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Secret Bao, Santa Barbara, CA

Secret Bao

4.8
4.8
204 Reviews
$31 to $50
Asian
Modern Asian American Restaurant from Chefs Peter Lee & Felicia Medina.

"Consider the bao. Chinese in origin, it’s most easily described as a steamed bun filled with something savory. Yet, like the American concept of a sandwich, the bao exploded into a flexible format of untold bounds — served at any meal, filled with you-name-it, completely closed or wide open, with endless regional variants from across Asia and far beyond." - Matt Kettmann (SB Independent)








1 Block From State Street, Easy Parking, Public Lot Nearby, Free 75 Minute Parking, Walking Distance, El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District, Superior Court, Spanish Colonial Revival Courthouse, Santa Barbara Museum Of Art, Courthouse Gardens, Bell Tower, Bao, Food, Restaurant, Asian, American, New, Modern, Fried, Chicken, Octopus, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paelo, Friendly, Dog Friendly, Outdoor Patio, Heaters, Warm, Inviting, Hospitable, Modern Design

Make a reservation

2 people

7:00 PM


Booked 25 times today

Order delivery or takeout

Other options

  • Order online

Dining areas

Additional information

  • Dining style

    Casual Dining

  • Cuisines

    Asian, Tapas / Small Plates

  • Hours of operation

    Lunch Wed–Sun 11:30 am–2:30 pm Dinner Wed, Thu, Sun 5:00 pm–9:00 pm Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–9:30 pm

  • Phone number

    (805) 259-3226

  • Payment options

    AMEX, Contactless Payment, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

  • Dress code

    Casual Dress

  • Owned/operated by

    Asian and Pacific Islander, Latinx or Hispanic, Women

  • Executive chef

    Peter Lee & Felicia Medina

  • Neighborhood

    Santa Barbara

  • Cross street

    Anapamu

  • Parking details

    Free 90 Minute Lot Next Door

  • Additional

    Beer, Gender Neutral Restroom, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Popular dishes

What 204 people are saying

Overall ratings and reviews

Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant

4.8
4.8 based on recent ratings
  • 4.8Food
  • 4.6Service
  • 4.6Ambience
  • 4.5Value

NoiseModerate

Loved For

  • California Central Coast

    Fit for Foodies

  • California Central Coast

    Hot Spot

  • Santa Barbara

    Best Overall

  • Santa Barbara

    Best Food

  • Santa Barbara

    Best Value

  • Santa Barbara

    Fit for Foodies

  • Santa Barbara

    Hot Spot

  • Santa Barbara

    Neighborhood Gem

Sort by

Filters

  1. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Dallas

    105 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    105 reviews

    Dined today

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    We loved secret bao. The food was fantastic ! I had the hamachi collar and my husband had the duck fired rice ! We started with the soft shell crab bao and gyosa . Every thing was delicious. Our server was delightful .
  2. RR

    RobynR

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined 3 days ago

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We love this place. It has become a restaurant that we look forward to eating at when we’re in Santa Barbara. The staff is friendly and inviting and knowledgeable and the food is absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to come back!
  3. a

    abrahamyule

    Central Coast

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 1, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Good food, nice environment, and quality service. Highly recommended.
  4. HM

    HectorM

    Los Angeles

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 30, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Very professional and friendly staff. Food was amazing and the prices are great.
  5. a

    ashleyp

    Las Vegas

    19 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    19 reviews

    Dined on July 30, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great service and the duck confit fried rice is the bomb!!
  6. G

    Gourmetgirl

    San Francisco

    9 reviews

    5.0

    9 reviews

    Dined on July 29, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We loved it! The food was exceptional and we’re already planning to return. We definitely recommend making a reservation because this place gets BUSY!!
  7. PC

    PhillyCream

    Los Angeles

    14 reviews

    5.0

    14 reviews

    Dined on July 29, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    What we had tasted awesome. We ordered the KFC Bao, Brussel Sprouts and the Crab Noodles. The were amazing.
  8. AP

    AlexP

    Central Coast

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 25, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    This will become an SB favorite for you. The menu is dynamic and exciting, you won't be disappointed.
  9. SE

    SarahE

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 23, 2022

    overall4food5service3ambience4
    food delivered quickly but took very long to get check
  10. l

    luvgreatfood

    Central Coast

    4 reviews

    5.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on July 23, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Secret Bao never disappoints. Inventive seasonal menu and friendly helpful staff.
  11. EB

