Photo Credit: Scarlett Begonia
There’s no better way to start your morning than with brunch, your best friends and family, and a breathtaking location. Whether you prefer sweet or savory flavors, mountain or ocean views, here are the best places for brunch in Santa Barbara:
It’s pretty hard to top the beachfront location of The Boathouse, which sits on dog-friendly Hendry’s Beach (a.k.a. Arroyo Burro Beach) and serves an extended breakfast daily. It’s worth the wait to get a window table inside or a prime patio perch outside. Try the Boathouse Signature Breakfast—a riff on Eggs Benedict with house-made snow and rock crab cakes in place of the traditional English muffin.
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If you’re pining for brunch in the city, settle down at one of the sidewalk tables and try not to drool on the menu that boasts dozens of bread flavors — including the renowned olive bread — and baked goods. And don’t pass up the egg items on the menu, like the Egg’s Rose that wowed local chef and Iron Chef star Cat Cora.
Eat a hearty Mexican, buffet-style brunch — complete with bottomless mimosas — in the city’s only open-air restaurant, which is hidden inside the El Paseo courtyard. This 1922 restaurant was designed to match the city’s original Presidio neighborhood and has been host to many celebrity events from the early 1900s to now. Come back later to El Paseo Mexican Restaurant for lunch or dinner to taste from the extensive tequila menu.
Come grab brunch at Goat Tree, where you can indulge in classics like spicy Shakshuka, savory quiche, and chicken and waffles. Situated in the heart of lower State Street, Goat Tree is within minutes of Stearns Wharf, the Funk Zone, and downtown Santa Barbara. On the weekends, don’t be surprised if a local musician serenades you as you dine!
Go off the beaten path to Old Town Goleta for a farm-fresh, locally sourced down-home cookin’ style breakfast. Grab a seat at one of the picnic tables on the outdoor patio in Goleta’s up-and-coming industrial neighborhood. Then, feast on a seasonal farm-to-table breakfast worth writing home about.
A Funk Zone staple for breakfast, Helena Avenue Bakery is a counter-service café with communal indoor and outdoor seating. The biscuit sandwiches are insanely delicious—the green eggs & ham packs a punch with its spicy green harissa sauce while the bacon, egg & cheddar has a smoky, tangy chipotle labneh. Other heartier dishes include breakfast bowls, huevos rancheros and sweet and savory toasts. You won’t be able to get brunchy cocktails here, but the strong coffees will perk you right up.
Choose from uptown, downtown, or Montecito for a tasty brunch experience at this bakery and café-style restaurant. Feast your eyes on the baked goods and cakes displayed in glass cases while you wait in line to make the toughest decision of the day: Which delicious dish to order for breakfast?
If anyone in your party is gluten-free, Lilac Patisserie is the brunch spot to be. The bakery and café is 100% gluten-free and even pro-gluten eaters appreciate the simple and delicious fare. The small menu features house-made granola, Irish oatmeal, berry bowls and toasts with a variety of toppings. Egg dishes include a quiche of the day, breakfast sandwich, scrambled eggs and customizable omelettes.
Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro
Fancy a French breakfast complete with buttery croissants and delicate macarons in an adorable bistro setting? Oui do, too! Choose a dish from the French European breakfast menu or choose a few delicacies from the bakery case that are arguably as good as the ones made in Paris.
Enjoy brunch with a view at this family-friendly, local institution that overlooks West Beach along the iconic palm tree-lined East Cabrillo Boulevard. At Chad’s, feast on classic breakfast dishes like chocolate chip pancakes and chicken fried steak and eggs. But get there early, as there’s usually a line out the door.
Enjoy a locally sourced, organic meal inside or on the patio of this quaint café tucked away in the Victoria Courtyard in downtown Santa Barbara. Choose from gluten-free or traditional brunch options that are as creative as they are tasty. While you wait for your order to arrive, treat your taste buds to the complimentary chef’s choice amuse bouche. Insider tip: Make reservations or risk a lengthy wait time.
Stella Mare’s is a charming French country bistro set in a historic house near the Andre Clark Bird Refuge—this place oozes cozy ambiance, which makes it ideal for a special occasion. The weekend brunch menu features French classics like Escargot, Salad Niçoise, Croque Madame, Moules Frites, Quiche Lorraine and Coq a Vin. We say oui, oui, oui to all of it!
THE SHOP KITCHEN
Locals went bananas for The Shop Kitchen when it opened on Milpas Street—for good reason! The brunch-centric café is open daily and their elevated home-style American fare hits the spot whether you go for one of the many toast varieties, Eggs Benedict (available six ways!), Fried Chicken or a Tri-Tip Sandwich. Coffee snobs will approve of the Handlebar Roasters coffee drinks, while wine and beer are also available for imbibers.
Another spectacular beachfront eatery is Shoreline Café at Leadbetter Beach near the Harbor and Santa Barbara City College. You can literally put your feet in the sand here while dining right on the beach. Breakfast is served daily until 1:00 p.m. and the menu is vast and filling. Think breakfast burritos, carnitas and eggs, huevos rancheros, omelets, French Toast and pancakes.