Best Places To Eat in Santa Barbara

With the abundance of high-quality restaurants in Santa Barbara this article was tough to write. But in the end I decided to go with not so much as unequivocal ‘Best’ but list those that I personally believe will give visitors a glimpse of what local Santa Barbara residents enjoy.

Best Breakfast Places

Cajun Kitchen

The Cajun Kitchen Cafe Omelete

The Cajun Kitchen Cafe Omelete

Price: $$
Location: 901 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Map, yelp review

Get there early before the line gets too long. A healthy selection of egg dishes with a touch of Cajun, delicious corn bread, golden hashbrown, and add to that a good atmosphere, and decent coffee makes this a local’s favorite.

Try their ‘blackened catfish’ along with their egg dish or the ‘jambalaya’.

Shoreline Beach Cafe

Shoreline Beach Cafe Santa Barbara

Shoreline Beach Cafe, Santa Barbara

Price: $$
Location: 801 Shoreline Drive, Santa Barbara, CA
Website

This place serves the best view you can get while chomping down on your omelets and pancakes. Try their ‘Shrimp Omelette’ ($11.25) or the ‘Chilaquiles’ ($11.95) – grilled tomato salsa served over fresh corn tortilla chips and scrambled eggs

Shoreline Beach Cafe is located on Shoreline Drive, in front of Santa Barbara community college.


Best Lunch Places

Freebirds

Freebirds burrito Isla Vista

Freebirds Burrito, Isla Vista

Price: $
Location: 879 Embarcadero Del Norte, Isla Vista, CA 93117
Map, yelp review

Even though their price is slowly but steadily increasing in the past few years, in our opinion Freebirds still offers good value. Gigantic burrito (order their ‘monster’ burrito) is packed with melted cheese, meat of your choice, guacamole, salsa, and pretty much anything that you want, really. This place is open 24/7 and is a big part of the UCSB students’ life. Where else would you go to get burrito craving after a late night studying?

Located in a busy corner in Isla Vista, it’s not quite in Santa Barbara, but for what arguably the best burrito money can buy it’s worth checking out.

The Natural Cafe

Natural Cafe Santa Barbara

Turkey Burger The Natural Cafe -- Your Hauness

Price: $
Location: 508 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA (805) 962-9494
Website
Map, Yelp reviews

Don’t let the name deters you. This place is not exclusive to only hippies and yuppies (we love hippies and yuppies). They offer a very good selection of sandwiches and soups using fresh ingredients. Their location on State Street is prime for people watching and the outdoor seating is a perfect location to enjoy a slow lunch with friends on a beautiful Santa Barbara weekend. And with it being Santa Barbara, most likely every weekend will be beautiful.

Try their chicken enchilada ($8.75), or my favorite, the vegetarian ‘Zog Dog’, tofu hot dog served on whole wheat bun topped with vegetarian chili, cheese and onions ($5.75).


Best Dinner Places

The Habit

Habit Burger Santa Barbara

Habit Burger Santa Barbara

Price: $
Location: 628 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (next to Urban Outfitter)
Map, yelp review

This South California burger chain originated in here in beloved Santa Barbara. Can’t get more original that!

Juicy burgers, onion rings, and rich milkshakes are the traditional fare. Albacore tuna sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich with guacamole is their spins on the beach vibe that the city embodies.

Grab a bite after a movie and before or in-between your pub crawl. Many of those who have left Santa Barbara make it a ‘habit’ to grab a burger or two whenever they visit the city.

The Palace Grill

Palace Grill Santa Barbara

Palace Grill Santa Barbara

Price: $$$
Location: 8 E Cota St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Website
Map, yelp review

This place is, in one word, awesome. I dare you to browse through their menu with dishes such as ‘Cajun Crawfish Popcorn’, ‘Seafood Gumbo’, and ‘Jambalaya Pasta’ and not slowly feel your mouth water.

Serving authentic Louisiana specialties in a unique way, we can’t recommend this place highly enough. Their atmosphere is fun, informal, and entertaining with the staff bursting into songs every now and then. You’ve been warned, the first time they did this, I almost fell off my chair because it was so unexpected.

They’re open for lunch and dinner and reservation is recommended (reservation is only available for lunch, Sun-Thurs dinners and for 5:30 seatings on weekend nights. First come-first serve during other times).

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