The Best Lunch in Santa Barbara (We Promise)

It’s time for lunch. You’re in Santa Barbara, California, and boy are you hungry. Look around. No matter where you’re standing, there are probably at least three restaurants in view, with many more tucked just around that bend or behind this stand of palm trees. But how do you determine which restaurants merit a visit and which restaurants fall short? Enter the 10Best lunch list, featuring the 10 most delicious lunch spots in town.

If you’re in the mood for seafood, you’re in luck. Simply head toward the water to find some of the freshest catches in the area at local favorites like On The Alley and the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. For something more traditional, check out Dave's Dogs for incredible hot dogs or Lucky Penny for wood-fired pizzas in the heart of Santa Barbara's happening Funk Zone.

Continue reading to discover 10 great restaurants to visit for your midday meal. Whether you want to sit down and stay awhile or grab a bite and go, we've found the perfect place. In fact, you might try to squeeze in two lunches after seeing what this town has to offer. (Don’t worry, it’s ok; you’re on vacation!)

The Spot
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


Located just past the train tracks on Linden Avenue, mere steps from the beach, is The Spot: a trusty little shack of a restaurant that all the locals know. Serving up delicious burgers and fries since 1914, The Spot is Carpinteria's go to for a...  Read More



A happening place to go for small bites and tasty cocktails in Montecito! Hit up the Honor Bar when you feel like catching up with friends - or making new ones. The social atmosphere at the bar is fun, and the sunny patio is ideal for soaking up...  Read More



Seafood doesn't get any fresher than this. At the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, you can pick your lunch right out of the tanks. Established in 1980, this restaurant began as a shellfish shop before popular demand (and secret family recipes)...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


We begin with a warning: do not even think about setting foot in this specialty deli unless you are prepared to buy a handful of assorted delicacies you didn't even know you needed. That said, if you are the type of person that likes discovering...  Read More

Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar
Photo courtesy of Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar


For the most delicious noodles in Santa Barbara, head to Empty Bowl Noodle Bar inside the Santa Barbara Public Market. This casual noodle bar makes everything fresh. You can grab at seat at the long counter or order your food to go and take it...  Read More

Lucky Penny
Photo courtesy of Rob Stark for Lucky Penny


Go for the wall, stay for the thin-crust pizzas. Lucky Penny is a cute pizza restaurant that is centrally located in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone. If you're trying to find it, you could map it on your phone, BUT you'd really have an easier time...  Read More

Santa Barbara
On The Alley
Photo courtesy of On The Alley


On The Alley is a more casual sister venue brought to you by the owners of Brophy Bros., Santa Barbara's wildly popular seafood restaurant. Serving fresh fish tacos, tasty sandwiches (try the pulled pork) and burgers, On The Alley dishes up...  Read More

Santa Barbara
La Super-Rica
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


For an authentic taste of Mexico, drive up Milpas until, on the right, you see a little white shack with aqua trim. There is no sign, but a line extending from the doorway will let you know that you're at the right place. This is La Super-Rica,...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Dave's Dogs 805
Photo courtesy of Dave's Dogs


If you love hot dogs, you're in luck. And if you only like hot dogs, prepare to love hot dogs. Dave's Dogs looks like a humble hot dog cart, but it's so much more. Think mac n' cheese dogs topped with bacon, pizza dogs and jalapeno popper dogs...  Read More

Corazon Cocina
Photo courtesy of Julia Garcia


For ceviche, tacos and other Mexican favorites that are farmer's market fresh, visit this restaurant tucked inside The Santa Barbara Public Market. Chef Ramon Velazquez prepares dishes you won't find elsewhere in town, like fresh scallop ceviche...  Read More


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