Lower State Restaurants
600 Olive St., Lower State
A friend with kids said this old school (i.e., it was established in '37) Italian joint is a huge hit: You get to dig into Spaghetti Alle Vongole, grilled salmon, and a pages-long wine list on the lovely patio out back, while they can spend any downtime playing Bocce on one of the two adjacent courts.
331 Motor Way, Lower State
Wise people say that everything tastes better in either bowl or smoothie form, which is the abiding philosophy here: Specializing in hot porridge, acai bowls, and every manner of smoothie, this is one of those cheerful joints that entirely revolves around starting days right. They're onto something too, since it's booming: There are now four outposts across California, including a second outpost in Santa Barbara.
131 Anacapa St., Lower State
Tucked inside the beloved Santa Barbara Fish Market, this indoor-outdoor—it’s mostly outdoor, actually—restaurant is named after the overnight train that’s serviced this part of California for the first half of the last century (which also explains the vintage train booths). As evidenced by the generous portions of comfort food staples like deviled eggs, roasted chicken, and cheese fritters (all locally sourced, all delicious), the menu is designed to encourage sharing. The herbed popcorn—which magically appears at your table the second you sit down—is well worth the sodium bomb.
127 Anacapa St., Lower State
The offerings here are blessedly simple: Excellent, wood-fired pizza (interesting flavor combinations, plus all the classics), a smattering of meatball-based sandwiches, plus a handful of well-conceived salads (shaved kale, based arugula). In short, this is exactly the sort of food you want to plow into with a big group of friends, or after an overly raucous night out. They have kid-friendly option as well, and offer takeout.