Best Santa Barbara Restaurants for Every Appetite and Budget



Visit Santa Barbara, and you'll soon discover that the locals like to dine out... and often. With more restaurants per capita than most other North American cities, Santa Barbara boasts dining destinations that feature cuisines from around the world. German, Indonesian, French, we like to dabble in it all - preferably on outdoor patios if the weather is nice (and it usually is). 

Start your day with a foamy cappuccino and crisp croissant at Renaud's before taking a tour of the historic El Presidio de Santa Barbara, a Spanish compound built in 1782. When it's time for lunch, grab some authentic tacos from La Super-Rica. Stroll over to Paseo Nuevo for some outdoor shopping or wander the side streets to peek into local boutiques. Evenings will find most locals out for bite and a drink, whether that means a fancy cocktail or one of the county's famous wines. Santa Barbarans are a social bunch, so it is common for restaurants to offer counter dining. Just take a seat and soon you'll be making new friends and, more than likely, learning about their favorite places to grab a bite.

Whether you're visiting town for a week or weekend - or maybe you already live here but are looking for some new suggestions - explore this list for a variety of the best flavors Santa Barbara has to offer. Staying downtown? You'll be happy to find that a majority of these stops are within easy walking distance.




Enjoy Italian and Mediterranean dishes with a view of the ocean! This romantic waterfront restaurant is located near some of the best hotels in the west beach area of Santa Barbara. Enjoy fresh salads and delicious pastas, like gnocchi with rock...  Read More




For a true breakfast (or lunch) treat, plan to enjoy a meal at D'Angelos Bread. This combination bakery/restaurant is situated just off State Street in the older part of downtown Santa Barbara. From perfectly poached eggs and personal-sized...  Read More


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Santa Barbara
Palace Grill
Photo courtesy of Marshall Astor - Food Fetishist


"Laissez les bons temps rouler," is the motto at The Palace Grill, a phrase that translates to: Let the good times roll! A night at The Palace isn't complete without a sing-a-long (just one song) and rousing group toast. With a menu that reads...  Read More




The best chocolate croissant you will ever enjoy is not waiting for you in Paris. (Sorry if that shakes up some plans for intercontinental travel but, don't worry, they still have the best escargot.) No, it is right here in Santa Barbara,...  Read More


Sama Sama Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


Sama Sama Kitchen is a restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara that serves up satisfying, Indonesian-inspired dishes and cocktails for brunch and dinner. Exotic flavors like anise, cumin and starfruit are common here. There are classic dishes, like...  Read More




Tucked away on landlocked upper State St. is a gem of an Italian eatery, Via Maestra 42. The restaurant is very small and, at first glance, barely resembles a restaurant at all. There are freezers full of Italian delicacies, a gelato counter,...  Read More


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Santa Barbara


For an authentic taste of Mexico, drive up Milpas until, on the right, you see a little white shack with aqua trim. There is no sign, but a line extending from the doorway will let you know that you're at the right place. This is La Super-Rica,...  Read More


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Santa Barbara


For cuisine that makes the most of regional ingredients, look no further than Bouchon. Fresh vegetables are sourced from our daily farmers' markets, and meat is purchased from local ranchers. Entrees include roasted venison medallions, braised...  Read More


The Lark
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


The Lark is a large, visually-impressive restaurant located in the heart of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. The menu here celebrates Central Coast fare, from fruits and vegetables to meats and wines. Food is intended for sharing and served...  Read More


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Santa Barbara
Brophy Bros.


Unbeatable harbor views issue a siren's call to patrons at this popular restaurant. Of course, their menu full of delicious seafood doesn't hurt business either. Bustling and busy, Brophy Bros. serves up some of the city's most coveted clam...  Read More


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Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva

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