A Day in Santa Barbara: Where to Eat and Drink

By | July 21, 2015
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santa barbara harbor
The picturesque Santa Barbara Harbor is also a working commercial fishing harbor, supplying the area with fresh, local seafood. Photo Jay Sinclair.

Getting to know the Santa Barbara food culture means sampling the area’s diverse produce, abundant seafood and artisan food products. You’ll find chefs shopping for freshly picked fruits and vegetables at the many farmers markets, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample their creations. Seek out the farm to table eateries that dot the Santa Barbara County landscape from the picturesque city by the ocean to the rolling hills of the north county.

Edible Feast has teamed up with Expedia to offer a West Coast food and drink tour with stops in Seattle, Portland, Marin & Wine Country, San Francisco, Monterey Bay, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Reno Tahoe. Here are a few of Edible Santa Barbara's must-visit picks if you have a day to spend.

Tour Santa Barbara in photos.

cest cheese bakery grilled cheese
At C’est Cheese Bakery and Café, the Breakfast Grilled Cheese is served with a poached egg on top

C'est Cheese Bakery and Café Start the morning by having breakfast or coffee at C’est Cheese Bakery and Café (825 Santa Barbara St.) in the downtown Santa Barbara Presidio Neighborhood. The locals’ favorite cheese and gourmet shop has expanded into a café with a full line of house made bakery items along with breakfast and lunch entrees, featuring really great cheese and charcuterie. Or grab a coffee and their signature Kouign-Amann pastry. Allow time to browse the shelves of the adjoining cheese shop for local treats to take home. 

Another Breakfast Option: For a breakfast or full scale brunch complete with Bloody Marys, go to Scarlett Begonia (11 W Victoria St. #10) tucked away in the charming Victoria Court. 

kotuku elixer santa barbara
Try one of the frothy elixirs or a tonic cocktail at Kotuku Elixir Bar. Photo Rosminah Brown

Kotuku Elixir Bar After breakfast take a stroll through the Presidio Neighborhood with its quaint shops, museums and some of the best examples of architecture in town. Right around the corner from C’est Cheese, you’ll find Kotuku Elixir Bar (25 E De La Guerra St.). Owner Olly Lithgow brings a touch of healing herbalism to a menu of teas, elixirs, juices and local, organic foods. 


farmers market santa barbara
One of seven farmers markets held weekly, the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market is held on Saturdays at the corner of Santa Barbara and Cota Street from 8:30am to 1pm. Photo: Steven Brown

The French Press Also nearby is The French Press (528 Anacapa St.) where locals go for freshly roasted coffee beans, espresso drinks and people watching. On Saturdays the biggest farmers market of the week is right across the street from their Anacapa street patio. Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market


mesa verde santa barbara
You won’t miss the meat at MESAVERDE, which has become known for its innovative Mediterranean plant-based cuisine.

MESAVERDE For lunch, get off the beaten track by heading over to MESAVERDE (1919 Cliff Dr.) located between the city and the ocean in an unassuming location between a convenience store and a gas station. But inside and out it is stylish rustic modern. The dishes here are all plant-based (no meat) with a Mediterranean influence and an innovative quality you won’t find anywhere else in town. The salads are a work of art and there are always seasonal specials worth ordering. Try their house made kombucha or a local beer on tap. 

Another Lunch Option: If it’s local seafood you are craving, go to The Hungry Cat (1134 Chapala St.) the David Lentz and Suzanne Goin eatery that is all about local seafood and especially known for their fish tacos and their raw bar. 

gelato at heres the scoop
The gelato case at Here’s the Scoop will transport you to Florence. But the ingredients are local, seasonal and creative—Lemon Lavender is a particular specialty.

Here's the Scoop After lunch take the drive along the coast. You could stop and linger along the harbor or the waterfront, but leave enough time to meander down Coast Village Road in Montecito where you can stop off for gelato at Here’s the Scoop (1187 Coast Village Rd.). This Italian style gelato is handcrafted using many local ingredients and is made in small batches by owners Bob and Ellie Patterson. The sorbets are bursting with flavor and have a creamy consistency despite having no dairy. Sample a few flavors before settling on exactly what you want. 

Other Options: Gelato isn’t the only gourmet frozen treat in town. McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream (728 State St) is a Santa Barbara tradition. And Rori’s Artisanal Creamery makes small batches of ice cream using organic milk, located at the Santa Barbara Public Market at 38 West Victoria St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

sama sama santa barbara
Order a bunch of Sama Sama’s Indonesian influenced dishes and share, tapas style, along with their signature cocktail.

Sama Sama Dinner at Sama Sama (1208 State St.),You might be thinking Mexican food for dinner, but if you are willing to try something different, go to Sama Sama. It is in the lively yet sophisticated downtown Arts District, and features Indonesian food fused with local ingredients. They proudly mention the farms that they buy from, and they turn that produce into sublime dishes. Try anything on the menu that mentions pork or that has an egg on it. Everything changes seasonally and is based on availability. That goes for the cocktails, too. Ask what the special is or try the Blue-Ginger Margarita, which is a perennial favorite.


the good lion santa barbara
It’s as much fun to watch the cocktails being made as it is to drink them at The Good Lion. Pictured here is the Bramble On.

The Good Lion After dinner walk next door to The Good Lion (1212 State St.) your dedicated cocktail lounge and late night destination. Like Sama Sama, The Good Lion uses high quality, local ingredients to craft classic and innovative cocktails. Grab a seat at the bar so you can watch your drink being made by one of their skilled bartenders/mixologists.


Article from Edible Santa Barbara at http://ediblesantabarbara.ediblecommunities.com/expedia-santa-barbara-where-to-eat-drink
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