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
37 reviews since May 19, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.2
    Service4.3
  • Ambiance4.4
    Noise LevelModerate
90% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
great for outdoor dining (29)great for lunch (27)romantic (15)special occasion (12)great for brunch (11)neighborhood gem (10)fit for foodies (9)good for groups (3)scenic view (3)kid-friendly (2)notable wine list (2)late-night find (1)Show More
  • Lovely
    Iheartsbfood
    Dined on 9/3/2014
    It's not easy to find a quiet place. We could actually carry on a conversation! The food was excellent. Great ambiance.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely light lunch
    Love2lunch
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    daily soups, flatbread sandwiches , salads, and nice by the glass wine selections for the downtown SB visitor!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Delightful Experience
    KempVIP
    Dined on 8/24/2014
    My wife and I had a very delightful experience eating at Arts & Letters Cafe. The menu was simple but tastefully done. We had crabcakes which were some of the best I have had including many trips to the East Coast. We had the fried cauliflower for an appetizer which was spectacular! The service and ambiance were outstanding! The patio garden with the running water was very relaxing! We will definitely go back when we return to SB.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Beatrice
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    Have been to the A&L Cafe several times. Always enjoy the garden setting, the unhurried atmosphere and the food/menu is tasty, a variety of foods to select from. This is a place I like to take guests from outside of Santa Barbara.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • disappointed in what I ordered
    twister
    Dined on 8/8/2014
    I decided to change what I had for lunch (usually getting the salad with wild salmon, which I like a lot), and opted for the arugula salad with white shrimp. I found the shrimp too spicy, and the arugula uninteresting -- very disappointing.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Always Enjoyable
    KonaKoast
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    Arts & Letters is always enjoyable! The food, atmosphere, and service are tops. This is a great place for lunch whether it be casual or business related. A&L is always my first choice!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Superb Little Cafe
    WillMc
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    Arts & Letters is tucked into an art gallery on Anapamu St. and has a wonderful ambiance. The menu is not super expansive, but what is offered is delectable. The soups have always been wonderfully flavorful. We will be back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great dining
    barbara
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    excellent food atmosphere and service. A hidden gem.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Close to Art Museum
    thosX2VIP
    Dined on 7/22/2014
    If you are planning to visit the SANTA BARBARA ART MUSEUM this is a convenient and interesting place to go. Located just across the street it offers a good variety of menu items.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A wonderful dining experience!
    twister
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    I was having lunch with two female friends and we had wonderful service, but they allowed us to sit and chat as long as we wanted. Delicious food -- I had the salmon salad and my friends had turkey sandwiches. A lovely setting. We could have stayed all afternoon.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Tropical Retreat
    Glaesser
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    I have eaten at Arts & Letters for years and I have never a bad meal. The outdoor seating is perfect - love the greenery surrounding the tables. It gives off a very relaxing atmosphere, especially with the fountain! The menu allows for a wide variety of choices for every appetite- one of my favorites right now are the Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Port Belly Sandwich with the very ample and delicious salad. With a great glass of Sauvignon Blanc! I would recommend this restaurant highly to anyone!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • LaRoRo
    LaRoRo
    Dined on 7/7/2014
    We are four retired women who meet for lunch the first Monday of each month at a different restaurant in Santa Barbara. Arts & Letters is one that we would meet at again. Also, it is a lovely ambience for our out-of-town guests for a quintessential experience located in the heart of Santa Barbara.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Perfect Afternoon!
    Susan
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    Four of us from The Welsh Choir of CA (Los Angeles) came to Santa Barbara to take our Welsh teacher out for lunch. I checked Yelp and, based on great reviews, made the reservation through Open Table. Parking was easy and close, the gentleman who greeted us in the Gallery (pass through to the restaurant) was charming; immediately our server came to welcome us and show us to a table in a perfect spot... comfortable chairs, beautiful greenery, sunlight filtered through the translucent covering...and the menu was incredible! I can't remember the last time I had to choose between so many wonderful possibilities! Diolch yn fawr (many thanks) to the staff and chef for giving us an experience that was so relaxing, delicious, and elegant as well!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • fantastic lunch
    wimby
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    The food was some of the best in memory, and I will be going back soon.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    Nice outdoor patio for big group dining. Food was great. Waitress was very nice and pleasent. It was my daughter's graduation luncheson and we had such a wonderfull time.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Country atmosphere
    Mokummer
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    A delightful garden setting with excellent, unpretentious food. The staff is very friendly and attentive. One of a few restaurants where one can hold a quiet conversation. By far a favorite.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sorry
    PiacereVIP
    Dined on 6/6/2014
    Have enjoyed it here in the past but we both felt queezy after our lunch...
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Arts and Letters is very inviting!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/3/2014
    It has ambience............to be sure!! Because of an actual birthday............the server gave us a slice of peanut butter creme caramel with a candle! It was not only a tasty dessert..............but it please the woman with the birthday! Thank you for making Patty's birthday such a pleasure!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, late-night find, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely gem across from the museum
    FrequentDinerVIP
    Dined on 6/1/2014
    "Come here often?" Yes, I do -- but not often enough. This delightful and charming bistro-type restaurant has a varied and fresh menu, and the service is respectful and friendly. The al fresco dining in a well-sheltered courtyard is quiet, bright, and offers plenty of shade. I really enjoy the blend of flavors and seasonings that are always in place, and the portions are not overly large, so there is no temptation to leave feeling "stuffed." I've only been there on particularly nice days (abundant in Santa Barbara), and I've always arrived, dined, and (reluctantly) wandered away smiling and pleased.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 18 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 19, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.4
    • Food4.4
    • Ambiance4.4
    • Service4.4
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 152 reviews are from the Arts & Letters Cafe reviews archive.
