Insider’s Dining Guide

Posted online: September 2011

ALCAZAR TAPAS BAR 1812 Cliff Dr., Santa Barbara, 805-962-0337,; open Mon.-Sat. for dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch. Head to this cool Mesa boîte for Cal/Mex-infused Spanish-style nibbles.

AMERICAN ALE 14 E. Cota Street, Santa Barbara, 805-845-6226,, open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. This all-American spot offers burgers, beer, and everything in between.

ARIGATO SUSHI 1225 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-965-6074,; open daily for dinner. Arigato (“thank you” in Japanese) to the owners of this superb State Street sushi restaurant.

ARNOLDI’S CAFE 600 Olive St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-5394,; open Sat.-Sun. for breakfast, daily for lunch and dinner. Honest Italian cuisine and bocce ball out back—that’s been the Arnoldi’s story since it opened in 1937. From the twin 7-Up neon signs framing the front door to the lively bar, this joint is as genuine as it gets.

BARBARENO 205 W. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, 805-963-9591,; open Wed.-Sun. for dinner. This California-style bistro celebrates the surrounding terrain through its decor, menu, and name, which is derived from one of the extinct Chumash languages spoken in the Santa Barbara area.

BELLA VISTA 1260 Channel Dr., Montecito, 805-969-2261,; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sun. for brunch. The Four Season Resort Biltmore’s chef Alessandro Cartumini prepares elegant Italian-inspired California coastal cuisine.

BISTRO 1111 1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, 805-730-1111; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At this Hyatt Santa Barbara restaurant, try the tasty crab cakes ($14).

THE BOATHOUSE 2981 Cliff Dr., Santa Barbara, 805-898-2628,; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Head to Hendry’s Beach to dine on local seafood.

BOUCHON 9 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, 805-730-1160,; open daily for dinner. Farmers market ingredients star in the elegant seasonal French-inspired dishes.

BRASIL ARTS CAFE 1230 State St., Ste. C, Santa Barbara, 805-845-7656,, open Mon.-Sat. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brasil Arts Cafe aims to promote Brazilian culture through food, dance, and a fun atmosphere with original creations such as the juice from the superfruit cupuaçu or churrasco na chapa (charbroiled prime-cut coulotte steak and sausage accompanied with rice, beans, fried banana, and chimichurri sauce) for dinner.

BROPHY BROS. 119 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, 805-966-4418,; open daily for lunch and dinner. Locals and tourists flock to the harbor for sturdy cocktails, fish ‘n’ chips, grilled seafood, and great chowder.

BROTHERS RESTAURANT AT THE RED BARN 3539 Sagunto Street, Santa Ynez, 805-688-4142,, open daily for lunch and dinner. Brothers Matt and Jeff Nichols grew up cooking with family and incorporate that philosophy into running the feel-good family-oriented joint.

CA’ DARIO 37 E. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, 805-884-9419,; open Mon.-Sat. for lunch, daily for dinner. This charming restaurant offers true northern Italian dishes such as the crespelle trevisane (from $15), a gratin of homemade crêpes filled with ricotta cheese and radicchio.

CA’ DARIO PIZZERIA 29 E. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, 805-957-2020,, open daily for dinner, Monday through Saturday for lunch. Three doors down from the original Ca’ Dario, this pizzeria specializes in only the best Italian pizza-making while using ingredients like arugula, basil, and mozzarella in creatively authentic ways.

CADIZ 509 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-770-2760,; open Tues.-Sun. for lunch and dinner. Enjoy upscale modern Mediterranean cuisine on a heated open-air patio facing State Street.

CARLITOS 1324 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-7117,; open Sun. for breakfast, daily for lunch and dinner. Sophisticated Mexican food is the attraction at this casual patio restaurant. Enjoy refreshing mojitos with friends in this special setting.

CAVA 1212 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-969-8500,; open Sun. for brunch, daily for lunch and dinner. Shrimp empanadas ($13) and paella ($25) are some of the Spanish-influenced recipes served at Cava. Sip on one of their specialty drinks such as the fruity sangria.

