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Aug 20, 2010 04:36 PM

Romantic Anniversary Dinner in Santa Barbara Labor Day Weekend

My husband & I are heading to Santa Barbara from San Diego for a wedding during Labor Day weekend. Looking for an amazing dinner on Friday night to celebrate our anniversary. I have read some older reviews on The Stonehouse and they seem mixed regarding the food. I don't mind spending the money if the food blows our minds. Any recent visits? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Not as expensive or elegant as The Stonehouse you might consider Zaytoon. It is middle eastern food with many tables on an outdoor patio with fireplaces in the center of the table. Very relaxing, romantic, and the food is very good. I was there last week and the Baba Ghannouj was still excellent although their pitas were not the best. I had the Phonician Lamb Salad which was rich and delicious. Others at the table had Chicken Shawarma which was excellent. It is a unique experience. Everyone I have sent there likes it.

    209 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

    1. Check out the web site for Downey's on State St. Outstanding food and a wonderful experience.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bruce in SLO

        Downey's is our favorite "best" restaurant. It is sedate, refined and traditional and its appeal is far more subtle than perhaps the OP is looking for. It has some of the most delectable desserts in town. On some nights they have a three course prix fixe dinner for about $50 per person.

      2. Another option to consider would be Stella Mare's. They have great food, the location is lovely(though imperfect due to a near freeway), and the restaurant itself is very romantic and cozy. Asking for the Greenhouse would be my suggestion, an almost all glass side room with a large fireplace and a view of the bird refuge across the street.

        I hear good things of both The Stonehouse and Downey's, and wouldn't turn you away from them. Zaytoons, while great, I don't think of as an anniversary place, as it's also a hookah lounge. Hope you enjoy yourselves.

        Stella Mare's
        50 Los Patos Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93108

        5 Replies
        1. re: Shortsord

          Lots of local fans for Stella Mares - the setting is one of the loveliest in town overlooking the Clark Bird Refuge, particularly at sunset so it is also close to the mansion that has been in the news lately owned by a Miss Hugette Clark, heiress of millions. She has not visited her hill top home overlooking the Santa Barbara coast for over 30 years, yet the home and acres of landscaped grounds are being kept immaculate and cared for, as if she might return tomorrow. However, sad to say she has advanced dementia and is hospital bound and her estate is being managed by her questionable attorney and accountant with the New York probate court currently investigating things.

          Stella Mare's
          50 Los Patos Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93108

          1. re: glbtrtr

            Funny, our dear friend that was a SB resident for several decades was just telling us the exact same story of the heiress. He was under the impression that she had never been to the hilltop estate at the end of East Beach.

            Keeping things chowcentric, we celebrated our anniversary this past June at Le Petit Valentien. It's not your quiet, hushed, high back chairs and booths type of special occasion dining, but we sat at the little two top bistro style table in the corner with the windows open onto the corridor. Kind of transported us back to Europe where we were married so we found it tres romantique. Didn't hurt that we had the best steak au poivre imagineable. Service was excellent as well, did we just luck out? Is there some reason this place doesn't get more love from the locals? It's definitely in the top of our rotation now with Jade, Brummi's, and other old standbys.



            1. re: PolarBear

              I have been happy every time I have been to Petit Valentin and along with your good reports I think I shall put it right up there with my own list of the top SB favorites. Some of us think of downtown restaurants in this charming La Arcada Courtyard are open only during the day when it is so busy with downtown workers, and then forget about this one also being open at night too, when other shops around it have closed for the day.

              It was relatively new when we went, so your report now a year later shows it is holding its own and improving even more with time. Thanks for the reminder. I immediately thought it was a gem too and its setting is unique and should be taken advantage of for both day and nighttime enjoyment.

              We have a tiny bit of a French explosion going on in our little "Spanish" town with Petit Valentin and the 100% remarkable Renaud's french bakery and small dishes - the very, very real deal. Maybe this come from the local community college culinary department's connection to french cooking schools and faculty members. What ever it is, no complaints at this end.

              1. re: glbtrtr

                Thanks for the reminder about the culinary school, we've been wanting to try it, iirc, only open a couple of nights a week?

                1. re: PolarBear

                  The SBCC School of Culinary Arts Gourmet Dining Room serves dinners at set times Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as lunch throughout the week. $40 per person for dinner, 4 courses, paired with wines. Parking on campus is the biggest problem so if you are from out of town, try for Friday night otherwise park elsewhere and walk up to the campus, especially at lunch. Pair it with a student production play at the campus Interim Theater and you have a great evening package. Check the SBCC website for more information, schedule of theater productions or campus events and contact numbers. One of our local best kept secret places. Now you know.