As far as we’re concerned, there’s always room for more good eats in our bountiful city surrounded by organic farms, family-run ranches, avocado and citrus orchards, and the seafood-rich Santa Barbara Channel. You’re definitely going to want to sample what these new Santa Barbara restaurants are cooking up with the ingredients of the season. From casual to refined and everything in between, this fresh crop of eateries is ripe for your restaurant picking!
Fully embracing the vibrant colors and flavors of Sicily, Bedda Mia has brought handmade Italian fare to Santa Barbara’s State Street. Think fresh seafood, like ammaru cu l’ogghiu santu (braised spot prawns), artisan pastas such as panziteddda di porcu (bucatini with spicy pork belly sugo) and spaghetti cu l’ova di tunno (spaghetti with tuna roe) and other Italian classics. Don’t forget to pair your meal with hand-selected wines and other curated cocktails. Within walking distance of the Santa Barbara Arts District, the State Street Promenade and the heart of downtown, Bedda Mia is the perfect European escape—no passport required. Saluti!
Known in Santa Barbara’s culinary scene for their popular lobster, uni and oyster pop-ups at Municipal Winemakers, BroadStreet Oyster Company is here to permanently serve up mouthwatering seafood classics at Kim’s Service Department. While the flagship location is still in Malibu, the new Santa Barbara locale is ideally situated behind Shaker Mill in downtown Santa Barbara, so grab a drink and take a bite of incredible lobster rolls, oysters, raw bar and other delicious dishes. Simply experiencing the spot’s ocean-themed, funky restaurant décor is worth a trip on its own!
Serving up authentic flavors straight from Mexico City, Casa Comal Cocina is guaranteed to give foodies something to taco-bout. The State Street taqueria’s string light-bedecked exterior patio opens up to intricately designed indoor seating, so pull up a chair and order a savory taco platter featuring chorizo, birria, octopus or pasilla chile tacos. Don’t forget to pair your feast with a refreshing michelada or craft brew. Casa Comal Cocina doesn’t stop at tacos either, as you can enjoy entrees such as Mexican bowls, tostadas and vegetarian options galore. If you’re in town on a Tuesday, you’re in luck as the Taco Tuesday special boasts all the spice for quite an affordable price. The restaurant’s location is easily walkable from a myriad of local hotels, so make sure to explore the lively taprooms, boutiques and music venues of State Street Promenade after dining.
Open Tuesday through Sunday in their freshly expanded location on Figueroa Street, Hook & Press is known for its handmade, seasonally flavored donuts and craft coffee. Select from the mouthwatering classic brioche, deluxe brioche or cake bases with an unbelievable variety of creative glazes, toppings and fillings that are rotated on a regular basis. Be sure to stop in early, as these donuts tend to fly off the counter during the breakfast rush. Craving more than just a super Instagrammable sweet treat? The restaurant serves up a full breakfast menu until noon, including the likes of egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, avocado tartines, fruit bowls and buttermilk biscuits.
Get your caffeine fix at Little Heart Cafecito, the newest coffee hotspot to open up within Santa Barbara Public Market. The coffee shop also offers Mexican-style breakfast (think: tacos, burritos and more) all morning. Supplement your morning churro latte with the El Tejano taco, made with farmers market eggs, bacon, potatoes and melty cheese. The Santa Barbara Public Market is the perfect location to stop for a bite to eat while perusing the State Street Promenade, exploring the Saturday farmers market and so much more in downtown Santa Barbara.
What could be more enticing than to step back in time to gilded ceilings, black marble floors, luxurious leather booths and fire-grilled steaks? The infamous Las Vegas steakhouse Rare Society was frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and Chef Brad Wise’s reimagination of the eatery has already made a name for itself with two spots in San Diego. Santa Barbara has now welcomed the retro-inspired installment with open arms, located conveniently between State Street and The Funk Zone. Think open flame grills, an exhibition kitchen where you’ll watch your meal be hand-prepared and of course, the endless menu choices. Dine on wagyu, ribeye and pork chop, alongside truffled creamed spinach, ricotta ravioli and more. If you want the true Rare Society experience, order either the Executive or Associate Boards–a selection of chef-determined cuts of the night paired with various sauces. Who knew taking a trip down memory lane could be so delicious?
Situated beachside at Cabrillo Pavilion, Reunion Kitchen + Drink has brought its classic, hand-crafted menu, including a stellar cocktail and draft beer list, to the Santa Barbara coastline. Explore a variety of drink options, and savor a Bloody Mary flight or Dad’s Mai Tai while soaking in oceanfront views from either indoor or outdoor patio seating. Try favorites like the miso glazed sea bass or crispy pancetta pasta, and breathe in the fresh breeze that wafts from nearby East Beach. Feeling stuffed? Take a few steps to the beach for a post-meal stroll towards Stearns Wharf. There, you’ll catch a memorable view of downtown Santa Barbara, the harbor and beyond.
Tucked away on Montecito Street next to Santa Barbara Brewhouse and walking distance to the Funk Zone, Rodeo Room combines sultry romance and elevated ambiance with a laidback attitude at its ornate bar and eatery. The dimly lit space is the perfect spot to enjoy a meal, catch up with friends or meet a date for drinks. Start by ordering one of its curated Old Fashioned cocktails, like the Peanut Butter Falcon or a creatively handmade libation like the Kaimana Cruiser, before snagging one of the booths under the massive Texas Longhorn skull to share appetizers. The menu ranges from crispy Korean chicken wings to salmon poke tacos, so trust us when we say you’ll want to try them all.
