Gourmet Grub: The Best Gourmet Stores in Santa Barbara



Santa Barbara isn't just a beach paradise, it's a chef's paradise too. This foodie-friendly town is home to many gourmet shops where you can find fresh Central Coast ingredients as well as exotic treats from all over the world. 

There are multiple gourmet grocery stores in Santa Barbara, including Lazy Acres and Whole Foods Market. These shops offer locally sourced produce and fresh catches, like Santa Barbara caught white sea bass. If you're looking for just the perfect seasoning to spice up your dishes, Vices and Spices has everything you need. 

For something a little more decadent, head to C'est Cheese for fragrant cheeses from around the globe. Anything that might go on a deluxe cheese board - like fig jam or pickled caperberries - you will be able to pick up here.

Have a sweet tooth? Chocolate Maya is the gourmet destination for you! This jewel of a shop has truffles, single-origin chocolate bars, hot cocoas and more. You can even indulge in a chocolate tasting. 

And of course, although it didn't make the list because it's not really a 'store' per se, you should absolutely visit one of the seven Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Markets during your stay. In addition to fruits and veggies, local purveyors also sell dairy, seafood and other meat products. 



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Isabella Gourmet Foods is a charming independent shop located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara that specializes in gourmet edibles. Pick up ingredients for your meal or grab a fresh, ready-to-eat meat out of the refrigerated cases. Isabella's focuses on local, independent and small-batch treats. Their changing inventory can include handmade macarons, fresh-baked breads, locally crafted chocolates and much more. Gourmet pantry items and dry goods share shop space with handmade grab-and-go treats like salads and ice creams. It's like a dreamy convenience store for those with refined palates! Very close to many other Santa Barbara shops, restaurants and attractions.


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This elixir bar and superfood store is located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and attached to Divintree Yoga Studio. Kotuku serves fresh juices and tonics as well as vegan bento boxes that are perfect for lunch. Here you can buy many ingredients and supplements to make your own healthy treats too. They even have healthy chocolate! Kotuku's housemade almond milk is pressed and put into reusable mason jars, so you can bring them back for a refill. Try one of their lunch salads or pick up an herbal tea to brew at home. In easy walking distance of many downtown shops and restaurants.


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Have a sweet tooth? Head to Chocolate Maya for a truly decadent treat. This dreamy little chocolate shop is not far from the beach, and yet it seems worlds away. Painted in exotic jewel colors, this gem of a shop is paradise for chocoholics. There are truffles and bon bons galore, as well as single-origin chocolate bars and rich, creamy hot chocolate concoctions. You can even indulge in a chocolate tasting! This is the place to pick up some really delicious souvenirs. Chocolate Maya offers free delivery upon request within Santa Barbara and has shipping options available to more outlying destinations.


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C'est Cheese
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


 

Every relaxed vacation town needs a proper cheesemonger. You need cheese for picnics, cheese for cocktail parties, cheese for lavish weddings and movie premieres. C'est Cheese is a delectably stinky cheese mecca, packed with varieties from near and far. They also have divine sausages and gourmet sideboard fixings, like pickles and jellies. Don't forget to grab a loaf of bread while you're there. Buying cheese to eat later is fun, but what if you're hungry now? Not a problem! C'est Cheese also serves up fine grilled cheeses, deli sandwiches and soups. Limited free street parking nearby, but absolutely worth walking a block or more.


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Vices and Spices
Photo courtesy of Vices and Spices


 

Vices and Spices is a gem of a shop that has been a neighborhood favorite for decades. Settled in on upper State in the San Roque area, this specialty cafe and store serves up delicious beverages (caffeinated and otherwise) in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. They have a large selection of loose leaf tea sold by the ounce here, as well as a wide variety of coffee beans. As their name suggests, they also have many spices to choose from. In addition, they have candies, tea pots, cards, candles, locally made jewelry and other great gifts for sale here. Whether you need a vanilla bean, vanilla tea, candies or a vanilla latte, this is the place! Indoor and outdoor seating available.


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il Fustino is the place to get specialty cooking oils and vinegars in Santa Barbara. Its name is Italian for "the tank," referencing the stainless steel containers that their oils and vinegars are stored in. This traditional bulk storage method allows you to sample the merchandise, ensuring you select just the right flavor profile for whatever recipe you have in mind. In addition to their award-winning oils and flavored vinegars, il Fustino also sells pastas, bruschettas, olives and more, making it the perfect one-stop shop for hostess and holiday gifts. Bring in your own bottle or purchase one you can refill for a discounted price in the future.


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This Santa Barbara shopping center is a must-visit for hungry people and food enthusiasts. Part of a mixed-use development in the heart of downtown, this indoor spot contains an artisanal grocery area, as well as over a dozen specialty merchants. There's a cheese store, a butcher, a cupcake shop and so much more, packed into one inviting, continuous space. Many of the merchants sell prepared food that you can enjoy in the market or take to go. Get Thai noodles at Empty Bowl or a fresh plate of spaghetti at The Pasta Shoppe. Or sit down for a plate of oysters from Santa Monica Seafood. There's free parking under the building!


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Metropulos
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


 

We begin with a warning: do not even think about setting foot in 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. Their caprese sandwich is a veggie delight! And then, while your order is being crafted by the wonderful staff, you are free to browse.


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You're sure to find something new with each visit to the Whole Foods Market in Santa Barbara. The deluxe grocery store sells gourmet food items, fresh seafood and meat, locally grown vegetables, sustainable beauty supplies and so much more. Hot and cold bars serve up convenient prepared food for hungry people on the go. There is even a beer and wine bar (with its own menu) located inside the store! A great shop to try for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as for ingredients to make your own meals. Beautiful fresh flowers and juices too. Free parking right out front.


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Lazy Acres is a market in the Mesa neighborhood of Santa Barbara that is so much fancier than your average grocery store. This deluxe shop sells everything you need, from baked goods and beauty products to seafood and sundries. You'll find the freshest organic fruits and veggies, as well as plants and bouquets to brighten up your day. Their wine selection is top-notch with many local wineries represented. They also have a wonderful prepared food, deli and salad bar section, perfect for when you're not in the mood to do it yourself (and by it, we mean cooking). Plenty of free parking right out front.


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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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