Best Dinner in Santa Barbara

Best Dinner in Santa Barbara

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Clean Plate Club

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Beaches, art, culture and community — there’s a reason Santa Barbara makes for a great vacation destination. But even aside from what it can visually offer, it also is home to restaurants of all cuisines and with delicious reputations, any of which will single handedly convince you to visit Santa Barbara again. Here are 17 of our favorite places to make your dining decision easier. 

Feature photo: Courtesy of Oku

On & Near State Street


Opal Restaurant and Bar

1325 State St., Santa Barbara 


The duo behind this smash burger spot first gained a faithful following at Palm Springs’ Thursday night street fair VillageFest, later shifting to pop-up form. Now they’ve settled into a permanent space inside the Hilton hotel, where they sell Harris Ranch beef cheeseburgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and mushroom burgers on potato buns, as well as loaded fries and an impressive house salad. Look for the off menu specials like lobster rolls when in season at this casual spot. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 12pm to 9pm; Friday and Saturday 12pm to 10 pm.


The Palace Grill

8 E Cota St., Santa Barbara


Looking for elevated yet authentic Louisianan cuisine? The Palace Grill will deliver nothing short of the perfect meal to curb your craving. Order one of their specialties such as the blackened salmon, or opt for one of their traditional plates like their Creole crawfish crabcakes. No matter what you order, the staff will ensure that your experience is immersive and fulfilling — you even might have the chance to participate in a singalong to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Authenticity is prioritized here, and in the past, staff members have even been flown to New Orleans to guarantee this. But as a customer, the food and atmosphere will be more than enough to transport you there, too. 


The Black Sheep SB Brasserie

18 E Cota St., Santa Barbara


If French cuisine is what you love, this California-French pub will more than satisfy your desire. The Black Sheep is known for its tasting menu dining experience, which will be a multi-course meal that puts multiple dishes in front of you for each, but you can also order individual items from their main menu. Their summer menu features dishes such as the grilled California filet mignon and roasted vegetable cous cous.



To fully embrace the Central Coast experience, food that reflects the culture is a must — Barbareño will give you this. Some of their menu items are meant to be shared, such as the ricotta dumplings, but main dishes are also served, like local black cod. Many of the dishes may be familiar and recognizable as a California staple, but the flavors of each are complex and rich, and there’s enough variety to make your dish decision extremely difficult.



For something a little different from the cuisines you might normally default to, Zaytoon and their Lebanese food will certainly become one that you’ll want to add to this list. Many of the ingredients are sourced from local, fresh sources, and the restaurant aims to make their dishes as healthy as possible for a delicious but beneficial meal. Order an entreé of mixed shawarma or lemon chicken, or perhaps the fattoush if you prefer something lighter but equally as worth the bill — the rich spices and flavors will stay with you for a long time after you leave.


Arigato Sushi

1225 State St., Santa Barbara 


You are likely to find your new favorite sushi order at Arigato Sushi, and it’s also likely that no matter who’s in your party, everyone will find something they love. Their menu is extensive and inclusive, including a la carte dishes that are specified as coming hot or cold, sushi of all varieties and even many vegetarian sushi options, soups, salads and more. There is also a bar and outdoor seating.


Satellite SB

Recognized as a wine shop and farm to table restaurant, Satellite SB’s menu will introduce you to fresh and unique flavors — it is also entirely vegetarian, and some options are even vegan. Ingredients are sourced locally and also reflect the seasonality of a traditional farmer’s market, so menu items can be subject to small changes throughout the year. Try their gigante beans confit, grilled cheese sandwich or even their vegan street tacos. Order a drink from their vast wine and drink shop to pair with your food — they have everything from beer, sake and soft drinks to kombucha, mead and cider.


Olio e Limone Ristorante

Standing for “Oil and Lemon” in Italian, this restaurant will give you a taste of an authentic and equally Italian meal and as you eat, you’ll also be wrapped in its charming atmosphere. On the menu itself are of course a multitude of pasta-based dishes, such as pumpkin or duck ravioli, as well as other like roasted chicken or a warm seafood salad. Plan to bring friends and family with you too, and reserve their private or group dining areas if needed. Finish your night off with their panna cotta or tiramisú, and leave already planning when you can come back.

