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51 reviews
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$30 and under
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Top Tags:
  • Fit for Foodies (67)
  • Hot Spot (34)
  • Great for Outdoor Dining (31)

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Nuance (previously the Blue Tavern) is a restaurant in Santa Barbara. This is a cocktail bar and restaurant that serves modern American cuisine. The vibe is fun and lively, making it a great place to stop by for a fun time after work or on the weekend. Mixologists at the Nuance bar handcraft cocktails and make a unique drink list for patrons to enjoy.

Many guests choose to order a variety of small appetizer dishes from Nuance's menu to go along with drinks. There are many delicious choices for small plates, such as the wood-fired focaccia bread, forest mushroom toast and the fried oysters. Some popular entrées include the English pea risotto, Mary's organic roasted chicken and the steak frites.

Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Californian, Organic, Gastro Pub
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Hours of operation
Sunday - Thursday: 5:00PM - 10:00PM

Friday & Saturday: 5:00PM - 11:00PM

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Phone number
(805) 845-0989
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Courtney Ladin
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Cross street
Cabrillo Blvd
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 51 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.0  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
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vipSBGuy (Central Coast)
4.0  Dined on January 10, 2016

We dined there this past Sunday, and it turns out it must have been their last night. Tough location, especially right now with all the construction.

vipWCinHP (Chicago)
5.0  Dined on January 1, 2016

Our dinner was fun (great staff); unique (eclectic dishes); and delicious (flavors and preparation superb).

The Wood Fired Focaccia is a must it will spoil your concept of bread for the table.

The Corn and Crab Risotto each item robust in flavor and when combined enhanced each ingredient to its next level.

Mary’s Organic Roasted Chicken you have to try this; a description will never do the dinner justice…its perfect.

The San Ysidro Cocktail the best twist on a Manhattan I have tried.

The Old Fashion not on the cocktail menu but recommended by our server. If you are familiar with the idiom "Up to eleven” coined in the movie This Is Spinal Tap – well this is an Old Fashion turned "Up to eleven.” Cheers, bottoms up, down the hatch, here’s mud in your eye homage to the mixologist of Nuance.

Courtney and staff – Bravo!

OpenTable Diner (Central Coast)
4.0  Dined on December 31, 2015

Excellent food but very noisy. Ate outside, cold but OK. Noise level probably especially high due Near Years but really would have been difficult inside. Service fine and have already recommended to others. Food wonderful!

vipRobyne (Minneapolis)
4.0  Dined on December 23, 2015

Kudos to Chef Charlotte for Nuance! Her easy going style of creating beautiful food was wonderful. Slight touches of spices never overwhelmed her wonderful Loup de Mer - just enhanced it! Party of five for dinner, each with different tastes... But managed to please everyone. Great staff, excellent ambience and decor - especially the large painted image of Pola Negri! A great evening.

vipNormallylikemostplaces (New York Area)
5.0  Dined on December 19, 2015

Loved every dish! A group of five of us shared lots of appetizers and side dishes and mains and EVERYTHING was great. How often can you say that?! Plus, the service was terrific and the setting is lovely . New favorite place!

vipRobEgenolf (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on December 7, 2015

An extraordinary experience. The mixologist never disappoints, the food is always great, the service very enjoyable and efficient and the overall experience wonderful. One of our favorite spots in Santa Barbara

vipSBGuy (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on December 3, 2015

Finally, someone gets it right in this location. There were so many great-sounding items on the menu it was hard to choose. The tomato puree/soup with pesto was outstanding, as was the wood fired focaccia bread. My wife enjoyed her beet salad with burrata. My perfectly-seared red snapper was harmonious with its eggplant caponata. They have complimentary filtered still or sparkling water; always welcome. The only very minor snag was a bus person who tried to grab our focaccia bread off the table without asking whether we were done with it (we weren't).

