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Jan 25, 2001 07:05 PM

Santa Barbara restaurants

  • b

My wife and I want to take our U.C.S.B. student daughter to Sunday dinner in a couple of weeks.

Can anyone recommend some good restaurants in S.B?

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  1. We've always liked the Palace Cafe on Cota for Creole-Cajun. The jambalaya is full of all the right goodies so it's not just rice with creole flavored bits of meat. It's not just traditional cajun/creole, though. The menu is varied enough so that everyone can find something to suit his/her taste. They will accomodate those who order "blackened" dishes but don't want them too spicy. Bread pudding soufflé must be ordered when you order dinner, as it takes some time to prepare (and was worth the wait). They also have a small cafe in the shopping center (Paseo Nuevo) on State Street with a limited menu for lunch or a lighter dinner.

    19 Replies
    1. re: LBJQT

      My family went to an excellent upscale restaurant in Santa Barbara last spring called the Wine Cask for a very memorable dinner. It rivals any good place here in LA

      1. re: David

        I agree -- the Wine Cask is the best restaurant in SB. Except, of course, the Superrica Taqueria.

        1. re: S/Z

          superica is a rip off and wine cask...well that'as personal

          1. re: joea

            This debate has been previously waged on Chowhound's Los Angeles Board, but new readers should be aware that there is a point of view passionately held by many, including myself, that La Super-Rica not only has some of the best antojitos you'll ever eat, but is a terrific value as well. I can't imagine a trip to Santa Barbara without eating at La Super-Rica.

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              come on, tom. It is extremely expensive. i have to admit its excellent, fresh Mexican food. But the prices are ridiculous. The portions are tiny and over $2 for a teensy taco. last time I went i had about four to five dishes and it cost me over $15. But i must also admit that judging by the lines I don't really think people care about the prices. there's my two cents.

              1. re: kevin

                If you lived in Santa Barbara, were living on a college student's meager funds and were inclined to eat tacos four times a week, I could see caring that the prices were a smidge higher than the other places on Milpas tend to charge.

                But if you're passing through town -- or even looking for a destination on a Saturday drive from Los Angeles or SLO -- you would be a fool to stop at a lesser taco stand just to save a couple of dollars.

                La Super Rica makes better antojitos than any other restaurant in the United States. They use top quality meat and produce. Everything is made from scratch, practically to order. And the family that runs it is entitled to a living wage.

                Santa Barbara has dozens and dozens of horrible restaurants that charge many times what La Super Rica does. But for some reason, nobody on these boards seems outraged at the prices of, say, Citronelle.

                1. re: Pepper

                  And don't forget the terrific pozole on weekends.

                  1. re: Pepper

                    What are "antojitos" and furthermore what is "pozole"

                    1. re: jp
                      Caitlin McGrath

                      Antojitos=Mexican snack/street food, e.g., tacos

                      Pozole=pork and hominy stew

                  2. re: kevin

                    Actually, Kevin, you've made the point for me. Anytime I can get a meal with 4 to 5 different dishes of the quality at La Super-Rica for $15, I consider that to be "a terrific value." Sure, you can eat for less (e.g., the 99 cent specials at Taco Bell), but that wasn't my point. The word "value" takes into account quality as well as price. I put La Super-Rica in the same category as places like Sanamluang, a Thai noodle restaurant in Hollywood, where I can eat delicious, high-quality food that in a restaurant serving French or Italian food would probably cost two or three times as much.

                    1. re: kevin

                      "Extremely expensive"? La Super-Rica? What country do you live in? I've eaten there many times, and $20 for two gets you a full meal of the best Mexican food in Southern California (and maybe the world)...

                      Two burgers, fries and two soft drinks cost about that much at the Apple Pan. I don't get these posts that say that Super Rica is so expensive.

                      What other restaurant with a "25" Zagat rating for food can you eat at as cheaply?

                      Maybe you should stick with Taco Bell. :)

                  3. re: joea

                    Entonces, siempre viva la ripoff!!

