Exploring State Street and the waterfront joints of Santa Barbara are great and definitely not to be overlooked your first few visits. But for those who consider Santa Barbara a “second home,” check out this list of off-the-beaten path, native digs and start eating like a true local.
Kick it like an old school local at this family-owned restaurant that is rich with history. At Arnoldi’s Café, feast on Italian comfort food and standard cocktails under the watchful eye of Bucky the Tule Elk inside, or dine al fresco out back while getting in a few rounds of bocce ball.
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Enjoy a dinner inspired by the region’s terroir and local harvests at this unassuming neighborhood restaurant, neatly tucked away a few blocks off State Street. Feast on locally sourced, inventive dishes like Hope Ranch mussels and Santa Maria barbecue at Barbareño.
Boathouse At Hendry’s Beach
Brunch it up, leisurely lunch, or decadently dine at the only eatery on Arroyo Burro Beach… although, if you ask a local, this dog-friendly beach is called Hendry’s. Owned by the same guys who started the ever-popular Santa Barbara Shellfish Company and FisHouse, you’ll be in good hands at this surf-and-turf restaurant that boasts an epic view to boot.
La Playa Azul Café
Get the best of both seafood and Mexican fare at this long-standing establishment that sits just behind the Presidio walls. At Playa Azul Café, sip a generously-sized margarita on the outdoor patio and indulge on Callo de Acha, the café’s signature scallop dish.
Time is of the essence when you’re in the middle of a quickie weekend getaway trip. But you don’t have to settle for sub-standard snacks when you’re on the go. Stop by this tiny hole-in-the-wall taqueria hidden at the tail end of Chapala Street for authentic chicken, beef, pork, or veggie street tacos.
If you want to go where the locals brunch, head to this Cajun and Creole-Mexican fusion diner that serves hearty chilaquiles and beignet breakfasts plus tasty gumbo and pastrami sandwich lunches daily. Choose from their many locations, from the South Coast to Lompoc, or snag a seat on the outdoor patio of the original location on De La Vina Street in Santa Barbara.
The unique and creative dishes at this plant-powered restaurant are a feast for both the eyes and the stomach! Enjoy a perfectly plated vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free lunch or dinner that has been praised by both carnivores and vegetarians/vegans, while you soak up the sun and fresh ocean air on the outdoor patio.