This restaurant quickly made our "best of Santa Barbara" list and we will be back. Often.

viplocal (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on November 27, 2015

Honestly, these bar drinks (cocktails and anything you want them to make) couldn't be better. They use small batch artisan alcohol (hard liquor) obscure producers, it is so exciting to try something new with such a high quality alcohol. Creativity is wonderful and this artsy bartender embraced it. Since I tired Nuance few weeks ago , we just kept coming back. Best drinks in town, and food is amazing, but don't skip deserts ...some serious surprises hide in there, too!

OpenTable Diner (Los Angeles)
4.0  Dined on November 21, 2015

Menu here is fantastic and each dish I've had is creatively but deliciously prepared. Reminds me of some of the trendier spots you'd find in LA or SF. Service is solid and it's never hard to get a table, they also have some nice seating along the bar.

vipLeslie (Central Coast)
3.0  Dined on November 14, 2015

The food is great at Nuance. Service is also very good. Be prepared to yell at your table mates to be heard above the noise - or eat early with the quieter (and older) crowd.

anonymous (Central Coast)
2.0  Dined on November 9, 2015

Service was a nightmare. Steer clear of the gnocchi, even though the server will tell you it's "the best gnocchi I've ever had". Server was not knowledgeable about the menu. Rest of the food was pretty good. To give a taste of the poor service, the appetizers were delivered at exactly the same time as the entrees. Truly horrible service. Also, they won't serve burgers to diners at tables; they will only serve to bar seated patrons.

Gail (Central Coast)
4.0  Dined on November 7, 2015

Overall, excellent food and service, however, the noise level from the customers was almost painful! The occasional train going by was fun but the acoustics in the room really need to be addressed.

BuddyMai (Las Vegas)
4.0  Dined on November 6, 2015

We love the ambiance, the service, the food. Especially the focaccia bread, the rack of lamb...The location is a little far on State though, and the train noise a little bit difficult for conversation.

vip3Cheers4GoodFood (Los Angeles)
5.0  Dined on October 31, 2015

Everything was delicious. The lamb shanks were outstanding! We were told the dish was new to the menu, so hopefully it will stick around. Friendly waitstaff made the evening run smoothly. Will definitely visit again when we're in the area.

EverHopefulSantaBarbara (Central Coast)
1.0  Dined on October 26, 2015

We had dined there once, and were on the fence about returning. But friends indicated they had enjoyed several times since. Also, Westways, the AAA magazine, recently profiled the restaurant. Our experience the other night was, however, most disappointing. The restaurant did not seem that crowded (about 25% full, considering inside and outside dining). But the wait staff were hurried, and disinterested. The hostess refilled our water, but confused sparkling with flat. She did see her mistake and corrected it, but the task of remembering did not seem that complicated, particularly when the restaurant was not that busy. It took a long time to order drinks and to receive them. The time to order food after receiving drinks was also long. The food was also disappointing. We recalled that the focaccia was outstanding, but this time it was doughy, and served to the table with no knife to cut pieces and no butter, olive oil, etc. The dishes were not good either. The soft boiled egg on the mushroom toast tasted "old". I won't belabor, but would definitely not recommend this restaurant. The prices are high, and nothing about the experience made me feel it was worth it----except for the company at my table, which came at no extra cost.

OpenTable Diner (Minneapolis)
5.0  Dined on October 17, 2015

Great appetizers especially the octopus and hamachi. The cocktails were outstanding.

khakidog (Los Angeles)
4.0  Dined on October 17, 2015

Nuance, located at the Indigo Hotel, provides a great addition to a restaurant poor neighborhood of lower State Street. The food selections were fresh and seasonal and preparation was simple but tasty. While I would not say this was a foodie's restaurant, I found the food satisfying and the service and ambience very good.

viphwjunkie (Los Angeles)
5.0  Dined on October 10, 2015

Everything from the service to the food is top notch! We ordered the Grilled Octopus Appetizer which was really good and the chilled watermelon gazpacho which was great on a hot day. For the entrees we had the Crab and Corn Rissoto and the Steak Frites, both were delicious. We can't wait to go back again.