CECCO 475 1st St., Solvang, 805-688-8880,; open daily for lunch and dinner. Local wines, private seating, rustic Italian fare, and casual elegance abound at Cecco. Head to the pizza station’s bar for something as simple as a pizza margherita ($16), or get fancy with chef David Cecchini’s other seasonal offerings.

COLD SPRING TAVERN 5995 Stagecoach Rd., Santa Barbara, 805-967-0066,; open Mon.-Fri. for lunch and dinner, Sat.-Sun. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tucked into the trees off the scenic Highway 154, this historic stagecoach stop is a rustic spot offering live music, authentic barbecue, and traditional Western fare.

CORKTREE CELLARS WINE BAR & BISTRO 910 Linden Ave., Carpinteria, 805-684-1400,; open Tues.-Sun. for lunch and dinner. This comfy, cozy spot is known for its lunchtime panini, afternoon tapas, charcuterie and cheeses, dinner entrees, and wine flights such as Drawing a Blanc? ($10.50) of Sauvignon Blancs.

D’ANGELO’S BAKERY 25 W. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-5466; open daily for breakfast and lunch. Hit this relaxing breakfast/lunch spot for fresh pastries, poached eggs, and more.

DOS CARLITOS 3544 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805-688-0033,, open daily for lunch and dinner. This restaurant and tequila bar (it offers more than 60 different varieties) is known for its authentic Mexican cuisine—the shrimp empanadas ($12.50) and fresh halibut ceviche tostada ($16.50) are delicious appetizers.

DOWNEY’S 1305 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-966-5006,; open Tues.-Sun. for dinner. This high-end Santa Barbara staple is known for its comfortably charming dining room and seasonal
Cal-French cuisine.

EL ENCANTO 800 Alvarado Pl., Santa Barbara, 805-845-5800,, open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The hotel’s lounge, wine room, bar and terrace all boast romantic settings for a night away from reality, including California-coastal cuisine and stunning views.

EL PASEO 10 El Paseo, Santa Barbara, 805-962-6050,; open daily for dinner, Sun. for brunch. Head to this Spanish-style courtyard for an icy margarita, warm chips, and fresh guacamole.

ENTERPRISE FISH CO. 225 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-3313,; open daily for lunch and dinner. This lively, family-friendly restaurant—a local and tourist favorite since 1977—is known for its fresh seafood and unbeatable happy hour deals.

FINCH & FORK 31 W. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, 805-879-9100,, open Mon.-Fri. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch and dinner. This restaurant has fun with modern comfort food such as fish tacos and flatbreads paired carefully crafted wine and cocktails.

THE GARDEN MARKET 3811 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria, 805-745-5505; open daily for breakfast and lunch. A stop at this seaside boutique yields sandwiches, quiches, soups, and salads in the lovely garden.

THE HARBOR RESTAURANT 210 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, 805-963-3311, harborsb.comopen daily for lunch and dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch. This busy steak and seafood spot is the place to take in panoramic views.

HARRY’S PLAZA CAFE 3313 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-687-2800,; open daily for lunch and dinner. Here, the drinks are strong and the steaks thick and tender.

HOLDREN’S 512 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-965-3363, and 6920 Marketplace Dr., Goleta, 805-685-8900,; open Mon.-Fri. for lunch, daily for dinner, Sun. for brunch (State St. location). Eight cuts of high-end prime beef plus chops, ribs, and seafood are staples at these friendly spots.

HOLLISTER BREWING COMPANY 6980 Marketplace Dr., Goleta, 805-968-2810,; open daily for lunch and dinner. This brewpub offers comfort food and handcrafted beers made on site.

JANE 1311 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-1311,; open Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner. This cozy restaurant offers gourmet comfort food.

JEANNINE’S BAKERY AND RESTAURANT 1253 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-969-7878; 15 E. Figueroa St., and 3607 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-687-8701,; open daily for breakfast and lunch. These cozy spots are popular for the handmade pastries, breakfast and lunch dishes, Stumptown coffee, and Rori’s Organic Creamery ice cream.

