Good restaurants in Santa Barbara?
August 24, 2005 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Looking for good restaurants in Santa Barbara.

My honey and I are going to be in Santa Barbara next month, and are looking for a nice restaurant to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I'm currently cranking through the Califonia Message Board at Chowhound (I'm about, oh, 1/8 of the way through), and have seen names like Aja, Downey's, Sage & Onion, Olio e Limone, etc. Does anyone have some mini-reviews of their own they'd like to share about these or other restaurants in the area?

And where should we go for breakfast the morning following this glorious dinner?

Also, we're just casual wine drinkers, but we'd like to go to visit good winery in the area. Suggestions? Thanks, all!
posted by DakotaPaul to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My wife and I were just there and really enjoyed the Sojourner Cafe.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 4:34 PM on August 24, 2005

For breakfast the following a.m., do try the Brown Pelican. Just up the coast and right on the beach. I've been there twice and always had a lovely meal.
posted by garbo at 4:39 PM on August 24, 2005

I'm from Santa Barbara. My winery suggestions were posted here a while back.

Downey's is the best restaurant in Santa Barbara. Period. However, it attracts an older crowd and can feel a little stodgy. What kind of atmosphere are you looking for? Food preferences? I could probably quote menus to you (apart from Downey's because they change theirs every night).

The Biltmore has a famous (and usually booked solid) Sunday brunch if that's the day you're there, which is very fancy and more or less right on the beach. Think oysters and Mimosas. The most popular breakfast place is the Cajun Kitchen on De La Vina and Chapala, but frankly that's a sentimental choice on the part of Santa Barbarians.
posted by cali at 4:42 PM on August 24, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far. Since I wasn't specific in the post, I wanted to mention that we're not looking for trendy, but a place where food get's higher priority than atmosphere. We're going to pull out all the stops here, and we want to be able to say, "Remember that delicious _____ we had at ______ in Santa Barbara?" on our tenth anniversary.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. My wife would love all the veggies on the menu at Sojourner, and breakfast on the beach at the Brown Pelican would be cool.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:48 PM on August 24, 2005

Response by poster: Darn this Live Preview -- I missed your post, cali. We're both 30, but I think we'd both feel much more comfortable with stodgy than trendy. As for preferences, well, we love everything, but would most like to experience good Californian, French, Italian, or Pacific Rim cuisines.

Thanks for the link to your other post. Got it bookmarked.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:56 PM on August 24, 2005

Yeah, I missed the Brown Pelican recommendation for the same reason. Their food might not knock your socks off, but the location will. It's literally nestled in the sand of one of the nicer beaches. It sounds like Downey's would be perfect for your dinner, be sure to call and let them know it's your anniversary.

If you go wine tasting for the day I would recommend taking a picnic lunch and eating at one of the wineries. It's easy to find yourself stuck out on a country road with a belly full of wine and no food in sight. Lazy Acres on the corner of Carrillo and Cliff Dr is a great place to stock up for lunch (especially the cheese counter). Rusack and Sanford have my favorite picnic spots.
posted by cali at 5:13 PM on August 24, 2005

This isn't really an answer to your question, but if you can, don't leave Santa Barbara without grabbing something at La Super-Rica.

Best taqueria ever.

And because my opinion probably doesn't carry enough weight, you should know that Julia Child thought so, too.
posted by dersins at 6:25 PM on August 24, 2005

Ooh - what about Chef Karim's Moroccan Restaurant?

I originally read about it in this article in which a British journalist does a Sideways-inspired tour of the area.
posted by forallmankind at 7:36 PM on August 24, 2005

Best taqueria ever.

Sorry, wrong answer. Super Cuca's is the best taqueria ever.

Certainly the best in Santa Barbara. Try the shrimp super nachos.
posted by o0o0o at 9:02 PM on August 24, 2005

Oooh, I'm going to have to go with Super Rica for tacos and Cuca's for burritos and nachos. Cuca's is really good standard northern Mexican food, better than but similar to other places. Super Rica is playing a totally different game. I mean, they've got somebody's grandma making fresh tortillas by hand. Burritos and nachos aren't even on the menu.
posted by cali at 9:53 PM on August 24, 2005

I don't know if $ is a consideration, this place is kinda expensive, but OMG, the food is so, so wonderful! Beachside Cafe, Goleta - right on the beach in Goleta, right near UCSB, fabulous seafood and view!
posted by Lynsey at 9:53 PM on August 24, 2005

My daughter and her friends, who live in or near Santa Barbara, went on a winery tour and had a fabulous time. I don't know which one they took but here are some ideas.
posted by Lynsey at 10:07 PM on August 24, 2005

McConnell's ice cream
posted by brujita at 10:25 PM on August 24, 2005

I second Beachside Cafe. Yummy stuff and it's by the beach. If you're even remotely into Cajun food, go to PALACE CAFE!!!
posted by edjusted at 11:35 PM on August 24, 2005

I can't believe nobody's mentioned the Wine Cask. The food is fantastic, and particularly if you're interested in wine, it should be a no-brainer. I also love Trattoria Mollie and (if you like Argentine food) Cafe Buenos Aires.

And yeah, if you want tacos, you can't beat La Super-Rica, but try to go at an odd hour to beat the crowd -- everybody knows about the place, and the lines can be mighty long.

Just so we're clear on this, burritos are not Mexican food. If you like 'em, that's fine, but a real Mexican place either won't have them or won't do them well.
posted by languagehat at 2:49 PM on August 25, 2005

Just in case you're still checking this thread, R.W. "Johnny" Apple has a long column on this very subject in today's NY Times. I can't stand the guy as a writer -- what a blowhard -- but he sure eats out a lot, and he seems to have a good take on the places he was at in SB.
posted by languagehat at 10:58 AM on August 31, 2005 [1 favorite]

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