Nuance (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on October 6, 2015

Had dinner here for the first time and everything we ate was delicious. The servers were all very attentive without being intrusive. The beignets were outstanding! We will likely come back just for the beignets and a glass of wine when we want a dessert date night out. It's a bit pricey, but worth what you pay.

vipOpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on October 2, 2015

Fabulous experience eating here, the food was very exciting, kept simple but beautiful flavours! Absolutely loved the cocktails here too - world class. We sat outside on the front patio and watched the evening stream by, we'd love to come back next time we're in town.

Oliver (Los Angeles)
5.0  Dined on September 5, 2015

We have had dinner at Nuance 4 times now and love the vibe, the food and the energy. Our waiter this last time was good but not outstanding. The service staff overall was attentive. The food presentation is great and the ambiance is casual and hip!

Lilly (Central Coast)
4.0  Dined on August 28, 2015

We loved this restaurant. It was our first visit and the staff was friendly and had good recommendations. We loved everything from the hamachi appetizer to our entrees to dessert. Everything was fresh and really delicious. We live in the neighborhood and are happy to see something with a pleasant atmosphere and great food fill the space.

Mmmg (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on August 23, 2015

This was my second time at Nuance. It was superb. Food is consistent and interesting. Dessert
is great .. I can go on and on. It is all great and I am a picky eater with high expectations!

PickySBEater (Central Coast)
4.0  Dined on August 21, 2015

We all loved our dinner. From the delicious and creative cocktails, to the fantastic grilled octopus and Hamachi, through to the heirloom salads and finally the really, really delicious Snapper, chicken and pork chop's we enjoyed. Every one of us thought the preparation and the taste was fantastic. The only real downside is the noise level in the small room. It gets very loud. Maybe they can hang some acoustic tiles or something, as it was really hard to hear your tablemates during the busy hour.

It seems that fine dining in SB has reached a new price point. The specials were in the mid $30's, the salads in the mid teens and the apps from $15-20. Pushing a dinner for four with drinks in the $350+ range. Expensive but the food was worth it as we all left full, happy and ready to do it again. Service was good, not 4 star level but good. We'll be back.

vipOpenTable Diner (Hawaii)
5.0  Dined on August 20, 2015

Wonderful restaurant, the food was terrific.
Walked there from my hotel on Castillo.
Definitely a must eat at restaurant.

vipUnderTheRadar (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on August 19, 2015

We had never been to this restaurant before. Upon entering, it was very lively indoors. We opted to sit outside which was very nice for conversation. It is close to the train tracks, but only 2 trains went by during the beginning of our meal.
The staff was very pleasant, service-oriented, and good with instructions. Several people came by to check on us at various intervals.
There were some unique offerings on the menu so it was nice to get outside of the dishes we typically order and go for something a bit different. The food was fresh and well-prepared, with a flavorful and appropriate amount of seasoning.
Definitely recommend.

vipView (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on July 25, 2015

Had a wonderful dinner, great service and a perfect table outside.
Must try the mushroom toast, so good and the steak, fries with bernise sauce. Bartender was great at making up drinks for me.

vipHappyDiner (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on July 24, 2015

We stopped by after a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl because this was one of the only decent late night spots we could find and we were very pleasantly surprised. The food was quite delicious with an amazing strawberry and heirloom tomato salad, yummy hamachi, grilled octopus, and the steak fritters (great french fries!). The staff was very attentive and professional and while it is an open kitchen and the bar runs half the length of the restaurant, it was charming and trendy. A nice addition to the Santa Barbara palate.

vipOpenTable Diner (Los Angeles)
5.0  Dined on July 22, 2015

Food was dee-licious as were the cocktails. Wait staff made great recommendations.

OpenTable Diner (Miami)
5.0  Dined on July 8, 2015

Talented young chef. Food and service were perfect. Wonderfully creative cocktail list