Ortega Street’s newest resident provides a much-needed relief after a weekend of bar hopping: cheesy, melty and gooey pizza. Saint Bibiana Pizzeria, known for bubbling pies and chilled refreshments, strives to use exclusively Santa Barbara County produce for their dishes. The pizzeria’s popular items include a pie with Beurre blanc cream and house-made red sauce, grilled onions, fennel sausage, pepperoni, tomatoes, ricotta cheese, garlic confit, mushrooms, fresh basil and chili flakes, and is aptly called “The Whole Shebang!” Saint Bibiana also offers a handful of pizzas designed specifically with vegetarians and vegans in mind, including the veggie, the margherita and the tomato pie. With something for everyone to munch on at this pizza joint, feel free to explore State Street and the surrounding neighborhoods to walk off your inevitable fullness.
Home-cooked, passed down by generations, Soul food is the main attraction at Soul Bites. Situated on lower State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, the African American comfort food restaurant is sure to warm hearts and fill bellies. Chef John Cleveland’s menu features smaller bites like smoked mac ‘n cheese and collard greens with smoked turkey, and larger dishes like maple brined fried chicken and fish and chips. Don’t skimp on the handmade sauces either: The fresno chili aioli is fried chicken’s best friend.
Gyro, kebab and falafel lovers will rejoice at the opening of Taza Mediterranean Street Kitchen on lower State Street. Feast on the signature chicken shawarma plate, served with saffron basmati rice, salad, hummus, pita and dipping sauces as you watch the daily lunch activity of the corridor, or stop by for dinner to enjoy a kefta spiced salmon wrap with mint lebna, the Taza poutine (shoestring fries, tzatziki “white sauce,” tomato and chickpea slaw, fried capers, feta cheese and taza sauce), or a hearty fattoush salad. Not only do the kitchen’s hours extend past midnight on weekends (a necessity after a late night out), but the incredible variety of food options will have you returning over and over.
Santa Barbara locals Tom and Amber Ramirez and executive chef Tony Bones have brought barbecue cuisine to Old Town Goleta. Feast on juicy brisket, tri-tip, pork belly, pulled pork and more, with classic barbeque favorites including potato and macaroni salad, coleslaw, fries and baked beans at Goodland BBQ. Dine in for lunch or pick up dinner for the whole family at this homegrown spot, and enjoy the sweet mesquite smoke that wafts through the restaurant as you choose your meal. The welcoming atmosphere and hearty plates are sure to leave you satisfied.
The Santa Barbara South Coast is known for its abundance of fresh seafood, and Goleta-based Mariscos Santa Barbara takes full advantage of the local fare that’s available and adds a Mexican twist. If you are a shrimp fanatic, this is the place to get your fix. The expansive menu offers up tasty bites like tacos del mar, camarones cucaracha (fried shrimp), tostadas de ceviche and even oyster shooters. Grab a mango-habanero michelada to sip on with your tacos del pulpo, or a craft beer to complement your aguachile rojo. From salty sea to salsa, this seafood-centric restaurant is the perfect stop for date night, a gathering of friends or even the whole family–if you don’t have picky eaters!
Built after World War II, Timber’s Roadhouse was constructed in the 1950s out of wood and metal from nearby Ellwood pier that was shelled in the war. This historic restaurant now pays homage to California’s history and cooks up tangy barbecue for friends and families to gather ‘round and feast. The expansive menu doesn’t stop at steak: The famed oxtail mac ‘n’ cheese is a favorite, along with the grilled fish, chicken and a number of vegetarian-friendly entrees and sides. Timber’s spacious outdoor area is the ideal spot to relax near the fire pit, play games and kick-back with a cold drink before or after your meal.
Rosewood Miramar Beach has introduced their on-property omakase-style restaurant AMA Sushi, where guests enjoy dozens of hand-prepared nigiri intricately dressed in a myriad of flavors. The fresh seafood used for each course is incomparable, and the exclusive 13-seat dining room makes for an incredibly intimate atmosphere. The term “omakase” means “chef’s choice,” so you will be further surprised and delighted with each bite, and the name AMA honors the legacy of Japanese freediving women who braved the ocean waves to gather oysters, fish and more. AMA also offers a vast selection of wine, sake and unique cocktails. You will not want to miss this highly coveted experience.
Coast Village Road’s newest culinary-focused resident is already making epicurean waves. LOCAL’s menu spans from crudo of the day and freshly cracked oysters for starters, to Korean maple glazed chicken wings, juicy steak frites and handmade pasta. If you aren’t drooling yet, the spot’s specialty cocktail list includes a lilikoʻi daiquiri, white falcon fuzz and hibiscus paloma, all to be savored on the outdoor patio, complete with firepits and lit by dreamy Edison bulb fixtures. Pair your meal with a dessert (or two!) such as coconut panna cotta with yuzu lemon or gluten-free chocolate peanut butter pie to end the night on a sweet note. Don’t miss the restaurant’s live music on Monday and Wednesday, where you can jam along to local singer songwriters as you dine.
We asked a nearly impossible question—and you answered! “Where is the best breakfast burrito in Santa Barbara?” you say? On Instagram, fans of @VisitSantaBarbara passionately told us where to get their favorite breakfast burritos, which yielded a plethora of options: from the classic egg, cheese and bacon combinations to outside-of-the-box breakfast creations that incorporate ingredients like goat cheese or nopales…
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.