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Secret Bao, Santa Barbara, CA

Secret Bao

4.8
4.8
168 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

May 2022
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7:00 PM


Booked 30 times today

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–8:00 pm Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–9:00 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

Menu

BAOS

  • K.F.C.$5.50

    Korean Fried Chicken, Dragon Sauce, Japanese Coleslaw

    • Mushroom$4.75

      Tempura Maitake Mushroom, Scallion Ginger, Sunomono Cucumbers

      • Shrimp$6.50

        Fried Shrimp, Sweet Chili Sauce, Sesame Slaw, Chili Threads

        • Pork Belly$5.75

          Heritage Pork Belly, Daeji Glaze, Kimchi, Pineapple

          • Grilled Cheese$3.95

            Tilamook Cheddar Deliciousness

            • PB & J$2.95

              Peanut Butter Jelly Time

              • Secret Bao

                Changes Weekly

                • Mp

              Not BAOS

              • Seoul Bowl$15.25

                Pork Belly, Kimchi, Shiitake Mushrooms, Spinach, Tofu, Calrose Rice

                • Bulgogi Cheesesteak Bing$14.75

                  Beef Bulgogi, Caramelized Onions, Bing Bread, Cheddar Cheese, Umami Mayo, Scallions

                  • Japchae$12.75

                    Sweet Potato Glass Noodles, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sweet Soy, Onion, Spinach, Sesame Seeds

                    • Secret Salad$11.85

                      Little Gem Lettuce, Yuzu Pickled Roasted Beets, Candied Walnuts, CaraCara Oranges, Roasted Sesame Vinaigrette

                      • Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice$13.25

                        Applewood Smoked Bacon, Farm Eggs, Pea Shoots, Jasmine Rice, Momo Sauce, Furikake, Fried Onions

                        • Miso Black Cod Donburi$18.75

                          Baby Bok Choy, Togarashi, Calrose Rice, Pickled Ginger

                          • Kungpao Cauliflower$11.00

                            Roasted Cauliflower, Sugar Snap Peas, Japanese Dried Chilies, Cashews, Cilantro, Kungpao Sauce

                            Last updated: February 1, 2022

                            What 168 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
                            • 4.7Service
                            • 4.5Ambience
                            • 4.6Value

                            NoiseModerate

                            Loved For

                            • California Central Coast

                              Best Value

                            • Santa Barbara

                              Best Overall

                            • Santa Barbara

                              Best Food

                            • Santa Barbara

                              Best Service

                            • Santa Barbara

                              Best Value

                            • Santa Barbara

                              Fit for Foodies

                            Sort by

                            Filters

                            1. 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.

                            2. SB

                              SantaBarbaraNative

                              Central Coast

                              9 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              9 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.

                            3. 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!

                            4. 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.

                            5. o

                              ojaicutie

                              Los Angeles

                              29 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              29 reviews

                              Dined on April 30, 2022

                              overall5food4service5ambience4

                              Tasty, eclectic food, with lovely welcoming service. A bargain for downtown Santa Barbara

                            6. J

                              Jean

                              Central Coast

                              13 reviews

                              3.0

                              13 reviews

                              Dined on April 29, 2022

                              overall3food4service4ambience4

                              18% as the lowest suggested tip on the bill? Get real! Food tasty, interesting, unusual. Good for a couple of times a year. Reasonably nice ambiance.

                            7. SJ

                              StJames

                              Central Coast

                              1 review

                              4.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 28, 2022

                              overall4food5service4ambience4

                              Food was amazing, aside from Califlower dish, the we ended up canceling after waiting over 20 minutes. Cocktails are expensive, and not as good as the food. Servers were all very nice, and well trained.

                            8. P

                              Pewter

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 28, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Bright, friendly, fast, delicious. Udon Carbonara was such a comfort dish, I'd eat it every other day. The passion fruit cheesecake goes to a whole nother level.

                            9. M

                              Meme

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 28, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Food was fantastic , dining area was great.Service amazing.

                            10. DH

                              DanaH

                              San Francisco

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 24, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              We loved the chili noodles and kung pao cauliflower!