JILL’S PLACE 632 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara, 805-963-0378,; open Mon.-Sat. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fourth-generation Santa Barbaran Jill Shalhoob’s steak house offers an old-school menu and weekly specials.

JOE’S CAFE 536 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-966-4638,; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since 1928, American favorites have been served at this cozy diner-style bar/restaurant—a local institution.

LA SUPER-RICA TAQUERIA 622 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805-963-4940; open Thurs.-Tues. for lunch and dinner. With its homemade corn tortillas and casual patio seating, this family-owned Mexican restaurant has been a favorite among locals for decades.

LE CAFE STELLA 3302 McCaw Ave., Santa Barbara, 805-569-7698,; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This new French-American cafe offers everything from crepes to a classic cheeseburger.

LOS AGAVES 600 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara, 805-564-2626; 2911 De la Vina St., Santa Barbara, 805-682-2600, and 7024 Market Place Drive, Goleta, 805-968-4000, open Sat.-Sun. for breakfast, daily for lunch and dinner. This restaurant is a local favorite for its modern Mexican dishes.

LOS ARROYOS 14 W. Figueroa St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-5541; open Sat.-Sun. for breakfast, daily for lunch and dinner; 1280 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-969-9059,; open daily for lunch and dinner. The Mexican food at these popular venues is straightforward and fresh.

LOUIE’S CALIFORNIA BISTRO 1404 De la Vina St., Santa Barbara, 805-963-7003,; open Mon.-Fri. for lunch, daily for dinner. This upscale pleasant California-cuisine bistro is tucked into the historic Upham Hotel.

LUCKY’S 1279 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-565-7540,; open daily for dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch. Enjoy filet mignon, seafood, and great wine at this first-rate, four-starred steak house.

LUCKY PENNY 127 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, 805-284-0358,, open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This hip walk-up cafe offers the works, ranging from the wood-fired pizzas to scrumptious salads.

MATTEI’S TAVERN 2350 Railway Ave, Los Olivos, 805-688-3550,, open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Mattei’s boasts wines from all over the world and the menu features items like the grilled baby artichokes—not something to miss.

MARAVILLA 905 Country Club Rd., Ojai, 805-646-1111,; open daily for dinner. At the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa’s signature restaurant, sit amid 200-year-old oak trees and take in views of the golf course and mountains while you dine on high-end gourmet international-inspired recipes.

MILK & HONEY 30 W. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, 805-275-4232,; open Mon.-Sat. for dinner, Sun. for brunch. Dine on flavorful modern tapas and fresh cocktails at this chic restaurante.

MONTECITO WINE BISTRO 516 San Ysidro Rd., Montecito, 805-969-7520,; open daily for lunch and dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch. Chef Jake Reimer complements the esteemed wines of owner Pierre Lafond with his California bistro cuisine.

THE NUGGET 2318 Lillie Ave., Summerland, 805-969-6135; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and 5685 Calle Real, Goleta, 805-964-5200; open daily for lunch and dinner. Down-home Americana fare with the appropriate dose of Western kitsch and memorabilia is the draw at these family-friendly joints.

OLIO E LIMONE RISTORANTE 11 W. Victoria St., Ste. 17, Santa Barbara, 805-899-2699,; open Mon.-Sat. for lunch, daily for dinner. Alberto and Elaine Morello rely on the integrity of their ingredients and preparation to offer upscale authentic Italian cuisine in an inviting atmosphere. Visible through a glass wall is the wine cellar, which represents the award-winning list of more than 230 different selections. Private dining in the Cucina Room is available for up to 40 guests.

OLIO PIZZERIA 11 W. Victoria St., Ste. 21, Santa Barbara, 805-899-2699,, open daily for lunch and dinner. General manager/proprietor Elaine Andersen Morello and executive chef/proprietor Alberto Morello’s neighborhood pizzeria and enoteca serves gourmet meats and cheeses, fresh salads, more than 15 different wood-fired pizzas, and a delectable array of desserts.

