rainbow trout in lemon and chive sauce, sweet shrimp, oystesr and Hamachi, red curry spiced dry-aged steak tartare, or hotpot of beef marrow, crab, prawns and tofu.

The 36 hour slow cooked brisket, grilled octopus, and Salisbury on the bone lamb steak are also delicious choices.

Matteis Tavern is open daily from 4pm – 9pm while the restaurant is open for dinner from 5pm – 10pm. Calling to book ahead for restaurant reservations is advised.

Good to know: They have a multi-awarded wine list including Santa Barbara Pinots and rare acclaimed vintages from around the globe; let the sommelier pair the perfect wine for your meal
Celebrity tip: Hollywood celebrities are often spotted here. John Easterling and Olivia Newton John are frequent diners

WorldTop7 Insider Tip: Great venue for weddings and events; the wisteria vine laced garden is a gorgeous wedding reception setting.

Address: 2350 Railway Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441, United States
Area: Los Olivos
Phone: +1 805 688 3550

Price: $8 – $23 starters; $26 – $35 main course

Paradise Cafe

Style: Hip Neighbourhood Café with Happening Bar

Paradise Cafe

The Paradise Café has been a Santa Barbara ever since it opened its doors back in 1983. They are locally renowned for having the best oak grilled burgers and lively bar scene in town. The charming setting in a 1915 vintage stucco and brick building is coupled with a 1930’s retro art-deco theme. There is also a lovely patio mural of Leo Carillo riding a horse which comes from an old movie scene, a vivid remembrance of the days when Carilo used to tie up his horses reigns in front of the establishment every time he visits during the Santa Barbara Fiesta celebrations.
The trendy eatery is also known for using the first and only Santa Maria oak wood in town which gives their dishes a distinct flavour. Match the Paradise Burger with a Rhone-style red and it will surely blow you away. Their ahi kabobs, and calamari sandwich are also crowd favourites. If you would like something from the sea then ask your server about the catch of the day specials. It is a good think that diners may order small plates or full entrée portions. Enjoy 5 selections of premium draft beers and carefully selected fine wines at their cool and stylish bar. The Paradise Chardonnay and Margarita are a must try.
The Paradise café is open daily from 11am until 11pm. Sunday brunch is from 9am until 3pm. Happy hour is from 4:30pm – 7pm.
Good to know: You can ask your server to let you have a taste of any of the wines that are served by the glass so you can try it before you order a whole bottle.

Address: 702 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: +1 805 962 4416

Price: $ 10.- to $30.- menu items

Qupé

Style: Wine Tasting

Qupé

If you are keen on Rhone-style wines then the Qupé tasting room is a must visit. They feature bottles from Bien Nacido Vineyard from Santa Maria, Edna Valley’s Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, and Los Olivos’ Ibarra-Young Vineyard where grapes are grown organically and biodynamically. Principal varietals that can be sampled here are Viognier, Tempranillo, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Rousanne, Mourvedre, Marsanne, Grenache, Albarino, and Chardonnay.
Tastings for groups of 7 or more people should be booked in advance. Two flights of wine tastings (5 wines) cost either $10 or $20. Visit the Qupé tasting room anytime from 11am until 5pm.
Good to know: dog friendly wine tasting room
Qupé Wine Club Membership perks include triannual discounted wine shipments, complimentary wine tasting for four people for each visit, bi-annual open house during the months of April and October, invitation only events for club members, and discounts for every purchase.

Address: 2963 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441, United States
Area: Los Olivos
Phone: +1 805 686 4200

Price: $10.- to $20.-

Scarlett Begonia Restaurant

Style: Casual Yet Elegant Foodie Hotspot

Scarlett Begonia Restaurant

Scarlett Begonia restaurant is renowned for being one of the best brunch and lunch hotspots in Santa Barbara but they also serve fantastic dinners. Chef Henry Ramos serves creative contemporary fare and diners are always looking forward to what he has to offer the following week when the menu changes yet again. The food-centric eatery features organic, sustainable, and top quality ingredients in serving progressive modern cuisine with dishes like lemon ricotta pancakes, shrimp and grits, roasted duck breast with pancetta, turnips, and brown butter potato, or quinoa oatmeal. Go for weekend brunch and you will surely want to sample everything on the prix five menu and take advantage of the unlimited drinks offer.
The fancy eatery is a great place to enjoy a good book and great company. Owner Cristo Fooks meticulously made sure that every detail is in place. The interiors are spacious and classy, while outdoor seating on both levels is glorious.
Scarlett Begonia restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch from Tue – Sun 9am until 2pm; cocktail hour is from Tue – Sat 4:30pm – 6pm ; dinner from  Tue – Sat 5:30pm – 9pm.

Address: 11 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: +1 805 770 2143

Price: $11.- to $16.- breakfast & lunch menu items; $10.- to $28.- dinner menu items

Taqueria el Bajio

Style: Family Style Mexican Restaurant

Taqueria el Bajio

If you want to experience authentic homemade Mexican cuisine just like how Abuela (grandmother) prepares them, then Taqueria El Bajio is your best bet while in Santa Barbara. The family friendly eatery offers the best tortas burritos, tacos and caldos in town. They have an open kitchen so you can watch the smiling and friendly staff prepare your flavour packed meal.
Their salsa options are quite spicy so this is no place for wimps. A bowl of caldos is sure to warm your soul. Lengua taco, carnitas burritos, pollo (chicken) soup, and adobada quesadilla are also crowd favourites.
Taqueria El Bajio portions are quite generous so they are great for sharing. They are open Tue – Sun from 6am until 9pm; closed on Mondays.

