In Santa Barbara, there’s no better way to enjoy a meal than by pairing it with seaside views and the splendor of the great outdoors. And given the circumstances, that’s currently the only way we’re doing restaurants these days—aside from lots of take-out and delivery! Lucky for us (and you), Santa Barbara’s restaurant community has readily adapted to accommodate dining out safely in the midst of a pandemic. Between maximizing existing outdoor dining space and creatively expanding their alfresco footprint, you can feel safe and socially distanced while savoring our regional cuisine at dozens of restaurants around town.
To view a full list of restaurants with alfresco dining experiences, click here. For those looking for specific, stand-out recommendations, use this guide to dine by neighborhood in the Santa Barbara South Coast.
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Mother Nature gives an extra boost to the airflow at waterfront establishments that pair serene ocean views with delicious fare. After your meal, take a stroll along the Cabrillo Bike Path.
Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily from their iconic location right above Hendry’s Beach—a.k.a. Arroyo Burro Beach. Securing a table on their existing outdoor patio is even more enviable these days given the incredible setting, especially at sunset. Consider Boathouse for a hearty brunch, fish tacos, and burgers, or a massive seafood platter and martinis. Learn More
Convivo Restaurant & Bar is outfitted with a prime patio that looks directly out onto the mellow swells of East Beach. The setting is elegant enough for a special occasion while being equally relaxed for casual happy hour sips and bites. The Mediterranean-inspired menu features wood-fired flatbreads and pizzas, house-made pastas, bright salads, and smaller plates. Learn More
A relative newcomer to the dining scene from a longtime Santa Barbara restaurateur, Oku specializes in Asian-fusion cuisine prepared with the freshest seafood and seasonal produce. Think sushi, dumplings, Thai noodles, and artful preparations of local catch like spot prawns and sea urchin. In addition to their patio dining room and rooftop bar, Oku added outdoor seating adjacent to the restaurant that lights up at sunset with strategically placed lanterns and glowing heat lamps. Learn More
Santa Barbara FisHouse is nestled on Cabrillo Boulevard with views of the beach and Stearns Wharf. Serving lunch and dinner daily, the breezy patio area features a firepit and string lights that add extra ambiance after the sun goes down. Naturally, the menu is seafood-centric and as fresh as it gets. And you’re welcome to bring your pups. Learn More
The closest you can get to being on the water without hopping on a boat is spending time on Stearns Wharf, where you can hit Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. The casual eatery originated as a fish market and has been serving the local community and visitors for more than 40 years. Best known for their crab dishes, they also make a mean shrimp ceviche, lobster roll, and clam chowder. Dine on the limited patio or order to-go and enjoy your meal on the beach. Learn More
You can literally sink your feet in the sand at West Beach when you dine at laid-back Shoreline Café. The café features both a big patio and a selection of tables right on the beach. Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus feature Mexican dishes and classic Californian fare that appeal to a wide range of dietary preferences. Plus, it’s very kid-friendly! Learn More
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Between State Street’s big transformation into a pedestrian promenade and the introduction of creative parklets, Downtown and the Funk Zone are channeling that European outdoor dining vibe—with a Californian twist, of course.
One of Santa Barbara’s most romantic restaurants, bouchon santa barbara expanded their outdoor dining to include seating tucked in the courtyard and laneways of Victoria Court. A few tables are situated on an elevated outdoor deck and the overall al fresco ambiance feels very European—complete with peek-a-boo views of the Arlington theatre’s spire. Between the stellar service and artful presentation, bouchon has maintained their signature relaxed fine dining flair. It’s a top choice for celebrating a special occasion or simply feasting on standout wine country cuisine in an intimate setting under the stars. Learn More
Health conscious diners and the sustainably-minded flock to Green Table on De La Guerra for vegetarian and gluten-free daytime eats. The restaurant is also popular with matcha fans thanks to the vast selection of drinks and smoothies. Place an order and grab a seat at their new boho, eco-chic parklet just across the sidewalk from the storefront. Learn More
Another top Tapas spot, Loquita can be found in the Funk Zone on lower State Street. The dinner-only restaurant’s patio oozes Santa Barbara ambiance, from the tile work to the abundant bougainvillea. A recent patio expansion makes it possible for more lucky diners to savor their Spanish flavors and deliciously noteworthy gin & tonics. Learn More