ON THE ALLEY 117 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, 805-962-6315, open daily for breakfast and lunch, Fri.-Sun. for dinner. From the owners of Brophy Bros., On the Alley features burgers, tacos, and more—quick bites for a warm summer day.

OPAL RESTAURANT AND BAR 1325 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-966-9676,; open Mon.-Sat. for lunch, daily for dinner. Eclectic California cuisine with cultural influences from around the world is served here.

PACIFIC CREPES 705 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, 805-882-1123,; open Tues. -Sat. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sun. and Mon. for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy a French-inspired favorite for any meal.

PADARO BEACH GRILL 3765 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria, 805-566-9800,; open daily for lunch and dinner. Visit this local favorite for family-friendly, patio-style dining. This remodeled restaurant now provides ample space for large events and live music.

THE PALACE GRILL 8 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara, 805-963-5000,; open daily for lunch and dinner. The Palace Grill honors Cajun food and hospitality in a jazzy atmosphere.

PANE E VINO TRATTORIA 1482 E. Valley Rd., Montecito, 805-969-9274; open Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, Sun. for dinner. A cozy ambiance is the attraction at this quiet Italian restaurant.

PETROS 1316 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-899-9110,; open Fri.-Sun. for lunch and dinner, Tues.-Thurs. for dinner. If you’re feeling especially bold at this upscale Mediterranean eatery, the spicy Greek kafteri cheese blended with hot peppers and served with grilled pita ($9) might tantalize your taste buds.

PIERRE LAFOND WINE BISTRO 516 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-962-1455,; open Sat.-Sun. for breakfast, daily for lunch and dinner. This eco-conscious cafe uses organic seasonal produce from local farms, serves wine from its own vineyards, and offers a wide array of California/Mediterranean cuisine in the dining room or on the sidewalk patio.

PLOW & ANGEL 900 San Ysidro Ln., Montecito, 805-565-1745,; open daily for dinner. Select a cozy table near the stone fireplace or sit at the bar and sip one of the delicious signature margaritas.

RENAUD’S PATISSERIE & BISTRO 3315 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-569-2400, and 1324 State St., Ste. N, Santa Barbara, 805-892-2800,; open daily for breakfast and lunch. Savor the French breakfast dishes as well as salads, sandwiches, quiches, and, of course, lots and lots of delectable pastries.

RODNEY’S STEAKHOUSE 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, 805-884-8554,; open Tues.-Sat. for dinner. The high-end Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort’s restaurant serves tender steaks and seafood.

ROOT 246 420 Alisal Rd., Solvang, 805-686-8681,; open Tues.-Sun. for dinner. This swanky yet inviting hot spot is frequented for its farm-fresh menu. The options change almost daily, but standards include items such as grilled halibut with saffron-tomato risotto, sauteed asparagus, and Mediterranean heirloom tomato relish ($32).

SAKANA 1046 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-565-2014; open Tues.-Fri. for lunch, Tues.-Sun. for dinner. Savor traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi with an artistic twist at this gem.

SAMA SAMA KITCHEN 1208 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-965-4566,, open Tues.-Fri. for lunch and dinner, Sat. for dinner, Sun. for brunch. Sama Sama offers Indonesian-inspired dishes created with fresh ingredients from our farmers market.

THE SAVOY 409 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-957-4111, thesavoysb.comm; open Wed.-Sat. for dinner, Sun. for brunch. Entertain the senses with modern American cuisine while taking in live music and glamorous burlesque performances.

SCARLETT BEGONIA 11 W. Victoria St., Santa Barbara, 805-770-2143,, open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunday for breakfast and lunch. With menus that change every week, this downtown eatery aims to treat guests with delicious local and seasonal bites.

SEVEN 224 Helena Ave., Santa Barbara, 805-845-0377,, open Mon.-Fri. for happy hour and dinner, Sat.-Sun. for lunch and dinner. Come to this Funk Zone joint thinking of the seven deadly sins—each of the sandwiches are named after one. The creative cocktails and personable staff make this bar a great place to hangout, listen to live music, and eat tasty food.

