Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Aug 13, 2007 09:32 AM

Santa Barbara

My wife and I will be in SB next month. I have been told the best restaurant there is the Stonehouse at San Ysidro ranch. I would love feedback on this place as well as several other dinner recs. I have been told to consider Bouchon, Olio y Limone, and Stella Mares. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. OPus is a must do. La Super Rica for good shack mexican food. Cafe Luna in Summerland is great for coffe, pastries, salads and sandwiches (brekker or lunch) The Santa barbara Shellfish co at the end of the pier is great!

    Also, for a great microbrew and good bar food (as well as non-bar food) try the Brewhouse.

    I was not wild about Stonehouse,not at all!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Diana

      2nd that emotion for La Super Rica. It has its naysayers, but every 'hound should go there at least once. Go with the specials...

    2. So far all the reports on San Ysidro Ranch have been disappointing, but maybe they have worked out the kinks. There is really no one "best" restaurant in SB. There are some good ones, some okay ones, some dishes better than other ones, so come with an open understanding that you will dine okay, and maybe well, but not grandly except in maybe in atmosphere and location.

      You picked some of the obvious favorites, so it will be fun to to get your first hand report after your visit. Welcome and maybe with a little more info as to your specific tastes, we can help direct you to some of the less obvious spots.

      Sad to report, but sometimes you can spend a lot of money dining in SB and only reach mediocre. That, I hope we can help you avoid.

      4 Replies
      1. re: glbtrtr

        You always say it straight about SB, glbtrtr!

          1. re: majmaj4

            Actually, I meant Opal. Sorry, typo.

            Opal is near the Arlington, up about a hlaf a block, if that.

        1. re: glbtrtr

          Thank you fo the help. Several friends just returned from SB and gave rave reviews to The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch. It could be because they stayed there. I will try several of the recs. and report back upon my return. MW

        2. I dined at Opal (lunch), Epiphany, and Wine Cask this past weekend. Opal was nice. Epiphany was really good. I ordered the crispy duck and it came with a foie gras risotto. I felt the fat from the duck was not rendered enough for my taste. However, the risotto was tasty. At Wine Cask, I ordered the vodka-infused potato soup. It was delicious. For my entree, I ordered the duck. The duck was delicious. Perfect. It was accompanied by a foie gras and cherry stuffing. Perfect sweet and sour.

          I would recommend Wine Cask.

          6 Replies
          1. re: foodientraining

            You like duck! Which was the best duck that rip?

            1. re: Diana

              I do like duck. But, it's something I rarely cook or eat. So, I decided I was going to have a nice vacation and live a bit. The Wine Cask duck was better. The Epiphany duck still had a bit too much fat for my taste. The duck at Wine Cask was juicy and very flavorful. The jus was delicious. But, I still liked Epiphany. I think I would go again the next time I go to SB. I'll try something different.

              1. re: foodientraining

                Anyone care to weigh in on best Mexican in SB that also has great margaritas? Gracias.

                1. re: petergins

                  Cielito in La Arcarda is new, haven't been there myself, but I think it is worth a look see for both your criteria according to the good reviews it is getting - more regional and refined cuisine from Mexico, a trendy, romantic setting and a lovely place to have some outdoor sips. It is on our list to places to try so it could very well be a Chow Worthy addition. Most smaller Mexican restaurants have only beer and wine licenses.

                  The El Paseo Restuarant is famed for its margaritas, wonderful historic setting but its food does not put it into the top pick class though greatly improved with the new management.

                  Maybe a combo -- have your pre-dinner margarita in El Paseo and the have your DD drive you over, (or walk a half mile) to Milpas Street and La Superica for the # 15 special. Or vice versa.

            2. re: foodientraining

              Nice to know Wine Cask is still cranking it out. I lived in the area 2 decades ago, and that was the go-to place for fine dining.

              1. re: GroovinGourmet

                Hope you can get back to your sleepy little town and see what major new additions have been added to the dining scene lately. 20 years go Wine Cask was about the only go-to place, but now there are very serious contenders as well and some of the old stalwarts still take a special place in our hearts as well. The formula for restaurant longevity in this town remains a mystery - some bad ones stay and some that open with too much flash quickly fade -- like the prior owners of the El Paseo Wine Cask location who managed to alienate all the former loyalty that location had built up -- starting out with chopping down an historic patio tree and thumbing his nose to the public outcry. We do have our own unique ways here of supporting what we like and ignoring what we don't, including restaurants.

            3. Cielito has the best margarita in town and the best chips, salsa and guacamole I have ever had. If they weren't closed today I would be there trying the rest of the menu.