Fancy Dining for Fancy People: 10 Best Restaurants in Montecito

Montecito: Santa Barbara's even more wealthy and luxurious neighborhood to the south. The rich and famous call this area home, so you know what that means... there's plenty of good stuff to eat around here! This list rounds up 10 of the best restaurants in Montecito - from sushi to pasta to ice cream and beyond.

Many of the area's restaurants are located on Coast Village Road, one of the main streets. Sakana, a sushi restaurant, sits at one end, and the Honor Bar holds down the other end.

Much like Santa Barbara, Montecito also seems to have a disproportionately large amount of Italian restaurants. There must be something about red tile roofs and sea breezes that really gets people in the mood for a nice red sauce and a bottle of chianti. If you're feeling like it's time for a basket of calamari or plate of lasagna, stop by Tre Lune (they also make a killer breakfast).

After dinner, treat your sweet tooth to some organic ice cream at Rori's Artisanal Creamery. A long-time favorite of specialty shops, Rori's first retail store is located right here. Try their peanut butter and jelly ice cream served in a mason jar or one of their drool-worthy ice cream sandwiches. Yum!


Probably the most-beloved breakfast spot in Montecito, this cute little bakery and restaurants is also open for lunch. Stop by in the morning for a hearty and delicious plate of eggs benedict or huevos rancheros. Or breeze through for an amazing vanilla latte and some great muffins, scones and cookies to go! A popular meetting spot for locals, you can expect a wait for a table on weekends - and sometimes even week days. their patio is lovely, and their location is too. Lots of great shopping is within easy walking distance, and the beach is just a few blocks away.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: Jeannine's is a Montecito classic. You're not a local if you haven't taken a meeting or had a hangover brunch here.

Geneva's expert tip: Rough morning? Their eggs benedict is practically guaranteed to cure what ails you.

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Sibling to the estimable Stonehouse Restaurant, Plow & Angel offers contemporary bistro fare in a charming environment that includes a cozy, romantic fireplace. Well-heeled patrons especially love weekend evenings, when live jazz bands and performers fill the place with music. On these occasions, a grilled, double-cut pork chop (or perhaps pan-seared salmon for seafood enthusiasts) mesh perfectly with the soulful tunes, and the bar accommodates late-comers and those who want to soak up a more social atmosphere. Enjoy great cocktails and an impressive wine list. The stained glass windows and outdoor patio are a delight on sunny days, and the interior is cozy should foggy weather come your way.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: The Plow & Angel serves American classics in a romantic setting at reasonable prices (for Montecito, anyway).

Geneva's expert tip: No matter what else catches your eye, you MUST order the mac 'n cheese.

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Rori's Artisanal Creamery creates organic, homegrown ice creams in exceptional flavors. Ingredients are handpicked, fresh and local whenever possible. Straus Family Creamery milk, cream and eggs are used - ensuring that you're in for a deluxe treat. Flavors vary; favorites include peanut butter and jelly, salted caramel and lemon curd. They usually have a dairy-free option (or two) available, too. Scoops of ice cream are served on warm waffle cones or with a variety of sauces. You can also order an ice cream sandwich. Fresh-brewed Verve coffee is the drink of choice. Rori's ice creams are sold at some specialty shops, so if you can't make it to this retail outlet, don't despair!

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: Every "best restaurant"list should have something to satisfy your sweet tooth! Try the organic ice cream at this can't-miss dessert spot.

Geneva's expert tip: Sign up for their birthday club and earn a free scoop every year!

Read more about Rori's Artisanal Creamery →

Tre Lune
Photo courtesy of Tre Lune

From the moment you set foot inside the restaurant, Tre Lune's mission is clear: each of their patrons will walk away with a classic taste of Italy. And come back, again and again, as their many loyal customers already do. To start with, there is the decor - all warm wood and clean surfaces with nary a dusty grape leaf in sight. Black and white photos of vintage celebrities line the walls. And then there's the food. Tre Lune's menu celebrates the different regions of Italy, each dish made with the freshest components, highlighting a prestigious ingredient. Don't hesitate to ask your server for a meal suggestion or wine pairing guideline. The staff here is extremely friendly and knowledgeable.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: The place to go if you want a classic taste of Italy in an elegant but unfussy atmosphere.

