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The 7 Best Dinner Spots in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has an incredible selection of dining options for every budget and every craving. We’ve selected some favorites to give you ideas for pairing your accessible and delicious meal with your next tour!

You’ll notice this is our longest list in comparison to our 4 Best Breakfast Places to Eat in Santa Barbara & our Favorite Quick Lunch Locations in Santa Barbara. We believe dinnertime is all about community and coming together around the table to share incredible stories of adventure. 

The Lark

Things we love about The Lark: atmosphere, artisan and seasonal ingredients, and that their flavored popcorn changes nightly. The Lark is awesome for an on-the-go-salad or an upscale night out. The Lark is a popular spot & it’s in the always popping Funk Zone, so reserve in advance on Open Table.

This is one of our favorite places to drop-off after a day exploring in the Santa Ynez Valley on a Wine Tour.

Finney’s

One of the hottest new spots in town! You can almost see the harbor from Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen on State Street. A brick-lined gastro-pub with a copper bar featuring unique eats, local beer on tap, and craft cocktails that brings upscale cooking to casual dining. This place is almost always full so be ready to hang at the bar before grabbing some grub (we recommend their burgers & salads). No sweat if you are vegetarian or vegan; this is one of the limited spots in Santa Barbara where you can find the Impossible Burger. Finney’s is also a perfect location for joining our popular sunset kayak tour before or after dinner.

 

Santo Mezcal

Just a couple doors down from Finney’s, Santo Mezcal is a classy Mexican establishment with contemporary cuisine with local and seasonal ingredients. They have an impressive tequila and mezcal collection as well. You can’t go wrong with the State Street facing atmosphere here—it’s perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or a great place to spend all evening. Their chips come with a trio of salsas and don’t twice, get the guacamole as well. 

Shalhoob

Premium, custom cut meats and poultry and family recipes make Shalhoob Meat Co. an ideal spot for meat-lovers. Check out their new Funk Zone Patio for a great, hip, non-stop night out.

Any of the above dinner spots are perfect for then cruising over to the Santa Barbara harbor/marina for a Sunset Kayak Paddle!

Barbareno

A hidden gem in Santa Barbara, yet not so hidden since it’s right near downtown, Barbareño is a stylish American eatery serving California-inspired food, an extensive wine list, and house-made desserts. Every dish served at Barbareno pays homage to Santa Barbara’s history. Don’t miss their appetizer that is a spin on Egg McMuffins (founded in SB) or their take on Animal Style fries. The name Barbareno also pays tribute to the Chumash Indians. If you’re interested in learning more about Chumash culture & history we recommend visiting the Channel Islands National Park, where the Chumash once inhabited the islands. If you’re looking for adventure consider a sea cave kayak tour at Santa Cruz Island with the Channel Islands Adventure Company

Mesa Verde

A vegan, vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free restaurant on the Santa Barbara Mesa, Mesa Verde features primarily locally harvested ingredients and gluten free entrees.  A unique blend of a variety of Mediterranean dishes, you’ll find flavors of Morocco, Egypt, South of France, and Sicily. Blow your taste buds away with this Earth-friendly restaurant.

Depending on what time you eat at Mesa Verde, head to the Mesa Lane steps for beach access to catch sunset. It’s less than 5 minutes from Mesa Verde. If you’re looking to spend a full-time at the beach we recommend Refugio State Beach, 20 minutes North of Santa Barbara. If you’re looking for an adventure check out our Refugio State Beach kayak tour which meets daily at 10am.

 

The Blue Owl

Night owl or not, The Blue Owl in downtown Santa Barbara has some delicious food for late-night. The Blue Owl serves Asian-inspired dishes, sandwiches on house made breads (think: Banh Mi), and seasonal salads. Or stop by for beer or wine. Gluten-free and vegan options available as well. It’s perfect for refueling after a nice of dancing at Wildcats lounge. If you’re a night-owl and not too interested in early morning tours make sure to check out our 1pm Fun Paddle in the Santa Barbara Harbor. It’s perfect for those who aren’t keen on early morning starts. At $55/person it’s a great budget-friendly option for a guided on-the-water tour of Santa Barbara.

 

We hope you enjoy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara. Have you eaten dinner in Santa Barbara? What is your favorite restaurant? Leave us a comment below!

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