East Side


La Super-Rica Taqueria

As a restaurant approved and endorsed by famed chef and television personality Julia Child, this Mexican food gem is almost always busy, but entirely worth the wait. Each dish is abundantly flavorful and will transport you into the culture and the meals themselves — such as tacos, tamales and quesadillas — are just as good as each individual component. Not to mention, the price point averaging to about $4 per dish can’t be beaten, so you can order as much as you’d like guilt-free. There is no website, but you can learn more on their Facebook page.



Toma Restaurant and Bar

Set right on the water to give you the ultimate dining experience, Toma Restaurant and Bar will serve you food just as appealing as its views. The menu is Italian-inspired and complete with an array of ravioli, pasta, salads and more, including some gluten free options upon request. Toma has also focused on perfecting its wine pairings and curating a list that will only enhance their menu. And you won’t want to miss out on dessert either — complete your meal with their citrus olive oil cake, or perhaps the sorbet trio. Either way, you’ll leave wanting to come back.


Convivo Restaurant and Bar

Convivo is located in the Santa Barbara Inn, making it a great option for those that are interested in maximizing their dining experience and seeing as much of Santa Barbara as possible. The food itself is considered “Nomad Italian,” and you’ll get to start with delicious appetizers and end with plenty of flatbread options, pastas and a variety of other main course dishes. The menu is also relatively inclusive — gluten-free, vegetarian and even vegan dishes are offered. 


Brophy Bros

If you’re a seafood enthusiast, Brophy Bros. will be perfect for you. They serve mostly seafood-forward dishes, as soups, pastas and as is too, so you can customize your meal to your preferences while staying true to the restaurant’s specialty. Unique to many restaurants, Brophy Bros. also divides their appetizers by what comes hot and what comes cold, so you can start your meal off on the perfect foot according to how you feel. For dinner, try ordering their New England clam chowder or their seafood pasta, or peruse their menu some more to find another equally delicious dish that you’ll like even more.



Craving seafood but want something a bit more elevated? A sushi restaurant might be in order, and Oku will not disappoint. Dining perks even include a waterfront view and rooftop bar, but of course the food will be reason enough to keep you coming back — the menu includes a variety of traditional sushi, as well as some other dishes like filet mignon and lamb rack. All of the food used is sourced fresh and sustainably, and there is also a selection of dishes available for vegetarian and gluten-free guests.


Finney's Crafthouse

35 State St., Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara is one of nine locations that’s lucky enough to be home to a Finney’s Crafthouse, and if you’re in town, you won’t want to miss out on the chance to taste their food. The cuisine leans more towards traditional American, complete with a large menu including hot wings and burgers. Not sure what to pick? Look for the red stars next to some of the dishes — this indicates a tried and true Finney’s favorite. Each location features a consistently lively atmosphere with a rustic yet modern appeal, and this alone will keep you thinking about the restaurant long after you leave.

In & Near The Funk Zone


The Lark

Coming to Santa Barbara means it’s necessary to at least consider visiting the Funk Zone, which is also where The Lark is located. The Lark’s menu is locally sourced and even inspired by local culture and geography as well, so you can simultaneously enjoy a delicious meal and get to know the city more intimately. Dishes are also split based on the environment they stem from — a ranch, farm or the ocean — so you can easily find something to match your preferences. Seafood lovers might opt for the low country shrimp boil, while others will gravitate towards the wild arugula salad. Whoever you might be, make sure to add The Lark to your list of Santa Barbara musts. 



202 State St., Santa Barbara


As a way to honor Santa Barbara and Spain’s shared Mediterranean climate and appeal, Loquita serves authentic Spanish cuisine. Choose from the many available tapas, and don’t be afraid to pick multiple to share with your table if too many of them look appealing; their paellas will also make for great sharing dishes. And don’t forget to order yourself one of their gin and tonics, a staple in Spain — with the restaurant’s authentic atmosphere, you’ll forget that you’re not actually in Spain.



Gala SB features European cuisines, with no particular emphasis on one in particular, but rather just on their individual dish favorites. From oyster mushroom risotto to a wagyu smashburger, your dining experience will not be one you regret, and don’t forget to complement it with one of their house made cocktails, either. You also have the choice to opt for sitting on their outdoor patio, which provides heaters during colder weather. But no matter where you choose to sit, rest assured that the inviting and cozy atmosphere will not be a letdown.

More Local Favorites in Palm Springs

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Meet our always-hungry team of foodies who compiled this list.
Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite

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