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Diners' Choice: Innovative restaurants in Santa Barbara

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OpenTable
Updated July 05, 2024

Looking for the best restaurants that are fit for foodies in Santa Barbara? You’re in the right place. Each month, OpenTable analyzes nearly 2 million global diner reviews from the past four months. We sort the results by location and category to help you discover new favorite restaurants. It's a great partnership: you reserve, eat, and review. We listen...and deliver the results for all to benefit. Enjoy!


A photo of Barbareño restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1794)
$31 to $50
Californian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
At Barbareño we seek to help further shape and define Central Coast cuisine. We take our inspiration from traditions and specialties of our area, delicacies unique to our region, and the many outstanding purveyors with whom we are so fortunate to work. In all of our efforts, we hope to capture the essence of a particular place or local flavor, embracing the nuances that make our food and drink unique to our home.

Top review
SharonR
Dined 1 day ago
A+++. Everything starting with making a reservation and receiving reminder to the ambience service and food. The food! So delicious. Delightful presentations. Thoughtful and local ingredients.The Staff! So nice knowledgeable helpful and fun. Dessert! Fun light and wonderful. Ambiance! Beautiful warm summer evening. Thank you to all who made our gathering with friends an experience to remember. Our compliments to you and your team. Thank you!
A photo of Secret Bao restaurant
4.8
4.8 (593)
$31 to $50
Asian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
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

Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 1 day ago
This restaurant never disappoints. Extremely solid modern takes on multiple Asian cuisines. Great atmosphere and the staff always gives exceptional service.
A photo of L'Antica - Santa Barbara restaurant
4.8
4.8 (159)
$31 to $50
Italian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Indulge in the rich flavors of Italy at "L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele," an enchanting culinary haven nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara, California. Our authentic Italian restaurant and pizzeria invite you to savor the essence of Italy without leaving the West Coast. Immerse yourself in a gastronomic journey that captures the soul of Napoli, birthplace of the pizza we know and love today. At "L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele," every dish is a masterpiece crafted with passion and tradition, showcasing the finest ingredients meticulously sourced for an unparalleled taste experience. Our charming ambiance, reminiscent of a rustic Italian trattoria, provides the perfect backdrop for romantic dinners, family gatherings, and celebrations. Whether you're seeking the perfect Margherita pizza, sumptuous pasta dishes, or a delectable tiramisu, our menu is a symphony of authentic Italian flavors designed to tantalize your taste buds. We take pride in our commitment to excellence, ensuring that each dish is a testament to the heritage of Italian cuisine. With a dedication to organic and locally-sourced ingredients, we create dishes that not only delight your palate but also support sustainability and the local community. At "L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele," we don't just serve food; we craft memorable experiences that transport you to the charming streets of Italy. Join us in Santa Barbara's culinary gem, where authenticity meets innovation, and where every meal is a celebration of Italian culture and passion. Come and experience a slice of Italy, right here in California.
Top review
RobertSvip
Dined 2 days ago
Service is just as great as the food! We got there a bit late, staff took care of us without hesitation.
A photo of Convivo restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2048)
$31 to $50
Italian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Convivo is a Santa Barbara restaurant and bar with an Italian soul. Chef-Owner Peter McNee's food is best described as ‘Nomad Italian’. It strays from the standard or traditional Italian, sourcing inspiration from many other cultures’ cooking but its soul is thoroughly Italian. The ever-changing menu includes small plates, housemade pasta, wood-fired pizza, rotisserie chicken, fresh seafood and steaks served family-style. McNee’s all-star supplier network provides the freshest produce and local seafood the region is famous for.

Inspired by the bounty of the sea, the lush farms and abundant vineyards nearby and the cooking methods of Italy, Convivo is a festive gathering place for locals and visitors alike inside the newly-restored Santa Barbara Inn.

Top review
FoodieLife
Dined 2 days ago
They accommodated our group of 9 beautifully. Jeff is a top notch server with excellent suggestions. The food was out of this world! Will definitely be coming back to enjoy Convivo again.
A photo of Gala restaurant
4.7
4.7 (237)
$31 to $50
European
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Gala exudes a European meets Santa Barbara charm, where you feel like you’re transported to a beautiful bistro somewhere in the Mediterranean. Enjoy shared tapas, seasonal favorites, oysters and a great steak with bone marrow butter & chimichurri. Or cozy up with a pulled pork sandwich or our duck confit. Experience craft cocktails with fresh juices & house infused liquors as well as local Spanish wine & beer. Right down the street from the Santa Barbara Courthouse enjoy an evening at Gala.








