Santa Barbara is a wellspring of wellness. You can nurture your mind, body and soul at our many spas, yoga studios, fitness classes, energy healing centers and meditation workshops. Rejuvenating and aligning your chakras is best balanced with some seriously wholesome cuisine, right?! Clean eating is key to the wellness equation, and The American Riviera® has got you covered with a robust line-up of restaurants, bakeries and juice bars that serve up fresh-as-it-gets, vitamin-packed, superfood goodness. Here’s a guide for go-to spots for healthy eats that will feed your soul and leave you radiating positive vibes from the inside out.
Juice Ranch is Santa Barbara’s homegrown purveyor of raw, organic pressed juices and elixirs created with the idea that food is medicine. You can visit their flagship storefront in the HUB neighborhood off lower State Street to stock up on tantalizing tonics like Jalapina, Little Miss Sunshine and Beach Beet—all made with locally sourced produce. Pop in for a quick shot of Aloe Vera Juice, E3 Live or Royal-T. Or if you’re feeling like a really hardcore health nut, try one of their juice cleanse regimens. Juice Ranch is also available at local cafes and markets, so keep an eye out for their signature glass bottles.
Backyard Bowls is a Santa Barbara original that introduced Açai bowls to The American Riviera® when it first debuted in 2008. Fast-forward a decade, and their healthy “fast food” concept has been such a hit, they’ve expanded to six locations with three in the Santa Barbara area and three in Los Angeles. In addition to the Açai-based bowls, they serve breakfast bowls with bases like oatmeal, quinoa, yogurt and muesli. Organic smoothies packed with fruits, nuts and veggies are also on the menu. Their commitment to health and wellness extends to environmental responsibility—they are a 100% clean energy company and a Certified Green Business.
Mesa Verde by Chef Greg Arnold caters to vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free folks with a well-rounded menu of satisfying-yet-healthful offerings that are so tasty, even carnivores come back for seconds. The casual, seat-yourself restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily with a special weekend brunch menu. The flatbreads, salads, tacos and sandwiches are beautifully presented (hello, Instagram!) and big on flavor. Must tries include their handcrafted herbal brews and decadent assortment of gluten-free desserts like Strawberry Cashew Cheesecake and Bruleed Panna Cotta. Beer, cider and wine are also available for the 21+ crowd.
Green Table boasts the largest selection of Matcha green tea blends in all of California. But it’s much more than a destination for Matcha. Green Table is a 100% gluten-free, organic vegetarian restaurant that avoids any processed ingredients and makes nearly everything from scratch including their almond milk. If you want something more substantial than a Matcha latte, juice or smoothie, heartier vegan-friendly dishes on the menu run the gamut from a raw veggie wrap to a pulled mushroom burger. The desserts like Banana Bread Pudding, Dirty Brownie and Raw Apple Pie Slice—made exclusively with almond and coconut flours—are to die for.
Lilac Patisserie was Santa Barbara’s first dedicated gluten-free bakery and café, and they quickly established a loyal following for their beautiful cakes. Helmed by husband and wife duo, Gillian and Alam Muralles, Lilac’s creations reflect years of perfecting gluten-free recipes and experience working in Southern California’s premier bakeries. A trained and seasoned pastry chef, Gillian’s Celiac diagnosis influenced their commitment to being 100% gluten-free. The café serves breakfast and lunch daily and the bakery is always stocked with an assortment of cookies, pies, tarts, bars and cupcakes. The elaborate cake menu presents a choice of 22 different delicious flavors—all impeccably, artfully decorated.
You don’t need to be a vegan to appreciate the food crafted by Chef Craig Riker at Oliver’s. In fact, once you take a bite, you’ll forget it’s all plant based. From the artichoke “crab cakes” and chickpea niçoise salad to the cauliflower bucatini and wild mushroom tostada, there’s a surprising richness to the meat-, egg- and dairy-free cuisine. Even the libations are “healthy.” The cocktail menu is based on high-end spirits and juices sourced from Juice Ranch. The wine and beer list also has a local bent. Plus, Oliver’s is a great choice if you’re looking for more of a fine dining experience and prefer vegan fare.
AH Juice Cafe specializes in 100% organic cold pressed juices made daily with 95% locally-sourced produce from the region’s best farms. They aren’t all about juice, though. The earthy café features organic egg breakfast dishes and savory lunch items like house-made veggie burgers, free-range chicken wraps and wild-fermented sauerkrauts. House specialty drinks like Chai Curcuma and Two Mushroom Herbal Coffee are packed with targeted healing ingredients. If you’re looking for easy take-away treats, the smoothies and assortment of raw and gluten-free superfood snacks are perfect to grab-and-go.
The Natural Café is a Santa Barbara institution. One of the community’s original health-centric eateries, The Natural Café has three locations including one in the heart of downtown, one off of upper State Street and one in Goleta. The casual, sit-down restaurant features a large menu of wholesome soups, burgers, salads, pastas and pizzas. It’s the perfect spot for a group with diverse dietary needs. While there are ample vegetarian options available, chicken and fish dishes are also offered. And the kids’ menu will surely please little ones—even those with the pickiest of palates.
From bagels and baked goods to burgers and ice cream sundaes, the following 10 pop-ups have earned loyal followings for their creative, quality fare. Foodies in the know strategize their schedules to ensure they don’t miss a bite, and with a little advanced Instagram reconnaissance, so can you.