10 Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Santa Barbara



You may not want to eat dinner on a farm while you're on vacation. Mud, pigs, squawking hens... no, thank you! But enjoying a meal made of ingredients fresh from a farm when you're in California's bountiful Central Coast? That's an entirely different story.

If you're visiting, living in or moving to (lucky you!) beautiful Santa Barbara, there's no shortage of farm-to-table dining options. Many area restaurants even list the farm their meats and produce originates from right on the menu.

For the purest take on farm-to-table dining, head straight to The Bear and Star, a restaurant with it's very own ranch just a few miles away. The ranch supplies the restaurant with Wagyu cattle, quails, chickens, eggs, herbs, fruits and vegetables for a menu that is truly seasonal.

To impress a date - or a group - book a table at Bouchon or The Lark. The Lark is centrally located in the city's happening Funk Zone, whereas Bouchon is quieter, tucked on a beautiful side street downtown. Both have high-end dishes and sophisticated wine lists that celebrate local vintners.

Feeling a little more casual? Pop over to Scarlett Begonia and indulge in a brunch that you can't wait to tell your friends about. 

Whether you're hungry for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, Santa Barbara has the perfect farm-to-table restaurant for you!



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This restaurant in Santa Barbara's beautiful Mesa neighborhood is a vegetarian's dream, focused on locally sourced produce. Mesa Verde's flavor-packed menu goes far beyond your standard garden burger offerings, into a colorful world of bright local flavors. For lunch, try a pulled mushroom sandwich with harissa and housemade turnip pickles. For dinner, why not try celeriac root linguini with edible pink roses? There are also flatbreads and starters that are perfect for sharing. Brunch is served on the weekends. Pair your meal with with one of their herbal teas, tonics or coffees. Gluten-free and vegan dishes are heavily featured on the menu.


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Scarlett Begonia is a casual farm-to-table place with a brunch menu that can't be beat. First, everything they serve is created in-house. From pastries to ketchup to pickles, it's all made just steps away in their bright and bustling kitchen. Then there's the menu: everything you want for breakfast — eggs, potatoes, pancakes — even more delicious than usual. Think eggs topped with aged gouda and pancakes with lemon ricotta. And of course there are tasty things you didn't even know you were hungry for to add to the confusion. Shrimp and grits with chorizo sausage? Yes, please. Add to that indulgent beverages (including breakfast cocktails) and you've just had a meal you'll brag about all day long.


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The Black Sheep
Photo courtesy of The Black Sheep


 

Do you like the farm-to-table concept, but think it can be a little high-falutin' in practice sometimes? Well, if you like fancy food but hate stuffy vibes, The Black Sheep might be just the place for you. Located on a welcoming side street in downtown Santa Barbara, this is the kind of restaurant you hope to stumble into on your first night of vacation. The menu is a mix of global flavors and local ingredients. Think shoyu ramen, potato croquettes and heavenly scallop crudo. Nightly specials are always worth a try - you might have a foie gras taco or some wild boar stew. Respectable beer and wine lists and reasonable corkage charges. A great place to dine at the bar.


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If you're looking for a fine dining experience in Santa Barbara that feels both elegant and effortless, make a reservation for dinner at the Wine Cask. Located in the middle of downtown Santa Barbara (tucked away in a secluded courtyard), this restaurant specializes in dishes sourced from local harvests, great cocktails and - as the name suggests - wine! Chefs shop at the local farmers markets every week, and the menu rotates frequently. Desserts often steal the show here, with highlights including the butterscotch pudding and bread pudding souffle. Private and event dining areas are available, as well as an al fresco patio. Attached to the Wine Cask is Intermezzo, a more casual bar/cafe that serves wine on tap and tasty flatbreads.


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Finch and Fork is a fun bar and restaurant hidden inside one of downtown's finest hotels. Its ingredients are homegrown and locally sourced from farmers, fishermen and vintners. Executive Chef Peter Cham's menus show his appreciation for Santa Barbara farms and fishermen, as each one of his clean, simple dishes — from small bites to full meals — pairs no more than six ingredients, mostly drawn from the bounty of the Central Coast. Complement your meal with a custom-crafted cocktail. Finch and Fork has one of the best cocktail lists in town! We suggest heading upstairs to enjoy your drinks on the roof for a great view of the city.


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Barbareno
Photo courtesy of Barbareno


 

For a truly scrumptious farm-to-table meal in a relaxed atmosphere, head over to Barbareno. Located downtown, just two blocks off busy State Street, this restaurant looks, feels and tastes like pure California. Think warm wood, glowing lights, savory smoked meats and fresh seafood. The Barbareno team shops twice weekly at the Santa Barbara farmers market to deliver on their commitment to cooking with sustainable, local and delicious ingredients. On any given night, you might enjoy Pacific mussels with fennel pollen, pork belly with walnuts and dates, or basil ice cream. A solid wine and beer menu is available too. Reservations recommended.


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The Monarch
Photo courtesy of Aron Ives

 

Helmed by chef Phillip Frankland Lee and pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee of Scratch Restaurants, The Monarch is hyperfocused on celebrating the bounty of the Central Coast. In fact, The Monarch is so serious about the local farms and purveyors it sources its ingredients from, that it includes a multipage list of "partners" at the back of its menu. Phillip and his chef de cuisine John Butler shop around, making their weekly selections based on product and flavor. Menu highlights include housemade sourdough with local box crab spread, abalone a la flambadou and hearty mains like duck breast served with family-style sides. The wine list is very local too. There's even a treasure map of valley vineyards that shares where each bottle comes from.


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Santa Barbara


 

This intimate restaurant is located in the heart of Santa Barbara, and the heart of Santa Barbara is evident in its menu. Bouchon's fresh vegetables are sourced from Santa Barbara's daily farmers markets, and meat is purchased from local ranchers. For a hands-on experience, you can book a Tuesday farmers market trip with the chef who will then prepare your dinner using his finds. Although the menu often changes, typical entrees include roasted venison medallions, braised Kurobata pork shank and pan roasted salmon. The considerable wine list includes many California legends and Santa Barbara gems. A private dining room with an exclusive seasonal menu is available for meetings and celebrations. Patio seating is available during the warmer months (translation: almost year-round). Reservations are recommended.


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Located in the center of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, The Lark is an incredible farm-to-table restaurant with a seasonal menu that changes with what's fresh. Responsibly grown produce from local farms is featured in every dish, even the cocktails. Want to know where your cauliflower, steak or eggs came from? Just ask! Dishes are intended for sharing and served family-style. Indoor and outdoor seating. We strongly suggest that you make reservations well in advance. The Lark fills up quickly, but walk-ins may luck out and find a seat at the bar or the long communal table. Attached to The Lark is Les Marchands, a chic wine bar and market with select nibbles available.


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You can't get more "farm-to-table" than The Bear and Star, a restaurant with its own farm! The menu here serves up refined ranch cuisine that changes with what's in season. Most of the meat, eggs and vegetables are sourced from the restaurant's own ranch just seven miles away, including Wagyu cattle that are raised there from birth. The Bear and Star even grows its own mushrooms and seaweed! Everything is tasty but the appetizers are the true standout. Don't miss the cornbread, deviled eggs and oysters. The Bear and Star is located in the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as brunch on weekends.


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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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