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Nov 1, 2011 09:34 PM

Just got back from 4 nights in Santa Barbara

I spent quite a bit of time researching where to go for our 10yr anniversary trip to Santa Barbara October 22-26. Thanks to all who have posted their recommendations on other threads. We arrived Saturday afternoon without a hotel or restaurant reservation, due to the intent of wine tasting in the Northern Region and picking up a room in either Solvang or Buelton. Bad idea. Everything was sold out, so we headed for Santa Barbara. We exited on State Street and began our long trek toward the beach. I was able to identify many of the numerous restaurants along State Street that were recommended in other posts. We called a dozen hotels to find the same result as Solvang and Buelton. Everyone was sold out for the Saturday evening. We lucked out and got a small room at the Hotel Santa Barbara for $190 a night. Considering it's locatiion on State Street, it seamed like a good value. We could see the glowing lights of Joes across the street. A recent publication that we picked up was a "Best Of Santa Barbara", which ranked Joes as having the strongest drinks. After an afternoon in in Los Olivos, the last thing I needed was a stiff Tanqurey. So we walked a few blocks and ended up at Blush. We got a great outdoor sofa/table combination and enjoyed a fare of cocktails and appetizers to begin our dining experience in Santa Barbara, We had an excellent experience, considering our afternoon of wine tasting and drive down the coast from Carmel during the day. We enjoyed the olive/nut plate, stuffed peppers, lobster macaroni (predominate claw meat) and the truffled fries (parmesan would have been a nice addition).
Sunday evening I had reservations at Downey's. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special event. We got the table in the back, tucked away in a nook. I really wanted to try the Colorado Lamb which was featured on the menu the night before, however it was not available. My wife got the Veal tenderloin and beet salad, while I went for the Taste of Santa Barbara, which featured duck. The breast mealted in my mouth and the dark meat had an incredible crusty finish.
We picnic'd on the beach for lunch on Monday (63 and cloudy), after visiting C'est Cheese, for an assortment of snacks. A nice selection of cheese and salumi's, but a liitle over price.
Since we didn't have a reservation for Monday evening, we decided to try some local sushi. We remembered that on our way over to Downey's we passed a very busy restaurant named Arigato. It did not disappoint. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a variety of fresh sushi and watched the various patrons, including a 12 year old boy that ate at least $100 worth of fresh fish by himself.
Tuesday was our last full day in the city, so we decided on a seafood lunch, since the sushi Tuesday night left us desiring more. We ended up around the corner from our Hotel (Harbor View Inn) over at the wharf at Brophy Brothers. We got a cramped outdoor table and both ordered some tasty Bloody Mary's. We started with a hot Combo Appetizer, which included; oysters rockefeller , garlic baked clams, peel-n-eat shrimp, mussels, and clams. I ordered the blackened sea bass, and the wife got the shrimp scampi. Both meals came with a cup of chowder and were delicious. I purposely passed on fresh oyster with the intent on eating a dozen over at Enterprise Fish Company. They were rated best happy hour in the recent publication we picked up. We dropped in about 4:30 to try the happy hour. The oysters were not as briny as I like, especially being a pacific coast oyster (BC). But the Stella Artois was cold, and the bartender was friendly.
We had dinner reservations at Stella Mare's. This was my favorite meal of the trip. Great Restaurant. Great Service. Great food. We were given complimentary champagne to celebrate our anniversary. We enjoyed the French onion soup, beet salad., cheese course, Alaskan Halibut, and Red Deer Osso Bucco. We moved from our table to a romantic setting in front of the fireplace to enjoy a complimentary desert and a nice glass of iced Freixnet.
We got up early on Wednesday morning, hit the French Press for coffee on the way out of town and headed home for Sacramento.
We will definately be back!

Brophy Brothers
1559 Spinnaker Dr, San Buenaventura (Ventura, CA 93001

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

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  1. I'm happy that it worked out for all the fine food stops. We love Stella Mare as well.
    Santa Barbara always needs reservations for most weekends. It is a quick getaway for many
    and they fill up fast.
    We live 100 miles away and never plan on visiting without a room guaranteed.

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

    1. Thanks for all the details and isn't surprising how serendipity can play as much of a role in one's final selections than all previously well laid plans. We often do the same thing even after hours of slavishly researching Chowhound.

      You picked a lot of local favorites and covered much of the range of what we have to offer. Sorry you ran into so many lodging frustrations - some thing we locals never have to deal with so it off our radar -- one place to recommend both for lodging and dining is the Lemon Tree and Crocodile restaurant mainly because it is not near any thing "touristy" so it stays off the beaten track yet has much to recommend for it both for lodging and dining as well as being reasonably close and in between the downtown highlights and the more locally appreciated scene in the San Roque section of Upper State Street.

      Pleased you enjoyed both Downey's and Stella Mares - two of my own personal favorites too. Enterprise is one of my least favorite restaurants but it does have a happy buzz bar scene and appetizers. Be glad you had reservations waiting for you already that night. And pleased to hear Blush is a nice spot too - relatively new and off our local beat for the most part. But it does have a great setting and sometimes it is just fun to sit, drink, snack and people watch .

      Joe's is about as venerable of a watering hole this town has and for a long time was almost the only lively meeting place restaurant we had. It is good an solid and always worthy of a nod from time to time. Thanks for the reminder.

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