Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Feb 28, 2013 06:14 PM

One day in Santa Barbara... Dinner rec needed

My husband and I will be passing through Santa Barbara soon. Looking for a restaurant with a casual but nice vibe and good food. We don't want Italian, as we are having that the very next day... Open to all other types of cuisine. Price range to be $$ to $$$. It happens to be our anniversary, so if there is anything special that we need to check out while in town, please feel free to mention that as well. Thanks in advance!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Our faves are Juliennes and Hungry Cat. Janes on State st is cheaper alternative. Love Arigato Sushi especially for all their non sushi food-soft shell crab, sobe noodles, potstickers. For very special spot San Ysidro Ranch would fit the bill. They have two restaurants -Plow and Angel is their cheaper alternative and both are in a lovely setting. For great Mexican food, check out La Superica and try their specials and #16.

    1 Reply
    1. re: macdog

      Thanks! Hungry Cat looks appealing.

    2. Hungry Cat continues to get mixed reviews. We no longer go there after some mixed "vibe" encounters ourselves:

      There is good buzz for the new restaurant at the funky little Indigo Hotel by the train station that we have not tried, but may be worth taking a chance and letting us know.

      Julienne is top of the dining game here, but getting some good competition of late. SeaGrass has a lovely, casual but special occasion setting and getting back on track too after some ups and downs.

      Depending on when you are here, might want to check the El Encanto Hotel up on the Riviera for its long awaited re-opening and restoration.

      The standard downntown recommendations include buchon, Downey's, Olio e Limone, and the Wine Cask, with some new up and coming ones (not yet tried for dinner too): Relais de Paris and Scarlett Begonia. Petit Valentin is in a lovely, low key courtyard setting with a very good french bistro type menu.

      Stella Mares by the Bird Refuge is a very lovely and romantic setting, has long had a good local reputation for casual but special dinners and lunch.

      2 Replies
      1. re: glbtrtr

        Thanks so much! I've actually made reservations for Stella Mares. Looking forward to it.

        1. re: JFarah

          Nice choice. Sunset over the Bird Refuge across the street is always a pretty time to be there. You may have heard, but the woman who owned the very large estate on the hill facing the ocean across from the Bird Refuge recently died and left her estate there either to the city of Santa Barbara ... or some remote relatives who were included in a last minute change in her plans. The courts are trying to sort this out.

          Have a toast to the city being the final beneficiary while you are there. Hope you have a lovely time and look forward to an update on Stella Mares as it has been a while since I have been there, but do like to recommend it when someone is looking for special, casual and local.

      2. Yes, interested to hear about Stella Mare. it is not on my radar. I thought a little old school, ladies who lunch kind of ambience, but maybe I am wrong.

        1 Reply
        1. re: macdog

          Yes, Stella Mares is "old school" and that is its charm. If you want edgy vibes, jangling music, exhibition display cooking, creative takes with deconstructed food with steroid pumped, fussy preparations this would not be your place. Stella Mares serves food in a charming French Country setting - Old World. It is like visiting your Grandmother's vacation home .... in France and getting well and decently fed.