Arts & Letters Cafe
Arts & Letters Cafe

Arts & Letters Cafe

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.artsletterscafe.shutterfly.com/
  • Phone: 805-730-1463 x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Monday - Sunday: 11:00am - 2:30pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Californian
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Beer, Cafe, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Smoking Area, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Contact: Lisa Neustadt 8057301463 x
  • Special Events: Please contact Lisa Neustadt, at Lisan@sullivangoss for banquets information

Getting there

  • Cross Street: State Street
  • Parking: Public Lot
A word from Arts & Letters Cafe
The Arts & Letters Café serves classic bistro fare in a beautiful courtyard setting in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara.
Our chef uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare soups, salads and sandwiches in the California cuisine tradition. The Café is also pleased to offer a fine selection of California wines and a full bar.

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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Ambiance
  • Diners' Choice WinnerGreat for Brunch
  • Diners' Choice WinnerGreat for Lunch
Arts & Letters Cafe reviews from OpenTable diners
39 reviews since May 22, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.2
    Service4.4
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
90% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
great for outdoor dining (30)great for lunch (29)romantic (16)special occasion (13)great for brunch (12)neighborhood gem (11)fit for foodies (10)good for groups (4)kid-friendly (3)scenic view (3)notable wine list (3)late-night find (1)Show More
  • Raving about the setting
    Sherman
    Dined on 2/13/2014
    The four of us couldn't get over how the setting made us focus in on how beautiful a day it was. The ambiance, the plantings, the food, combined to help us realize how fortunate we are to be alive.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Attractive lunch location
    sageandluke
    Dined on 2/8/2014
    This was my third visit to this charming restaurant inside a gallery. The attraction is the fountain/garden setting and the menu based on an organic, locally-sourced, and humane ethic. On a day that threatened rain we were able to enjoy the garden because of the high retractible canopy and the cozy heaters. Our well-presented meals also displayed attention to delicious flavor melding. Lunch at Arts and Letters is a many-layered experience.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, scenic view, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pleasant and tasty lunch
    Michael
    Dined on 1/19/2014
    Nice quaint patio dining.... The reviews don't lie
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Favorite Lunch Spot
    Sylvia
    Dined on 1/18/2014
    Arts and Letters Cafe has been my favorite lunch spot in SB for years! The garden ambience with the fountain creates a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. The food is excellent - dependable quality. Wine is well matched to their menu. Service is consistently professional and friendly. If it's raining (if it would only rain!), the indoor space is cozy, quiet and hung with stunning art from the gallery. Wouldn't change a thing!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice intimate restaurant
    mickey
    Dined on 1/17/2014
    Food is good, prices reasonable...server seemed a little brusque. Been here many times and find that food is consistently good.jo
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful afternoon lunch
    MitchVIP
    Dined on 1/12/2014
    beautiful courtyard setting with an art gallery...excellent service. Pasta was perfectly prepared and presented. My pastrami sandwich was delicious and very tender. Nice local wine list..a special place To celebrate our wedding anniversary.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • My steak frites was actually
    EnjoyEatingVIP
    Dined on 1/4/2014
    My steak frites was actually a little disappointing, though my wife and our guest seemed to enjoy their meals. I didn't care for the sauce that accompanied the pieces of meat. However, the frites were outstanding … perfect! and our server was especially nice.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Spot for Lunch
    sfnative
    Dined on 12/14/2013
    This is a real gem; quiet, outdoor ambiance, excellent food (they do only lunch, seven days), a wide variety of choices. Recommended without reservation.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely for lunch
    Joannie
    Dined on 10/23/2013
    Had a wonderful business lunch - my favorite place for this sort of thing. We had a nice quiet table in the corner and the service was excellent. I did think, however, that the curry chicken (both salad and sandwich, we had both) which I have always enjoyed, contained far too much curry powder, to the point of being tastefully unpleasant.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • With Friends
    CBuf
    Dined on 10/22/2013
    Glad we made reservations as courtyard was pretty full. Great crab salad and fig dessert. Good service and beautiful, serene courtyard.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful Lunch,
    DarstcoachVIP
    Dined on 10/20/2013
    The location is charming, the food excellent and the service was spot on!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Upon entering the restaurant
    Gwin
    Dined on 10/5/2013
    Upon entering the restaurant we walked through a small art gallery and entered the indoor courtyard where we were seated by the central fountain. My dining companion, who is vegetarian, was able to order her BLT with avocado instead of bacon. My Bahn mi, soup and salad combo was both flavorful and just the right size. Our waitress, Sybil, was most helpful, suggesting items on the menu. Overall we had a very pleasant experience and will definitely return when we visit Santa Barbara again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Hidden Gem