                            11. FA

                              FroggyAuggie

                              Central Coast

                              3 reviews

                              5.0

                              3 reviews

                              Dined on April 17, 2022

                              overall5food5service4ambience4

                              I am always wary of restaurants looking to “revolutionize dining in Santa Barbara” . . . In this case, pedigreed chefs really did open a place serving the food that everyone (or at least me) wants to eat. Salty, sweet, spicy, bright, crispy, soft. Crispy rice cakes with bolegnese was a standout. Yes, get the KFC and octopus bao buns. Service was very friendly and we had everything we needed. Wine list is concise and correct. Order a bottle or two of white. Take some agency on the pacing of your multiple menu items. Drink more water than you think you need.

                            12. D

                              Daedal29

                              Palm Springs

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 16, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              SB best for sure! KFC and Pork Belly Bao is a must each time. I like to try their new items. Can’t go wrong with Udon Carbonara!

                            13. EB

                              EricB

                              Central Coast

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 16, 2022

                              overall5food5service4ambience5

                              This is one of those restaurants where you can return multiple times and have a different but equally as satisfying experience. In fact you wan to return to try more food. Bring your friends, portions are all a little on the too big for one person size - or sometimes even a little bit much for two people. And since variety should, be your guide, I would say groups of three are a perfect baseline and plan to share.

                            14. MF

                              MikeF

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 10, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              This place is unbelievable! I am 100% coming back here! Pork belly bao is a must!

                            15. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Denver

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 10, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Best baos, and food in general, that I’ve had in a long time. We had some sort of mochi pudding cake thing for dessert and it was life changing. So simple and so delicious. It was a fantastic meal and I’m already looking forward to our next one there.

                            16. L

                              Luv2dine

                              Central Coast

                              4 reviews

                              5.0

                              4 reviews

                              Dined on April 9, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience4

                              Secret Bao was absolutely incredible! We’re so lucky to have this gem of a restaurant in our beautiful community, can’t wait to go back!

                            17. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Portland

                              6 reviews

                              vip
                              3.0

                              6 reviews

                              Dined on April 9, 2022

                              overall3food3service3ambience3

                              Food was a bit on the salty side. Staff seems friendly but inexperienced. It was okay.

                            18. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Seattle

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 9, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Amazing as always!!

                            19. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Central Coast

                              4 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              4 reviews

                              Dined on April 8, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Always outstanding- love this place!

                            20. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Los Angeles

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 4, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Overall great experience. It was delicious and the service was great!

                            21. N

                              Nancy

                              Los Angeles

                              1 review

                              4.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 4, 2022

                              overall4food5service3ambience4

                              Food is great. One thing: they bring it all at once and they need to stage the food delivery when lots of plates are ordered to share.

                            22. S

                              Snowbird

                              New England

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on April 3, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience4

                              Baos are great, particularly the KFC one. We also had some excellent dumplings and a tasty short rib dish. Service was attentive and very pleasant. We ate outside and it was lovely.

                            23. s

                              sandymv

                              San Francisco

                              5 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              5 reviews

                              Dined on April 1, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience4

                              Really great!

                            24. ML

                              MarcL

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on March 31, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner experience last night. I joined with a friend and we dined outside, where there were plenty of heaters to keep us toasty. Our server made some suggestions on what to try but I'd been browsing the menu online and already had a good idea of what I'd be getting. The octopus bao was out of this world, perfectly cooked and served on a delightfully pillowy bun. The steak katsu sando featured filet, which offered the perfect bite as you made your way through buttery fresh baked bread. A wine to pair was enjoyed throughout the meal. And, here's a PSA: get the basque cheesecake for dessert. Beautiful texture, hands down the best cheesecake I've ever had. Each dish was clearly designed with intention. And the hospitality makes you feel like you're part of the family. Run, don't walk, to secret bao.

                            25. PF

                              ProFatKid

                              Las Vegas

                              1 review

                              4.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on March 28, 2022

                              overall4food4service3ambience3

                              Not bad for Santa Barbara. A mish mash of different Asian dishes. The die hards might balk, but an open mind will enjoy the udon carbonara, Spanish octopus bao and other fusion dishes.