SIDES HARDWARE & SHOES 2375 Alamo Pintado Ave, Los Olivos, 805-688-4820,, open daily for lunch and dinner. Stop for a quick bite and try the crispy pork belly tacos with cabbage, cilantro, lime and house salsa ($14).

SHORELINE BEACH CAFE 801 Shoreline Dr., Santa Barbara, 805-568-0064,; open Mon.-Sun. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kids can play in the sand under the sun while parents take a mini-vacation with the fresh cocktails and beach-worthy fare.

SLY’S 686 Linden Ave., Carpinteria, 805-684-6666,; open Mon.-Fri. for lunch, daily for dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch. From the retro cocktail list to the menu of classic steak house favorites, owner/chef James Sly offers up a charming dose of Americana.

STACKY’S SEASIDE 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland, 805-969-9908, open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This nautical shack is the perfect stop for a basket of fish and chips after a stroll along the beach.

STELLA MARE’S 50 Los Patos Way, Santa Barbara, 805-969-6705,; open Tues.-Fri. for lunch, Tues.-Sun. for dinner, Sat.-Sun. for brunch. Escape to this four-starred homey hideaway for a French country-inspired meal.

THE STONEHOUSE RESTAURANT 900 San Ysidro Ln., Montecito, 805-565-1724,; open Thurs.-Sat. for lunch, daily for dinner, Sun. for brunch. Located at the San Ysidro Ranch, this landmark—one of the most romantic restaurants in America—serves gourmet regional cuisine. Dine indoors beside the wood-burning fireplace or on the heated deck with panoramic ocean sunset views.

SUCCULENT CAFE 1555 Mission Dr., Solvang, 805-691-9235,; open Wed.-Sun. for breakfast and lunch, Thurs.-Sat. for dinner. Find complete comfort with a friendly staff and large serving sizes of filling fare—from breakfast biscuits (from $5) to cumin and cinnamon pork belly sandwiches ($11.50). Ask about their group dining events and party platters.

SUMMERLAND BEACH CAFE 2294 Lillie Ave., Summerland, 805-969-1019,; open daily for breakfast and lunch. This quaint Victorian beach house restaurant serves a wide variety of meals with down-home hospitality.

S.Y. KITCHEN 110 Faraday St., Santa Ynez, 805-691-9794,, open daily for dinner, Friday and Saturday for lunch. The rustic Italian-inspired restaurant will whisk you into a warm and tasty atmosphere complemented by wood-fired pizza and authentic pappardelle.

THE TEE-OFF 3627 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-687-1616,; open daily for dinner. This popular steak house is a throwback to the good ol’ days.

TOMA RESTAURANT 324 W. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, 805-962-0777,, open daily for dinner. One of Santa Barbara’s most romantic waterfront restaurants serves exquisite seasonal Italian and Mediterranean dishes.

TRE LUNE 1151 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-969-2646,; open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A sophisticated Italian eatery, this frequented spot is always packed.

VIA MAESTRA 42 3343 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-569-6522; open Mon.-Sat. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sun. for lunch. This bistro serves authentic Italian cuisine.

VIA VAI 1483 E. Valley Rd., Montecito, 805-565-9393,; open daily for lunch and dinner. Indulge in thin-crust pizza, fresh salads, or hearty pasta on the terrace.

WINE CASK 819 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, 805-966-9463,; open Tues.-Fri. for lunch, Tues.-Sun. for dinner. The beloved Wine Cask and the upscale Intermezzo cafe and bar serve gourmet Mediterranean-style recipes.

ZAYTOON 209 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, 805-963-1293,; open Mon.-Sat. for lunch, daily for dinner. Live entertainment completes the atmosphere at this Lebanese-style eatery, where belly dancers saunter among diners on the patio.

ZEN YAI 425 State St., Santa Barbara, 805-957-1102; open Tues.-Fri. for lunch, daily for dinner. This modern Thai restaurant offers dairy-free or vegetarian dishes.

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