    SBDinnerClub
    Dined on 9/28/2013
    Such an amazing place to sit down for lunch, with a really really awesome menu. It is my new go to place for lunch for sure. Oh and prices are good as well.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, kid-friendly, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely lunch
    NancyG
    Dined on 9/13/2013
    Loved the 'OpenTable' reminders leading up to the lunch. Arts & Letters has great food a sweet environment and terrific service. In my 'OpenTable' reservation I had asked for a table in a corner or quite area because this was a business meeting. Unfortunately they gave us a table in the middle of the patio in the harsh sun. Two people in the party had already arrived so I didn't want to change the table - but it was a challenging situation. The food and service were great though.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • good food - mediocre service.
    Blackfoot
    Dined on 8/20/2013
    Although the ambiance is lovely and the food is quite good, every time I go to Arts & Letters the service is WAAAAAY too slow. If you go during your work day and need to get in and get out within an hour, forget about this restaurant!
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Meh
    SB63VIP
    Dined on 8/20/2013
    Really slow service. Food a disappointment compared to dinner when they were still open in the evenings. Too bad--it was a lovely spot for dinner a couple of years ago. Probably won't be back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Quite Lovely
    SandyinSB
    Dined on 8/18/2013
    Our book club meets once a month for lunch at various restaurants around town. Not only did Arts & Letters Café offer fabulous food, they also split the check. Who is that accommodating these days? The food is beautifully presented and reminds me of the unique restaurants I find in San Francisco. The portion sizes are not going to please a football linebacker, but are perfect for real people. The patio offer romantic ambiance. Every time I eat at Arts & Letters, I wonder why I don't eat there more often. It's terrific.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A favorite lunch place in
    Kelele
    Dined on 8/7/2013
    A favorite lunch place in Santa Barbara -- pretty indoor atrium filled with flowering plants...good salads and sandwiches, plentiful plates...have always had excellent service. And fun to browse the art gallery entrance into the restaurant, as well.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful Atmosphere
    BETTYPIANOVIP
    Dined on 7/17/2013
    I really enjoyed lunch at the Arts & Letters Café: the food was excellent, the service was professional, and the most pleasant atmosphere of the outdoor setting was a delightful experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The Arts & Letters Cafe is
    Ross
    Dined on 6/24/2013
    The Arts & Letters Cafe is consistently excellent in both food and service. One can always count on them for a pleasant dining experience. We especially like the creative menu and quality food to go with it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Santa Barbara at its best...
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 6/17/2013
    My favorite spot with its sheltered outside patio boasting plenty of shade for comfort. The pumpkin soup and half a sandwich is perfect. Passing through the art gallery on the way to lunch is an added temptation. Andrew Wyeth paintings and drawings are a feast to the eyes though too expensive for actual purchase.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful Lunch
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 5/14/2013
    I recently hosted a group of eight seniors at the Arts & Letters. It was ideal, both food and atmosphere. The sunshine was good, but there was shade. The food was excellent. Several guests expressed a desire to return.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mother's Day Lunch
    foodiefun
    Dined on 5/12/2013
    The courtyard setting of this restaurant was perfect for lunch on a warm afternoon. I had the salmon salad which was delicious. The salmon was grilled perfectly and the dressing amount was just right. The menu said it came with haricot verte but on my salad these were missing. My daugher got a burger which she asked for medium rare but actually came quite rare. She ended up picking it apart a bit because of that but didn't want me to send it back. I got my 1st glass of chardonnay pretty quickly however had to remind our server 2 times after I asked for a 2nd glass to have with my food. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves mostly because it was a lovely afternoon and the setting was beautiful.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, romantic, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Distinclively Different
    Husky59
    Dined on 5/2/2013
    The food is prepared with style. While largely local ingredients the touch in preparation makes a huge difference. The soups are great ( the house pumpkin is worth adding). Either before or after lunch spend some time in the galleries which have excellent offerings. We love it all.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Has enjoyed your restaurant
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 4/22/2013
    Has enjoyed your restaurant in the past few weeks as I had a delicious Kale salad for lunch in your nice, picturesque setting, however the coupon was a disappointment. While the accompanying salad was good, the salami sandwich was not what I was expecting from your establishment which usually has health-conscious food. Lots of mayonaise and a chunk of salami was not a welcome suprise. I'll stick to the Kale salad and not trust a coupon special. The wait person was very nice at first, but I got the impression that they may have gotten busy as they passed us by a number of times, our ice tea and water were empty and finally I had to ask for a refill. Pleasant, but something was a bit amiss.
