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Restaurants

Discover Santa Barbara’s Best Restaurants!

Santa Barbara Restaurants

When it comes to choosing a great place to eat in Santa Barbara, the choices seem endless.  Santa Barbara as a city has ranked among the highest restaurants per capita in the U.S.  With a background in Hotel and Restaurant Management, I am of the opinion that there is more to dining out than just good food.  For me, there are four factors that make up a great dining experience: good food, good service, good atmosphere and good price.  As a prime example, Lucky’s in Montecito is one of the priciest places to dine out in the area, but when it comes to the food and service, it is just very good – not the absolute best food or best service you will ever experience.   That, to me, is disappointing when you are spending that kind of money to dine out. On the flip side, the Palace Cafe is a restaurant that offers a fun and unique dining experience for half the price with great food, friendly service, and great entertainment at a fraction of the cost. The following local restaurants have what it takes to be ranked consistently among the best restaurants in Santa Barbara.

Opal: Located near the Arlington Theater on State Street near Victoria.  This is one of my favorite places to dine out.  The friendly service, quality food, varied menu and welcoming atmosphere always meet or exceed expectations.  The owner, Tina, worked with me years ago at the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel and is an expert on how to manage a great restaurant.

The Palace Café: Another consistent top performer.  The Palace Cafe offers Cajun food with a casual atmosphere typical of the New Orleans style restaurant.  The weekends are fun and offer a sing along song each night.  Friday nights offer one of the best card magicians you will ever see – up close and in person. Two items you have to order when you visit are the Cajun Popcorn appetizer (its not what you think) and the Bread Pudding desert (its better than what you think). Don’t forget to wash it down with a Cajun Martini and don’t plan on driving afterward.  www.opalrestaurantandbar.com

Ca Dario: Located on the corner of Victoria and Anacapa.  Considered by many to be one of the best Italian restaurants in town, this little bistro offers great food, great European atmosphere and a professional wait staff.  Being a small restaurant, you sit close to your neighbor’s table – so don’t think you are going to talk about private, personal issues!  The Chef uses local ingredients to create wonderfully fresh fare.   www.cadario.net

Brophy Brothers: Overlooking the Santa Barbara Harbor at the breakwater and ocean, this fresh seafood restaurant is one of the local favorites. Make sure you dine upstairs for the best atmosphere and the best views of the harbor and mountains.  They have two menus, the larger tourist menu (they will hand it to you) and the smaller table top menu located next to the salt and pepper. The locals use the small table top menu for the best priced and great food.  One of the best clam chowders, ceviche and fish ‘n’ chips in Santa Barbara. Don’t pass up an opportunity to dine here.  www.brophybros.com

Pascucci: For State Street dining, this restaurant has one of the best locations for sidewalk dining.  Reasonably priced with a pleasant atmosphere and above average food, it is a great restaurant for the budget conscious person   www.pascuccirestaurant.com

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