Best Restaurants with Healthy Menus in Santa Barbara

Healthy Santa Barbara Restaurants for Healthy Appetites

Eat your vegetables! 

All too often, frequent travelers miss out on crucial nutrients because they are swimming in a delicious sea of carbs, meats and cheeses. And we don't blame you - those things are super tasty! But we also don't want you to get scurvy (we're thoughtful like that), so here is a list of Santa Barbara restaurants with healthy menus. Because you're worth it.

The Natural Cafe is a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner if you are an omnivore or traveling with a group. They have a wide variety of healthy dishes on the menu here, from giant salads to fresh sandwiches to delicious vegetable enchiladas. They also have fresh shakes and smoothies; the carrot shake is surprisingly yummy!

For a truly beautiful brunch, lunch or dinner, head up to Mesa Verde to indulge in thoughtfully-plated vegan and vegetarian meals that are as tasty as they are beautiful. 

And for breakfast? Backyard Bowls can't be beat. Their acai bowls are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that will power you up for the full day ahead, whether you're planning to go hiking, kayaking or to the zoo with a few toddlers in tow.


When you are looking for a healthy bite in downtown Santa Barbara, consider a visit to Silvergreens. Everything on the menu - from the soups to the breads to the salad dressing - is made from scratch in their kitchen daily. Try a scrumptious sandwich, crisp salad or savory gluten-free quinoa bowl. Also, Silvergreens is the first certified green restaurant in Santa Barbara. On an educational note: check the back of your receipt to see that calorie count and nutritional value of your order. Catering and school lunch programs upon inquiry. Some street parking available. More parking is available in the lot under Paseo Nuevo mall across the street.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Silvergreens has both healthy meat and satisfying non-meat (and reasonably decadent dessert) options.

Geneva's expert tip: The nutrition value (calories included) of your order is printed on your receipt so you are never in the dark about your intake.

Read more about Silvergreens →

If you're hungry for a taste of the Mediterranean, head to Zaytoon for tasty Lebanese food in a lush, tropical setting. Two blocks off of bustling State Street, this restaurant offers an oasis for road weary travelers and work weary locals. Enjoy falafel, shawarma, kebab and many other Lebanese favorites in the open air, surrounded by the happy sounds of fountains and lit by twinkling lights. Long tables make this the perfect destination for a dinner party. Flavored hookah water pipes are also available on the patio. And if you'd prefer to stay in? Zaytoon has a unique online takeout service that offers quick ordering via their website.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: One of few Middle Eastern/Mediterranean options in town, this place serves up fresh kebabs and more in healthy portions.

Geneva's expert tip: Plan a party! The festive patio, twinkling lights and long tables make Zaytoon a fun celebration destination.

Read more about Zaytoon →

Lilac Patisserie is a dedicated gluten-free bakery and cafe right in the center of downtown Santa Barbara. Located near some of the best shopping on State Street, this charming stop is the perfect place to grab a latte and a cookie - or a slice of cake - for people who are gluten intolerant or enjoy eating gluten free! In addition to desserts and coffees, Lilac Patisserie creates gorgeous fluffy cakes that are just right for any occasion. They can even make custom cakes for special occasions. Breakfast and lunch is also served. There is plenty of parking in nearby city lots.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Dessert can be healthy, right? Well, within limits anyway. If you're living the gluten free life, stop in here for a piece of cake!

Geneva's expert tip: Order one of their specialty cakes for an upcoming celebration. We like their chocolate sea salt caramel cake.

Read more about Lilac Patisserie →

Santa Barbara

Freshness is paramount at this sophisticated Japanese restaurant, where sushi is the top draw and crowds flock for ambience and fun. Creative chefs craft spectacular rolls featuring sea urchin, yellowtail, albacore tuna, quail egg and all the other usual undersea suspects. If cooked foods are your preference, you'll find sweet scallops, butterfish and soft shell crabs. Edamame, seaweed salad and premium sakes are expected and offered, but there is also a wide range of surprising dishes, including a soba salad with sundried tomatoes. Arigato serves dinner only and does not take reservations. Doors open at 5:30 nightly. Walk from local hotels or park in nearby city lots.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Sushi is a great healthy choice, and this is one of the best sushi places in town.

