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 smokey flavors in your order. Sides of fresh guacamole can be ordered, too. Plenty of parking onsite. Open 7 days a week!
With 10 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.
The Brewhouse is a local brewpub and restaurant located in charming West Beach. A variety of beers are brewed in house; some favorites include apricot wheat, habanero pilsner and baseball saison. They have a full bar and serve a variety of great comfort food. An epic brunch bar appears on weekends and features bottomless mimosas. And here's one extra fun fact about the Brewhouse: they also have a gourmet menu for your four-legged friends. That's right, you can bring Fido for a sunny meal on their patio and while you're chowing down on a juicy burger, he can enjoy some tasty marrow bones or steak bites!
"Laissez les bons temps rouler," is the motto at The Palace Grill, a phrase that translates to: Let the good times roll! A night at The Palace isn't complete without a sing-a-long (just one song) and rousing group toast. With a menu that reads like a roster of Southern and Creole favorites, you're guaranteed to leave with a full belly. Start with their hearty gumbo, then dig into a batch of crawfish etouffee before concluding your meal with their famous bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce. Reservations are accepted at 5:30 or not at all, so come early or be prepared to wait in line. But don't worry, even their line is fun, with musicians on many nights and passed appetizers to whet your appetite.
The Lark is striking restaurant located in the heart of Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. The menu here celebrates Central Coast fare, from fruits and vegetables to meats and wines. Food is intended for sharing and served family-style. There is a fun cocktail list, too. Indoor and outdoor seating. It is strongly suggested that you make reservations online 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. Valet parking onsite. Street parking and city lots nearby.
Originally opened in 1925, Dutch Garden is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Santa Barbara, but it's probably not on any tourist map and definitely far off the beaten path. Owned and operated by Ken and Laura Leutjen since 1985, this small shack consistently turns out the best German (not Dutch) food in town. Schnitzel, bratwurst, einsbein, there is something for every German food connoisseur, even fish and vegetarian options. Lunch includes both hot and cold sandwiches and, quite possibly, the best hamburger in town. An extensive selection of German and Belgian beers pairs perfectly with every meal. There's even a lovely beer garden for dining al fresco in good weather.
Garrett's Old Fashioned Restaurant is a diner-style place, complete with a greasy spoon breakfast menu and a great lunch counter. Their affordable offerings are straightforward: omelets, french toast, burgers... the usual short-order fare, perfect for beginning a long day or ending a long night. But what really sets Garrett's apart are the blueberry pancakes. Big, fluffy pancakes the size of your face, filled with fresh, juicy blueberries and swimming in butter. Always hot, never chewy or burnt. And the service! The staff at Garrett's is so friendly and welcoming and your meals come out so quickly that, after your first visit, you'll kick yourself for not coming sooner. This small place fills up with regulars quickly, so prepare for a little wait at peak hours. It's worth it!
Cajun Kitchen is a Santa Barbara tradition, a local breakfast and lunch joint with something like a million different area locations. And every location is packed, too! Hearty food, good prices and quick service keeps us coming. Standard fare at Cajun Kitchen includes big, three-egg omelets, syrupy french toast and classic sandwiches. Breakfast is served all day. In addition to your usual toast options, they also offer cornbread and blueberry muffins. This a great place to take kids even if they're notoriously picky eaters. It's also a fun, informal place to dine with a group. Prepare for a wait on weekend mornings.
Harry's Plaza Cafe is a Santa Barbara institution. Opened in 1968, this cozy restaurant has been serving homestyle meals and stiff drinks to loyal locals for decades. Unassuming from the front, just pass through the door to time travel into a comfortable family eatery, complete with deep red booths, velvet damask wallpaper and photos of celebrities past and present. A two-sided, mirrored bar serves some of the strongest drinks in town - try their signature Mean Tai - and private rooms allows for invitation-only parties. In the mood for a challenge? Try their banana split with 9 scoops of ice cream. Eat the whole thing by yourself, and it's on the house!
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 pm. Lunch and breakfast are also served.