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Santa Barbara Restaurants - 3 ways

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I'm heading to Santa Barbara over the weekend of 12/9 and 12/10. I'll spend the morning and afternoon of 12/9 in the wineries. Any places I should definitely hit while I'm there? I know the whole Sideways thing, but I'm just looking for some MUST SEE places up there. Any recs for a place to grab a lunch would be perfect...

As for the evening of 12/9, I'll be doing dinner in Santa Barbara. I'm looking for 3 different restaurants to choose from - something trendy, something with great seafood, and something distinctly Santa Barbara. Money's not a real big issue, and it doesn't have to be overly romantic, or have a view, or anything. Just a place with great food would be perfect. It can be anywhere in Santa Barbara, although we'll be staying on State St. about 10 blocks from the pier.

The next morning, I'd like to do grab some breakfast/brunch. Once again, I'm just looking for great food - someplace that serves great fresh, regional cuisine. I'm coming from DC, so any place that is "California" would be great.

That should pretty much do it for my little vacation there....any help with this would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Arigato (1200 Block State Street) would be great combo for seafood (Japanese/sushi)/ trendy/ distinctily Santa Barbara.

    The best cluster of fine restaurants in Santa Barbara is around the 1200 Block of State Street: buchon',s; Olio y Limone; Downey's; Opal; Arigato; Ca Dario; Tupulo Junction.

    Noisy, young night life can be found in the 500-600 Blocks of State Street.

    Anderson's Bakery and Restaurant (1100 Block State Street) is great for sidewalk breakfast in a nice Euro style cafe right on State Street - perfect for quiet early morning people watching. Grab a local paper (especially the free weekly Independent) and read what is happening in town the weekend you are here.

    Good reviews coming in for Fresco's at the beach in the hotel at the corner of Milpas and Cabrillo Blvd - view and food.

    The best happening part of Santa Barbara where you will find more local than tourist is what is called the Historic Arts District - 4 blocks above the Carrillo Street intersection - 1000 and higher blocks of State Street.

    This is the best place to concentrate your visit in such a short time, especially if you are staying "10 blocks" or so from the wharf (Hotel Andalucia?). Be sure to walk a bit around the surrounding blocks to see our lovely courthouse and Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens - east a few blocks from State Street in this area.

    1. Wow, great suggestions! I'll look up those restaurants and pick one from there...

      thanks!

      1. Having spent a fair amount of time in DC hearing complaints about the lack of Mexican cuisine, the huevos rancheros at D'Angelo's bakery might be just the thing for a right coaster.

        D'Angelo's 805-962- 5466 25 W Gutierrez St (just off lower State before the freeway underpass)

        Three places for a great Mexican lunch, all within 6 blocks of each other on Milpas:

        La Super Rica Taqueria - Number 15 Special (The Tocino), order off the specials board, not the place for traditional tacos, etc.
        622 N. Milpas
        805-963-4940

        El Bajia
        129 N. Milpas

        Altamiranos - mole chicken and enchiladas, posole, fish tacos, tacos altamiranos, pork chop tacos
        422 N. Milpas St

        For seafood, Brophy Bros. at the harbor is a SB classic.

        Happy chowing and be sure to report back.

        1. SBShellfish at the end of the Pier is a must, and is a good afternoon place- watching all the activity on the water and the pier- its local lobster season here- so the eatting will be good. The crab sandwich is my personal fav, but have heard great things about the lobster and shrimp tacos as well.

          Brophys is good- but be prepared to wear a beeper and wait at least 45 minutes to sit down if going for anything past noon. It is worth the wait- the noodle house underneath it is pretty good- salmon salad great here.

          The Minnow Cafe- again at the Harbor, in a small spot has great fish and chips- and great people watching- have had many a great breakfast here!

          I love Super Rica , and I say #16 is the dish to have- pork pasilla chili and melted cheese. Along with a cold beer- heaven. Some people are turned off- expecting a gourmet meal here- it is a taco stand and not much more- but the people who run and work at this place wear their love on theri sleeve!

          Cold Springs Tavern is a 15 minute drive from downtown, this place is dusty and rustic- but the drive there is a gem. Great breakfast, lunch and dinner- great cocktails, and on Sunday afternoons- tri tip sandwiches and music along with about 300 bikers having a good time. A place you will never again experience! Big Tom is the tri tip cooker- nice guy!

          I second Andersons. Classy and great seating on the street.

          The Chase is a great place- I love the little white lights everywhere- and there creamy pasta dishes are sinful, good cocktails.

          Your hotel should be able to provide you with directions to said restaurants.

          As far as the Santa Ynez Valley- tasting map should be available at your hotel- the Valley is pretty spread out- so pick several close to eachother- or stick to visiting one and then hitting Los Olivos, as there are many tasting rooms in one place. I would reccomend (wineries to visit) as Gainey, Beckman and Sunstone- and in Los Olivos Andrew Murray, Tensley and Carhartt.

          Food in the Valley- again- Los Olivos has it made- Panino for excellent sandwiches and salads. Los Olivos Cafe has something for everyone, Wine Cask is doing pretty good business- along with sister restaurant Intermezzo- if still in town for dinner- Matteis Tavern is top drawer all the way around. The Ballard Inn, just 5 minutes from Los Olivos is also top notch for dinner and they also have some exclusive wineries they pour in their tasting room.

          Solvang has at least 10 tasting rooms now as well- but if you only have one day here- I'd make it Los Olivos.

          the Independent can be accessed online. for information prior to your trip.

          Enjoy your visit!

          1 Reply
          1. re: JalamaMama

            Should have mentioned that I had a very good huevos rancheros at the Minnow on my last visit.

          2. For your winery day, I highly recommend that you don't miss Sunstone. It also has an amazing patio, and if you bring your own picnic (they don't mind) it would be a great place for a casual lunch. Or try the Los Olivos Cafe for lunch (http://www.losolivoscafe.com/).

            Breakfast -- I like the atmospher of Andersen's sidewalk cafe, but their food is not to my taste. I prefer Barcliff & Bair just up the block, but my personal favorite is eating on the sidewalk at D'Angelos.

            Dinner:
            - Best seafood and location/view hands-down is Brophy Bros. (best to arrive before 6).
            - Distinctly Santa Barbara my favorite is the Paradise Cafe. Simple grill menu, but never a bad meal. Great charming patio.
            - Trendy? LA Times just gave a stellar review to a relatively new, somewhat unknown place called Square One. I'm personally dying to check it out. Check the review: http://www.calendarlive.com/dining/cl...