                    1. re: Roger Simon

                      If La Super Rica is a ripoff, stay away. There are plenty of people willing to wait in line for great food. If you prefer keeping a few bucks and eating mediocre food, go ahead.

                  4. re: S/Z

                    Is the Wine Cask the place that also has a more casual side and wine market? If it is, then we ate there and were not blown away at all. Really nothing we couldn't find at home the same or better. Quite pricey. I would have preferred to have eaten on the more casual side, I liked the menu better.
                    We did LOVE La Super Rica, though. Whoever is griping is completely spoiled. You are so lucky to have Taquerias of this caliber within close proximity to where you live. Five of us feasted like kings and the quality and freshness were impeccable. The pozole, tamale and taco al pastor were standouts. We tried to eat at another taquria/market called La Tolteca (Toldeca?), but was closed that day and looked very good as well.
                    A disappointment was Brophy Bros. There was a rec from chowhound and also from employees at our hotel. First, some insipid chowder and then our seafood was gaggy-nasty. It even smelled rank inside. If I had to find a reason to go there it would be only to have a drink at the bar and watch the sunset. For some reason beyond my comprehension it seems hugely popular.
                    I can't imagine a prettier setting in S.B. than the restaurant at El Encanto. We only had coffee and dessert there. I don't know what it's like now that the weather is cooler. A wedding reception was going on when we were there and the tables were strewn with rose petals.
                    Has anyone tried the restaurant at the new Bacara resort?

                    1. re: Heidi

                      great recommendation. like it better than san ysidro ranch. el encanto, wonderful food and nice place to stay.

                      went to grade school down the street.

                      1. re: joea

                        Weren't you lucky to have gone to school in such lush, gorgeous surroundings! Yes, El Encanto was a dream-stay. I felt like a movie starlet in seclusion from the moment I arrived.

                      2. re: Heidi

                        There is no doubt that the setting at the El Encanto can't be beat. The problem is that the food was awful the one time we went and have, therefore, not been back.

                        We have not eaten in the dining room at the Bacara, but we had a catered meal in one of their meeting rooms. One big problem is a sulfur smell that wafts out of the ground from the natural petroleum deposits in the area. I think this is going to be a big problem for them.

                  5. re: LBJQT

                    i'll back LBJQT on this one. the palace grill is excellent. i've only been once but i loved everything i had...the popcorn crawfish appetizer, stuffed filet mignon, and the chocolate souffle. it's a fun place...fairly casual...and small. expect a wait. as for the cajun martini - down right nasty. but everything else about this place is great.

                  6. There has been a lot of information previously posted on Chowhound about Santa Barbara restaurants. Use the search feature in the upper right-hand corner of the Main Board to access it. Just type "Santa Barbara" in the search box, click on "Chew!", and, presto, you'll have all of the previously posted information at your disposal. It's easier and faster than scrolling through the Los Angeles Board to locate the previous posts.

                    1. There's a nice steak/seafood place on the beach near ucsb called "beachside" but it is pretty casual.

                      I went to the "waterfront grill" in the Santa Barbara breakwater/maritime musem last week and had one of the best filet's ever (medium rare to perfection), the rest of my party all had seafood and all had high regard for thier dishes. This place is nice because there is also a casual bar upstairs called "the endless summer"

                      phone # for waterfront grill 805-564-1200.

                      1. I can't boast of fine dining establishments in Santa Barbara, but for the best sushi and the best deal, there is a sushi retaurant across the street from Longs Drugs on State Street (near Las Positas). It is truly a hole in the wall, sandwiched between a rug dealer and a beauty parlor, but every time I travel to SB on business, I am there at least every other night, if not every night. The people are warm and friendly, the food is great, the price is right, and the atmosphere is a relaxed. If you don't go, at least tell your daughter about this place. If she ever gets a sushi craving, you can afford great sushi even on a college student's budget.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Cristi

                          The name of the place is Shintori.