The Best Lunch in Town (We Promise)

Geneva Ives

By , Local Expert, Santa Barbara
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It’s time for lunch. You’re in Santa Barbara, California and, boy, are you hungry. Look around. No matter where you’re standing, there are probably at least three restaurants in view, with many more tucked just around that bend or behind this group of palm trees. But how do you determine which restaurants merit a visit and which restaurants fall short? Enter the 10Best lunch list, featuring the ten most delicious lunch spots in town.

If you’re in the mood for seafood, you’re in luck. Simply head toward the water to find some of the freshest catches in the area at local favorites like On The Alley and the Santa Barbara Shellfish...  Read more »

  • 1

    La Super-Rica

    • Cuisine: Latin, Mexican
    • Average Main Course Price: $8
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    La Super-Rica was a favorite lunch spot of the late cooking great Julia Child.

    Local Expert Tip: "There are a few things you should know so as not to jamb up the already epic line here: it's cash only, you order by saying the number of each dish and beans and rice are not served on the side here."

  • 2

    Mac's Fish & Chip Shop

    Every seaside town should have a good fish 'n chips shop - this is ours.

    Local Expert Tip: "Save room for dessert! The good folks at Mac's happily fry up a selection of British and American candy bars to sate your sweet tooth. Served naked or with chantilly cream."

  • 3


    In addition to amazing sandwiches and salads, Metropulos has a great deli counter and stocks everything you need to pack the perfect picnic.

    Local Expert Tip: "Gyro Friday: it exists, and it's wonderful. Soft, warm pita bread embraces house-made gyro meat - a combination of lamb and beef - drizzled in delicious tzatziki sauce. Get 'em while you can..."

  • 4

    The Natural Cafe

    The Natural Cafe is a true local's favorite. It's a healthy, delicious and budget-friendly lunch stop with sandwiches, soups, salads and more.

    Local Expert Tip: "The Natural Cafe is a great destination for a crowd of picky eaters. Their healthy options range from vegan dishes to familiar comfort foods."

  • 5

    On The Alley

    • Cuisine: American, Seafood
    • Average Main Course Price: $7
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Clam rolls, fish tacos, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches... the menu at this casual harbor restaurant is spectacular.

    Local Expert Tip: "On The Alley's tater tots - yes, those little fried potato hash balls of your school days - are served hot, crisp and delicious with just the right amount of seasoning. One generous serving is definitely enough for two."

  • 6

    Paradise Cafe

    • Cuisine: American
    • Average Main Course Price: $18
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    The Paradise Cafe is well known for having both a delicious burger and an amazing patio - which is (we think) the ideal lunch combination.

    Local Expert Tip: "Get the fries. They're skinny and so tasty, with the perfect texture, made even more delicious when dipped in the house special sauce. "

  • 7

    Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

    • Cuisine: Seafood
    • Average Main Course Price: $13.95
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    The Shellfish Company has the best clam chowder in town, tanks full of live shellfish and a view of the ocean. Lobster anyone?

    Local Expert Tip: "If you're in a hurry and there's a line to get in, skip the wait and order from the outside walk up window instead."

  • 8

    South Coast Deli

    • Cuisine: Deli
    • Average Main Course Price: $9
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Sometimes you just need a really big sandwich. If you're experiencing one of those time, head to South Coast Deli.

    Local Expert Tip: "If you even kinda sorta like eggplant, you MUST try their Eggplant Sammie. The eggplant is pounded thin, breaded, fried and topped with melted provolone."

  • 9

    The Spot

    The Spot is a legendary lunch stop in the sleepy surf town of Carpinteria. A short walk from the beach and sinfully delicious.

    Local Expert Tip: "Order a milkshake, any milkshake for a cold, creamy treat. Our pick is banana; it's made with fresh bananas instead of that artificial flavoring that's so common now."

  • 10

    Three Pickles

    • Cuisine: Deli
    • Average Main Course Price: $7.75

    This is probably the only place in town where you get to fill a bag of fresh pickles and pepperoncinis while you wait for your order.

    Local Expert Tip: "In the mood for something hot? Try their meatball sub or (if you have an extra 20 minutes or so to spare) the eggplant parmesan."



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