10 Best Restaurants on the Mesa in Santa Barbara

The Mesa neighborhood of Santa Barbara is a community (and climate) unlike any other. Set high atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Mesa is just a 5 minute drive or so from downtown Santa Barbara. But you will feel worlds away in this area that is known for soft sea breezes, rolling fog and a relaxed lifestyle.

Should the sea air help you work up an appetite, this list of the 10 best restaurants on the Mesa will help you satisfy your hunger. Although largely residential, the Mesa does have some great restaurants that are worth a trip from downtown, Goleta and even Carpinteria.

Make a lunch date or dinner reservation at Mesa Verde for unparalleled vegetarian and vegan meals, like smoked mushroom lasagna and hearty avocado bowls. If you're craving something meatier, visit the Rose Cafe for amazing chorizo enchiladas. They have great breakfast too!

Since Santa Barbara City College is part of the Mesa community, college staples are also available. Pop into Giovanni's for a heavenly slice of pizza or make a run to Super Cucas for a burrito packed with french fries (yes, you read that right).

And if you'd rather pack a gourmet picnic than eat in, Lazy Acres is your one-stop shopping destination. Bon appetite!


They aren't a lot of bagel places in Santa Barbara. If you're on the Mesa, The Bagel Market Cafe is the place to go. You can get a simple toasted bagel or a more complicated bagel sandwich. There are also delicious doughnuts, doughnut holes and croissants. They have good boba too! Or if you're not in the mood for tapioca balls, you can order tea, coffee or juice. Lots of free parking, right out front. Walk to the other side of the shopping center and check out the pet store if you're looking for something cute to do. Near other shopping and restaurants.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: Bagels are good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you're a bagel enthusiast, Bagel Market Cafe has your basic needs covered.

Geneva's expert tip: Take your bagel to go, then drive a couple of blocks to La Mesa Park for fresh ocean air and a lovely view!

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Lazy Acres may look like a grocery store, and it is, but it's also secret dining spot for area locals. Pop through the front doors and head all the way to the left, where you will find a gourmet salad bar, made-to-order sandwich counter, fresh smoothies and much, much more. If you're heading to Lazy Acres just to eat, you can skip the regular checkout line and instead ring your purchases on the way to their side dining area. Or take your food to go and hit the nearby park overlooking the beach! Lazy Acres is a great place to grab a casual and healthy meal any time of the day.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: Lazy Acres deli sandwiches, salad bar, gourmet cheeses and pastries are delicious! It's the ideal place to go get food before a picnic.

Geneva's expert tip: On Tuesdays, seniors get a 10% discount on their purchases.

Read more about Lazy Acres Market →

Ready for a piping hot cup of coffee or a spot of tea? Head to the Good Cup on Santa Barbara's Mesa. This often-foggy neighborhood is the ideal place to grab a hot beverage and a tasty pastry. If it's warm out, you can get a scoop of gelato or an iced latte instead. You can either eat in or take your treats to go... and take a nice stroll along the beach. It's just a few blocks away. The Good Cup also has charming grab-and-go gifts like cards and chocolates. It shares a parking lot with Lazy Acres, a gourmet grocery store. Lots of free parking right out front. There is another location in downtown Santa Barbara as well.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: A good place to get a solid cup of Joe, with lots of seating and free parking!

Geneva's expert tip: Lactose intolerant? No problem. The Good Cup has several different "milks" to choose from, like almond milk and soy.

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Giovanni's has been a fixture on the Santa Barbara pizza scene for over 30 years. There are three locations; this entry is for the Mesa restaurant. Giovanni's is known for using only the freshest ingredients, homemade sauces and fresh dough made daily. They usually make a wonderful Chicago style thick crust, but will make thin crust on request. They also make subs, salada and wings. This is a great restaurant for groups and families. There are even arcade games to play while you wait! Call ahead to arrange a birthday party or special event. Plenty of free parking right out front.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: A fun place for a loud, family-friendly time. Have hyper kids? Bring 'em! A crazy aunt? Bring her! There's room for everyone at Giovanni's.

Geneva's expert tip: Bring change and small bills for the jukebox and arcade games.

