For delicious Japanese food in a cozy (read: smaller than most shoeboxes) setting, look no further than Shintori Sushi Factory. From their delicious proprietary rolls to their tasty teriyaki bowls, there is something for every appetite. Order the famous Shintori Dome and receive a mound of fresh raw fish and avocado over a bed of sushi rice. Service may be slow at peak hours, but the staff does everything in their power to make your wait enjoyable. Free edamame is presented with most meals, and felt pens at every table encourage patrons to write on the cheery paper lanterns that hang above their seats. Fresh fruit and Hershey Kisses often come with your check. Visit Shintori for a light and creative meal in a fun atmosphere.
Recommended for Seafood because: We hesitated to include this on the list because it is a true local secret that seats about 30 people. Such a gem!
Geneva's expert tip: Try the Shintori Dome, a delicately layered dome of rice, tuna, scrab, shrimp and avocado. It's refreshing, unusual and easy to share.
The motto at the Santa Barbara FisHouse says it all: Usually local, always fresh. If you're looking for some fresh catches and pretty view, head to the FisHouse, a welcoming seafood restaurant located just across the street from the Pacific Ocean. The menu celebrates sea creatures of all kinds, including local halibut. Reserves a table in the dining room or on the patio or belly up to the full bar. Large aquariums and various decorations set the under-the-sea tone. Themed cocktails and local wines round out your visit. Traveling with a picky kiddo or two? No problem, they have a great kids menu, too.
Recommended for Seafood because: You can enjoy great fish tacos at their fun bar or eat dinner on the patio that faces the ocean.
Geneva's expert tip: Try the FisHouse for breakfast on the weekends. They have some unique dishes, like pork chilaquiles.
Chuck's of Hawaii is the Santa Barbara steakhouse where everybody knows your name... if you're a local, anyway. Chuck's has been serving award-winning steaks, wines and seafood in the same uptown location since 1967! This cozy restaurant is the perfect place to take a date, host a birthday dinner or bring out-of-town guests. There's a comfortable bar up front and intimate seating in the back. There's also an epic salad bar with the tastiest toppings and warm, fresh bread. You'll enjoy the relaxed, tropical vibe (and you'll love their legendary mai tais). Lots of free parking right out back; just pull in where you see the tiki torches burning.
Recommended for Seafood because: Chuck's is a traditional steakhouse that has been a Santa Barbara favorite for decades. It also has delicious grilled fish entrees.
Geneva's expert tip: Don't miss Chuck's anniversary celebration in January every year. They really roll back prices!
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 great lunch fare in view of the harbor. Included on the menu are a handful of Brophy Bros. classics. Breakfast is also served. Communal seating is available in front of the restaurant for dining al fresco, or you can take your food to go. And, as if the sea air, generous portions and wallet-friendly prices aren't already enough to ensure a feel good experience, everything in the restaurant - from the floor tiles to the refrigeration units - is a result of the owners' commitment to using only products that are made in the USA.
Recommended for Seafood because: The fish taco he is amazing! Get one for a light meal or order two and pass out for a siesta.
Geneva's expert tip: On The Alley's tater tots - yes, those little fried potato hash balls of your school days - are served hot, crisp and delicious with just the right amount of seasoning.
The Boathouse is a Santa Barbara seafood restaurant with the best location in town... it's right on the beach. Tucked away in a quiet part of town and facing Hendry's beach, this is a great place to go for a romantic date, family dinner or birthday celebration. Enjoy fresh surf and turf on a beautiful patio that's sunny during the day and nicely heated at night. Local seafood is served as available. Fresh Santa Barbara catches include Spiny lobster and Dungeness crab. Brunch, lunch and dinner served daily. Happy hour is from 3 PM to close Sunday through Thursday, 8 PM to close on Fridays. Parking is free, but does get crowded.
Recommended for Seafood because: This local seafood restaurant is located on a beautiful beach and has a great happy hour.
Geneva's expert tip: Happy hour lasts from 3 p.m. until closing from Sunday through Thursday. It's the perfect place to enjoy a sunset cocktail.
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 Seafood because: Get some of the best sushi in town in a fun, downtown atmosphere.
Geneva's expert tip: Doors open at 5:30, they don't take reservations and they are always busy, so plan accordingly.
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) transformed it into the bustling eatery it is today. Their menu includes all types of shellfish, but live abalones, crabs and lobsters - many locally sourced - are the real stars. Local and national beers are available on draft and pair nicely with a bread bowl of chowder on a cold or foggy day. There is bar seating inside, table seating outside and even a walk-up window for to-go orders.
Recommended for Seafood because: Go here for crabs, lobsters and abalone so fresh, you'll see it swimming in the tanks in the windows.
Geneva's expert tip: If you're in a hurry and there's a line to get in, skip the wait and order from the outside walk-up window instead.
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 tostadas dressed with coconut milk and pomegranate seeds. Or try a crispy pork belly quesadilla in a chile-infused corn tortilla. Vegetarian dishes and tasty tortas are also available. The menu changes regularly, but it's always guaranteed to surprise and delight your taste buds. Beer and house-made agua frescas are available. In easy walking distance to many Santa Barbara shops and attractions.
Recommended for Seafood because: Love fresh seafood? Visit Corazon Cocina for hands down the best ceviche in town!
Geneva's expert tip: Plan to spend an afternoon at the market. Stop here for lunch, then grab some ice cream, beer or wine at a neighboring stall.
Enjoy a traditional Japanese multi-course dining experience at Yoichi's, the place to get the freshest seafood in Santa Barbara. Get seven-courses that change with the season at this traditional Kaiseki-style restaurant in the heart of downtown. You'll find everything from sashimi to Waygu beef to grilled crab here. You eat what the chef is serving, with a few optional choices sprinkled throughout the set menu. Sake, beer, and wine are also served. Open Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are highly recommended. This is not the kind of meal that you rush, so prepare to sit back and indulge in a fine dining experience.
Recommended for Seafood because: Enjoy a jewel of a meal at this Kaiseki-style restaurant in the heart of downtown.
Geneva's expert tip: Don't try to go without making a reservation! This tiny restaurant fills up quickly.
Unbeatable harbor views issue a siren's call to patrons at this popular restaurant. Of course, a menu full of delicious seafood doesn't hurt business either. Bustling and busy, Brophy Bros. serves up some of the city's most coveted clam chowder, along with awesome garlic baked clams and hefty portions of cioppino. Their appetizers are amazing and perfect for sharing, too. Grab a table on the patio overlooking the water for the most romantic experience. These are the best seats, even on wet, gloomy days when they pull down transparent siding to protect you from the elements. Arrive early because weekend waits can be over an hour.
Recommended for Seafood because: Brophy's is the quintessential Santa Barbara seafood restaurant, with great views of the harbor.
Geneva's expert tip: Although the upstairs restaurant usually has a long wait, you can visit the ground level bar for drinks and appetizers without checking in with the hostess.