Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Santa Barbara: Enjoy Hassle-Free Family Dining

Who wants to go out to eat tonight? You, your kids and aunt Glenda, that's who! Yep, you'll be dining with the whole family in Santa Barbara this evening, and you know what that means: plenty of potential for hijinks and foibles and tearful tantrums.

What you need is a place with plenty of seating, great atmosphere, a varied menu and, quite possibly, a little background noise (to drown out any arguments).

Relax, we are here to save the day. This list of the ten best family-friendly restaurants in Santa Barbara has something for everyone, without being full of the usual chain restaurants and pizza parlors.

If you're looking for a fun dinner stop, try Harry's Plaza Cafe on upper State St. There is free parking, plenty of seating and a wide menu of classics - from spaghetti to enchiladas to tuna melts. They have killer desserts too, like a nine-scoop banana split that's sure to impress the younger set.

Over 21? The bar at Harry's is also something of a legend. Hope you like stiff drinks!

For breakfast, stop into the Cajun Kitchen for pancakes, scrambles, muffins and more. There are two locations close to downtown. Prices are fair, and portions are generous. 

Remember, you're on vacation to have a good time. So take the family out to eat, and let someone else do the dishes!

Can you beat a seafood restaurant and bar that's right on the beach? Of course not! The Beachside Bar-Cafe is the place to go in Goleta if you want to enjoy a meal and perhaps an adult beverage with your family while watching the waves. Many of...  Read More

If you want ice cream in Santa Barbara, you've got to know where to go. Skip the national chains and drugstore ice cream counters. Head straight to McConnell's Fine Ice Creams where they have been crafting up the creamiest, most mind-meltingly...  Read More

You probably won't find this restaurant in many guide books or blog posts about eating your way through Santa Barbara. It doesn't even have a website. The East Beach Grill is an entirely different species - a friendly beach-front walk-up...  Read More

The Natural Cafe
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

With 10 locations in the surrounding areas, The Natural Cafe is a Santa Barbara small business success story. A local favorite for vegetarian and vegan options, this popular lunch and dinner restaurant also serves up delicious chicken and fish...  Read More

The Habit Burger Grill is a Santa Barbara-based hamburger chain that is truly a local favorite. From their signature smoky charburger and the albacore sandwich made from line-caught tuna to freshly tossed salads, the Habit serves up fresh food...  Read More

Santa Barbara
On The Alley
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

On The Alley is a more casual sister venue brought to you by the owners of Brophy Bros., Santa Barbara's wildly popular seafood restaurant. Serving fresh fish tacos, tasty sandwiches (try the pulled pork) and burgers, On The Alley dishes up...  Read More

Cajun Kitchen is a Santa Barbara tradition, a local breakfast and lunch joint with something like a million different locations in Santa Barbara county. And every location is packed, too! Hearty food, good prices and quick service keeps us...  Read More

Is there a prettier beachfront restaurant in Santa Barbara county? We don't think so. Overlooking Santa Claus beach, a local favorite, the Padaro Beach Grill boasts a park-like outdoor dining room that's ideal for family meals, day dates and...  Read More

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

Harry's Plaza Cafe is a Santa Barbara institution. Opened in 1968, this cosy restaurant has been serving homestyle meals and stiff drinks to loyal locals for decades. Unassuming from the front, just pass through the door to time travel into a...  Read More


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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