  • Beautiful, but disappointing
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    We visited Arts and Letters for Mother's Day. Love the location...tucked away in an art gallery's courtyard area. Food was good. Nicely presented and fresh. The service was terrible. Sybille, our server was kind of annoyed to be at work that day, I think. She never once came to fill our water cups, ask how the meal was, or anything. She basically just took our order and that's it. It was busy being a holiday, but we felt forgotten and like we were a nuisance to her. We'd come back for the food and ambiance, but if we were placed in her section, we'd request someone else.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful
    Lolly
    Dined on 5/4/2014
    Excellent innovative, but not contrived, dishes, well prepared, soup serve hot. Service excellent. The art in the associated gallery was also exceptionally good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Perfect setting
    Liv2eat
    Dined on 5/3/2014
    The setting was absolutely lovely. Unfortunately the food was mediocre.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, romantic, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • better than the last two times
    twister
    Dined on 5/1/2014
    I used to love going to the A&L café, but the last two times I had gone there, the service was terrible, as if our table had been forgotten. But due to a friends' suggestion that we meet there the other day, I decided to give it another chance and it turned out to be fine. Better service, and still very good food.
    Special Features:
    Great for Outdoor Dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent restaurant
    Diner
    Dined on 4/27/2014
    Very creative menu & excellent service. All dishes I've had are top quality.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Great for Lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful Easter brunch
    LeftyStar
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    Our table was ready on time. Service was excellent throughout. Food was out of this world.
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great find
    gdrgdrVIP
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    Went there for Easter Brunch. Fun and different. Location is in an Art Gallery. Nice menu and great service. We'll be back.
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Fit For Foodies, Romantic, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Amazing French Fries
    JLLL
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    Seriously, you should try the fries. Other food very good as well.
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Kid-Friendly, Great for Outdoor Dining, Great for Lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Lovely Easter brunch
    SBJB
    Dined on 4/20/2014
    Arts and Letters is a hidden gem. I was looking for something different from the typical "all you can eat" Easter buffet extravaganza, which turns me off. We knew our guests, my 82 year-old mom and a cousin from CO, would be charmed by the elegant and quiet inner courtyard, with its lush palms and gurgling fountain. It was not overly crowded and our request for a table further in the back under the palms was cheerfully honored. The chef had wisely included a special of eggs benedict with smoked salmon and crabmeat, which the ladies all had. It was served promptly, hot, and the hollandaise was fresh and light. Topped off with mimosas and a perfectly spiced bloody mary, a great experience.
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Great for Outdoor Dining, Romantic, special occasion, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Neat ambiance, delicious food
    Mallory
    Dined on 4/11/2014
    The Arts & Letters Cafe is a small restaurant behind an art gallery. The restaurant itself is beautiful with skylights providing lots of sun and a fountain in the middle. The flat breads and sandwiches were delicious but I was a little disappointed by their signature pumpkin soup, which wasn't as rich or creamy as I had hoped. Our server was great and accommodating.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • high standards
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 4/11/2014
    A great spot for lunch. Food is always good here. The Bahn Mi (Vietnamese pork belly sandwich) is a burst of wonderful flavors. This is not a place to grab a quick bite. It is a place to enjoy your food and the atmosphere .
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Hidden Gem
    lnd94108
    Dined on 4/6/2014
    Located one-half block off of the main drag (State Street) downtown Santa Barbara. This hidden gem is a find. The setting of this garden café is the courtyard of a lovely art gallery. The limited menu features organic, locally sourced and grown products. The freshest greens and range free - antibiotic free meats and poultry. Delicious food in a quiet, lovely setting. We would return.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Spot for lunch
    KristieVIP
    Dined on 4/4/2014
    Such a great spot for lunch, love the outdoor seating!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A lovely spot for lunch
    catnet4
    Dined on 3/31/2014
    The setting in the enclosed courtyard with the sparkling fountain in the center can't be beat! the food was delicious; I had the soup of the day, a very good puree of vegetables with a plate of flatbread with goat cheese and olives. Just perfect! the service was gracious, and we entered and exited though an art gallery - what could be better!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, notable wine list, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pleased
    Sunnyr
    Dined on 3/29/2014
    Delicious lunch in a beautiful setting. Love the patio and fountain.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Artsy atmosphere.
    Edie
    Dined on 3/13/2014
    I've been to the cafe twice now and have been impressed with the food and the service both times. I would return there in a heartbeat.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for brunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent, with small exception
    marcia
    Dined on 3/9/2014
    There was no baked dessert (cake or pie) when we were at this restaurant when we were there. We like this kind of dessert.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Oasis in a Gallery
    BeachFoodieVIP
    Dined on 3/2/2014
    Arts & Letters is a lovely space in an art gallery. Our server was charming, prompt, and very helpful. The restaurant serve inventive dishes, all fresh and clean. My husband enjoyed the shrimp pasta and the pumpkin soup. The soup is delicious, not rich, with the flavors of pumpkin pie spice, but is not sweet like pie. I enjoyed the shrimp salad. A perfect way to end a weekend in Santa Barbara! We'll come back when it's not raining so that we can enjoy dining in the garden!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice ambience
    MTSMVIP
    Dined on 2/23/2014
    Food pretty good. Service somewhat confused the day my wife and I had lunch with another couple. Location great - in the heart of town. Parking rates not bad.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The most Romantic garden dining
    Cookie
    Dined on 2/14/2014
    The most Romantic garden dining with delectable food!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 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.