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, Farm to table, Farmer's market driven, Tapas, Seafood, Steak, Oysters, Happy Hour, Food, Cocktails, Wine, Restaurant, Vegetarian, Friendly, Dog Friendly, Outdoor Patio, Heaters, Warm, Inviting, Hospitable, Modern Design

Top review
JayRvip
Dined 2 days ago
Wonderful place. Friendly, professional, and great food beautifully presented.
A photo of The Black Sheep SB Brasserie restaurant
4.6
4.6 (610)
$31 to $50
Contemporary French / American
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
A locally owned and operated, modern-classic California-French Pub. We serve elevated, eclectic, locally sourced Cuisine paired with incredible wines and craft beer. We are NOW OPEN for SUNDAY BRUNCH 10am-1:30pm. Located in Old Town Santa Barbara on 18 East Cota Street, the building boasts a rich history of French restaurants and saloons dating back over a century.

We are open for Dinner Wed-Sun from 5PM. We are known for our incredible family style tasting menu’s where multiple dishes are presented to your table for each course.

Top review
nattyc
Dined 3 days ago
Absolutely lovely dining experience as always. Our serve, Lucas, was fantastic and extremely attentive. The food was amazing and we even got to chat with the chef about their streams recipe, which I can’t wait to try and recreate at home!
A photo of Bibi Ji restaurant
4.5
4.5 (253)
$31 to $50
Indian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Modern Indian food featuring local produce and seafood paired with a robust low-intervention wine program curated by Alejandro Medina and James Beard Award winner Rajat Parr. Located directly across the street from the historic Granada Theatre in the heart of Santa Barbara's ARTS District. Join us in our lively, signature pastel pink dining room.

Michelin Guide Central Coast Selection 2021, 2022 and 2023

Top review
Alise
Dined 1 day ago
Food is just as amazing as it was in the old location and I love the ambience of the new location ☺️ friendly and attentive staff, we’ll be back soon!
A photo of Lilac Montecito restaurant
4.5
4.5 (101)
$50 and over
Contemporary European
Montecito
About the restaurant
A new gluten-free fine dining experience.

Now open!

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Great restaurant with excellent food whether you’re GF or not. Service attentive and knowledgeable-my compliments. The restaurant itself is new and well designed. Even parking was easy, especially for a Saturday evening. Well done!
A photo of Finch & Fork restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1728)
$31 to $50
American
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Here at Finch & Fork, we are inspired by the bounty of Santa Barbara's lush farms and rugged coastline. Our attitude is relentlessly local, influenced by the diverse culinary techniques of our neighbors, the subdued, natural colors of our fog-swept cliffs, and the glow of afternoon sunlight on our grapevines. Begin your day with a nourishing brunch or savor an evening of eclectic wines, ingredient-driven cooking, and good company.

Finch & Fork is conveniently located on the corner of Carrillo and Chapala streets in the heart of Santa Barbara’s vibrant downtown. Complimentary valet parking for diners upon availability.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Came all the way from montana to eat here. So glad that I did.
A photo of Blackbird restaurant
4.0
4 (155)
$31 to $50
Californian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
A mainstay of the Funk Zone, Blackbird offers a beverage-forward atmosphere featuring inventive cocktails by legendary mixologist Devon Espinosa alongside a thoughtfully curated menu that pays homage to the culinary bounty of the Central Coast. Enjoy an extensive list of local wine and craft beer that highlights the terroir of the region and pairs seamlessly with our iconoclastic take on local, sustainable cuisine. With its striking brass fixtures and black box-like aesthetic, Blackbird upends the conventional upscale dining experience in Santa Barbara and offers a subtle nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s haunting, yet timeless thrillers. Here guests are offered a pulse on contemporary Santa Barbara.
Top review
MarkG
Dined on Jul 4, 2024
Great place. Would go back. The Halibut was delicious. Wife liked the Wednesday special chicken sandwich.
Explore Diners' Choice best of Santa Barbara
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