HOME > Chowhound > California >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it
TELL US

Santa Barbara Restaurant- Help Me Decide

CarlieInLA Sep 4, 2013 10:47 PM

Hubby and I are driving down from San Francisco and staying at El Encanto. We plan to have dinner there on Sat night. Need a rec for Friday night. Since Sat will be fancy, looking for something more casual and different. We haven't been to SB in a few years. Our go to casual is Brophy Bros but I did some research and looking for feedback on the following:

Sama sama kitchen
Hungry Cat (been to LA location and enjoyed it)
Cielito
Los Agaves

We want great food, good drinks and fun casual atmosphere. Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated. TIA!!

  1. PolarBear Sep 5, 2013 08:00 AM

    We had a great time our last day in SB last week. Went to Cielito for a glass of wine and the grilled octopus and another app, then had dinner a few doors down at Petit Valentien in the La Arcada off State St.

    1. b
      Beach Chick Sep 5, 2013 08:31 AM

      Ohhh la la staying at the fancy pants El Encanto. . .sweet!
      I love The Chase on State for their sublime calamari picatta..
      Casual with booths and lots of locals..
      Trust me on the Calamari..

      Renauds for croissants up State..
      Love having drinks and apps at Plow and Angel at the San Ysidro Ranch.
      Brophy Bros I like for lunch..oysters and chowder
      The Nugget in Summerland is great for a Patty Melt and a bloody.
      Hit up La Super Rica

      2 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick
        CarlieInLA Sep 5, 2013 09:15 AM

        Thanks! I have tried La Super Rica, and was wondering about Los Agaves. Seems to get good reviews and interested in trying something new. Have you tried Los Agaves?

        1. re: CarlieInLA
          b
          Beach Chick Sep 6, 2013 06:07 AM

          Friends in SB have and enjoyed it.

      2. g
        glbtrtr Sep 5, 2013 09:00 PM

        JULIENNE is a very worthy contender as a top pick for an alternate more casual, but great food and drinks place - corner of Santa Barbara Street and Canon Perdido St, across from the SB Presidio. Reservations advised.

        Might also want to check to see if SCARLET BEGONIA in Victoria Court is serving dinner that night, which could be a great choice particularly if it is a nice night for their quiet patio dining. If you can squeeze in a lunch or a brunch there before you leave, I don't think you will be disappointed.

        Your other choices are all good for around here, particularly SAMA SAMA, my own favorite of those four. The others still get more inconsistent reviews than what Sama Sama has been bringing in for a new restaurant.

        It is quirky but very fresh in its unique flavor interpretations, having discovered it shortly after a two week visit in Indonesia so I had some good reference points to see where their kitchen was going. Nouvelle Indonesian with young American kitchen twists, and no compromises on either front is maybe how it can be described. (?) It has become very popular so see if you can make reservations.

        If beer and sausages sound remotely appealing to you, there is nothing better than BRUMMIS on Upper State Street San Roque area for a very delightful but casual German restaurant which is exceptionally good with home made potato salad and sauerkraut. Hauntingly good stuff for a cuisine one does not run into that often.

        Looking forward to your report on the EL ENCANTO - they pretty much priced themselves out of the local market so we rely on you visitors to let us know what is now going on in our own backyard up there.

        1. p
          PattyC Sep 6, 2013 09:06 AM

          We loved our dinner at Scarlett Begonia. I'm looking forward to a report on El Encanto too.

          1. CarlieInLA Sep 6, 2013 10:04 AM

            Thanks everyone! I think we will try to hit up Sama Sama Kitchen, it sounds different and reviews look good. I will definitely report back on El Encanto. We got married in Santa Barbara 7 years ago, so going back for a special trip. Crossing our fingers it is a great experience!

            1 Reply
            1. re: CarlieInLA
              g
              glbtrtr Sep 7, 2013 10:03 AM

              Save room for their special flavored gelatos too - German biscotti was the best of the trio but each was a fresh flavor exploration - Thai Ice Tea and Lemongrass Ginger.

            2. CarlieInLA Oct 3, 2013 01:53 PM

              Hello - Thanks again for the advice. We ended up having dinner at Sama Sama kitchen and it was very good! Cocktails were excellent. We ate at the bar which was fun. Ordered the chicken wings to start and they were very tasty. Well cooked and flavor of tamarind was nice. We shared the Mei Goreng and the Duck confit dish. The Duck dish was the winner with really unique flavors and the duck was perfectly crispy, we would definitely order again. Mei Goreng had good flavors but nothing extraordinary. I would definitely recommend it as it was a very good experience.

              We also had lunch at Los Agaves and we really enjoyed it. I got the Cochinita Pibil which was spicy and very flavorful. Their rice is really good as well as their tortillas. Husband got the shrimp chile relleno. They were out of their chiles en nogada (we were super bummed). Chile relleno was OK. I was expecting it to be battered and for the chile itself to be more cooked but it was only slightly cooked which overwhelmed the other flavors. Wish we could have ordered something else.

              I will write separately about our El Encanto dinner. Overall, excellent service, excellent drinks, some hits and a couple OK dishes. Loved the ambiance and the location. It was a great special occasion place.

              Show Hidden Posts