Geneva's expert tip: Breakfast! How many Italian places are open in the morning? Um, almost zero. But Tre Lune opens up right at 7:30 every day.

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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. The social atmosphere at the bar is fun, and the sunny patio is ideal for soaking up the sun over lunch, dinner or drinks. There are lots of tasty appetizers to be had, like deviled eggs, and plenty of wines available by the glass. You can also pick up grab and go pizzas if you're in a hurry. Located on one of the best shopping streets in the area, and the patio is dog friendly.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: Dog-friendly patio, great cocktails, tasty eats. Check, check and check. The Honor Bar serves up casual deliciousness in Montecito.

Geneva's expert tip: Dining solo? Get a tasty burger or crispy chicken sandwich and pair it with a local wine by the glass at the welcoming bar.

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Cava restaurant opened in Montecito in 1997 and has been a favorite with locals and visitors ever since. Their menu features south-of-the-border favorites with a Santa Barbara twist - like locally caught seafood. Every table receives a basket of bottomless chips with house salsas (the black bean salsa is extremely popular). Regulars rave about Cava's inventive, handcrafted cocktails, like elderflower margaritas and spicy, chili-infused martinis. The cheery dining room features close-set tables, a fireplace, a bar and live music on most nights. If you're looking for a more intimate experience or have a large party, a private room can be reserved. Valet parking available.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: Stop in for great drinks and upscale Mexican food in a lively atmosphere. They also dish up a delicious breakfast.

Geneva's expert tip: Try the rock shrimp soft tacos or the guacamole. And don't forget a margarita!

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Given to impeccable preparation of basic dishes, legendary Lucky's ensures that diners are privy to the best steaks and chops possible. Terrific ingredients make the difference, and everything is made in-house. Aged Midwestern beef in a variety of cuts draws rave reviews, as do racks of lamb, chops, Maine lobster, fresh fish and hefty shrimp cocktails. The stylish interior boasts black-and-white photos of classic film stars, and an outdoor patio adds to the charm. Well-received and always popular. Sit at the bar, rub elbows with Santa Barbara's who's who and order a plate of onion strings and a martini - now that's an evening well-spent!

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: A classic steakhouse, Lucky's is where you go to dine with affluent meat-lovers in a sophisticated setting.

Geneva's expert tip: Dine at the bar to seize your chance to socialize with the (often rich and sometimes handsome) locals.

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Sakana doesn't have a website or a Facebook page or much of marketing presence at all, but locals will tell you that this is one of the best sushi restaurants in all of Santa Barbara - and it has a high Zagat rating to match. Fresh fish, press boxes and an extensive sake menu are standouts here. If the size of the menu intimidates you, ask your server what to eat based on your preferences. The modern decor is comfortable and refreshing in this small space. Sakana does not accept reservations; be prepared for a wait (fortunately, there are lots of shops to peer into within walking distance). Open for lunch Tuesday through Friday. Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Mondays.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: Sakana is a local favorite that you probably won't find advertised anywhere. Great sushi!

Geneva's expert tip: Go early to avoid a long wait, especially on weekends.

Read more about Sakana Sushi Bar & Japanese →

The Monarch
Photo courtesy of Aron Ives

Don't miss The Monarch, Montecito's newest restaurant. Helmed by chef Phillip Frankland Lee and pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee of Scratch Restaurants, The Monarch is hyperfocused on celebrating the bounty of the Central Coast. Menu highlights include housemade sourdough with local box crab spread, abalone a la flambadou and hearty mains like duck breast served with family-style sides (the seasonal tomato salad is excellent). Supplementing the menu is a multipage source list of area "partners" that includes farmers, fishermen and ceramicists. The wine list is very local too. There's even a treasure map of valley vineyards that shares where each bottle comes from.

Recommended for Montecito's Best Restaurants because: Date night? Special occasion? Make a reservation at The Monarch for an impressive meal.

Geneva's expert tip: Start with a cocktail before you order wine. The Monarch has the most innovative cocktail menu in the area.

Read more about The Monarch →


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