Next Up

The Best Restaurants in Santa Barbara

Come to Santa Barbara for the beach, and stay for the food. You have a lot of great eating to do.

1 / 13
Photo: Jakob N. Layman

The Monarch

The Montecito Inn’s more casual spot on property — also by restaurant power couple Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee — is The Monarch. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant and bar was built around a wood-burning hearth, and focuses on local ingredients, like caramelized spiny lobster served whole, straight from the brick oven. Dinner entrees are served family-style, so that everyone at the table can enjoy the red wine and mustard seasoned short rib roasted over almond wood, or Hope Ranch mussels stewed with white wine butter, herbs de Provence, orange, and shallots.

More photos after this Ad

2 / 13

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

Perched by the Pacific, Santa Barbara has great seafood. Located at the end of the Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara Shellfish Company is as fresh and simple as it gets, with just a handful of seats inside and out. Its small size means it fills up quickly, leaving an overflow of hungry patrons waiting outside. Cut the wait by ordering your seafood lunch or dinner from the walk-up window, and eat on one of the pier’s benches or picnic tables with the coastal breeze in your hair. Classic seafood dishes are perennially popular here, like oysters, clam chowder and lobster rolls. When it’s available, the local, internationally renowned Santa Barbara sea urchin, served on fresh scallops with a slice of lime, is the best item on the menu.

More photos after this Ad

3 / 13

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

Scooping sensational ice cream since 1949, this third-generation family-run ice cream shop is beloved by Santa Barbarans for flavors like Eureka lemon with marionberry, double peanut butter chip and year-round peppermint stick. Stop into the scoop shop on State Street for ice cream sandwiches made with cookies baked by full-time pastry chef Jordan Thomas, in flavors like sea salt-topped chocolate chunk, triple-ginger, and Vanilla Gooey Butter Cookies (a play on St. Louis-style gooey Butter Cake).

More photos after this Ad

4 / 13
Photo: Joe Schmelzer

The Silver Bough

Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee broke the fine dining mold when they opened The Silver Bough, a culinary marvel inside the recently renovated Montecito Inn. A dream 10 years in the making, The Silver Bough is whimsical and innovative, delicious and lavish. The couple kept everything good about fine dining (exquisite ingredients, world-class cooking) and cut out everything bad (slow pacing, condescending service) to create an unforgettable dining experience. The menu comprises delicacies from near and far, so you’ll find items like Santa Barbara sea urchin alongside olive-fed wagyu from Japan.

More photos after this Ad

Next Up

We Recommend