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Santa Barbara / Goleta with a kid

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We will be in the area shortly coming from SF Bay Area, and will have perhaps at most 2 dinners and 2 lunches (one lunch will be on a separate Saturday).

Not looking for fine dining, and anything reasonable we will consider. Nothing spicy and no Mexican or Indian. Did quite a bit of research and haven't found too many options that I like, but maybe I'm missing something?

The weekend lunch I'm leaning towards Stella Mare for brunch. Is a reservation recommended?

Are there any opinions on

-Spiritland Bistro

-Madam Lu's (we speak and read Chinese fluently, want to know if there are non American Chinese options beyond 3 cup chicken, basil eggplant)?

- Red Pepper in Goleta (are there non spicy non American Chinese options/Chinese only menu?)

As far as Vietnamese, is Saigon In & Out the most popular choice? Which location is better?

How is Kobachi Izakaya Dining? How does it compare to Southern California izakaya's in general?

Thanks in advance.

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Red Pepper Restaurant
282 Orange Ave, Goleta, CA 93117

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

Kobachi
4141 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

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  1. I have been to Red Pepper, it's in Goleta near airport in an industrial looking area. The menu caters to the Panda Express fan (soggy "fried" rice, iceburg salad with crunch wontons). Not sure about second menu, but I just asked them in Mandarin and they adjusted my order.

    For Vietnamese I went to 424 State St a couple of weeks ago and went to Lam's Vietnamese BBQ, but it pulled up on my credit card statement as Saigon In & Out--and now when I look it up on yelp it comes up as Miss Saigon? Odd. I had a banh mi. Overpriced and crap ingredients.

    I never knew about the Izakaya in SB. But if you're driving you should plan your trip so you can stop at Izakaya Raku in Grover Beach. Food is excellent and I'm sure the price is much better.

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    Red Pepper Restaurant
    282 Orange Ave, Goleta, CA 93117

    Izakaya Raku
    953 W Grand Ave, Grover Beach, CA 93433

    1. Oh hey, nosy me just went and checked out your blog and I am super jealous of trip to the flying cow farm. It looks fun and I wanna try the egg thing! When I went to Miao li we only bbq'd outside and I had no idea about that place!
      Oh and also now that I see what kind of food you like, if you do go to Red Pepper, have low expectations. I mean, they use super firm tofu and tons of vegetables in the mapo dofu and no meat in the long beans :p yuck

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      Red Pepper Restaurant
      282 Orange Ave, Goleta, CA 93117

      1 Reply
      1. re: kireifresca

        Thanks for your input! I will definitely skip Red Pepper. I'll explore other non Asian options as well.

      2. We have enjoyed The Beachside Cafe at Goleta Beach on the sand.
        Food and service are good, friendly and at Sunset the view is great. Check it out.

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        Beachside Bar-Cafe
        5905 Sandspit Rd, Goleta, CA 93117

        1. Chinese does not get done well in Santa Barbara though we like the China Pavillion on Chapala Street downtown, better than Madame Lu or the Red Pepper. China Pavillion flavorings are more subtle and refined and our favorite place for walnut shrimp.

          I enjoy the downtown Saigon In and Out, but again do not expect the complex flavors or presentation of the original cuisine here or at any other Vietnamese restaurant in this area. Arigato across the street for sushi gets the rave reviews if you are looking for asian dining experiences.

          Stella Mares is a very nice choice in a lovely setting and usually can take drop-in guests, but easy to call them for a reservation to make sure. Spiritland is considered pricey and not that much value for its unique and some say austere menu options. If you are looking for natural and/or organic in more casual and child-friendly settings try the Natural Cafes in several locations or Silvergreens downtown.

          Agree, Goleta Beach and Hendry's Beach restaurants are good dining locations for children because of their beachside location, though they serve more routine offerings than being a distinguished culinary experience. Padaro Grill south of Montecito, also close to the beach, has a playground area and good casual food that is a very family friendly place.

          There was a recent thread on child friendly dining places and I recall a few surprises came up so try a search on this forum to see what else might turn up. Our grandkids like going to Charwest take out on the end of Stern's Wharf and sit and watch the pelicans.

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          Red Pepper Restaurant
          282 Orange Ave, Goleta, CA 93117

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

          Silvergreens Restaurant
          791 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

          1 Reply
          1. re: glbtrtr

            Thanks Bruce and glbtrtr! The suggestions sounds great, will look into them.