Brophy’s has achieved an unofficial local landmark status. Go here for a fun atmosphere, crowded room, wrap-around deck, great fish, fantastic clam chowder, friendly staff & great Harbor, ocean & mountains views. There is usually a long wait, but it is worth it. 119 Harbor Way, (805) 966-4418 . Full bar, lunch & dinner, very casual.
For over 25 years, Cajun Kitchen has been serving up Southern-inspired dishes like Jambalaya, grits and chicken hot sausage gumbo omelets that keep the locals coming back for more. With three locations; downtown at 901 Chapala Street and in Goleta at 6025 Calle Real and 6831 Hollister Avenue, you can enjoy real homestyle cooking no matter which location you choose. Keep in mind they only serve breakfast and lunch, and the atmosphere is very casual.
If you take a 15-minute drive up Highway 154, you’ll arrive at a former stagecoach stop that has been serving up delicious game, fish, and hearty entrees since 1886. This amazing old rustic outpost is staffed by friendly people, boasts great fireplaces, and good food. It’s a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Santa Barbara, so you can step back in time and soak up the lore of this historic tavern. It’s a popular spot for bikers on summer weekends, with live music, famous tri-tip sandwiches, and an extensive beer selection. You can find it at 5995 Stagecoach Road, and they offer lunch, dinner, and weekend breakfast menus. The full bar is located in the next door in an authentic log cabin. The dress code is casual, so come in your jeans.
This unassuming spot may not seem like much, but thanks to Julia Child’s recommendation, it became one of the most well-known Mexican cafes in California. The menu is anything but typical, but you can expect top-notch charbroiled meats and veggies, cheeses, and chorizos served with delicious, homemade corn tortillas. Be sure to check out the daily specials and be prepared to wait in line to order. The outdoor patio area is covered and always bustling. They serve lunch and dinner from 11-9:00 and are closed on Tuesdays. The atmosphere is very casual. You can find this gem at 622 North Milpas Street, (805) 963-4640.
If you’re looking for a fun dining experience with a stunning view in Santa Barbara, head upstairs to this spot above the famous Harbor Restaurant on the iconic Stearns Wharf. With a surf theme and music, they have a inside and patio dining areas that offer one of the best views in the city. As you munch on delicious food at reasonable prices, you can watch the boats god in and out of the Santa Barbara Harbor. They have a full bar and serve lunch and dinner from 11:00 to 9:00 in a casual setting. You can find them at 210 Stearns Wharf, (805) 963-3311.
This great, casual local hangout boasts a classic diner atmosphere and serves up delicious “real American food” at reasonable prices. With quick and friendly service, you’ll have a smile on your face as you enjoy your meal. And don’t miss out on the extensive breakfast menu, served every day until 3:00 pm! If you’re looking for me on most Sunday mornings, there’s a good chance you’ll find me here. They have a full bar and a small list of wines, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a very casual atmosphere. You’ll find this gem at 1972 Cliff Drive on the Santa Barbara Mesa, (805) 966-5303.
The Cafe’s interior is incredibly soothing, complemented by the friendly service and the delicious traditional Thai cuisine that’s both flavorful and fresh. The cooks aren’t shy about using spices, resulting in distinct and delectable flavors in every dish. They serve beer and wine and offer lunch 11-3:00 and dinner 5-9:00 in casual settings. They have two locations: 1819 Cliff Drive, (805) 882-9244 and 5664 Calle Real, (805) 681-0588.
Indulge in award-winning “traditional Mexican food” that’s served up in the coziest dining experience on my favorites list. This family-owned restaurant has been dishing out great Mexican cuisine since 1947 and has maintained its authenticity throughout the years. They offer beer and wine and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a very casual atmosphere. Closed on Mondays. Located at 1816 Cliff Drive on the Santa Barbara Mesa and rumored to be a favorite of the Beach Boys when they are in town, (805) 965-5513.
At this cafe, you can sit at tables right on the beach, wiggle your toes in the sand and soak up the sun. You can also find plenty of seating on the enclosed deck that overlooks Ledbetter Beach. The menu features delicious options like grilled fish, burgers, salads, and shellfish dishes, making it a perfect spot to enjoy a meal by the ocean. They offer a kid’s menu, full bar, and serve lunch, dinner, and weekend breakfast. So come on down and enjoy a beach casual atmosphere at 801 Shoreline Drive, (805) 568-0064.
Have a craving for delicious Mexican food, especially burritos? These small yet bustling Taquerias hit the spot. Located on Santa Barbara’s Westside and on the Mesa. They have been consistently voted for having the best burritos in town, and their single meals are generously sized enough to feed two people. They offer breakfast lunch and dinner burritos 6 am to 10 pm in a extremely casual atmosphere. You can find them at 626 W. Micheltorena Street, 2030 Cliff Drive, (805) 962-4028.
Nestled in the corner of a shopping and business center in Montecito’s Upper Village, this place is a favorite among well-heeled locals, with only a handful of visitors. You can expect consistently great Italian cuisine and wood-fired pizzas that are truly amazing! Take your time on the patio while sipping on a cappuccino and enjoying the stunning views of the Santa Ynez Mountains. They offer and extensive lunch and dinner menu, a nice wine list, and a business casual atmosphere. You can find them at 1483 E. Valley Road, (805) 565-9393.
If you venture to the back of a Montecito shopping complex, you’ll uncover one of Santa Barbara’s top sushi spots. Despite its unassuming appearance, this cafe offers an extensive menu of delicious Japanese food that makes the search worthwhile. You can find it at 1046-K Coast Village Road. They serve wine and beer, lunch is available Tuesday to Friday and dinner is served from Tuesday to Sunday. The atmosphere is casual, and prices are reasonable, averaging at the $$ level.