Photo by Carter Hiyama, Courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach
Santa Barbara County continues to shine in the prestigious ranks of Michelin-starred dining destinations in Michelin Guide California 2023. Caruso’s retains its Michelin star, which equates to, “High-quality cooking, worth a stop!” and one Michelin Green Star for its dedication to local sourcing and sustainability efforts. Bell’s kept its Michelin star ranking, in addition to a grand total of five restaurants holding the titles for Bib Gourmand–good value cooking, further enhancing the variety of local, Michelin-approved establishments.
The Santa Barbara South Coast and surrounding wine country have long attracted foodies and culinary explorers, and these endorsements will no doubt pique the interest and palates of those who have yet to discover the area’s singular mix of flavors. Beyond the ingredients, the local culinary community is infused with an authentic spirit of collaboration and connectivity that is reflected in every detail, from the words on the menus and the art on the walls to the warm hospitality and passion that goes into every plate.
Michelin’s discerning inspectors recognized these attributes with their latest additions, which we’ve highlighted below and invite you to come celebrate with us. And don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the criteria of which Michelin stars are awarded–quality of ingredients, mastery of the cooking, harmony of the flavors, artistry of the chef as reflected in the cuisine and Consistency, both over time and across the entire menu.
One Michelin STAR and ONE MICHELIN GREEN Star
Caruso’s at Rosewood Miramar Beach—where coastal California meets Southern Italian cuisine—boasts a Michelin star and Michelin Green Star. With over 30 years of international culinary experience, executive chef Massimo Falsini brings fresh, local and high-quality ingredients to the plate.
After its opening in 2019, Caruso’s quickly established itself as one of those “must-try” dining experiences, featuring dishes made with iconic local fare such as California spiny lobster, Santa Barbara black cod and farm-raised chicken from neighboring Buellton’s Cosecha Farms. This reservations-required restaurant reaches a new level of luxury. Taking in an unobstructed view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean while dining in one of Santa Barbara’s most extravagant restaurants is certainly a bucket-list experience.
Bell’s – One Michelin Star
Bell’s is the labor of love of another hospitality power couple, Chef Daisy Ryan and her husband Greg Ryan, both alums of Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City. The casual French-Californian (aka “Franch”) wine country bistro is located on the main drag of the tiny and charming town of Los Alamos. While the food is incredibly refined, Bell’s doesn’t take itself too seriously, as its slogan, “good, but not France,” encapsulates.
Open Thursday through Monday, Bell’s offers a la carte lunch service and a phenomenal prix fixe dinner experience, which can be customized for vegans and pescatarians alike.
The Bib Gourmands
In addition to the star rating system, Michelin’s Bib Gourmand stamp of approval is bestowed upon restaurants that their team of experts deem to have “good quality, good value cooking.” So, it’s not about being fancy or formal.
You’ll find down-to-earth taco shops like Corazon Cocina on this list—just stop by chef/owner Ramon Velazquez’s stall in the Santa Barbara Public Market for satisfying tacos that integrate fresh, seasonal ingredients, handmade tortillas and vibrant salsas. Bettina is an Italian restaurant located in the Montecito Country Mart helmed by alums of Brooklyn’s iconic Roberta’s—hence the highly memorable wood-fired pizzas. Loquita is a stylish local favorite in the Funk Zone that’s known for flavorful, sharable Spanish-style tapas created by Chef Jasmine Shimoda, as well as award-winning gin and tonics. Sama Sama Kitchen offers exceptional quality and value in offering a diverse menu of Southeast Asian-inspired dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Peasants Feast in Solvang is where seasonal comfort food meets luxury and where fresh, farm-to-table food is of the utmost importance.
Last, but definitely not least, are the Michelin-recommended eateries—restaurants known for simple “good cooking.” Among the Santa Barbara County Michelin-recommended restaurants who made the cut in the California guide are Yoichi’s for standout Japanese kaiseki; Los Agaves, a counter-service Mexican restaurant on Milpas Street; and Bibi Ji, a modern Indian restaurant with a natural wine list.
Distinctive expressions of Santa Barbara’s regional Californian cuisine can be savored at Barbareño, The Lark and Blackbird at Hotel Californian. And destinations for splurge-worthy special occasion feasts include The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch, First & Oak in Solvang’s Mirabelle Inn, The Tavern at The Inn at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos and Bar Le Côte, located inside an unsuspecting blue tavern in the quaint town of Los Olivos.
For unique, fresh-from-the-ocean dining experiences, pay a visit to Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: Montecito—which remains a Michelin-recommended restaurant—where you can enjoy an intimate, authentic omakase dinner and Ama Sushi, another omakase-lover’s delight, at Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito.
Michelin Guide Hotels
Located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s vibrant Funk Zone, The Waterman’s modern-chic ambiance and proximity to a variety of local microbreweries, tasting rooms and mouthwatering eateries aptly appeals to the trendy travelers.
Spanish Revival details, rooftop pool and endless views of The American Riviera®—what more can you ask for when it comes to an iconic stay in Santa Barbara? Throughout the Kimpton Canary Hotel, you’ll find amenities like complimentary bike rentals for exploring the city, farm-fresh cuisine and a hosted wine hour. Palihouse Santa Barbara is the perfect place to unwind during a restful vacation in Santa Barbara. While conveniently located in the bustling downtown Presidio neighborhood—near local tasting rooms, shopping and delectable dining—from the outside, this unassuming oasis provides the perfect secluded hideaway.
In the neighboring town of Goleta lies The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, where seaside elegance shines among its many amenities such as various on-site dining, incredible pool views and a spa for the senses. Luxury meets cottagecore at El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel. Indulge in a lap of luxury among the property’s lush gardens, large zero-edge swimming pool and variety of places to grab a delicious, locally sourced meal.