Read more about Giovanni's Pizza - Mesa →

If you want a good, big burrito, go to Super Cucas on the Mesa in Santa Barbara. If you want a good, big burrito that is simultaneously full of french fries, you should also go to Super Cucas on the Mesa... and order the California burrito. Packed with hot fries, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and your choice of meat, this foil-wrapped wonderland will transform your thoughts on fusion. If you're not feeling quite so famished, there's a host of other menu options as well. Reasonably priced and super casual, this is a good stop for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime in between.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: Super Cucas sells great big burritos, nachos and enchilada plates that make for an ideal quick lunch or to-go dinner.

Geneva's expert tip: Put your diet on hold and order the California burrito. Everyone should eat a burrito filled with fries at least once in their lives!

Read more about Super Cucas - Mesa →

Ichiban Sushi is located on the Mesa in Santa Barbara and serves up a selection of fresh fish, including great local options. It's a nice place to go for sushi, nigiri, udon and more. Try a dinner combination set or be adventurous and order a boat. What's a boat? We're glad you asked! A 'boat' is a combination sushi dinner served in thematic dish ware. Fun! Ichiban offers several seating options, including Tatami style seating, tables and the sushi bar. They also serve beer and sake. Lots of free parking out front and out back. Very close to everything else on the Mesa.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: Fresh sushi, plenty of seating and easy parking makes this Santa Barbara sushi restaurant a local favorite.

Geneva's expert tip: Stop in for great, affordable lunch combos during the week.

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Alcazar is one of Santa Barbara's oldest (and most delicious) tapas bars. Tucked in an unassuming strip of shops on the Mesa, this bar and restaurant has a cozy, romantic atmosphere that you might not expect. Dark lighting and intimate booths are the perfect setting for a night out, and vintage movies are projected on the wall behind the bar. The cocktails here are excellent - ranging from coconut mojitos made with the freshest ingredients to classic margaritas and even sangria. Their tapas menu makes for perfect pairing and share. Try the tortilla espanola or bacon-wrapped dates. Free parking both in front and behind the building. Happy hour lasts all night on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: Alcazar is good place to take a date on the Mesa, with lovely drinks and a dark, cozy atmosphere.

Geneva's expert tip: Pair your spicy brussels sprouts with one of the best mojitos for miles.

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The Mesa Cafe is a Santa Barbara legend. Patrons have been coming here for decades for eggs benedict, country fried steaks and mimosas. Head to the Mesa Cafe for homemade food at a reasonable price and friendly, local service. You can enjoy a selection of appetizers, sandwiches, fresh seafood, steak, pastas, fresh salads, homemade desserts and daily specials, including everything from classic favorites to modern cuisine. They also offer a full bar at reasonable prices. You'll catch many a local day drinking here. There is oodles of free parking right out front. Many other Mesa shops and restaurants are nearby, as is the beach!

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: The Mesa Cafe is the place to go for breakfast after a big night out. Good for pancakes and a little "hair of the dog"!

Geneva's expert tip: Bring your pup and enjoy a meal on the patio.

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This restaurant in Santa Barbara's beautiful Mesa neighborhood is a vegetarian's dream. 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. Free parking directly out front.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: Mesa Verde showcases fresh area produce in the best possible way. Stop in for vegetarian and vegan dishes that will please even meat eaters!

Geneva's expert tip: Don't miss brunch! On Saturdays and Sundays, Mesa Verde serves up the most creative brunch menu in town.

Read more about Mesa Verde →

Repeatedly voted the best Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara, Rose Cafe is a family run, full-service establishment. Prices are reasonable and portions are generous. There is ample room for loud families and large parties. House specialties include enchiladas with green sauce, Mexican style breakfast dishes (many served all day), and less common delicacies like tongue. Delicious frozen margaritas are available by the glass or pitcher. Don't forget to grab a lollipop from the bowl by the door on your way out! One important note: the entire family takes a month of vacation after Christmas, and the restaurant is closed, so you should plan your chilaquile cravings accordingly.

Recommended for Mesa's Best Restaurants because: The Rose Cafe is a Santa Barbara classic, with a homey atmosphere and good portions at reasonable prices.

Geneva's expert tip: Go for breakfast. In addition to Mexican favorites, like chilaquiles, they have great pancakes and other morning classics!

Read more about Rose Cafe →


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