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Fast Foods: Best Takeout Spots in Santa Barbara



Sometimes you don't want the restaurant experience. Loud kids (yours or someone else's), bustling crowds, harried servers... who needs 'em? On nights when you just want to enjoy a tasty meal - without cooking it yourself - takeout is the answer to all of your problems. If you're looking for the best takeout spots in Santa Barbara, this is the list for you. No fast food chains included.

These restaurants serve classic takeout foods - like giant, cheesy pies at Nicky D's Wood Fired Pizza - as well as not so classic foods. Looking for a scrumptious crab melt or some porkducken? Visit the Blue Owl, serving up some of the tastiest Asian American fusion dishes ever created.

Two of the stars of this list, the Burger Bus and Georgia's Smokehouse, are actually food trucks. With no permanent location, they're always on the go - just like you! Track them down by visiting any of their social media pages. It may seem like a little extra work, but we promise it's worth it. When you get your first mouthful of that juicy burger or sweet and savory pulled pork sandwich, you'll want to thank us. But it's not polite to talk with your mouthful, so just keep eating.

Barbecue, pizza, burgers and more, all these and more can be yours in a flash. So who's hungry?


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Los Arroyos is a locally owned chain of Mexican restaurants that focuses on fresh ingredients and made-to-order food at reasonable prices. This downtown location is located just off bustling State Street and is the perfect place to stop for lunch or dinner any day of the week. Place your order at the counter, pick your salsas and fixings from the self-serve salsa bar, then take a seat and relax; your meal will be brought to you. Los Arroyos serves great burritos and traditional dishes, as well as entrees that are inspired by Santa Barbara's seaside location. Their ceviche is great! To drink, los Arroyos offers Mexican sodas, fountain drinks, beer and wine.

Recommended for Take Out because: Fresh burritos, ceviche and sopes to go, with an excellent salsa bar that lets you dress your dish to perfection.

Geneva's expert tip: Check out the daily specials to choose from a rotating assortment of off-menu favorites.

Read more about Los Arroyos →




The best chocolate croissant you will ever enjoy is not waiting for you in Paris. (Sorry if that shakes up some plans for intercontinental travel but, don't worry, they still have the best escargot.) No, it is right here in Santa Barbara, waiting, nay, beckoning from the beautiful glass case at Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro. Before you even take the first bite, you know there is something different about this croissant, something that makes it superior to any previous croissant you've eaten. Just put one finger on the shell and you will feel the difference; the crust is so flaky and perfectly baked that it literally shatters at the touch! And yet somehow, through a magical method likely known only to Monsieur Renaud, the interior is still moist and chewy. And the chocolate? Of the highest quality, dark yet sweet and not too much. The almond croissants aren't shabby, either.

Recommended for Take Out because: Breakfast can be takeout, too! Save yourself the early morning hassle and visit Renaud's for amazing pastries.

Geneva's expert tip: Here for lunch? Hate sweets? On a diet? Doesn't matter - order one of their chocolate croissants anyway. It will change your life.

Read more about Renaud's Patisserie & Bistro →


Tino's Italian Grocery
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


If you want to make an authentic Italian meal - or enjoy a legendary Italian sandwich - look no further than Tino's Italian Grocery. This Italian grocery store stocks some of the very finest imports, including panettone, spirits, canned goods and more. They sell meats, cheeses and antipastos from behind a large deli counter in the heart of the shop, but it is their sandwiches that truly draw a crowd. They offer a regular, Deluxe and Super Deluxe Italian sub. (Trust us when we tell you to order the Super Deluxe.) There is no place to sit an eat, so take your freshly prepared sandwich on a picnic! Tino's Italian Grocery is a reincarnation of a popular local deli - so you'll find a lot of regulars whenever you visit!

Recommended for Take Out because: Tino's Italian Grocery serves up some of the best Italian subs on the Central Coast.

Geneva's expert tip: Order the Super Deluxe and grab a drink from the cooler for a perfect lunch.

Read more about Tino's Italian Grocery →


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The Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch has been serving Mexican-style mesquite BBQ chicken and tri-tip to hungry area patrons for over 20 years. Try one or both with a side of tortillas, rice and chips. They cook over actual fire; there's no hidden gas grill or frier in the back. Great for takeout; party packs are also available. Their burritos are delicious. And don't miss the salsa bar! It's stocked with fresh salsas, pickled onions and jalapenos that will bring out the smokey flavors in your order. Sides of fresh guacamole can be ordered, too. Plenty of parking onsite. Open 7 days a week!

Recommended for Take Out because: Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch has been cooking up scrumptious mesquite-grilled chicken and tri-tip for more than two decades.

Geneva's expert tip: Order the combo burrito to try their chicken and tri-tip, all in one happy mouthful.

