Santa Barbara recs?
I'll be in SB this weekend with a couple of European friends. It's their only night in Santa Barbara and one of just a few in California. I'm looking to take them to something special with an emphasis on the experience. Someplace that, perhaps, shows off Santa Barbara the place. So, the A- restaurant with a n A+ view would trump, say, the A+ food experience in a more generic setting.
I've done the research myself, and settled on Julienne in downtown for our 1 open night. You'll probably see a lot of posts already about that restaurant.
There are not a lot of view restaurants in SB, unless you eat on the pier, and the food there is not that great. I had a lovely meal at La Petite Valentine, but it does not show off SB cuisine. A local favorite, with zero view and zero ambiance (unless you like plastic chairs and a walk up counter for great Mexican) is La Super Rica
Mexican cuisine remains exotic for many Europeans - Julienne's may not., superb as it is. I wish we had that perfect combo of view and food but we do not. El Encanto is not yet back on line.
Our Mexican restaurants are more casual and I can't think of any of them with a view but having Super Cuca nachos al pastor, a burrito, and horchata at Super Cuca's on West Micheltorena may well tell a more authentic Santa Barbara story than trying to replicate european fine dining. I remain a loyal fan of La Superica #15 special which I doubt is available anywhere in Europe - again no view, but lots of local color.
Happy hour specials at The Boathouse gives you the quintessential SB beach restaurant experience and if you can live with a really great hamburger instead of fine dining, this could serve you well. Actually Hungry Cat can give you an edgy California scene, great drinks and some well-prepared if pricey items.
Crawl the 1000-1300 blocks of State Street and their surrounding side streets for restaurant ground zero in this town. Or even Cajun at the Palace Cafe - East Cota Street for an American interpretation of "French" and the liveliest street scene if your visitors are on the young side - Old Town State Street - Bucatini's is also good in this area with sidewalk tables for people watching.
Nothing wrong at all with your first choice however, - Julienne. Tops all other choices for food and nice casual vibe. Don't forget to top off the trip with some McConnell's ice-cream! And try breakfast at Scarlett Begonia in Victoria Court.