Eats Off the Beaten Path

Exploring State Street restaurants and the waterfront eateries of Santa Barbara are great and definitely not to be overlooked on 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.

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Arnoldi's Café

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 while getting in a few rounds of bocce ball. Learn More

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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. Learn More

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The Blue Owl

Perfect for a quick lunch or late-night detour (on the weekends), The Blue Owl has put together an irresistible menu of Asian-fusion sandwiches, salads, wraps and more—with vegetarian and vegan offerings as well. Come for an eclectic dining experience, and stay for the live music. Learn More

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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. Learn More

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Buena Onda

Argentinian empanadas make for the perfect quick snack or a feast to share with many. With quality and authenticity in mind, these fresh, handheld bites dipped in the eatery’s to-die-for housemade chimichurri sauce are sure to satisfy. Learn More

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Cajun Kitchen

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 downtown to Goleta, or snag a seat on the outdoor patio of the original location on De La Vina Street in Santa Barbara. Learn More

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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 with a Callo de Acha, the café’s signature scallop dish. Learn More

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Lily's Taqueria

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. Learn More

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Mesa Verde

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 carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, while you soak up the sun and fresh ocean air on the outdoor patio. Learn More

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Secret Bao

This not-so-secret (anymore) restaurant, pulls inspiration from many types of Asian cuisines to fill out two very extensive lunch and dinner menus. Indulge in a couple of the classic Pork Belly bao—the pork just melts in your mouth!—or splurge for the Udon Carbonara. Its perfectly creamy sauce base and large chunks of molinari pancetta paired with the thick and chewy udon noodles make Secret Bao a must-try for the foodie in your group. Learn More

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