New to Santa Barbara - What's fine and what's cheap?
I'm a UCSB student newly moved to Santa Barbara (Goleta actually) and was wondering what there is to eat in the area. What's good?
I'm into pretty much everything, and am really just looking for general recs and can't miss places, but I have two specific questions, too. What fine dining is available and worthwhile, especially wine and tasting menu wise? And what good thai, middle eastern, vietnamese, and indian places are around, even more so if they're cheap?
I'm curious as to whether anything in Goleta is worthwhile as well.
Thanks for any help, I really love these boards.
Some good suggestions so far. Here are a few more.
La Carreta (K-Mart center) - good Mexican, emphasis on seafood. Great homemade chorizo - get the veggie breakfast burrito and add chorizo. Mmmmm.
Hollister Brewing Co. (Costco/Home Depot/Borders center) - good beer and a decent menu, fair prices.
Zen Yai is my favorite Thai, on lower State.
Saigon In and Out for Vietnamese has 3 or 4 locations now, original on Milpas.
Beachbreak Cafe on lower State has great breakfast and good lunches.
Brewhouse (Montecito Street) - great beer, good food, unbelievable deals at Happy Hour, 7 days a week. Also good wine selection and full bar.
Cafe Luck, Cota Street, has good french bistro food. Where else in town can you get a full maine lobster (and frites) for $22?!?
Paradise Cafe (Anacapa Street) has the best burger in town, hands down.
Since I am such a fan of the Hungry Cat PugBurger, you have me curious to try the Paradise Cafe one because the Hungry Cat taught me you can raise the burger to an art form, and ask me to pay big bucks for it and want it again and again. And I'll love a Big Mac on any given say too.
But when one goes "gourmet" like they did at Hungry Cat with their burger, it takes on a whole new taste message. Best bet is to sit at the bar at Hungry Cat and watch the chef grill up this delight.
Spice Avenue's $9 lunch buffet was a good value. Quality varied but you can try everything so what the heck. Tandoori chicken legs, lamb curry, mushroom curry, pickled carrots, cilantro sauce, and naan (made to order, included in price) were good. Probably best to sit within view of the steam table so you can see when new stuff comes out.
1027 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
re: Robert Lauriston
I also like the Taj Cafe buffet, a few blocks away on the same side of the street about the same price. More dessert choices, but Spice Avenue has the freshest flavors. The other Indian buffet is on upper State Street in the San Roque neighborhood, not as good as the first two but a dollar cheaper and still a nice amount of very tasty food and that delicious nan bread.
San Roque has a nice collection of cheap alternatives from pizza to Chinese buffet around the Las Positas and Alamar area of State Street.
I've had several phenomenal meals at the Hungry Cat downtown SB. The seafood is amazing, the sauces divine, the mixed drinks fresh and interesting. Entrees are 18 dollars and up, but it's well worth it. It's a popular place with few tables and no reservations, so it seems like they rush you/encourage you not to linger. Go early or late.
The Rose Cafe on the Mesa and on Haley has the best machaca and eggs in town for breakfast. El Zarape on San Andres in the westside has excellent but somewhat more traditional food. They have the pork rinds in the window and soups and stews that are not available at most other spots. Their Torta Loca is something to be experienced.
The Italian Grocery on De La Guerra has the best torpedo sandwich in town. Get the Super Deluxe.
re: Darryl Lict
He retired sadly with a fond farewell to the community explaining his prime State Street business location was his retirement nest egg. It is now a sterile cell phone place, I believe. A former sweet place of independent funk in this town was lost, but hurrah for the owner who carefully planned his life, worked hard for decades and now earned his right to move on.
My fine dining pick with excellent wine recs would be The Wine Cask. You won't be sorry. I also love the Sage & Onion too.
For cheap, but excellent, a must is La Super-Rica. Cajun Kitchen for breakfast. Try Little Alex's too for Mexican. Via Maestra 42 by Gelsons is also a great little inexpensive Italian place w/ fantastic sandwiches and gelato. And of course, everyone else's recs above are great too. Oh...and Super Cuca's monster burritos and TioAlberto's in IV too.
Still out there? There are a lot of places to discover even though this is a small town that's lacking some of the "ethnic" menu diversity in the Bay Area & LA (could really use some good Ethiopian, affordable Middle Eastern, etc.). Feel free to ask for more specific requests. Glbtrtr gave some good ones, and I would add my faves below:
Indian: Naan Stop in Isla Vista is suprisingly good and CHEAP; I also like Spice Avenue on State Street better than the other places in town.
Vietnamese: Saigon In-and-Out on Milpas.
Mexican: so many places. Super Rica as mentioned is a MUST. Also, Del Pueblo on Hollister (Magnolia Shopping center betw Turnpike & Patterson, near UCSB) is good, as are both locations of Los Arroyos (downtown-Figueroa and Montecito-Coast Village Rd).
Sushi/Japanese: my favorite, and very affordable, is Edomasa on upper De La Vina (near Alamar). Takenoya on Calle Real (near Fairview) in Goleta is also good, and both have large menu selections, especially "izakaya"-style appetizer small plates. Arigato is the high-end Japanese place in town and worth the prices for a 'splurge'.
My favorite hidden gem recently is "Le Bon Cafe" on Canon Perdido & Santa Barbara Sts.: it's sort of no-frills counter service (but also no attitude), but the food is absolutely excellent, especially the fish dishes, and the cakes on offer for dessert are pretty great too.
Feel free to ask for any specific recommendations. There is a lot here to explore, and we haven't even gotten into fine dining yet... if you're a newcomer, I'm happy to recommend just about anything you want to know about.
You have to hit up all of the places in I.V. at least ONCE while you're there, just don't end up being one of the guys sitting in front of Sam's-To-Go at 10am on a weekday with a pitcher of beer in front of you. (The owner of Sam's is also clever in that he always seems to hire the best looking co-eds that apply...)
Anyways, The Cantina in I.V. has the best breakfast burritos on the planet, and the best burritos of any place in I.V. (I've posted that a few times on the boards and always look for an opening to re-post.) If/when you do try a breakfast burrito let me know how it was.
Woody's BBQ is right there in Goleta and IMO the best bbq, though some will argue for Johnny's Rib Shack downtown. A good affordable place to take someone to breakfast is Max's on Upper State Street - great breakfasts with a gourmet feel because they pay attention to details. I also liked the Cajun Kitchen for breakfast, they have a few locations in town, one of them in Goleta. And one last place is The Habit in downtown Goleta - they've expanded all over California but the one in Goleta was the original!
None of these places will earn a Michelin star but as a student it'll fill you up, not break your bank, and you'll wanna come back after you graduate. ;)
Lots I like under $10 or so:
Sakura Japanese in Paseo Nuevo
Sushi-Teri - multiple locations
Alex's Mexican - various locations
Taj, Spice Avenue, etc, - all the Indian cafes for lunch buffets
The antipasto plate at Ca Dario at lunch - under $15, but an elegant full meal treat
The Pho at the Vietnamize place in the K-Mart center
The famous La SuperRica and El Baijo for Mexican on Milpas
Cottage Hospital cafeteria
The Hotel and Restaurant School dining rooms at SBCC: The JBS Cafe or the Gourmet Dining Room
The Mesa Cafe for home made food and full dinners.
For dinner dining that is cheaper (and often better) than SB, go to Ventura Old Town (happy buzz of independent restaurants and street life) which is a few blocks from the Ventura train station if you don't have a car, but if you pay for the train, is the dinner still cheap????