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Santa Barbara must-try restaurants

My husband and I have never been to Santa Barbara (we live in Denver). We will be in town for 3 nights with our dog.

Can you suggest any really good places we should try (not fine dining)? We would prefer restaurants which have pet friendly patios but these are in very short supply in some areas. We can leave her in the car because of the cool weather (and with the moon roof open) but we have learned that we do not enjoy our meal unless we can see the car while we eat.

We are serious pizza lovers and always in search of a new gourmet delight--if any are in the area, please let me know!!

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  1. There was a discussion here previously about dog-friendly restaurants, which usually means going to establishments with outdoor dining only. Try a search and see what comes up. Not sure about the public health regulations that currently operate in Santa Barbara city and/or county. I know there has been talk about leaving pets unattended in cars but don't know if it ever translated into regulations or not. Might want to contact some of the dog daycare centers to see if they have more info. Try DIOGI.

    2 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      My dog has addison's disease which basically means she can deal with any type of stress (i.e. boarding or day care).

      Could you comment on these restaurants with dog friendly patio?

      Pierre LaFond (State Street and Montecito)
      Peabody's Coast Village Road Montecio
      Pascucci
      Emilio's

      1. re: JudyDenver

        All those restaurants have patios ,but they are not one's I go to or put on any of my own list of SB favorites. They all have been in business a long time so they have their loyal followings. Sidewalk cafe sitting is great fun in Santa Barbara so that alone makes them pleasant options. They are all down closer to the harbor, except Peabody's which is directly on Coast Village Road in the Lower Village of Montecito - no scenic view and no sidewalk tables, but an upper level out door patio as I recall.

    2. Brophy Brother's is a must for seafood

      2 Replies
      1. re: snappy213

        Unfortunately, there are restaurants with patios and restaurants with patios which allow dogs. From the photos on the Brophy Brother's website, I would predict no dogs but I will call them. We have been traveling with our dogs for years and go through this tedious process each city we visit.

        Often we walk around, see a sidewalk patio and inquire about their pet policy. Sadly, this method is hit or miss and usually the food is quite disappointing. I've learned it pays off to do a lot of research in advance and read reviews before ordering a meal.

        With only 3 nights in Santa Barbara I hope I can come up 3 really good choices. Any more ideas?

        What about Opal, Jane, Stella Mare or Mac's Fish and Chips?

        1. re: JudyDenver

          Opal, Jane, Stella Mares and Macs are all good choices for food - Mac's is very casual drop in sort of place with fish and chips classics. Opals has a few outdoor tables on the street - not really an enclosed outdoor dining area but a very nice eclectic menu.

          Jane surprises me because I can't picture any outdoor tables but maybe they have a patio in the back. Stella Mares also surprises me, but I wonder if this got confused with Cafe Stella in Loreto Plaza because they do have an outdoor patio, but in kind of a remote location.

          Hope this works because you would have found the best combo for pretty good dining and dog friendly as well. Interesting challenge. Lived in Europe myself where dogs went everywhere, including sitting at the table and getting fed from a dish with the waiter bring the food happily for the furry friends.

      2. My fave place in SB is the Chase on State with an outdoor dining and pet friendly..
        Their calamari picatta is one of the best ever and served with a fettucini alfredo that is outstanding..under $20.
        Renaud's for croissants for breakfast..as close to Paris that I've had.
        I travel everywhere with my dog and So. Cal is very dog friendly.

        Here is a link to pet friendly resto's in SB.

        www.santabarbara.com/dining/news/2011...

        6 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          Judy Denver- good luck to you! Beach Chick linked you to the most up to date info this area has- hope you find something for you and your "family".

          If you happen to be north of Santa Barbara by 45 miles on your way in or way out, and it is a FRI SAT or SUN night- you can always hit up American Flat Bread in Los Alamos- they have a few seats out front- amazing pizzas + amazing food.

          I have found that most patio'd places in SB allow dogs- and the county allows it at this point, where before it was allowed with a blind eye.

          Brophy Brothers has a downstairs place that will let you sit outside w/dog. On the Wharf- there is Santa Barbara ShellFish, and they too have a large outdoor dining area.

          Enjoy your visit!

          1. re: OldJalamaMama

            Forgot that Brophy Brothers has that small downstairs area..
            Is your doggie a 'therapy' dog?

            1. re: Beach Chick

              I flew from Denver to Tampa to pick Maddy up from a special goldendoodle breeder when she was 8 weeks. She was hand picked to become a therapy dog. Unfortunately due to her disease, she cannot deal with the stress of new situations and doesn't do well with strangers. She is managed well with daily steroids. I often wish I could borrow a therapy cape for her to wear when we travel but then everyone could tell she doesn't have the internal discipline to be a guide dog!

              What a great link.! I will keep that bookmarked for sure.

              I have the feeling that Stella Mares and Jane do not have patios--I was just asking if anyone knew if they had any pet friendly tables for us. I have found it best to call or email each restaurant to learn their policy in advance.

              We LOVE really good pizza but 45 miles is too far. We will be driving north on a Thursday morning to Carmel. I wonder if American Flat Bread in Los Alamos serves lunch?

              1. re: JudyDenver

                There are often the great pizza wars in Santa Barbara but with no clear winners. There are a number of good traditional pizza places and a number of "gourmet" pizza places, all of which have their loyal fans. Personally we like the traditional pizza at Giovanni's - San Roque location. Bare bones establishment, but they get the basics just right. And if you want whole-wheat pizza and any other possible non-traditional rendition, Taffy's has long been putting out these types of "pizzas" for a long time. If pizza is flat, leavened dough bread with stuff on top, then you will find much to choose from including a recent attempt to provide the true Neapolitan version at Olio et Limone Pizzaria down town in restaurant ground zero - 1200-1300 State Street and surrounding cross-street blocks.

                1. re: JudyDenver

                  no Judy- no lunch at Flatbreads...BUT I read last night, after shutting down the computer- that Scarlett Begonia, in Victoria Court- they welcome dogs! From what I have read- they have wonderful meals- and a very sunny patio!

                  Enjoy Carmel- please try and visit Pt Lobos (State park south of Carmel on hwy 1)- your dog will love it!

                  1. re: JudyDenver

                    In Carmel, Terry's Lounge in the Cypress Inn has a nightly "Yappy Hour".

            2. We take our dog to Crushcakes on Anacapa a couple times a week. Also Pierre LaFond's in Montecito on E. Valley Rd is dog friendly outside. It's a great place for casual lunch. Pizza at Olio Pizza is wonderful, but no patio. There is big parking lot behind it and you can leave your dog in car safely. Our goldendoodle is great in the car when she can't come with us.

              1. Noticed today the waiter was bringing out a tin dish of water for a dog at Mimosa on State Street Old town - they recently moved from their former long-time location but still keep the same very nice French bistro menu. I love their Alsatian Onion Tart. I would say this was a 100% dog friendly place. http://santabarbara.com/dining/review...