Night Owl Dining: Late Night Restaurants in Santa Barbara



Night owls be warned: Santa Barbara restaurants, in general do not stay open late. In fact, local residents often joke that if you haven't figured out what you want to have for dinner by 8:30, you might as well give up. Or go to Denny's. 

But fear not! 10Best wants only the best for you so we have done exhaustive research to round up 10 fabulous dining establishments that serve dinner after 10 p.m. Impossible? Nothing is impossible!

From sushi to burgers to bahn mi sliders, this list has something to suit your every mood. Visit Edomasa for some midnight nigiri or stop by After Dark for some loaded mac n' cheese. Not in the mood for seafood or pasta? Go to the Blue Owl for some tri-tip fried rice... yum!

Better still, the vast majority of destinations on this list are unique to Santa Barbara, so not only will you be indulging after dark, but you'll be getting something you can't get anywhere else. (With In-N-Out being a notable exception for our out-of-state readers. Because what's a trip to California without a visit to In-N-Out?)

So the next time your stomach is growling long after the sun has set and you don't know where to go, this is the list that will save your life... or at least your appetite!



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In the mood for traditional American fare? Eureka! Burger is a fun burger joint located in Paseo Nuevo mall, right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara that's open until midnight every night. Their menu boasts hearty burgers with a wide variety of toppings. Goat cheese, fig marmalade, fried eggs? Yep, all of these and more dress up Eureka! Burger's signature Angus patties (you can substitute turkey and veggie patties, too). And if that burger and fries leaves you a little parched? There's a full bar that features craft beers and American whiskeys. Eureka! Burger also has flat screen TVs, rotating special taps and ample outdoor seating, making it the perfect place for watching Sunday football or celebrating a birthday.


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In-N-Out is the California burger chain you've probably heard of if you're not from California. If you're a native, you've probably been the one visiting distant relatives and spreading the "double double, animal style" gospel. There are three things that separate this burger chain from the fast food pack. 1. The menu is simple: burgers, cheeseburgers, grilled cheeses and fries. 2. The ingredients are fresh - nothing is ever pre-packaged or frozen. 3. There is a super secret menu that allows you to customize your order to perfection. To top it off, prices are reasonable and service is prompt. One of a limited amount of drive thrus in Santa Barbara.


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Romanti-Ezer serves simple, down-home Mexican food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's even open until 3 a.m. on weekend nights! This corner restaurant is one block off the main street. It looks like a walk up, but there are also patio tables out back. Romanti-Ezer is known for their mole sauce. Their chips are served with mole and queso fresco. You can also get mole enchiladas or a burrito that's covered in mole sauce. Other favorites include their super nachos and a burrito that has plantains inside. A solid choice when you're hungry and in a hurry. Try the horchata (if you like that kind of thing)!


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Roy is a very reasonable, independent restaurant in Santa Barbara that is open late. Dinner is served every night from 6 p.m. until midnight. Most entrees range from $20 to $30 and include soup and salad, as well as dessert. Roy has a full bar with a nice cocktail list, as well as wine and beer. This bar and restaurant also hosts local art shows and the occasional backgammon tournament. Located on a charming side street of downtown Santa Barbara, it's a fun place to pass an evening and watch the people pass by. Park in nearby city lots or find a spot on the street.


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Santa Barbara
Milk & Honey
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


 

Lipstick on your glass is not a faux pas at Milk & Honey. This dark little hideaway encourages dressing up and feeling fancy, although you're free to come as you are, too. Rock walls, dark wood, gleaming candles and a patio fireplace set the scene. White, rose, and red are all available by the glass here. Many wines are local, but France and Italy are also represented. And, should you start to feel a little peckish, Milk & Honey has a great tapas selection boasting both meat and vegetarian specialties that are perfect for sharing. Try their brussels sprouts... no really, they're a local favorite!


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Are you looking for someplace secret to eat? Someplace very few people know about, a place that may not even look like a restaurant from the outside? A place where the menu offers dishes from a variety of ethnicities? And that's open really late at night? Then the Presidio Market is your place. First, walk through the front door of the liquor store. Then walk all the way to the back and step up to a tiny window where you can get burritos, burgers, falafels, shawarma and more for under $10. Your order will appear in a matter of minutes, ready for you to take home or enjoy at one of the two tiny tables in the front.


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You're hungry. It's late. Alcohol was consumed... and maybe too much of it. We're not here to judge; we're here to help. If you find yourself in this situation in Santa Barbara, head straight to After Dark. This downtown restaurant is only open late at night, and it has the solution to all of your problems. And it won't even cost you an arm and a leg! You can get mac n' cheese, waffle sandwiches, fries and tater tots here. Every menu item is under $10. A little hard to find because it's really just a window outside of a bar.


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Little Kitchen serves up modern comfort food with a menu that is healthy, varied and decidedly satisfying. Right in the center of downtown, this cute restaurant dishes up lunch Tuesday through Saturday. But our favorite time to stop in is late a night! Stop in Friday, Saturday, or Sunday after 11:30 p.m. for tasty late night eats you won't find anywhere else. Cheeseburger egg rolls, bahn mi sliders, chicken tikka masala, french toast bites... these are just a few of the things you might find after dark. Street parking can be tricky, but there are parking lots nearby and who are we kidding... you'll probably be on foot in downtown Santa Barbara anyway.


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If you're hungry after 10:00 p.m., you may think your only dining option in Santa Barbara is pizza... but you'd be wrong. This uptown sushi joint is open late! Satisfy your late night cravings with a healthy dose of protein and omega-3 fatty acids in the form of tasty nigiri, hand rolls and more. In addition to sushi, Edomasa also offers entrees like chicken teriyaki, beef sukiyaki and a variety of noodle dishes. Finish your meal with a variety of ice creams, like green tea and red bean. Check out their Facebook page for interesting sushi trivia. Plenty of free street parking.


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If after hour burritos bore you and and you think midnight pizza is a snooze, head to The Blue Owl for a late night meal guaranteed to wake up your taste buds. Chef Cindy Black offers an unexpected variety of menu items here. Try the Kimcheezer (a grilled cheese made with kimchee) or a savory crab melt. Specials vary daily and ingredients change with what's in season at any given time. The Blue Owl is open late night on Fridays and Saturdays - it's the perfect way to cap off a long night or start a long weekend. It's also open brunch/lunch and dinner. There are some great beers and wines available too.


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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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