There are sandwiches and then there are sandwiches. The latter being the variety you are happy to pay any sum of money for, wait in lines for and eat standing up if the situation calls for it. Three Pickles makes both kinds. They make perfectly decent deli stacks - you know, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato etc. - and they also make decadent and messy specialty sandwiches and "Subs Our Way." The latter boast the meat and/or cheese of your choice topped with a pile of chopped onions, tomatoes and dill pickles dressed in olive oil and oregano. You will need napkins and, oh, probably additional napkins. There is also a glorious fixin' bar (more pickles! and pepperocinis!). Located in a corporate park, it's not much to look at, but there's plenty of free parking!
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: If you love sandwiches, Three Pickles is a must for their flavorful, no-skimp subs and deli stacks.
Geneva's expert tip: Call in your order if it's anywhere between noon and 1:00 PM. Three Pickles gets extremely busy during traditional lunch hour.
For the young and adventurous pizza-lovers among us, Woodstock's Pizza calls out as one of the the tastiest pizza parlors in Goleta. Do you have to venture into Isla Vista, a notoriously party-friendly college town, to get it? Yes, yes you do. But the large, freshly made pizza pies are worth it... and the people watching is not half bad! Choose from their selection of specialty pizzas - like the hot and spicy Firebird - or create your own. To drink, there are bottomless sodas, juice boxes (we're not kidding!) or beer and wine. Parking is creative, and it's within walking distance to the park and a beach.
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: Woodstock's Pizza is a local legend, partly for the pizza and partly for the fun, college crowd it draws.
Geneva's expert tip: Eat in! Their pizza is much better enjoyed hot out of the oven, accompanied by a pitcher of beer and surrounded by the scenic sights of Isla Vista.
The Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch has been serving Mexican-style mesquite BBQ chicken and tri-tip to hungry area patrons for over 20 years. Try one or both with a side of tortillas, rice and chips. They cook over actual fire; there's no hidden gas grill or frier in the back. Great for takeout; party packs are also available. Their burritos are delicious. And don't miss the salsa bar! It's stocked with fresh salsas, pickled onion and jalapenos that will bring out the smoky flavors in your order. Sides of fresh guacamole can be ordered, too. Plenty of parking onsite. Open 7 days a week!
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: The warm embrace of aromatic mesquite smoke is alone worth the trip. Bonus: the food's great, too!
Geneva's expert tip: Order the combo burrito to try their chicken and tri-tip, all in one happy mouthful.
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 Restaurants because: This is a great restaurant that's centrally located in Goleta with good food, one-of-a-kind local brews and a fun atmosphere.
Geneva's expert tip: On Saturday night, growler refills are only $7 as long as you order at least $15 of food or drinks while you're there.
Domingo's is one of Goleta's best kept secrets. Unimpressive on the outside, perhaps, everything changes when you step inside. Walk through the doors to be taken back in time, to the age of the old school diner, where your fries are crisp, the patrons are friendly, and your server is actually happy to see you. Domingo's serves traditional breakfasts like eggs, hashbrowns and shortstacks with a sprinkling of Mexican favorites thrown in (try the enchiladas or chile rellenos). Breakfast is served until closing, but they have lunch plates, too. High ceilings, stacks of newspapers and a long, comfy bar will make you want to pull up a seat and stay awhile.
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: Domingo's is the kind of place you might pass by, but it's worth the stop. Great Mexican breakfast specialties.
Geneva's expert tip: Come on a weekend morning and sit at the bar to socialize with locals and get the scoop on Goleta.
Sushi Teri is a local chain of affordable, delicious sushi restaurants. This Goleta location is a favorite, there is ample indoor and outdoor seating and a lovely bar, too. The fish is fresh and the daily specials are fresher. Sushi Teri has a variety of sushi rolls, grilled fish and teriyaki plates on their menu. Try their chirashi bowl or sushi sampler if you want to sample different varieties. Sushi Teri also has ramen and udon noodle dishes. There is green tea (iced or hot) and your choice of sakes. The staff are very forthcoming with suggestions and will always steer you in the right direction. Ample free parking onsite.
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: Great sushi in Goleta at reasonable prices, what's not to love?
Geneva's expert tip: Ask your server what they recommend or try one of the daily specials.
The Red Pepper Restaurant is not much to look at - it's a downstairs, apartment-style restaurant with a parking lot view - but don't write it off just yet. This secret little restaurant actually serves the tastiest Chinese food in Goleta (and possibly in all of Santa Barbara, too). Meals are served family style and sauces are made in-house to suit each dish; there's none of that 'same brown sauce on everything' here. Colors and flavors are vibrant and prices are more than reasonable. Lunch combos come with soup, salad and an entree, with orange slices for dessert. The ladies who work here are super friendly, even if the service is, well, less than traditional. One last thing: do not escape without ordering the onion pancakes!
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: The Red Pepper serves brightly flavored Chinese food in a cozy space. You may even get a hug on the way out.
Geneva's expert tip: Bring your appetite and do not pass go without ordering the onion pancakes.
With ten locations in the surrounding areas, The Natural Cafe is a Santa Barbara small business success story. A local favorite for vegetarian and vegan options, this popular lunch and dinner restaurant also serves up delicious chicken and fish entrees. In all of their semi-casual establishments, you place your order at the counter and then wait for your food to be delivered to your table. Popular dishes include their fresh fish tacos, savory meatless burgers and signature caesar salad generously topped with avocado. To drink, The Natural Cafe offers beer, regional wine, natural sodas and delicious custom blended smoothies and shakes.
Noodle City is a mom and pop Vietnamese restaurant located in Old Town Goleta. It is small, busy, loud and sometimes smoky but, most importantly, it serves the best Pho in the area. Fresh pots of broth are bubbling on the stove in the small kitchen around the clock, and real Thai basil is used as a garnish. Many other Vietnamese and Chinese specialties are also on the menu, including vegetarian selections. Service can be abrupt, just remember: you're there for the food, not the ambience. Students and local professionals eat here regularly. Expect to find it especially packed around lunch time.
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: Noodle City has the best Vietnamese food in town. From pho to bun and other classics, this menu has a little of everything.
Geneva's expert tip: Come for the food, not the service. It is delicious, but it is not a place where diners should expect to be treated with kid gloves.
Goodland Kitchen and Market is a gem of an eatery located in the heart of old town Goleta. Breakfast and lunch are served Monday through Saturday. Everything is made in-house of the freshest ingredients in limited quantities. In fact, it's not uncommon for some of their more coveted (yes, we used that word and we meant it) sandwiches and salads to sell out! Warm baked good are also available, like melty chocolate chip cookies and homemade poptarts. Their lemonade is legendary and the fresh-brewed Intelligentsia coffee is darn good, too. When not serving meal to hungry Goletians, Goodland operates as a commercial kitchen, allowing community cooks to produce small-batch treats.
Recommended for Goleta's Best Restaurants because: This the freshest lunch (and breakfast) spot in all of Goleta! And the service is super friendly.
Geneva's expert tip: If it's a sunny day, order one of their famous lemonades and relax at a picnic bench while the world passes you by.