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Santa Barbara suggestions (I am picky)

My boyfriend and I are celebrating my birthday and our 6 year anniversary in Santa Barbara in a few weeks and I would like some suggestions on where to dine. We will be there for two nights but we havent decided exactly where yet.
My boyfriend eats pretty much anything but I dont eat any red meat. We both really LOVE seafood and try to eat as healthy as possible.
When we go out to eat we like to order several diffrerent things on the menu and share everything because neither of us are huge eaters and we dont like being super full.
We would like maybe one nice dinner and one more casual dinner (maybe somewhere with live music or an upbeat atmosphere) and then a couple small casual lunch places where we can grab a quick bite.

All suggestions are highly appreciated!

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  1. The Hungry Cat comes to mind immediately - its a satellite location of a hollywood spot, they specialize in (really good) seafood and have an awesome bar (ok, you didnt say that was a requirement but it cant hurt, right?). probably better for your more casual night as it can be a bit loud, they dont take reservations (but you can call ahead and give your name) and i wouldnt describe it as terribly romantic, but it definitely fits the bill for upbeat - maybe "hip", even.

    of course ive assumed that when you said no red meat, seafood was okay. that could be my pescatarian bias coming out, and if you are looking for chicken, turkey or alligator options i'm no help as i dont eat those (well alligator but only when the opportunity presents itself.

    Seagrass may fit the bill for your fancy dinner - there is, again, a fishy focus so you wouldnt be limited to just one or two non-meaty options, but i havent been there for a personal endorsement. you may want to look at santabarbara.com/dining for some (occasionally less than reliable, certainly less authoritative than most CH recs) reviews and listings of local places.
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    9 Replies
    1. re: tex.s.toast

      Second these suggestions for SeaGrass and Hungry Cat.

      Also, there are lots of good picks in the 1100 - 1200 blocks of State Street and on both East and West Anapamu and Victoria Streets, the immediate side streets of these blocks in downtown Santa Barbara. This is where most locals go to eat and is not the major tourist part of town. There are seafood restaurants around the harbor at the foot of State Street near where a lot of the oceanside motels are located.

      The only on in this area I would avoid totally is Epiphany on West Victoria, but some of the better restaurants and some of the better casual places are all found in this immediate area.

      Lunch in Victoria Court at Cafe Bianco sitting on the upstairs patio is a favorite of mine.

      Fancy? - don't forget the very romantic Four Season's Biltmore Hotel in Montecito on the ocean with gorgeous, lush grounds and a spectacular new make-over.

      PS> all food is healthy. Even red meat. No one died eating a variety of food in moderation. Stop worrying and start enjoying.

      1. re: glbtrtr

        Good suggestions so far- if I were myself in your shoes...

        lunch- Santa Barbara Shellfish on Stearns Wharf= YUM
        Sushi a Go Go (great salmon salad) at the Harbor
        Minow Cafe great fish and chips at the Harbor
        El Bajio on Milpas tacos and tortas are supreme here

        dinner- Harbor Restaurant- the Wine Casks old chef is now here- good
        Monday and Tuesday night specials
        The Chase on State very romantic with hundreds of tiny lights,
        great drinks and pasta

        SoHo is a fun place to hear live music and have drinks, great patio for the nice warm nights were are going to have this weekend! Enjoy your visit- Happy Birthday and Congrats on the Anniversary. Visit the Maritime Museum on the Harbor (awesome displays) , visit the Botanic Gardens, visit Mt Carmel Church in Montecito- so beautiful! Go see El Capitan State Beach for a afternoon and eat at the North Campgrounds' deli- you'll be glad you made the 15 minute drive!

        1. re: JalamaMama

          some of the best mex in CA - even Julia Child was a dedicated fan - La Super Rica taco shop on Milpas. for super fresh but simple seafood with a casual but scenic outlook - Brophy Brothers (I prefer it for lunch). Get the cold seafood platter.

          1. re: foodiechick

            I can't say ive had the most amazing experiences at La Super Rica, personally, with all due respect for Julia - and i seriously question the recommendation given that the OP specifically asked for something where she could be accommodated as a non-red-meat eater AND where she wouldnt be super full. As great as a bowl full of melty cheese and pig can be with their great tortillas, its about as far from light as one could possibly get.

            As for the brophy's rec - Fyoulady's profile suggest clam chowder is a favorite, and theirs is pretty great. Never been terribly impressed with anything else, and the cold seafood plate couldn't possible approach hungry cats. maybe worth the stop for a cup of chowder for lunch, maybe.

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              Finally - The Emperor has no clothes!
              So Julia and Mario said good things and then everybody else has to tow the line. There are so many other places one could go for a better value.

              For healthy I would check out the Sojourner for lunch or dinner. Its a hippie kind of place thats been there forever.

              1. re: pantani

                Have to second Sojourner...it was the first thing I thought of when reading the OP. And you really get the Santa Barbara experience there.

          2. re: JalamaMama

            Thank you for these awesome recommendations! Ive been drooling over the menu at Santa Barbara Shellfish for weeks! I will be sure to write reviews after my trip next week!!!
            Cheers!
            Fyoulady

            1. re: fyoulady

              if you go, and they have them, definitely get the Virginia oysters at the shellfish co. They cost a bit more than the kumamotos i had at the ferry building in sf last week, but were certainly larger and equally deliciously ocean-y.

              1. re: tex.s.toast

                Thank you!! I will have to try them! ;)

      2. The Chase for some of the best calamari steak..Julia's fav
        Wine Cask
        San Ysidro Ranch, Stonehouse

        www.sanysidroranch.com

        1. What about either of the restaurants at San Ysidro Ranch. Love the Plow and Angel. Check their website for menus etc...

          2 Replies
          1. re: MellieMac

            Anything at the San Ysidro Ranch is fab..
            I was just thinking for her birthday..but Plow and Angel is an excellent choice too!

            1. re: Beach Chick

              Oh sorry, didnt see your Stonehouse rec. You are right, both spots are very special!

          2. Try Brophy's and order the beer boiled shrimp.Its a platter full of boiled shrimp you peel and eat, served with lemon and horseradish, Its divine. The food is pretty good but this is always my favorite.
            Across from the Hungry Cat is Milk and Honey,among other things a tapas bar. Some of their tapas are pretty good. For live music , go to Sohos. They also have a restaurant but I can't claim any knowledege of the food, since I've never eaten there.