    ElliBTru

    Austria

    15 reviews

    4.0

    15 reviews

    Dined on July 21, 2022

    overall4food3service5ambience4
    Dishes were hit and miss in flavor profile- a little overboard in the fusion attempt with some. Overall, a great adventure.
  12. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    San Francisco

    1 review

    vip
    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 11, 2022

    overall3food3service4ambience4
    Everything was very salty
  13. s

    sandymv

    San Francisco

    5 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on July 11, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Love this restaurant! The food is superb and the server we had (and have had before) is excellent!
  14. C

    Cliff

    San Francisco

    6 reviews

    5.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on July 9, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Their hamachi shoulder is super excellent! But, it is often in short supply so order in advance, if possible.
  15. AC

    AlanC

    Los Angeles

    22 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    22 reviews

    Dined on July 8, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience3
    Great service! The food was tasty
  16. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Central Coast

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on July 8, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Food came out super fast and was delicious. Our server was super friendly and warm. Only complaint is that the food was a little expensive for the size/proportion.
  17. AH

    AustinH

    Central Coast

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 4, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Love this place more than any other place.
  18. CW

    CharlieWeddle

    Central Coast

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 2, 2022

    overall4food5service4ambience5
    great food and friendly service. Not to fancy or expensive.
  19. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Los Angeles

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 1, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Excellent food and service
  20. e

    eatsoutalot

    Central Coast

    11 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on July 1, 2022

    overall4food5service4ambience3
    First rate and innovative Asian cuisine. In a town filled with relatively boring (and hardly any edible Asian) food, Secret Bao shines. Very casual but good service at night, mostly self-service at lunch.
  21. t

    tomandtol

    Central Coast

    6 reviews

    5.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on June 27, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    This is one of our very very favorite restaurants in SB. We love the casual atmosphere and the creativity of the food. We have been there many times and it never disappoints.
  22. LM

    LaurieM

    Louisville

    19 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    19 reviews

    Dined on June 25, 2022

    overall5food5service4ambience5
    Food was fabulous. Waitress was a little off but not in a way that we wouldn’t come back. Just not super helpful in ordering.
  23. WF

    WestsideFoodie

    Los Angeles

    26 reviews

    vip
    3.0

    26 reviews

    Dined on June 24, 2022

    overall3food5service3ambience4
    While I wasn’t happy that I had to wait 30 minutes for our reservation, it wasn’t tragic. The hostess did her best to communicate with us, and offered us some Champagne which we declined. We eventually sat down after they literally put the entire staff onto turning the table like a pit stop. I actually appreciated that. After we ordered our food, they showed up with an appetizer on the house. It was a nice gesture but I didn’t love the fact that they waited until after we ordered and they secured the check size. I get the business angle on that but the goodwill gesture loses most of its meaning and kind of goes the other way. The food was fantastic and served at a nice pace. But somewhere along the way my wife points out that the last dish we ordered was never going to arrive. I thought she was a little premature. When they started clearing our dishes the person clearing was sharper than the average bear (our server had not been by in quite some time) and asked if we were waiting on more food. I told her “I’m not sure.” She was clearly clever and read that signal and must have found the server and raised the concern. Soon the server came over to tell us “sorry, we are working on your noodles now.” I asked her point blank, “did they forget?” Her answer was a half truth - “they’re working on it.” Really, don’t lie. Just tell the truth: “The kitchen failed to do their job and lost the order- would you still like it?” At that point after the long wait for the table and the long wait to not get the last dish, I was done and just told them to kill it. This is a good restaurant with generally good and well intentioned people. But I hope the feedback helps them learn how to really recover from a service failure. It was still a nice Birthday dinner but I probably wont trust them for future celebrations or time compressed meals.
  24. V

    Victorianchick

    Central Coast

    5 reviews

    5.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on June 19, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Secret Bao lives up to the height. Burrata peach tomato appetizer OFF the hook. Minty savory Indian sauce with papadum incredible. The potato dumplings are transcendent. Just incredible. But TERRIBLE Cab (thankful they let me try): Tooth and Nail horrible. Also that syrah. Get the STORM Sauvignon. My new favorite Sauv.
  25. A

    Annie

    Baltimore

    38 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    38 reviews

    Dined on June 18, 2022

    overall5food4service5ambience5
    Great selection of food with excellent advice from our server.
  26. RF