Pizza is also the star of the table at Lucky Penny in the Funk Zone. The simple menu of griddled paninis, wood-fired pizzas, salads and small plates bursts with vibrant seasonal flavors. A new parklet adds even more outdoor space for patrons. And you can still get your best shot in front of the often-Instagrammed penny wall! Learn More
Spanish tapas and award-winning cocktails are on the menu at Milk & Honey Tapas. The lounge-y restaurant tucked off State Street on Anapamu expanded their patio seating to include a newly created parklet. You can also opt to order to-go from the charming “Tuk Tuk,” where locals are beelining for Taco Tuesday family meals. Learn More
A longtime local favorite on a quieter stretch of State Street, opal restaurant & bar offers expanded outdoor seating with views of the historic Arlington Theatre marquee. Opal is serving dinner nightly, with many items from the menu regulars know well and love—pizzas, pastas, seafood and classic entrees like filet mignon and chicken picatta. Learn More
Oppi’z Bistro & Natural Pizza is known for its specialty pizzas built upon a secret recipe using naturally slow-fermented dough. A modern interpretation of a traditional Italian pizzeria, the OPPI’z menu is driven by a healthful, Slow Food ethos—vegan and gluten-free considerations included. Expanded outdoor seating includes a parklet with red umbrellas on State Street. Learn More
Diners can now savor cuisine from the popular vendors at the Santa Barbara Public Market in an expanded patio seating area along Victoria Street. Victoria Street is currently closed to car traffic between Chapala and State Streets, and the Public Market created an inviting parklet near the front entrance complete with hedges and umbrellas. There’s even a big TV screen for sports fans who want to tune into the MLB and NBA action. So, order your food and beverages inside at spots like Empty Bowl, Fala Bar, Corazon Cocina, The Garden and Wabi Sabi Sushi Bar, and then settle in on the patio to relax and enjoy. Learn More
Family-run Shalhoobs Meat Company is Santa Barbaran through and through. Their Funk Zone restaurant was already appointed with a sizable outdoor patio on a concrete lot—it’s a comfortable, relaxed place to enjoy barbecued delights featuring mindfully-sourced proteins and produce. Learn More
From Summerland and Montecito to Goleta, these eateries are slightly off-the-beaten path. Tried-and-true local go-to’s with attractive outdoor seating options, it’s worth your while to seek them out.
Goleta’s Beachside Bar-Café is a Santa Barbara institution—especially for those who have ties to nearby UCSB. Beachside’s protected outdoor patio offers views of the waves crashing on Goleta Beach and fishermen casting their lines off the pier in the distance. The restaurant is serving a reduced menu of lunch and dinner staples with an emphasis on seafood. Learn More
Located between upper State Street and Goleta, Creekside Restaurant & Bar is open for patio dining Wednesdays through Sundays. The restaurant’s down-home vibe has been extended to their reinvented patio. Now covered with a canopy for sun protection, picnic tables are spread out around the sizable space where diners can dig into All American fare. Learn More
While you can’t dine-in at Feast inside Field + Fort, if you do find yourself in the Summerland vicinity, definitely make a point to pick up food to-go. The café’s menu was made for an elevated picnic, with lovely locales like Lookout Park and Summerland Beach nearby. The breakfast items, sandwiches and heartier “feasts” provide gourmet fuel for days spent in the water or on the trails. Learn More
Over the hill in wine country, Hitching Post 2 created a nice, roomy outdoor tent on the grounds of their legendary restaurant property. That means you can still enjoy their signature Santa Maria-style barbecue grilled over red oak in an alfresco country western setting. From steaks and seafood to artichokes and ribs, any dinner at Hitching Post 2 pairs well with their equally beloved range of Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wines. If you visit during the day, the winery on the same grounds serves lunch and has picnic table seating under the shade of trees. Learn More
The patio vibe of the Montecito Jeannine’s Restaurant & Bakery location is another top outdoor choice among this equally esteemed local mini-chain’s four outposts. They’ve added some sidewalk café tables to extend the garden-like setting of their original lattice-fenced patio area. The breakfast and lunch menus are inherently brunch-y and healthy. Learn More
Last but most certainly not least is Oliver’s of Montecito. This heavenly, plant-based eatery has transformed its outdoor patio into a luxurious retreat along Coast Village Road. Except for Monday nights, Oliver’s is open daily for outdoor dinner service with delectable small plates and entrees filled with fresh veggies and accompanied by tasty drinks in a cozy, safe ambiance. Learn More
Eating “green” is one of the many ways to celebrate Earth Day virtually this year. Our food choices are a very immediate, tangible way we can lessen our impact on the environment simply by prioritizing consuming regionally grown and cultivated ingredients. That’s a healthy rule of thumb in general! When you eat and drink like a locavore, you’re supporting the…