Read more about Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch →


Metropulos
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


We begin with a warning: do not even think about setting foot inside 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 exotic seasonings, buttery cheeses and unusual European ingredients, this is the lunch stop for you. First you must attempt to walk straight to the counter - no getting distracted - to place your order for a decadent sandwich or panini made with luxe ingredients like prosciutto and cranberry-fig confit. And then, while your order is being crafted by the wonderful staff, you are free to browse. Eat your assortment of treats at one of the small tables or take your meal to go.

Recommended for Take Out because: Metropulos serves the best sandwiches in Santa Barbara. Their dessert case is to die for, too.

Geneva's expert tip: Gyro Friday: it exists, and it's wonderful. Soft warm pita bread embraces house-made gyro meat - a combination of lamb and beef - drizzled in delicious tzatziki sauce.

Read more about Metropulos →




For a delicious burrito the size of your thigh (or thereabouts), head to Super Cuca's. The undisputed winner of many, many local "best burrito" contests, Cucas (as the in-crowd calls it) is your destination for tasty Mexican food in massive proportions at super reasonable prices. Should you decide you're not in a burrito mood - weird, but we'll play along - their nachos, enchiladas and tortas are also epic. There are several locations, but this is the best one... complete with a butcher counter, shelves stocked with groceries and a varied selection of amazing Mexican popsicles. Try the coconut or cucumber mango. Eat on their covered patio or take your food to go.

Recommended for Take Out because: Super Cuca's serves giant burritos and heaping portions of nachos at exceptionally reasonable prices.

Geneva's expert tip: If you're in the mood for something muy caliente, ask for their secret extra spicy salsa when you pick up your order.

Read more about Super Cuca's →




Get excited! If you love BBQ and southern comfort food, this food truck is worth hunting down. Owners Brian and Alissa dish up smokin' favorites like juicy burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and brisket for lunch and dinner all around Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas. Their hush puppies and fried up veggies (think onion rings and more deliciousness) are pretty darn good, too. To find out where they're headed for the day, follow Georgia's on Facebook or track them down on Twitter. Available for corporate and private catering as well. There's also a secret vegetarian menu for non-meat eaters that goes well above and beyond the standard grilled cheese.

Recommended for Take Out because: Smoked meats on wheels. Georgia's Smokehouse makes both Santa Barbara residents and visitors very happy.

Geneva's expert tip: Meat-aphobic? Ask about Georgia's (not so) secret vegetarian menu.

Read more about Georgia's Smokehouse →


Sure, there are plenty of pizza places in Santa Barbara. But wood-fired pizza places? Not so much. Nicky D's Wood Fired Pizza is one of the better ones, serving up New York style pizzas, pastas and subs. Better still, they deliver! This is Nicky D's second location; the original opened up in the popular Silverlake area of Los Angeles and rocketed to stardom with its fresh toppings and crispy crusts. In addition to the standard pizza fare, Nicky D's has not one but two clam pizzas. We highly recommend ordering both and enjoying a clam-off. There are two or three small tables in the restaurant, but the majority of guests take their food to-go or have it delivered. Lots of free parking right out front.

Recommended for Take Out because: Nicky D's delivers true wood-fired pizzas directly to your door.

Geneva's expert tip: Get the white clam pizza. And the red clam pizza. And then let us know which one you like best - they're both delicious!

Read more about Nicky D's Wood Fired Pizza →




If scrambled eggs bore you, and you think french toast is a snooze, head to The Blue Owl for a meal guaranteed to wake up your taste buds. Chef Cindy Black offers an unexpected variety of menu items here. The Wake n' Bacon is a favorite: a homemade waffle sandwich filled with a poached egg, bacon and maple pastry cream. Other options include a succulent crab melt, tangy banh mi sammies and breakfast pizzas. Specials vary daily and ingredients change with what's in season at any given time. Also try The Blue Owl's rosemary lemonade and secret-recipe Thai iced tea. Serving brunch, lunch and late night eats, right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.

Recommended for Take Out because: The Blue Owl takes takeout food to a whole new level. Everything's prepared fresh and exploding with flavor.

Geneva's expert tip: Come hungry and order with abandon. The Blue Owl's menu is so tasty and so ever-changing that you'll always regret it if you didn't order that one-thing-you-saw-that-one-time because you were being sensible.

Read more about The Blue Owl →


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Do you like burgers? How about falafels? Or fried pickles? And how would you like to have them served? If you said, "from a roving school bus" then you're in luck! The Burger Bus is exactly that, a converted yellow school bus that roams about town serving up juicy eats crafted from the finest local ingredients. The Burger Bus is one of Santa Barbara's oldest and most beloved food trucks. The easiest way to track them down is by checking their Twitter account, although there is a rough schedule on their website, too. Try a CB&J (cheeseburger and jelly) with a side order of yam fries, and you'll soon see what all the fuss is about!

Recommended for Take Out because: The Burger Bus serves great burgers made with killer local ingredients (including pepper jellies and fresh-baked ciabattas).

Geneva's expert tip: Like pickles? Order the fried pickles and prepare to be the happiest pickle-lover on earth.

Read more about The Burger Bus →


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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

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