SB Dining – Where to eat in Santa Barbara

olio e limone santa barbara

There’s no shortage of tasty places to explore in Santa Barbara and nearby communities. Sometimes, the toughest part is deciding where to eat three times a day. For that reason, foodies will love this list we’ve put together of our favorite restaurant locales (plus maps), giving you an insight on where to eat in Santa Barbara. These local Santa Barbara favorites are restaurants you won’t want to miss and are loved by both tourists and locals alike.

Restaurants: Our local Santa Barbara favorites


Consistently rated as Santa Barbara’s #1 restaurant, Toma is a popular dining spot for both locals and visitors. Enjoy handcrafted cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. Located on Cabrillo Blvd., it’s just a short walk if you’re staying near West Beach.  (map)

Brophy Brother’s

Indulge in fresh seafood with views of the harbor and mountain. Locations are in Santa Barbara and Ventura, both offering a lively atmosphere and a relaxed setting. (map)

Joe’s Café

Joe’s Café is a unique place, in that it transforms from neighborhood café to lively bar as the evening progresses. Go here to soak up a happy hour and lots of energy. Enjoy great food and stiff cocktails – Joe’s has been serving guests since 1928.  (map)

The Boathouse

the boathouse hendry's beach

Get ready for a treat! The Boathouse serves up a variety of tasty dishes against the backdrop of an even more spectacular view. Right at Hendry’s Beach, this is an ideal spot to watch the sunset and enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail during happy hour. (map)

Palace Grill

Passers by might be drawn in by the sounds of jazz music and a lively vibe, but the authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine will make you want to stick around for dinner. Visitors and locals are both fans of this spot, and it’s been featured in a variety of publications, including “Gourmet” and “Sunset” magazines, and the “Los Angeles Times.” (map)

Santo Mezcal

santo mezcal santa barbara

This Mexican restaurant places an emphasis on seafood to serve a modern, contemporary Mexican cuisine. They also have a large selection of tequilas with trained mixologists. (map)


Savor the flavors of Spain at this Waterfront district spot. Enjoy hot or cold tapas, wood-fired seafood, grilled meats, and of course, paella. Don’t forget to order Sangria, made from locally sourced produce. (map)

Olio e Limone

Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining, pizza or happy hour and snacks, you’re in the right place. The restaurant offers fine Italian dining, while Olio Pizzeria next door, is a great casual concept pizza and wine bar. There is also Olio Crudo Bar, open from 5 p.m. daily. (map)


Sambo's Santa Barbara

This original Santa Barbara favorite has been serving hungry guests since 1957 and is an extremely popular breakfast spot.     It is a family owned spot with a long history in Santa Barbara. (map)

On the Alley

Wonderfully casual and right on the Santa Barbara Harbor, On the Alley is an ideal location to grab a quick bite for breakfast, lunch, or just a snack and then take a stroll on the harbor to admire the boats. (map)


This very popular sushi restaurant is located right on State Street. Get there early, as they don’t take reservations and there is sometimes a line outside the door. The menu is comprehensive and offers plenty to choose from, for those seeking options other than sushi or sashimi. (map)

The Lark

We describe The Lark as “Funk Zone fabulous.” This family style serving restaurant is  located in the historic Santa Barbara Fish Market building in the heart of the SB’s art district. With a nod to history, The Lark, is named for “the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced Santa Barbara from 1910 -1968.” (map)

Mesa Burger

mesa burger santa barbara

Mesa Burger is a casual dining experience offering gourmet burgers. It is partially inspired by award-winning Iron Chef, Cat Cora, who is a local herself. It is the kind of place where you feel at home and where food is made and served with “heart and soul.” (map)

Restaurants: Our local Carpinteria favorites


This is Carpinteria’s classic Mexican restaurant that has been serving hungry locals and tourists since 1965. Go here for truly authentic Mexican cuisine and tasty margaritas. (map)

Giannfranco’s Trattoria

Giannfranco’s Trattoria is a traditional Italian restaurant with indoor and patio seating and is also a great spot for large groups to dine together. Chef Giovanni happily prepares Italian food with Sicilian and Tuscan influences. (map)


crushcakes carpinteria

Cupcake fanatics will have to pay a visit to any of these three locations. Located in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta, Crushcakes café offers fresh-baked goods, coffee, desserts, and tasty breakfasts and sandwiches. (map)

The Worker Bee Café

This is a local favorite in the spirit of a traditional diner, offering up hearty breakfasts, burgers, corned beef hash and more, served fresh. They also offer beer, wine, kombucha, classic milkshakes and floats. Come hungry, leave full.  (map)

The Spot

the spot hamburger stand carpinteria

This is “the spot” to go for burgers. The Spot in Carpinteria has been serving real American hamburgers to hungry locals and visitors for 50 years and they do not disappoint. Compliment your order with a thick shake or chili cheese fries. This old-school, classic burger stand is the perfect place to grab a bite after a swim or surf, as it’s just steps away from the beach. (map)

Sushi Teri

Sushi Teri has multiple locations across the Central Coast. They offer quality sushi, wine and beer at affordable prices and have been doing so for 15 years. They also pride themselves on using locally grown avocados that are famous to the region. (map)

The Palms

This historic 1912 bar and grill beckons steak lovers far and wide. This legendary steak house offers a fun and unique “cook-your own meat” experience.  (map)

Island Brewing Company

island brewing company carpinteria

Craft beer lovers will not want to miss a visit to this award-winning microbrewery. Sample an assortment of ales, seasonal releases and barrel-aged offerings in a tasting room with a view of the ocean and Channel Islands. Keep in mind, there is food offered. (map)