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Jun 28, 2006 12:17 AM

Santa Barbara-Aja unavailable--what else?

Hi. We'll be taking a weekend trip to Santa Barbara in a few weeks. We planned on dinner at Bouchon and Aja. Unfortunately, Aja is closed for a private party so we need an alternative. Any suggestions? We were looking for something less expensive than Bouchon but something that still offered a nice dining experience. We'll be staying near State Street and would prefer something within walking distance. The Palace Grill sounded interesting but it sounds a bit more "lively" than than what we're thinking of. We like all types of cuisine but are not really interested in Mexican or sushi for our last night. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Wonder where you are staying "near State Street" since it is so long. Gosh, this makes it hard to know what to recommend - there are so many that could fit your requirements.

    The historic Hotel Upham is near State Street (State and West Sola) and has a nice restaurant in this lovely old Victorian house and garden setting called "Louie's". California/continental menu- quiet atsmosphere.


    Recent visitor was very happy with Opal which is near the Arlington Theater on State Street, just around the corner from buchon on State Street. This is a livlier place.

    "Emilio's" on Cabrillo Blvd at the beach is another nice Northern Italian choice. If you like Japansese besides sushi like their seared scallops and other menu items, around the corner from buchon on State Street is "Arigato" - the best of its class. Prices do add up there.

    Please give me a little more idea of where on State Street you find walking distance - above Carrillo Blvd near buchon or below Carrillo towards the beach. What price range are you looking for? Certainly if you like fine dining (but not cheap) Sage and Onion is a most worthy choice which is closer to the Palace Cafe near lower State Street.

    I have lots of single item, low cost restaurant favorites that are very modest, but good for one signature dish. Poking around on Milpas Street has some smaller, more modest choices and a very special Mexican treat there of course is Julia Child's favorite - La Superica.

    I love the antipasto misto at Ca Dario's with their foccacia bread and a creme caramel for dessert - makes a meal without and entree for a lower cost alternative. Or split a pasta dish there too.

    For a lovely garden fountain setting outdoors if the weather is superb, Cafe Buenos Aires is up in that same area for Argentinian specials.

    Tupelo Junction on State Street, again in about the same area as buchon has a nicely varied menu on a "Southern" theme.

    1. Sorry for not posting complete info but I didn't realize State Street was so long.

      We are staying at the Spanish Garden Inn at 915 Garden Street, which, if I correctly read the map on the website, is just south of Carrillo. While we prefer walking, we do have a car which we could use if needed.

      Price really isn't that much of an issue. We just thought we would take it a notch down from Bouchon. As I think about it, we are probably looking for something that would fall in the California eclectic or Asian fusion cuisine. We like Sushi but we have a favorite sushi bar near our home so that's why we took it off our list for Santa Barbara.

      I will check out some of the places you mentioned. And we most definitely have La Superica on our must-do list. We'll just be going there for lunch.

      Thanks again.

      1. Scenic walk to Louie's restaurant at the Upham Hotel:

        The Inn of the Spanish Garden is a very nice place to stay and puts you pretty much in the middle of things on State Street.

        A nice leisurely stroll of about one half to one hour would be to go north on Garden street and then walk towards State Street to Anacapa Street to see the county courthouse (which is really gorgeous lighted up at night.

        Keep walking up Anacapa Street to Alameda Park at Sola Street -go through the diagonal path in the park to Santa Barbara Street and tour all of Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens and then go back to Sola Street, cross State Street to West Sola Street beside the Arlington Theater and then end up at Louie's at the Upham Hotel. The streets are pretty safe, though if it is too dark you may wish to take a cab a back to your hotel.

        Be sure to also check out Ensemble Theater which is right in your back yard - literally - small, wonderful community theater.

        Another dining possibility is the new restaurant "Elements" which is on Anapamu Street right opposite the gorgeous courtyard view of the court house - I have not tried it so I can't recommend it - but I am sure it is okay. It is a very special setting and would be great for breakfast or brunch.

        Here is a link for restaurant reviews for "Elements":

        1 Reply
        1. re: glbtrtr

          Based on your description of wanting California cuisine a little lower key than Bouchon, I would pick Opal.

          Wine Cask is my favorite but in the same price range as Bouchon.

        2. Closer to where you are staying, and on the same block as the Palace (I'm pretty sure -- my memory is failing now) is a place called Square One. It's CA cuisine with a nice wine list, and definitely less pricy than Bouchon.

          Make sure to try the cheese plate for dessert.

          1 Reply
          1. re: peasoup

            peasoup has another good idea. Square One is pretty inventive CA cuisine. Pricier than opal but less the Bouchon. Yes it is a few doors down from The Palace.