Geneva's expert tip: Doors open at 5:30, they don't take reservations and they are always busy, so plan accordingly.

Read more about Arigato →

Brasil Arts Cafe serves a variety of meats and fishes paired with yucca roots, chimichurri and more. Their menu has a strong focus on serving high-quality local meats and produce. In addition to delectable lunch and dinner entrees, they also serve refreshing acai bowls - bowls featuring the antioxidant-rich Brazilian fruit topped with a variety of other treats. Park in nearby city lots. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Brasil Arts Cafe also offers capoeira classes and hosts local art shows. Many Brazilian expats hang out here - a great place to hear (and speak?) a little musical Portuguese.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Brasil Arts Cafe has fresh acai bowls, cashew milk, exotic juices, fried bananas and much more.

Geneva's expert tip: Visit on Saturday for Feijoada - a classic Brazilian stew they only serve up once a week.

Read more about Brasil Arts Cafe →


Their slogan says it all: better life through better food. Don't let your meals slow you down; you can grab complete nutrition on the go at Backyard Bowls. Serving acai bowls, whole grain bowls and nutritious smoothies, Backyard Bowls offers you a healthy alternative for breakfast or lunch. Most ingredients are organic and none contain any chemicals or high fructose corn syrup. Better still, Backyard Bowls engages in sustainable practices that are good for your planet, too. Food scraps are composted and to-go containers are biodegradable. Visit Backyard Bowls anytime you want to eat real food and feel really good about it.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Need a healthy breakfast or lunch on the run? Backyard Bowls are portable, filling and packed with fresh fruit.

Geneva's expert tip: The Island Bowl is a tropical delight. The acai, pineapple and coconut flavors will make you feel like you're in Hawaii.

Read more about Backyard Bowls →

A fine local restaurant with one of the best salad bars in town, Savoy Cafe & Deli is a great choice for an easy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mornings highlight fresh eggs, piping hot coffee and loose leaf teas. At lunch they serve up made-to-order sandwiches and house-made soups. Savoy Cafe & Deli was featured on an episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Everything there is very fresh and the staff is very friendly. Street parking out front or park in a nearby city lot. Savoy Cafe & Deli is centrally located in downtown Santa Barbara. Many shops and attractions, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, are within close walking distance.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Savoy has a nice combination of house-made dishes and DIY soup and salad options. Good for both grab-and-go and sit down meals.

Geneva's expert tip: Get a matcha green tea latte and a slice of gluten-free apple bread for a quick and delicious breakfast.

Read more about Savoy Cafe & Deli →

Goodland Kitchen and Market is a gem of an eatery located in the heart of old town Goleta. Breakfast and lunch are served Monday through Saturday. Everything is made in-house using the freshest ingredients, sometimes in limited quantities. In fact, it's not uncommon for some of their more coveted (yes, we used that word and we meant it) sandwiches and salads to sell out! Warm baked goods are also available, like melty chocolate chip cookies and homemade pastries. Their lemonade is legendary and the fresh-brewed coffee is darn good, too. When not serving meal to hungry Goletians, Goodland operates as a commercial kitchen, allowing community cooks to produce small-batch treats.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: Get huge salads and fresh sandwiches at this local's favorite lunch spot in Goleta.

Geneva's expert tip: If it's a sunny day, order one of their famous lemonades and relax at a picnic bench while the world passes you by.

Read more about Goodland Kitchen and Market →

The Natural Cafe
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

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. Great for lunch or dinner.

Recommended for Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: The Natural Cafe is a great destination for a crowd of picky eaters. Their healthy options range from vegan dishes to familiar comfort foods.

Geneva's expert tip: Try their scrumptious carrot milkshake! It's good for your eyes, right?

Read more about The Natural Cafe →

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 Restaurants with Healthy Menus because: The food at Mesa Verde not only tastes good, it also looks good and is good for you!

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 →


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