                            26. OS

                              OldSchool

                              New York Area

                              36 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              36 reviews

                              Dined on March 27, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Brilliant Highly recommended

                            27. M

                              Maddy

                              Philadelphia

                              2 reviews

                              5.0

                              2 reviews

                              Dined on March 27, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              This was by far the best food experience anywhere in a long time- the shrimp and kfc baos, the chicken lumpia, the noodles with kfc, the spicy tuna on crispy rice, the loaded potato dumplings, the hamachi tartare.. everything from the unique yakult drink with popping boba down to the last delicious bite of the chocolate ganache pie was drool-worthy to the say the least. To top it off, the place is done up beautifully with art about Asian cities adorning the walls and a lovely heated patio with fairy lights. We left with a happy stomach and a full heart, already planning our next trip to Santa Barbara exclusively to eat here again. Highly recommended!

                            28. SK

                              ShellyK

                              Seattle

                              4 reviews

                              4.0

                              4 reviews

                              Dined on March 27, 2022

                              overall4food4service4ambience3

                              Fun! Inexperienced staff and casual design style. Dessert was delicious

                            29. D

                              Donna

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on March 25, 2022

                              overall5food4service5ambience4

                              Fun restaurant, good food and service. Not a fan of the cocktails, but wine was good. A bit loud, I think outside looks nice for next time.

                            30. EW

                              EmilyW

                              Los Angeles

                              13 reviews

                              5.0

                              13 reviews

                              Dined on March 20, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              This place is phenomenal! The butter squash dumplings super delicious. The Donut bao for desert super delicious.

                            31. GS

                              GariS

                              Central Coast

                              6 reviews

                              4.0

                              6 reviews

                              Dined on March 18, 2022

                              overall4food3service5ambience4

                              We dined at the restaurant a week before and it knocked our socks off! Fabulous. Last night, not so great. The wine ( we thought we ordered the same but didn't check the vintage) wasn't as mellow and there were some disappointments with the food. The chicken lumpia was overly crisp/too brown, overdone and greasy. Last week it was delicious. The KFC Bao was the hands down favorite both times; the chili noodles a little heavy handed. The desserts got rave reviews and are not to be missed. We shared the yummy Mexican Chocolate pie and the Sticky Date Cake. Exceptional. Finally, none (3) of us cared for the Spicy Tuna. When asked, we let the waitstaff know. They dropped the price of that item by 50%. Customer service overall was great!

                            32. C

                              Cliff

                              San Francisco

                              6 reviews

                              5.0

                              6 reviews

                              Dined on March 18, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Everything was great about this restaurant. Will return as soon as possible.

                            33. P

                              Pearl

                              San Francisco

                              6 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              6 reviews

                              Dined on March 17, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Fantastic flavors, creative food.

                            34. G

                              Goodwin89

                              San Francisco

                              4 reviews

                              5.0

                              4 reviews

                              Dined on March 12, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Fantastic evening at Secret Bao. Food was amazing and the service was great!

                            35. JA

                              JASMINEG

                              Central Coast

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on March 12, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              The food is just delicious and the service was fabulous! Highly recommend!

                            36. S

                              Sybil

                              Central Coast

                              8 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              8 reviews

                              Dined on March 10, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Delightful flavors & great service

                            37. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Washington DC

                              6 reviews

                              vip
                              5.0

                              6 reviews

                              Dined on March 2, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Our first time, it was awesome! The food were delicious and so many selections. I love the casual ambiance with great food here!

                            38. CS

                              ClareS

                              Los Angeles

                              6 reviews

                              5.0

                              6 reviews

                              Dined on February 27, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Inventive menu, quality ingredients, flavorful Asian fusion. Terrific service can’t wait to return

                            39. OT

                              OpenTable Diner

                              Richmond

                              2 reviews

                              5.0

                              2 reviews

                              Dined on February 26, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Offers Unique choices and fresh flavors We wanted to try everything… So we will be back! The date cake was better than our date!

                            40. L

                              Lucky

                              1 review

                              5.0

                              1 review

                              Dined on February 26, 2022

                              overall5food5service5ambience5

                              Friendly and welcoming. Good food. Looking forward to going back again.

                            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 168 OpenTable diners.

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

                            Make a reservation

                            2 people

                            May 2022
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                            7:00 PM


                            Booked 30 times today
                            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–8:00 pm Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–9:00 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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