A Bar For Every Type of Barfly

Geneva Ives

By , Local Expert, Santa Barbara
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Santa Barbara must be a notoriously thirsty town because it seems like there’s a place to get a drink around every corner. Beer, wine, fancy cocktails, even not-so-fancy cocktails, we like it all. So where should you spend your drinking dollars? Choose a place (or two) on this 10Best list for a guaranteed good time.

For a low-key brew, pop into any one of Santa Barbara’s cozy pubs or dive bars. Old King’s Road and the Press Room both have great beers on tap and a friendly, not fussy, atmosphere. Or try Elsie’s, an intimate beer and wine bar that tends to draw an artsy crowd, for rich Belgian beers and other similarly...  Read more »

  • 1

    Brophy Bros.

    Local Expert Tip: "Not a traditional bar in the stay-late-and-hit-on-strangers sense, Brophy's is known to have the best bloody mary in town. That, combined with an uninterrupted view of the harbor, makes it the best place for day drinking in town."

  • 2

    Blue Agave

    • Type: Bar, Lounge
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Local Expert Tip: "Sample their extensive collection of delicious tequilas or, better still, try some mezcal, tequila's smokey, small-batch cousin. This bar has varieties you won't see anywhere else in town."

  • 3

    Dargan's Irish Pub & Restaurant

    • Type: Pub
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Local Expert Tip: "You know what goes well with beer? Fries! Fries also go amazingly well with pretty much all other kinds of booze, especially if you have had a little more than intended. Fortunately, this place serves fries - and other food - to bar patrons until 11:00 PM on the weekends."

  • 4

    Elsie's Tavern

    Local Expert Tip: "Don't leave home without your wallet: this low key wine and beer bar is cash only! Don't pout, it's actually kind of a good thing - you'll drink only what you can afford and definitely won't accidentally forget your credit card."

  • 5

    Joe's Cafe

    Local Expert Tip: "Homemade potato chips, served hot, for under $3 paired with a classic Old Fashioned. Are you headed to Joe's yet or what? Fun for stiff drinks and wild weekend nights."

  • 6

    Mercury Lounge

    Local Expert Tip: "This kitschy beer and wine bar also boasts a stage. Even though it seems out of the way, fun live acts from all over the country occasionally play music here. And on quiet nights? If you have good taste and a friendly smile, they might let you take control of the iPod - for a little while anyway."

  • 7

    Milk & Honey

    Local Expert Tip: "Tell the bartender what flavors or types of alcohol you enjoy, then ask for a recommendation. Here every cocktail is a delicious cocktail, so why not try something new?"


  • 8

    Old Kings Road

    Local Expert Tip: "Though intimate and quiet during the days and early weeknights, this bar becomes packed with late night crowds after 11. Move along unless you're ready to party!"

  • 9

    The Press Room

    Local Expert Tip: "Go to this bar to watch great footballers (no, not the Monday night kind) from all over the world compete at all hours. Seriously, you can show up at 6:00 am, order a breakfast beer, and settle in to watch the best international soccer rivalries play out."

  • 10

    The Sportsman Lounge

    Local Expert Tip: "This is a friendly dive bar and, like all friendly dive bars, it has rules. Be nice to the bartenders, don't complain about music on the jukebox, and do not order a drink with more than three ingredients. If you can get those things right, you will do just fine here."


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