Bottoms Up: Goleta Bars to Quench Your Thirst

If you're visiting Goleta, there's a good chance that you are on a business trip or spending time with relatives. Either way, you'll probably want a drink! Instead of traveling all the way to downtown Santa Barbara in search of adult libations, save on cab far by staying local. Goleta has plenty of welcoming watering holes... you just have to know where to look.

For elegant cocktails in a swanky, Mad Men-esque atmosphere, head to the Imperial. This almost completely hidden gem of a cocktail bar is like something from another era. Settle into a velvet couch and sip on a sazerac in the company of fellow libation enthusiasts. 

If you're looking for something a little more casual - and possibly a little sudsier - head out to M. Special Brewing Company for delicious locally brewed beers, food trucks and love music. Or if dive bars are your thing, you won't want to miss the Break Time. It's a great place to place pool and shoot the you-know-what with their beloved bartenders.

Whichever destination you choose, you won't be disappointed if you stick to the Goleta bars on this list! 


This country-style, family-friendly restaurant located in Goleta includes a full bar. Enjoy a liquid lunch while watching a sports game on one of the TVs or take a meeting, Mad Men-style. Their house-made pepper infused vodka is a hit and the star of their spicy bloody maries. The hunting lodge decor - think mounted and stuffed animal heads - adds to the atmosphere but is not for the faint of heart. There is plenty of parking available onsite. The Nugget is a short walk from many Goleta hotels. This is their second restaurant. The original is located in Summerland, about a 20 minute drive south.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: A local place to grab a drink and a tasty burger, this restaurant is family-friendly and centrally located.

Geneva's expert tip: Go for a drink, stay for the scenery. If you enjoy taxidermy, this is the Goleta drinking destination for you!

Read more about The Nugget →

Hollister Brewing Company is a great brewpub located in the heart of Goleta, near the airport, Isla Vista and Old Town. They serve American classics here like burgers and fries, with a few surprises mixed in. And, of course, everything pairs well with their signature brews. If you enjoy what you drink here, why not take some home? Hollister Brewing Company sells half-gallon glass jugs, known as growlers, of their house-brewed beers to go. In fact, "good beer comes in growlers" is one of their mottos. Located in one of the area's larger shopping centers, there's ample free parking right in front.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: If you want to taste locally brewed beer in Goleta, head to the Hollister Brewing Company.

Geneva's expert tip: Get a growler to go! Hollister sells their award-winning IPAs (and other brews too) in awesome, refillable jugs that hold four pints so you can take your favorites with you.

Read more about Hollister Brewing Company →

Roundin' Third is a Goleta sports bar that provides a warm welcome for locals and travelers alike. Located in a neighborhood shopping center, this bar has a nice selection of beer and liquor and friendly bartenders. Multiple flat screen TVs, a pool table and occasional karaoke nights provide entertainment. There are many restaurants nearby and the staff will usually let you bring your meal in to enjoy it with a cold drink at the bar... if you stay on their good side. Sometimes they host parties and BBQs. Plenty of free parking. Close to hotels and a short drive from the Santa Barbara airport.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: Can any bar list be complete without a neighborhood sports bar where everyone will most likely eventually know (if they can remember) your name?

Geneva's expert tip: Roundin' Third can accommodate larger parties and sometimes has live music and outdoor BBQs.

Read more about Roundin' Third →

Beachside Bar-Cafe
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

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 an adult beverage while watching the waves. Many of their signature drinks include nice tropical garnishes, like umbrellas. Just the kind of thing to sip before a stroll along the sand.Don't forget to Instagram it to make your friends jealous! Stop by for happy hour during the week. If you happen to work up an appetite after a cocktail or two, try the fish tacos. They're scrumptious! Free parking onsite.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: A bar with a view on the beach, need we say more?

Geneva's expert tip: Shirt and shoes are required, so be sure to pack some in your beach bag.

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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 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. Free parking right out front.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: Where else can you enjoy a cocktail while winning a stuffed animal from one of those grabby arcade machines? Pretty much nowhere.

Geneva's expert tip: Zodo's has two happy hours: one from 4-7 and another one from 9 or 10 (depending on the day) until midnight!

Read more about Zodo's Bowling & Beyond →

Mercury Lounge
Photo courtesy of Mercury Lounge

Sometimes you want to get away from it all... all the downtown noise, crowds and traffic. For times like these, head to Goleta and pay a visit to the Mercury Lounge. A hidden gem in an unassuming strip mall, the Mercury is something of a haven, a dark velvet calm of a wine and beer bar complete with low couches, a single pool table, vintage glassware and a cozy rear patio. With dozens of beers to choose from and a wine list that leans local, it's a connoisseur's type of place - perfect for intimate conversations or dark solo musings. They also host live music from time to time. Free parking on the street or in the small rear lot.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: The Mercury Lounge has a warm, inviting atmosphere and is sure to impress beer drinkers with their tap selections.

Geneva's expert tip: Belly up to the bar and order popcorn to enjoy with your drinks.

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A dive bar of the highest order. If you're in Goleta and looking for a place to enjoy a relaxing bar (or cocktail), play a round of darts and maybe catch the game on TV, head to the Break Time. There are also pool and pinball tables, as well as the occasional live band. It's nice and dark in here, with just the right amount of off-season Christmas lights. Come as you are and don't worry about minding your language, we're all just here for a bloody drink! A true local's favorite for years. Plenty of free parking right out front.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: The Break Time is the best dive bar in Goleta, hands down.

Geneva's expert tip: The Break Time is especially fun around the holidays, when all the regulars and people who used to be regulars but moved away have an impromptu reunion.

Read more about Break Time →

M. Special Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Aron Ives

Looking for a local cold brew? Head out to Goleta to try some of the area's best at M. Special Brewing Company. This brewery and bar serves up fresh drafts of their own beer crafted on site. Offering up lager, Saison, IPA and more... the menu changes with what's available (it's not uncommon for local favorites to sell out). Open Sunday through Wednesday until 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday until 10 p.m. this is a great place to pull up a seat at their long wooden bar and catch the game on TV. Live music and food trucks aren't uncommon.

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: M. Special serves up some of the best locally made beer.

Geneva's expert tip: Check out their Facebook page to see when food trucks and bands are scheduled to be at the brewery.

Read more about M. Special Brewing Company →

This is definitely the coolest hotel bar in the Santa Barbara area. Just off the lobby of the Goodland Hotel, the Goodbar serves creative cocktails in a beautifully designed space. Sit at the bar and watch the bartender concoct your drink, tick into a booth and chat with friends, play pool or head outside to drink under the stars. There is also a surprisingly interesting menu of snacks courtesy of the Outpost, the hotel's restaurant. Pair your mescal cocktail with some roasted shishito peppers or a juicy burger. A great place to hangout even if you're not staying at the hotel. Plenty of free parking, but you might want to take an Uber!

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: For creative cocktails paired with awesome food, the Goodbar is a must visit.

Geneva's expert tip: The place is like Palm Springs meets surf culture. Feel free to dress as fabulously or as beachily as you like!

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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!

Recommended for Goleta's Best Bars because: The chicest secret bar in all of Goleta. For imbibers who are in the know.

Geneva's expert tip: Not sure what you're in the mood for? Tell the bartenders what booze you like, and they'll craft you something special on the spot.

Read more about The Imperial →


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