10 Best Isla Vista Restaurants: Eat, Eat and Be Merry!



Isla Vista - often affectionately abbreviated to IV - is a unique microcosm of it's own. Not really a part of Santa Barbara (although it's only 10-15 minutes away) and certainly not claimed by neighboring Goleta, this area is where all the college kids hang out. 

And you know what that means, right?

Right. Good, cheap food. And lots of it. And very little that is nutritionist or dietician approved, so let's not worry about that.

This list of the 10 best Isla Vista restaurants will help you find almost everything that's good to eat in the area, from bagels to burritos. You might start your day with a breakfast burrito from El Sitio, enjoy a pitcher of beer and a sammie at Sam's to Go for lunch and end your night with a giant plate of Freebirds' nachos. 

Or, if we're really considering all the options, you might do exactly that, but backwards. That's the joy of a college town. Long hours, flexible schedules, big appetites. Are you in? We are. 

So get ready to go through this list and have an indulgently good time. Should you wind up feeling totally guilty, we've included two healthy options. Silvergreens and Blenders in the Grass will cure what ails you (and your liver). Because we care. We really do. 




When you're looking for a healthy bite in Isla Vista, consider a visit to Silvergreens. Everything on the menu - from the soups to the breads to the salad dressing - is made from scratch in their kitchen daily. Try a scrumptious sandwich, crisp...  Read More




This local Mexican food chain has a few restaurants around the Santa Barbara and Goleta areas. This entry is for the Isla Vista location, where it is possibly the most underrated. Stop in for killer breakfast burritos, great regular burritos,...  Read More


If you like pizza, but you're a little bit picky about what goes on it AND you're totally in a hurry, Blaze Pizza in Isla Vista is the place for you. (Full disclosure: you should also be completely ok with college crowds and limited parking.)...  Read More




Sam's to Go in Isla Vista is a perfectly fine place to go for a sandwich. They have all the classics: turkey and avocado, pastrami, ham and cheese... The prices are fair and delivery is available. BUT the real reason to go to Sam's to Go is to...  Read More




Home to the best smoothies in Santa Barbara! This local chain serves up healthy smoothies, fresh juices and acai bowls in a jiffy. You can customize your drink with the supplements of your choice, like chia seeds, bee pollen and whey protein....  Read More




Looking for a cup of organic, fair trade coffee? Caje in Isla Vista has you covered! This casual coffee shop is a great place to stop for a pick me up - whether you're pulling an all nighter or just need to make it through that next lecture. In...  Read More




A good bagel can be hard to find. But not at the Bagel Cafe in Isla Vista, where everyone's favorite breakfast roll is both plentiful and delicious! Stop into the Bagel Cafe for plain bagels, bagel melts, bagel sandwiches and even Benedict...  Read More




Authentic Italian food in Isla Vista? It exists! Hidden among all the late night Mexican food stops, coffee shops and burger joints, Sorriso is a true gem. Enjoy fresh, homemade flavors at reasonable prices, all in a cute and clean little...  Read More




If you haven't eaten at Freeboards World Burrito on Isla Vista, you've clearly never been a UCSB student. Located in the college-centric neighborhood of IV, this late night, build-your-own combo casual Mexican restaurant is the place to go for...  Read More




For the young and adventurous pizza-lovers among us, Woodstock's Pizza calls out as one of the the tastiest pizza parlors in Goleta. Do you have to venture into Isla Vista, a notoriously party-friendly college town, to get it? Yes, yes you do....  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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