    Special Features:
    scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We love this restaurant. Everything
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 4/7/2013
    We love this restaurant. Everything interesting and delicious. Wonderful comfortable daytime setting. On your way out, enjoy the outstanding art gallery.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Has always been a favorite
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 3/15/2013
    Has always been a favorite "special" occasion place...however I was disappointed this time in the quality of the food and its presentation.The ambiance remains very special and the service is great.Would not be inclined to go again.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Had a very nice experience.
    YumYum
    Dined on 2/2/2013
    Had a very nice experience. The wait staff was personable and efficient. Would like to see a couple of gluten free options other than having a salad. Will be back but will have to bring my own bread if I want to order a sandwich (wouldn't be hard for you to keep gluten free bread frozen and pull it out as needed)
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • It's my favorite lunch place
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 1/30/2013
    It's my favorite lunch place in Santa Barbara. It's a lovely patio and the food is wonderful.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great location on the same
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 1/27/2013
    Great location on the same block as the Granada Theater, and across the street from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Easy parking. /
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • ALC lunch
    HikerValVIP
    Dined on 1/26/2013
    Really enjoyed this first time visit to the cafe. Arrived at opening time for an early lunch prior to going to a SBIFF film event. Loved the tranquil courtyard setting, with the center fountain and surrounding small tables, each decorated with a vase of flowers. My friend ordered the half sandwich/cup of soup/small salad entree and said the pork belly sandwich was delicious and the pumpkin soup tasty. I enjoyed the salmon salad which was prepared similarly to a Niçoise salad. Look forward to sampling more of the menu on a return visit!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, romantic, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Carmel Foodie Very Impressed!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 1/25/2013
    The food was fabulous - everyone raved. I loved the pumpkin soup - very unique. The table allowed us privacy and great conversation. I'm from Carmel and used to very fine dining. I was very impressed by your cafe and will visit again. Even the rain was a plus to the experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Always outstanding service.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 1/2/2013
    Always outstanding service. Pleasant even on cold, blustery days because they do have indoor dining, but at its best on sunny days. Even if it's a bit cool, they turn on the heaters and your can sit in the winter sun in comfort.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We had a delightful time at
    Travelbug
    Dined on 12/26/2012
    We had a delightful time at the Arts and Letters Cafe. The food and service were superb. We enjoyed viewing the art on display in the gallery and in the dining area. Parking in the nearby garage was free for the first 75 minutes. We plan to meet there again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • The food was a little disappointing
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 12/14/2012
    The food was a little disappointing the day we were there...I have been there before and know that it is usually outstanding.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • This is a lovely restaurant!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 11/21/2012
    This is a lovely restaurant! The food is great~the ambiance is perfect~serene and relaxing. A wonderful place to have a conversation with a lunch companion. I actually forgot that I was in a public place, and felt more like I was sitting with a friend on a patio or veranda. What I truly loved was how well the staff balanced knowing when to leave us alone and when to attend to us. My wild salmon salad was fresh, tasty, and interesting. The soups are stunning! I'll be back, for sure!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • We loved our lunch at the
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 11/13/2012
    We loved our lunch at the Arts & Letters. It was a special lunch with a friend whom I had not seen for two years. We had excellent service and the food was first class. The quiet patio ambiance made it just perfect for that important lunch. Thank you, I'll be back with other friends!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • The beautiful patio setting
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 10/19/2012
    The beautiful patio setting with musical sounds of the fountains was very relaxing. The pumpkin soup was reliably wonderful. Next time I will try the beet salad that my friend had. It looked delicious. I can't comment on wine - didn't have any. But the iced tea and cappuccino were fine, and the round chocolate dessert was outstanding.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion, scenic view, great for lunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Lovely courtyard setting.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/18/2012
    Lovely courtyard setting. Nice menu selections. Great service. Good local wine selections. I will go back next time I'm in Santa Barbara.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A Hidden Jewel
    IEatSantaBarbara
    Dined on 9/6/2012
    I always enjoy myself at Arts & Letters; the menu changes seasonally, the offerings are creative and fresh and the atrium setting is a world apart. Just lovely!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate