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Oct 22, 2007 05:49 PM

What's Killer in Santa Barbara? [moved from Los Angeles board]

Hi Chowers,
I'm going up to S.B. for my son's birthday on November 2 (a Friday night).
He's a student at UCSB and loves great steak, Italian, Mexican or Cal Cuisine.
I did some checking on various Santa Barabara food sites and got a few recommendations, but nothing stood out.
Money IS an issue. I don't want to spend $75.00-100.00 per person...more in the $50. per range.
Any suggestions? Can be in Goleta, Santa Barbara or Montecito.
Love the type of place that isn't yet on everyone's radar, so come on Chowers hip me to the right spots.
TV Tom

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  1. Everything is on everyone's radar in Santa Barbara - it is that kind of place. You might want to try Cold Springs Tavern on San Marcos Pass - it is a sleeper frequented mainly by locals, has a menu you might like and the historic atmosphere is Santa Barbara special.

    What places already recommended have you already discarded? That would help narrow things down.

    1. I LOVE going to the Santa Barbara Shellfish House at the end of the pier. Spiny Lobster is in season, and to me, thiers is the freshest.

      Just this Saturday, I went in and ordered a medium lobster plate with lobster bisque and asked for a basket of bread. Now they misheard and gave me a bread bowl of lobster bisque, which was fine by me! Because the chef had trouble getting a good medium (fighters, those lobbies!) they offered me a large at medium price. Well, then he discovered that the larges were gone for that day!. They felt bad, because I was expecting a large. So they faced the fight, found two mediums, and gave me one and a half mediums for the price of one. They easily sold my other half a medium to the next hungry lobster fan, who happened to be the guy sitting next to me. I didn't pay extra for the breadbowl or the huge amount of bug! The good view, food and amazing prices make it so worth it.

      II also enjoy salads or breakfast pasteries and coffe at Cafe Luna in Summerland. Summerland also is home to Tinker's a really good burger shack, and Stacky's, a good beach shack with a huge menu.

      Almost Everyone says La Super Rica on Milpas for mexican, and most of their stuff is Sooooooo good. But not all. Don Cuco's has some good burritos.

      Sojurner Cafe has good Cal/organic food.

      Holdren's for steaks? I dunno.

      AVOID LUCKY'S IN Mmontecito.

      I like a nice dinner at Opal on State-good food, and not too pricey.

      People like Ca' Dario for italian, but I've never been.

      Woody's has some good grilled meats.

      I know you didn't ask, but I recently had dessert at McConnell's ICe cream( after the huge lobby, naughty me!). Such GOOOD ICe Cream and froyo!

      if you can drive over the pass into Los Olivos, go to the Los Olivos Cafe, good food, darn good prices for what you get. My husband and I walked out stuffed for under $60 including drinks (not tax or tip)

      Also in that general area is Grappollo, some very very good Italian.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Diana

        Diana, thanks for all that--we're visiting the area in a couple of weeks. How much longer is the spiny lobster season, and what does the Shellfish house charge for them? enjoy your fall

        1. re: moto

          Well, I was told the season would go till March-so even if that is a bit of a stretch, I imagine you have time.

          The shellfish Co charges whatever the Market Price for that time is. In a few weeks, it could be different.

          Still, for my huge platter of lobby, with a good helping of bisque (you get your chooice of soup or salad), a dollop of coleslaw and four or 5 good sized onion rings (you don't need that many with all the yummy fish!) I paid the "medium" market price for the day, $41.00, I think.

          You can also elect to split any sized lobster with a friend and pay a few bucks extra for the sides-which is a darn good thing to do.

          I know a few people who do the split thing and use it as a lunch, or do it as an appetizer before hitting someplace on State for dinner. A split lobster with a pal and a good medium fro yo or ice cream at McConnell's could pretty much fill you up. I am shocked at the huge wad of froyo that passes for "medium" It's a lot!

          My sister paid $19 for her crab legs, which were all claws and piled high, and there were a lot, and she got all the sides.

          Also on the board that night was the spider crab special, in which two people split a whole mega spider crab and each got sides. I forget the price.

          There are daily specials and a "regular" menu, too.

          herte's a link:

          1. re: Diana

            Diana, thank you. We can walk to the wharf from our motel.Correct me if I'm wrong, and if you don't know I'll just find out in SB, but at this time of year the only fresh, local, wild arthopods are the spinys? Possibly wild-caught shrimp too, but the Dungeness is still further north, and spider crabs are native either to Japan or Atlantic coast as far as I know. cheers

            1. re: moto

              Well, Santa Barbara is also home to the yummy spot prawn and some of the sweet shrimp favored by sushi chefs as well. Those tend to sell out from the SHellfish co pretty fast.

              The spiny is my favorite.

              UNi is also local to SB. YUM! (not at the Shellfish co, though)

      2. Not sure whether you or your son have dined at all in SB yet, but the following would be excellent:
        - Paradise Cafe is a great setting (outdoor & indoor seating) with consistently good grilled meats, fish, and some pasta dishes. Everyone should go here at least once, and I like to take out of town guests there as it is "typical Santa Barbara", but very tasteful and good "basic" simple, well-prepared food.
        - Ca' Dario & Olio e Limone get high marks for Italian and definitely in your price range, though both are quiet (not super formal, yet not very casual) settings.
        - For seafood, I'd highly recommend Brophy Bros at the harbor. Fun, popular, and consistently good seafood specials and also basics like cioppino. Get there early; typical 30-60 minute wait for a table; they don't take reservations.
        - Steakhouse you may want to hit either Chuck's or Holdren's, though Holdren's gets pricey.
        To check prices, I'd recommend looking up menus on the internet if available.

        1 Reply
        1. re: allegro805

          Ca Dario as much as I like somethings on their menu is almost over the top on noise - very noisy. Olio e Limone is not quiet either -- at least from my perspective so I differ with your descriptions as both being "quiet". No, not at all.

        2. I went to college at UCSB and for me and my friends it didn't take a whole lot to impress. From a students perspective the food choices in Isla Vista are pretty limited, with a bit more stuff out in Goleta. Reviews are mixed on these boards but the one place everyone seemed to go when their parents were in town was Brophy Brothers( on the wharf. Good chowder and raw bar, with real fish entrees. The seafood choices as a student were slim unless it were a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish or a fish taco at a local mexican dive. Brophy's was high end(relatively speaking), had outdoor seating, and casual so you could wear shorts and a t-shirt, and the prices are also reasonable. Just thinking for father-son, a place like that might be better than a higher-end white tablecloth collared-shirt place (which of course are plentiful in Santa Barbara and might be more appropriate for a birthday.)

          1. Also, for Mexican, I'd highly recommend Los Arroyos on Coast Village Road in Montecito (this is not the downtown SB Figueroa St. location). Nice setting and good basic mex menu, with good specials and full bar.