Where do you go late night if some members of your party want to enjoy an adult beverage while others do not? And where should you take a large group after dark? And what if you all need is to blow off a little steam? The answer, friends, is Zodo's: Bowling & Beyond. Zodo's is not only Santa Barbara's singular bowling alley (and a mighty fine one it is, at that) but also it is one of the best places to enjoy draft beer, with over 40 varieties on tap. In addition, there are many tasty snacks, like Irish Nachos... aka cheese fries. And private parties? Yeah, it can accommodate you and about 549 of your closest friends.
An excellent cocktail bar located where Goleta and Santa Barbara meet, The Bourbon Room is your destination when you want something a little different, a night with a drink or two to remember. True to its name, this bar serves up a variety of bourbon-based cocktails, as well as many others. There's also a food menu that highlights local, sustainable ingredients. And if that weren't enough, hot and tasty pizzas are cooked onsite, too. If you want to go back home with a story about 'this amazing amazing drink you had in Santa Barbara' (and the inspiration to try to duplicate it), make a beeline for The Bourbon Room. Ample parking, and the Creekside Bar is right next door.
The best place to hear live music on State Street, this thumping club promises high-energy entertainment and an enthusiastic clientele. Known for its powerful sound system, Velvet Jones puts its speakers to good use with top DJs and amazing bands, from local acts on the rise to national headliners. A full bar serves up the usual cocktails (in dance-safe plastic cups), and musical styles range from hip-hop to punk. If you're up for a quiet night and relaxation, this probably isn't your best bet. If you're in the mood to power through the night, then head on over! During the day, it's still a bar - it's just a little less loud.
From the hard cider on tap to the witticisms lining the wall, everything at Old King's Road smacks of London style pub right smack in the middle of Santa Barbara. Of course there are more than a dozen varieties of beer on tap - and many more offered by the bottle - but there are also spirits, with a particular emphasis on scotch. Sporting opportunities include pool, darts and trivia games, including a popular quiz night. On Wednesdays, groups of friends line the bar, answering trivial questions about pop culture and munching on English fish n' chips from a chip shop just down the block. So pull up a stool, grab a pint (most are just $5) and settle in for a night of fun, classic pub style!
If you're ready to be surprised by a chic oasis in the middle of residential Goleta, pop by the Outpost at the Goodland for a meal... or a drink. This restaurant is Palm Springs meets 60's California beach town. Stroll across patterned tile to dine pool side or sidle up to the bar for a handcrafted cocktail. The Outpost serves brunch and dinner made with a SoCal mindset. Central Coast wines, local craft beers and a wide variety of spirits are available to drink. Try a classic cocktail or a flight of a single spirit by a variety of makers! Pop into the Good Bar (same drink menu, also onsite) for a round of pool.
If you're in the mood for a relaxing night spent conversing with a few close friends - or making new ones - Elsie's Tavern is the place to go. A neighborhood hangout right in the heart of downtown, this lounge style beer and wine bar consists of a few rooms and a back patio, all with ample seating. Beers on draft range from classic and local to Belgian specialties. There's even more varieties available by the bottle. There's also wine by the glass (the kind that won't give you a headache the next morning) and snacks, like chips and cup o' noodles. And when you get tired of small talk? Why, there's an old style Pac-Man table waiting for you to take your opponent to town!
Do you like your bars dark, your drinks strong and your bartenders somewhat surly? You do?! Then the Sportsman is the perfect place for you. Built for comfort rather than speed, the Sportsman serves stiff drinks at down-to-earth prices to a local crowd that is not necessarily dressed to impress. This is exactly the bar you want to be at when the rest of town is going all silly for some sort of holiday. Cover charge on New Year's Eve: never! Valentine's Day: what's that? (This is also the place celebrities go when they don't want to be recognized, so keep your eyes out, but stash your camera. What happens here, stays here.)
Looking for somewhere to whet your whistle in Goleta? Fire up your GPS and map your way to The Imperial - a swanky bar tucked away in a nondescript parking lot. Step through the rather ordinary front door to be transported to another time, a time when bars were clean, attractive and TV-free. There's a good selection of whiskeys here, as well as a specialty cocktail menu that includes such favorites as cucumber margaritas and marmalade sours. The Imperial is owned and operated by the same fabulous lady that owns the Mercury Lounge beer and wine bar down the street. Plenty of parking out front, but we advise you to take a cab so you can have more than one delicious cocktail!
Visit this Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. location in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone to try locally brewed, award-winning beers. Order a pint or sample a beer tasting. Red and white wines from local vineyards are also available. If you're hungry, you can order a pizza from the Lucky Penny nearby, or there are a number of other restaurants within easy walking distance. In addition to a spacious indoor bar, there's a great patio that's pet friendly. Figueroa Mountain gets pretty busy on weekend nights, so expect a line and bring your ID. Park on the street or in nearby city lots.
Go for dinner and stay for cocktails; this legendary Santa Barbara restaurant transforms into a lively bar as the night goes on. A State Street tradition since 1928, Joe's Cafe offers up the stiffest drinks in town. The martinis are even served with a little bit of backup, still in the shaker. Another part of Joe's undeniable appeal is the huge mix of people that patron Joe's. On a busy night (and almost all of them are), the main floor will be standing room only – packed with coeds, frat boys, fabulous divorcees and forward older men. The kitchen is open for traditional American fare and greasy spoon snacks until 10 p.m. Lunch and breakfast are also served.