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.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Tasty, local wines in a dark and mysterious and - dare we say - sexy atmosphere.
Geneva's expert tip: In the mood for harder stuff? The Mercury has a sister bar down the road, The Imperial, that serves delicious whiskey drinks.
This wine bar in downtown Santa Barbara is owned by the same lovely people who run Vino Divino, a local wine shop that has been operating for over a decade. Villa Wine bar and Kitchen serves wine and craft beer by the glass and has a small food menu. While they pour a lot of local wines (owing to the excellent selection in this area), they also have some European gems on their ever-changing list too. They have eight rotating beer taps that mix things up between European and craft offerings. And there are small plates like cheese, charcuterie, panini and salads to share while you are imbibing. Many local wine tasting rooms and restaurants are within easy walking distance.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: This clean and bright wine bar is located right downtown and has a good selection of snacks, too.
Geneva's expert tip: Not a wine drinker? No problem. Villa also has a nice mix of European and craft beers on tap.
The Wine Shepherd is a wine bar and bottle shop in downtown Santa Barbara with a large selection of local wines and tasty snacks. It also prides itself on offering rare and old vintage wines, as well as a carefully chosen array of authentic wines from around the world. Enjoy a wine tasting, sip a glass of something or take a bottle home with you. The charcuterie they serve is made by celebrated chef Drew Terp of Pico in nearby Los Alamos. Happy hour is Tuesday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. The Wine Shepherd is the perfect place to unwind before grabbing dinner at the Black Sheep next door.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: The Wine Shepherd has a great downtown location with a wide selection of wines and tasty snacks.
Geneva's expert tip: Head in here for a bit of wine shopping and enjoy a glass while you browse.
Although the Hitching Post II may have achieved international fame when it was featured in the film Sideways, it has always been a favorite of Santa Barbara locals. The Hitching Post specializes in their own Hitching Post wines made from Central Coast grapes since 1984. Winemaking occurs just a mile from the restaurant and winery tours are available. You can taste all the Hitching Post Wines at the restaurant bar before 6 p.m. for a nominal fee. Other carefully selected Santa Barbara County wines are also served at the restaurant. Designated drivers receive complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. The dinner menu highlights a combination of Santa Maria style BBQ and contemporary cooking techniques.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Go for the wine, stay for the food. The Hitching Post serves up classic steak dinners, very unfussy and extremely satisfying.
Geneva's expert tip: The Hitching Post is kind of a trek, but here's the good news: designated drivers receive complimentary non-alcoholic beverages.
Intermezzo is a fun little wine bar with the added benefit of food! If you're in the mood for something good but don't know what to choose - perhaps you're hungry, but your date isn't, or you want wine, but your companion wants a cocktail - Intermezzo is the answer to all of your problems. Want to sit inside? You can choose to belly up to the bar, sit at a table, or lounge by the romantic fire. Outside? Well there's a front patio if you want to people watch or a back patio if you prefer the relaxing sounds of the fountain. Fancy a glass of wine? Or perhaps a bottle but can't commit? Intermezzo serves up local wines on tap, so you can have as much or as little as you want. And the regional, wine country-inspired cuisine is scrumptious.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Intermezzo has a fun (and eco-friendly) wine-on-tap system that allows you to enjoy local wines by the glass that would normally come by the bottle.
Geneva's expert tip: Get the legendary butterscotch pudding and ask your server for a pairing suggestion.
For Municipal Winemakers, a wine bar and tasting room in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone, winemaker Dave Potter creates bottles that are both delicious and easily guzzled. Wines you'll want to bring to your friends' houses and buy by the case to serve at parties. Visit Municipal's lively tasting room in the Funk Zone for a fun wine drinking experience you won't soon forget. It's just blocks from the sea, there's a lovely patio, and many other tasting rooms are within easy walking distance. Municipal also hosts fun special events, like pop-up shops and chef dinners. Be sure to check their website to see what's coming up next!
Recommended for Wine Bars because: For wine drinking fun at a local tasting room, you can't beat Municipal.
Geneva's expert tip: Wine tasting spot by day, social hot spot by night. Municipal Winemakers is a popular local's place that hosts fun special events, like pop-up dinners.
Armada is a beer and wine bar with a fun assortment of craft beverages from near, far and everywhere in between. This hidden gem is tucked just behind the main shopping area of State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. It's an ideal place to catch a little refreshment while doing some major splurging or to take a date before or after dinner. In addition to red, white and pink wines, they also have beer and an effervescent selection of bubblies available by the glass. Pull up a seat at the bar, tuck into a lounge area inside or catch some sun on a patio table. Armada is pet friendly, too.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: This bright and cheery wine and beer bar is a great first stop to get to know some of the local flavors.
Geneva's expert tip: Bring your pooch and sit on the patio! Armada is dog-friendly.
Wine + Beer is a great wine and beer bar and shop located in the Santa Barbara Public Market, a collection of stores and restaurants gathered under one roof in downtown Santa Barbara. This is a wonderful place to go and meet friends, sip wine by the glass or order from a wide range of beer on tap. They also sell bottles of wine, beer and champagne that you can take home with you to enjoy at your leisure or drink in store. Long tables make for a communal, fun atmosphere. You can also order food from any of the restaurants in Public Market and have it delivered to Wine + Beer for a perfect pairing.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: For a fun place that both wine and beer lovers will enjoy, head to Wine + Beer in Santa Barbara's Public Market.
Geneva's expert tip: Order some oysters from the neighboring seafood shop and have them sent in to enjoy with a crisp rose.
A fun wine bar and merchant located in the heart of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, Les Marchands offers a mix of local and international wines for tasting and for sale. There is also a menu with a selection of elegant nibbles, like a sandwich au jambon and a charcuterie plate served with pickled vegetables. Cool decor and high ceilings will make you feel like you're in a hip neighborhood in a big, urban city. Enjoy complimentary valet parking or park in a nearby city lot. Many other restaurants and wine bars are within easy walking distance, as are the train station, beach and a few hotels.
Recommended for Wine Bars because: Les Marchands is located in the heart of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone and has an amazing selection of local and international wines.
Geneva's expert tip: Like the movie SOMM? Then you'll love this place. Co-owner Brian McClintic is a master sommelier who was featured in the movie.