HOME > Chowhound > California >


LA Hound in Santa Barbara for a day - what to eat?

  • a

Hi everyone,

coming up for a day trip this coming Saturday and looking for some mid-priced lunch ($15-20 pp) and dinner ($30-40 pp) options in Santa Barbara - perhaps even a winery / local food shop to check out.

Counting on you guys--- thanks.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What part of town will you be visiting and what is your goal - food, veiws, known, unknown, ethnic? Most of these are open for both lunch and dinner.

    If you are by the beach and the tourist area, try Fresco's At the Beach at the corner of Cabrillo Blvd and Milpas Streets for spectacular view and California cuisine. Many like Santa Barbara Shellfish at the tip of the Wharf at the ocean end of State Street. Fresco's: http://www.santabarbarainn.com/dining/

    A solid N. Italian choice with an erratic service attitude at the Beach is Emilio's on Cabrillo Blvd between Bath and Castillo Streets.

    Another local sleeper near the beach at the Bird Refuge past the Zoo on Cabrillo Blvd and Los Patos Way is Stella Mares, in a lovely French country setting with a glass garden room - particularly lovely at sunset for drinks. http://www.stellamares.com/

    The Wine Cask in El Paseo (mid State Street) is good for local wine selections but mixed reveiews for food though a lovely and historic setting. Also Cantwell's market at West Arrellaga and 1500 block State Street has very good wine selections, along with good deli items.

    For the best Mexican, try the far more casual La Superrica Tacqueria on Milpas Street at Alphonse, and the Number 15 Tocino Special will have you driving back to Santa Barbara for more. Or nearby, there are fans for Bajio also on Milpas Street, the working class neighborhood of Santa Barbara.

    The prime restaurant zone is found on and around the 1200 Block of State Street (central downtown) and East/West Victoria Street with any number of possibilities: N. Italian at Ca Dario (I love their antipasto misto - enough for a lunch); Olio et Limone - N. Italian, Opal's - eclectic; Tupelo Junction - Southern US; the casual Cafe Bianco in Victoria Court(lunch only) - light salads, sandwiches, Euro style pastries.

    Also on mid State Street is Taj or Spice Avenue for Indian with their well-priced and savory buffets. Several sushi and Japanese bento box lunch combos line State Street.

    Monetcito in the Lower or Upper Village has a number of "happening" restaurants too. Montecito Cafe in the Montecito Inn on Coast Village Road is a local favorite - save room for the coconut cake.

    Well, that's a start......

    My own pick for lunch would be Ca Dario on the corner of East Victoria and 1200 block Anacapa Street for the following: antipasto misto, crema vanigla (creme caramel) and a cappucino or glass of wine - for about $20. Served with delicious foccacia bread. Yum. Then maybe Fresco's at the Beach or Stella Mares for dinner.

    1. Thanks for the recs, and to clarify/be more detailed - we're looking for something Californian cuisine wise (though non-heavy European would do) - fresh seafood & good desserts are a definite big plus, as well as a wine list featuring local favorites or good, unique cocktails.


      1 Reply
      1. re: AquaW

        Think about my final recommendations and I don't think you will be disappointed.

      2. Good recommendations, globetrotter! I'll throw in Your Place (Milpas) or Galanga Thai (lower State), Brophy Bros. by the wharf for fresh fish (clam chowder is great!), the Indian place on upper State (can't think of the name, but it's across from McKenzie Park- State and De La Vina), Paesano's at 1429 S. Andres for the best pizza in SB.

        1. Agree, Paesano's Pizza is a true SB insider's favorite. In fact the Westside remains a unique mom and pop dining experience: Sushi Teri (Japanese); Super Cuca's (Mexican) and Paesano's (Italian).

          1. Here is a commerical website featured on local wine talk radio show: Wine and Dine in Santa Barbara


            1. Moby Dick on the pier for Seafood.

              Madison's on State Street for steak(I know its a bar, but its very good).

              There's also a very good Japanese place, but I can't recall the name.

              1. Based on the California cuisine and lighter request:

                Opal or Jade are good dinner choices.
                Opal area is a little more in the action.

                Wine Cask is my favorite; but a little out of your range. But Intermezzo is nice and has some good wines, I am not very fond of the menu for food.

                Brophy's or SantaBarbara Shellfish would be my recommendations for lunch. Or maybe fresco's at the beach.

                Wineries in town. Jaffurs Wine Cellars, 819 E. Montecito Street is having an open house from 2-6 with light apps and 10 wines for $10. Santa Barbara Winery has a nice wine tasting room. Whitcraft has some nice people and good wine.

                Farmers market is Saturday morning for some local produce and products. C'est Cheeze is a great local cheese shop.

                1. Santa Barbara Brewing Company has some decent suds and an absolutely killer Grilled Ahi Tuna Salad.

                  1. Montecito Inn is another restaurant that would make the list of lighter style California/European cuisine. Nice atmosphere and a good value.

                    1. My own stop for SB usually includes Brophy Brothers on Stearn's Wharf.

                      1. "mac & cheese" at sevilla (gnocchi in manchego cheese sauce and truffle oil)..one of my favorite dishes!

                        1. Based on the poster's criteria I would recommend Arts and Letters Cafe for lunch (nice atmosphere, behind Sullivan and Goss art gallery/bookstore on Anapamu just off State). Also agree with the Montecito Inn rec, but it is in Montecito, which might not be what the poster wants.

                          Opal or Intermezzo for dinner - again, focusing on the poster's criteria.

                          Ca Dario is always a reliable choice, though I wish it were more comfortable. Also it is Italian, not CA cuisine, although it meets the fresh seafood criterion.


                          1. Hi all! Thanks for the suggestion ~ actually my SB trip got postponed due to the rain (the first major one in the LA area - so didn't feel like chancing it with the oil slicks along the 101.)

                            But will definitely make a trip soon and will consider your suggestions -- my original plan is to go to Stella Mares for weekend brunch, check out a few wine tasting rooms in downtown - maybe grab a soup and some light eats at Brophy's & finish it off with a dinner @ Opals. And of course, blogging about it all when I get back home ;)

                            Of course, since I haven't actually taken the trip yet I'm definitely opened to any places not already mentioned.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: AquaW

                              It's been a while since this thread was up, but I hate starting new threads on old subjects.

                              Anyway, I went to the Montecito Cafe today (Sunday) and it was just terrific. Somewhat limited lunch menu, but it all looked good and all three of us loved what we had.

                              They had several lamb dishes on the menu -- something you don't see every day -- and I had the fettucini with lamb sausage. Only four slices of the sausage, but the serving was large enough that I wound up bringing part home for tomorrow.

                              As mentioned, the prices are a bargain (I think three of us got out for $45, no alcohol or dessert and not counting the tip), and it's a nice, brightly-(sun) lit room; friendly staff; and free valet parking in the hotel.