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Mar 30, 2014 07:55 AM

Santa Barbara

Heading to Santa Barbara for the first time in a few weeks - we are looking for recent restaurant recommendations - fresh, tasty, creative food (we eat everything!) and lovely intimate atmospheres or beautiful views (but not at the expensive of the food!). We are also looking for the best in casual food too - understand the Mexican is particularly amazing.

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  1. You're posting on the LA board and may find better results on the 'California' board where there are a few locals who'll
    I spend alot of time in SB so here are my must haves when I'm there…

    Scarlett Begonia for breakfast or lunch. Very innovative dishes and it's a tiny place, locally owned, where the service is impeccable.
    Hungry Cat for dinner. Everything on the menu is outstanding.
    La Super Rica for Mexican.
    French Press on State if you like coffee. I've tried them all, this is my favorite.
    I don't find the Mexican food any better than Los Angeles but this place is great.
    Have fun in Santa Barbara…it's one of the nicest places on earth :).

    4 Replies
    1. re: latindancer

      Thank you so much for the recommendations- we will check them out.

      1. re: DFinley

        Latindancer knows the way around town - made some very good starting reference points, though finding the great view and food combo in this town just has not happened ……yet.

        Try the lavishly renovated El Encanto Hotel in the Lower Riviera Hills of this city for the best views and hope they finally have the kitchen pulled together by now to justify the prices. Good choice for a lunch to get the best daytime views, and lower price points.

        I'll add SamaSama on State Street downtown for innovative takes on Indonesian, but in a clearly functional setting with no views. Just very interesting taste combinations, well priced and casual.

        Some of the city's best views are from Stearn's Wharf at the ocean end of State Street where the food choices sadly do not match the scenery, but with this in mind the Harbor Restaurant is good for basics and the SB Shellfish at the end of the wharf is good for casual and take-away.

        If you are here on a Thurs or Friday night, try the Gourmet Dining Room on the SB City College Campus School of Culinary Arts student run restaurant - best prix fixe in town, with wine. The views from the campus are some of the best in town though none from the dining room itself -which is smart and trendy in its own right so the overall experience is one of SB's best dining hidden gems.

        Happy Hour specials at the Boat House at Hendry's Beach at the ocean end of Las Positas Road are good for both ocean side setting and well -priced options and drinks if you want late lunch or early dinner.

        1. re: glbtrtr

          My husband and I rather enjoyed our lunch at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company a couple weeks ago. Granted, my main focus that day was 1. sitting outside (coming off a BAD winter in the MidAtlantic) and 2. view, so I guess my standards weren't set that high. Still, the abalone special was terrific - very light dish all around, but flavorful; and my husband, who loves any culture's version of fish soup, really enjoyed the cioppino. Good oysters on the half shell, too, and great service. Touristy, yes, but see numbers 1 and 2 above. :-)

          1. re: VaPaula

            The couple of times we've been to SB Shellfish, we've been much, much more successful ordering off the specials board than the regular menu.

    2. Love love love the San Ysidro Ranch for drinks and apps at Stonehouse or Plow & Angel.
      The Chase on State for the BEST Calamari Piccata with a side of Fettucini.
      Croissants at Renaud's up State.
      Cold Spring Tavern for lunch
      The Nugget in Summerland for a Patty Melt and a Bloody on the way back home.
      La Super Rica for some of the best Mex.