Travel

Santa Barbara Restaurants

Establishment neighborhood
Los Arroyos
14 W. Figueroa St., Downtown
There are three Los Arroyos locations (the Santa Barbara outpost is the one that started it all, though we've only tried the one in Montecito), and they all share a menu of Mexican food that hits the spot—the kind that’s prepped fresh daily, using tried-and-true family recipes and local ingredients. It's all comforting and reliable, though the crab enchiladas and chimichanga burrito are particularly good. There are also eight kinds of salsa, all of which go nicely with the two-dollar tacos on Tuesdays.
Los Arroyos
1280 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
There are three Los Arroyos locations (the Santa Barbara outpost downtown is the one that started it all, though we've only tried the one in Montecito), and they all share a menu of Mexican food that hits the spot—the kind that’s prepped fresh daily, using tried-and-true family recipes and local ingredients. It's all comforting and reliable, though the crab enchiladas and chimichanga burrito are particularly good. There are also eight kinds of salsa, all of which go nicely with the two-dollar tacos on Tuesdays.
Sama Sama Kitchen
1208 State St., Downtown
As part of indie hospitality group Shelter Social Club (Ojai Ranch Inn, Chief’s Peak Bar), it’s not a big surprise this is one of the hipper spots in town. Come here for quality Indonesian food—all made with fresh ingredients sourced solely from local farms—and a solid drink (during happy hour, the house cocktail will set you back no more than six bucks). There's a sprawling bar if you're dining solo and several communal tables for bigger groups. Regardless of where you sit, you'll want to tuck into a share-friendly plate of garlic wings and blistered shishito peppers, followed up by Mie Goreng noodles.
Cava
1212 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
This is the kind of family-run restaurant where the house-made chips and salsa materialize without ever having to ask and every seat—whether it’s a booth in the main dining room or a table on the patio overlooking the pretty Mission-style facade—is the best in the house. The menu offers options to scratch a number of culinary itches, whether it’s Spanish tapas or traditional Mexican standbys (the mole tacos are legendary). The generous happy hour is a favorite among the after-work crowd. Get the blood orange margarita. Trust.
Montecito Coffee Shop & San Ysidro Pharmacy
1498 E. Valley Rd., Montecito
This cafe shares space with an old-timey, packed-to-the-rafters pharmacy, which means that unless you know to look for it, it’s easy to miss. The service here is limited to breakfast and lunch, both of which are pretty basic—really, you want to come for the pancakes. What’s more, is that the pharmacy itself is weirdly great. The shelves are lined with everything from perfume and fancy skin care lines to basics like Advil and shampoo.
Jeannine’s
3607 State St., Uptown
Everything about this Santa Barbara institution—including the somewhat unorthodox ordering system—is legendary. Some 30 years ago, Jeannine’s signature scones helped put the original Downtown SB location on the map. These days, the lobster Benedict and Kahlua-soaked banana French toast keep all three locations slammed at brunch time, while crisp salads and fresh, no-frills sandwiches leave lunch crowds happy. That’s not to say the baked goods haven’t held up over the years: The currant scones and homemade cookies are as good as ever. There's a second location Downtown, as well as one in Montecito.
Jeannine’s
15 E. Figueroa St., Downtown
Everything about this Santa Barbara institution—including the somewhat unorthodox ordering system—is legendary. Some 30 years ago, Jeannine’s signature scones helped put the original Downtown SB location on the map. These days, the lobster Benedict and Kahlua-soaked banana French toast keep all three locations slammed at brunch time, while crisp salads and fresh, no-frills sandwiches leave lunch crowds happy. That’s not to say the baked goods haven’t held up over the years: The currant scones and homemade cookies are as good as ever. There's a location in Montecito, as well as one on State Street.
Jeannine’s
1253 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
Everything about this Santa Barbara institution—including the somewhat unorthodox ordering system—is legendary. Some 30 years ago, Jeannine’s signature scones helped put the original Downtown SB location on the map. These days, the lobster Benedict and Kahlua-soaked banana French toast keep all three locations slammed at brunch time, while crisp salads and fresh, no-frills sandwiches leave lunch crowds happy. That’s not to say the baked goods haven’t held up over the years: The currant scones and homemade cookies are as good as ever. There are also two locations in Santa Barbara, one on State Street and the other on Figueroa.
The Hungry Cat (Closed)
1134 Chapala St., Downtown
Everything at chef David Lentz’s mainstay (the SB outpost is one of three locations in SoCal) is consistently amazing, but it’s the seafood that’s a true standout. The menu changes according to seasonal availability but is usually guaranteed to include iterations of ceviche, pasta, and salad. When available, the uni is a sure bet, as it's local and Santa Barbara is known for it—same goes for the oysters. Since the space is on the smaller side, getting seated can take a while, so consider staking out the bar instead, or come for lunch when it's always less crowded. The margaritas are great.
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