    RebeccaF

    San Francisco

    4 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on June 16, 2022

    overall5food5service4ambience5
    Secret Bao is my new favorite spot in Santa Barbara. Pricing is fairly reasonable and the taste is amazing. Have loved everything I’ve ordered here. Servers are super friendly and polite. I’ve been three times and it’s been consistently great, can’t recommend enough. One thing: not a ton of vegan options.
  27. CS

    CarolSB

    Los Angeles

    14 reviews

    4.0

    14 reviews

    Dined on June 13, 2022

    overall4food5service4ambience3
    The food was excellent. Service was decent.
  28. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Central Coast

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on June 12, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We had a wonderful experience. The food was great, fresh and quality ingredients. Our server was wonderful and attentive. The parking garage is right next door which makes such a difference downtown. The place was packed at 6:00, so reservations were a must! We are already looking forward to our next visit!
  29. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Central Coast

    1 review

    vip
    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on June 9, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Excellent food. Great flavors. Highly recommend. Staff was great.
  30. K

    Keegan

    Central Coast

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on June 5, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Date night
  31. ES

    EdwardS

    New Orleans

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on June 4, 2022

    overall5food5service4ambience4
    This place is awesome and doesn't suffer in comparison to more famous places in LA and New York working in the modern Asian idiom. Really delicious inventive food, especially the buns, udon, bolognese, galbi, and crudos. The dessert were also awesome, especially the bing soo and butter mochi. Highly recommend.
  32. C

    Chloe

    San Diego

    5 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on May 30, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    The food was amazing and our waitress was sooo accommodating and kind!
  33. s

    sygyzy

    Central Coast

    7 reviews

    4.0

    7 reviews

    Dined on May 30, 2022

    overall4food4service4ambience3
    Food and service was excellent as always but we found hairs in two of our dishes. This is not a big deal but quite unsanitary. I understand mistakes happen but maybe it's time for better inspection at the pass or hairnets?
  34. FP

    FlowerPower

    Central Coast

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on May 27, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We ate at Secret Bao on recommendation from friends. It was delicious! Our server was very attentive, enthusiastic, and compassionate about answering all our questions on ingredients and preparation. We will be happy to go again.
  35. K

    K7539

    Denver

    8 reviews

    5.0

    8 reviews

    Dined on May 22, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Everything was wonderful. Drinks were excellent. Food delish!
  36. EM

    EMMAW

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on May 12, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Such a great experience. The space is beautiful and the food was incredible. The waiters were extremely nice and attentive. Would highly recommend.
  37. SB

    SantaBarbaraNative

    Central Coast

    11 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on May 9, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great casual dining spot. Fun atmosphere and the food is delicious, with many dishes that are great for sharing. Highly recommended.
  38. L

    Lola

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on May 7, 2022

    overall4food5service4ambience5
    The food is amazing and comes out quickly. The only negative is that they are always out of something we want to order, but the food and service is so great we keep coming back!
  39. BF

    BudFood

    Los Angeles

    22 reviews

    5.0

    22 reviews

    Dined on May 7, 2022

    overall5food5service4ambience3
    Nice vibe. Excellent food. Ok service. Beer and wine only.
  40. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Central Coast

    15 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    15 reviews

    Dined on May 6, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Flavors are outstanding! One of our favorite places in SB.

Safety precautions

  • Cleaning & sanitizing

    • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
    • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
    • Common areas deep-cleaned daily
  • Screening

    • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace

FAQs

You can order delivery directly from Secret Bao using the Order Online button. Secret Bao also offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (805) 259-3226.

Secret Bao is rated 4.8 stars by 204 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable.

Make a reservation

2 people

7:00 PM


Booked 25 times today

Order delivery or takeout

Other options

  • Order online
Google Map for Secret Bao

1201 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2009

Dining areas

Additional information

  • Cross street

    Anapamu

  • Neighborhood

    Santa Barbara

  • Hours of operation

    Lunch Wed–Sun 11:30 am–2:30 pm Dinner Wed, Thu, Sun 5:00 pm–9:00 pm Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–9:30 pm

  • Cuisines

    Asian, Tapas / Small Plates

  • Dining style

    Casual Dining

  • Dress code

    Casual Dress

  • Parking details

    Free 90 Minute Lot Next Door

  • Payment options

    AMEX, Contactless Payment, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

  • Owned/operated by

    Asian and Pacific Islander, Latinx or Hispanic, Women

  • Executive chef

    Peter Lee & Felicia Medina

  • Additional

    Beer, Gender Neutral Restroom, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine

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