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lunch 2/27 in Santa Barbara

Looking for a 'locals place' to take a friend who's visiting her sis at in an asisted living facility in SB. I'd like to take her to a casual, friendly, not-too-loud place with well-prepared food and a sunny vibe. We'll be returning to SLO later in the day. Extra points for the "sunny and cute" factor.

Do you have a favorite, no-fail place with comforting (but not necessarily "comfort") food? How well does Tupelo fit this bill? We're not particulary fussy about what type of food, though we both appreciate interesting flavors.

Many thanks, hounds!


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  1. Is Louies(in the Upham Hotel) open for lunch? The Beachside at Goleta Beach? Had great crab cakes there during a airport run during xmas. We ate outside at SB Shellfish a few weeks ago (crab cakes again!)- and it was fantastic! With the validaed parking if you take the ticket in and have the server stamp it. What about Cafe del Sol at the Bird Refuge- I always here great things about it. I had the best tamale EVER at El Bajio on Milpas- fantastic home made juice (papaya the BEST)- some seating outside- very nice staff here! Maxs on upper State street- that might be a perfect fit- well know breakfast/lunch - with parking. Renauds in Loreto Plaza- tough parking and weird to order at- but fantastic french pastries and lunch fare- all the classics.


    2 Replies
    1. re: JalamaMama

      I don't know where the facility is, but Renaud's at Loreto Plaza sounds good, but 'weird to order at' ? meaning...? The tamal place sounds good too. Have been to Max's; sort of old school, right?

      1. re: toodie jane

        Renauds is weird, because you walk in and there is a pastry bar- people are ordering pastry- you want to order, you wait, it's odd...in the end it is all good....Excellent pastries- the $40.00 chocolate cake with layers of crisy love and gold leaf accents was soooooooo worth the $$$.
        I know you like your mexican food TJ- and El Bajio is top tier family made food in a clean and sunny busy location. The fish soup- excellent. The Gorditas- worth the 15 minute wait!! The tortas- devine. 3 jugs of juice each day to choose from. Fresh salsa! Milpas and Mason- west side of Milpas.
        Maxs is old school- and worth it for homey- like the Longhorn with curtains and paint. Omelets-it is a breakfast place for me.
        What about the place on Mission and State- Garrets? Always a fine BLT there.
        If it was me...it would be El Bajio or Renauds. Remember parking at Loreto Plaza is crazy right now- but possible!

    2. Stella Mare's at the Bird Refuge has a great lunch menu, lovely and sunny inside the greenhouse or outside, nice decor throughout. .http://www.stellamares.com/

      Opal has beautiful, delicious food and a great vibe - consistently good and comfortable (in a good way) . http://www.opalrestaurantandbar.com/

      A hidden gem is Arts & Letters Cafe at Sullivan Goss gallery - their lovely patio is behind a retail space. Good, interesting food. Love the warm lamb salad. http://www.sullivangoss.com/cafe/cafe...

      1. The Chase restaurant on State with free parking behind..
        Calamari piccata is one of the best ever..they prepare it just like abalone..it's that good, with small salad and side of fettucini..around $11
        Great local place but no extra points for sunny or cute but a well respected place in SB.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          Going to the Chase tomorrow night- before Anthony Bourdain. So ready for a nice dinner in SB and a show. TRUST ME- will be loving the calamari piccata!

        2. Tupelo is great, fantastic food and friendly staff. Not loud at all and, being a small place with a big window wall, plenty sunny. Paradise Cove has a wonderful patio with plenty of seating, and good food. And, as sbgirl mentioned, Stella Mares is a wonderful option as well, great food and a lovely environment, though a bit away from the downtown area.

          I really would recommend Tupelo gladly, and hope you have a good time.

          1. My favorite no fail place is Brophy's on the pier for great seafood, clam chowder, etc. Nothing fancy, very reasonable. Certainly sunny, but a bit lively. I go there avery chance I get.

            1. Triphas been delayed for a week or so, but will keep track of this thread in case more recs come in. Thank you all! D

              Does El Bajio do lengua? mmm.... on my list!

              4 Replies
              1. re: toodie jane

                I believe they do, but have no had it myself.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  The little hole in the wall taco place at the end of Chapala at the freeway has lingua and cabeza and other odd parts of animal tacos. Not that I think lingua is odd, but I've heard they have eyevballs...I stop there.

                  1. re: sbgirl

                    the place is Lilly's Tacos, and the tacos de ojos are not really eyeballs. At least not the crunchy eyeball you're thinking of. The taco contains the meat picked from around the eye sockets of the steer's head, and are pretty tasty.
                    Go ahead, try one. Here's looking at you.

                    1. re: peasoup

                      Thanks, peasoup, I feel better about that, and I will give it a try.

                2. just to report;

                  Derf's was the final destination, chosen by the 8 yr old in the group, for their Hot Dog.

                  My Derf's Salad was nothing special, chopped iceberg with sliced turkey loaf lunch meat and sorry alfalfa sprouts. Shoulda had the Reuben.

                  Next time!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: toodie jane

                    At least you chose an "historic" restaurant that found a local niche and has not strayed from its original agenda. Back in the 70's, Santa Barbara was just starting to branch out from some very tired meat and potato restaurant models.

                    "Hippies" at that time set the new dining choices with the the likes of the Sojourner, a funky coffee house where Epiphany is now located, and good old Derf's with its cobbled plank patio on a noisy street.

                    The coffee house in the Chase building on State Street was the first to branch into more "cosmopolitan" offerings with pastries from Les Belles Miche around the corner as well as a foreign exchange student to France who came back to open Charlottes deli and light lunch place. Who could resist her lobster shell pate.

                    It amuses me in this town that gets an undeserved reputation for fine dining, that its most sturdy restaurants are ones like Derf's, Tee Off , Farmer Boy, Harry's and Joe's. Cajun Kitchen a little down the street from Derf's is worth a try in this part of town too. And admit it, you really chose Derf's because it was so close to McConnells ice-cream. (!) Yum, another sturdy SB institution.