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Feb 19, 2008 08:40 PM

Ideas for super casual Santa Barbara Rehearsal Dinner


We're going to be hosting a rehearsal dinner for 40 to 50 in Santa Barbara. There are lots of kids coming so we want it to be very casual with the emphasis on fun, and because we're opening it up to any of the guests who are in town that night, not too pricey. We're aware of all the usual suspects for rehearsals and while they sound very nice, they don't really fit the type of atmosphere we're trying to create with kids running around and everyone just mingling freely. BBQ or just a good grill would be perfect.

Any suggestions? Thanks,


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  1. Depending on the weather and time of the year, you might consider doing a simple BBQ picnic at one of the many public parks. Ehlings Park has some lovely venues or Leadbetter Beach. Fresco's does catering. Oak Park has multiple picnic and BBQ sites. There is a Smart and Final store in Santa Barbara and also a Costco that can provide you with bulk items with little effort and clean-up on your part. 50 people is a lot for our local restaurants to handle as a separate party. Take a look at the city Parks and Recreation offerings for venues.

    1. What time of the year and what time of the day?

      2 Replies
      1. re: MunkeeCIAO

        It will be March 29th, 2008, Munkee. I like the outdoor BBQ idea glbtrtr and have heard others recommend Fresco's. The only upside to a restaurant setting is that it might be cold out (it's a 6pm dinner) and we've got a lot of planning going on already and it would be nice to just show up and not have to worry about anything.

        Thanks for the replies!

        1. re: grendyll

          6pm in March would be taking a chance on the weather being good enough to be outdoors. The more inland you go with a park, the better chance you will avoid the inland marine layer.

          Skofield Park is up higher and drier ....... if the picnic idea still works. Manning Park in Montecito is another possibility. The Gourmet Dining Room at the Culinary Institute of Santa Barbara City college can be reserved for private parties. They could handle 50 and you could choose a menu.

          Fresco's has a separate catering arm but if you go to their website I think they have a link to their catering service.

      2. Woody's BBq and Cities both have OK bbq

        The santa barbara chicken ranch has two locations.

        Also Santa barbara BBQ

        Or JR's

        I think all the BBQ places cater

        You also might consider an Indian buffet at Taj or something.

        1. Here is a link for something that might work wonderfully in the City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation system and they are not booked for the date you want, if you are still thinking that something catered could work.

          This is a newly built pavillion in the very wonderful park across the main beach in Santa Barbara that has a great area for kids to play and even a beautiful old merry-go-round. There is another larger venue just across the street and directly connected to the beach if you need more space.

          Woody's BBQ catering:

          1. Padaro Beach Grill would be perfect, weather permitting.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sbgirl

              I've found their food mediocre and prices ridiculous.

              1. re: Diana

                I've only eaten there once but I don't remember either bad food or high prices. It seems like it would be a perfect location for this type of event if you could call ahead and arrange something. The kids could romp on the grass, the ocean is right there, and it is a fun and casual atmosphere.

                1. re: Snackish

                  This is a good place - their wraps are good. Good suggestion, but will this meet any privacy needs for a special party. There is also that other cafe restaurant on the wharf that has a back room and a casual menu...... name totally escapes me now, the one between the Harbor Restaurant and the SB Shellfish at the end of the pier.

                  Aha ..... Moby Dick's -- has the back banquet room with windows over the water.