Address: 129 N Milpas St., Santa Barbara, CA 93103, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: +1 805 884 1828

The Blue Owl

Style: Superb Sandwich & Asian Fusion Shack

The Blue OwlThe Blue Owl started as a 3 nights weekly late night pop-up restaurant at Zen Yai in 2010 but has now moved into its very own location on West Canon. Chef Cindy Black, who was formerly a caterer and a pastry chef, now creates delicious modern Asian fusion cuisine featuring seasonal salads and delicious sandwiches on homemade fresh breads.

Expect dishes like Thai basil cheeseburger, oyster in spicy mayonnaise, waffle sandwich with bacon and poached egg filling, pork bahn mi, and indulgent crab melt, pork and duck on adobo rice if you want something more substantial. Keep an eye out for the daily specials too.

Drop in for a quick snack anytime from 11am – 3pm on Tue – Sat and 10pm – 2:30am on Friday and Saturday nights.

WorldTop7 Insider Tip: best after hours eats if you’re feeling peckish after evening socializing or clubbing. They have take out too boot!

Address: 5 W. Canon Perdido, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: + 1 805 705 0991

Price: Menu items from $8 – $12

The Hitching Post II

Style: Small and Cosy Roadside Steakhouse

The Hitching Post II
The Hitching Post II, in case you have not seen it in the film “Sideways”, is a cozy roadside ranchero steakhouse where cowboys, truckers, and even LA socialites hang out to enjoy Santa Maria-style barbecued meats, seasonal game dishes, and own-label pinots made by the talented winemaker-chef and owner Frank Ostini.
The Hitching post II opened in 1986 but Frank and Natalie Ostini brought the Santa Maria style barbecue sensation to town in 1952 and their success in the culinary scene is attributed to their perfect blend of the old and new styles of cooking.  The simple yet stylish interiors are decorated with vintage framed photos that depicts the life of the locals during the bygone era.
The menu features grilled American favourites like salsa varieties, reslish tray, fresh salads, grilled prime cuts of meat, and seasonal fish and game like tilapia, ostrich, and smoked duck. Delicious dessert offerings are changed daily. Their famous French Fries and grilled artichokes with smoked pepper and mayonnaise are also a must try.
The Hitching Post II is open daily for tastings and cocktails beginning at 4pm, and for dinner from 5pm – 9:30pm.
WorldTop7 Insider Tip: they have in-house made wine tastings daily at their Sidebar Mon – Fri 4pm to 6 pm, and Sat – Sun 3pm to 5pm.
Good to know: they also have a good wine club.

Address: 406 E. Hwy. 246, off U.S. 101, Buellton, CA,United States
Area: Santa Ynez
Phone: +1 805 688 0676

Price: $7.- to $17.- wines by the glass; $9.- to $13.- starters; $23.- to $50.- main course

The Hungry Cat

Style: Trendy Hollywood Vibe Seafood Eatery

 The Hungry CatAre you looking for fresh seafood? and may you have heard of Trendy The Hungry Cat Restaurant in Los Angeles. The Santa Barbara branch is successfully run by David Lentz who has managed to have the same Hollywood hip vibe at this stylish branch since 2005. There’s no better place in town to enjoy fresh oysters and the bar has a vibrant atmosphere. All the menu items (large sample plates or tapas style options are available) jive harmoniously so you will be tempted to order almost everything on the seasonal menu. Artisan cured, pickled, and smoked products are all made in-house. Frequent diner faves include oyster po’ boy, delicious fresh salads, and Maine lobster rolls. Their famous Pug Burger with blue cheese and avocado is a must try.

The Hungry Cat is closed on Mondays, open Tue-Sun for lunch from noon until 3 pm, and for dinner from 5pm – 10pm. Happy hour at the bar where snacks are also served is from 3pm – 6pm. Come early for dinner if you do not want a long wait for available tables or reserve a few days in advance.

Good to know: they have a great selection of in house made mixed cocktails and local beers if you want to veer from wine drinking for the day.
WorldTop7 Insider Tip: It is the best place to enjoy sea urchins when it is in season in Santa Barbara.

Address: 1134 Chapala St, Santa Barbara , CA 93101, United States
Area: Santa Barbara entertainment district
Phone: +1 805 884 4701

Trattoria Grappolo

Style: Cozy Traditional Italian Restaurant

Trattoria GrappoloTrattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez Valley is one of the famous restaurant stops that one should visit when exploring the Santa Barbara Wine Country. Founder chef Leonardo Curti’s delightful dishes and subtle and stylish decorations by co-owner Daniele Serra are just 40 minutes away by car from Santa Barbara centre. Delicious traditional Italian food and luscious wine choices await diners who will surely enjoy the ambiance of the large dining room, or the privacy of the 40-seater private dining room for intimate gatherings. Expect beautiful china, crisp linens, and romantic dim lighting in the evenings.

Must try dishes include the rolled up pizza Rollino Veneto, handmade pastas, succulent aged steaks, carpaccio, rack of lamb, and sinfully delicious desserts like chocolate torte and lavender enhanced crème brûlée. Many champagnes and wines are served by the glass or half bottle so enjoy sampling a wide variety of drinks during your meal.

Visit Trattoria Grappolo for lunch on Tue-Sun from 11:30am until 3pm, and for dinner Mon – Sun from 5pm – 10pm.

Style: Cozy Traditional Italian Restaurant

Address: 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, CA, United States
Area: Santa Ynez

Price: $15 – $20 starters; $16 – $30mains