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Diners' Choice: Lively restaurants in Santa Barbara

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OpenTable
Updated May 05, 2024

Looking for restaurants that have the most vibrant bar scenes 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 Secret Bao restaurant
4.8
4.8 (552)
$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
kristinaavip
Dined 2 days ago
Everything excellent from bao buns to noodles to dim sum ! Fun cocktails as well
A photo of LOCAL Montecito restaurant
4.8
4.8 (197)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Montecito
About the restaurant
Incredible outdoor seating with two heated patios, firepit, couches, and a 360 degree bar. Featuring local ingredients and exceptional dishes from multiple cuisines paired with an extensive and rare wine collection, LOCAL has it all in the heart of Montecito.
Top review
SantaFe2
Dined 6 days ago
Excellent Branzino! Great house salad & jalapeño corn bread. Inventive cocktails.
A photo of Gala restaurant
4.8
4.8 (208)
$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
Tracedvip
Dined 7 days ago
Gorgeous food, attentive and thoughtful staff. It was a beautiful night out.
A photo of Intermezzo By Wine Cask restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1683)
$31 to $50
Californian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Intermezzo by Wine Cask
New Menu by Executive Chef Josh Brown

Modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean twist

Top review
MichelleGvip
Dined 1 day ago
We come to Intermezzo often. It’s always a delicious meal with great service. The menu has something for everyone. I usually get the salmon or lemon chicken. My husband loves the NY.
A photo of Convivo restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2007)
$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
OpenTable Diner
Dined 2 days ago
If only the weather had cooperated, the evening would have been magical. Everything else was just amazing!!! Would return for sure!!!
A photo of Chase Restaurant restaurant
4.4
4.4 (763)
$30 and under
Italian
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Chase Restaurant, a Santa Barbara institution since 1979, is conveniently located at 1012 State Street in the Theater district and showcases a classic elegant Italian décor with an intimate interior bar and an outside patio with high top seating overlooking State Street. Chase Restaurant features the finest meat, seafood and pasta dishes, as well as traditional Italian desserts. Signature dishes include Chicken Piccata served with Fettuccini Alfredo, Eggplant Parmigiana, Veal Valle de Ostra, Penne Carbonara and many more. This warm, romantic Italian restaurant offers a global wine list boasting many Santa Barbara wines which are curated to pair with the bold, rich flavors of classic Italian fare. Custom cocktails featuring spirits blended with seasonal ingredients as well as Italian and craft beer are offered as well. There is free parking in the rear of the restaurant off Anacapa Street.


Top review
Carrie702
Dined on May 7, 2024
Great spot!!! Wonderful food and service . The atmosphere was amazing and we really enjoyed
A photo of Holdren's Steaks & Seafood restaurant
4.4
4.4 (881)
$31 to $50
Steakhouse
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood, located on State Street, serves up a delicious and diverse menu of seafood and steaks, where the portions are always generous and the prices always reasonable. Our surf and turf menu, including our favorite bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp or our USDA prime steaks that are charbroiled over a mesquite grill, is complimented by an extensive wine list, a healthy assortment of premium spirits, and a selection of signature drinks. Daily meals can be enjoyed in our cozy, and dark saloon-inspired dining room, or on our outdoor patio. The indoor dining room is adorned with brown leather booths, dark wood paneling, and funky artwork lining the exposed brick walls. Holdren’s has been voted as the best steakhouse multiple times by the Santa Barbara Independent’s Reader’s Poll and by the Santa Barbara News Press’ Reader’s Choice Awards.
Top review
Hksandovalvip
Dined 7 days ago
One of my favorite steak houses in the country. Consistently good and a great value.
A photo of Bluewater Grill - Santa Barbara restaurant
4.3
4.3 (509)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Santa Barbara
About the restaurant
The waterfront locals choice in Santa Barbara for premium quality, sustainably sourced seafood! Located at the gateway to Santa Barbara on the beach at State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard with a stunning patio and beach view. Adjacent to the "Funk Zone", Santa Barbara's premiere wine district, the wine list features an extensive selection of local wines in addition to a "no-corkage" policy on the first two bottles. Winner of numerous awards, including Best Seafood, this owner operated gem features lunch, dinner, Happy Hour, a "Kids Live Well" Kid menu, full bar, heated patio, and is pet friendly. Well known for classics like Clam Chowder and Fish & Chips, Oysters on the half shell and numerous varieties of fresh fish, lobster and crab, Bluewater also operates fishing vessel "Pilikia" which specializes in the freshest caught local fish in town! Come in, Get Hooked!
Top review
PrettyLocal
Dined 2 days ago
We had an amazing Caesar salad, crab cakes, fish and chips, and snapper. Definitely liked the downstairs dining area.
A photo of Coast & Olive restaurant
4.1
4.1 (583)
$31 to $50
Californian
Montecito
About the restaurant
Coast & Olive is located in the historic Montecito Inn providing an exquisite mix of Italian, French and Mediterranean cuisine.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on Apr 20, 2024
I enjoy it every time. Food was great and my sever Gavyn was the best!
A photo of Terra at The Steward Hotel restaurant
3.4
3.4 (28)
$31 to $50
Farm-to-table
Goleta
About the restaurant
Indulge in food that nourishes and delights at Terra, located inside The Steward Hotel in Santa Barbara. Experience organic and local California cuisine for breakfast and dinner. Local legend celebrates The Steward’s location as the originator of avocado toast. Lunch items are available at our marketplace, perfect for enjoying a picnic in a lush garden setting.

Executive Chef Augusto Caudillo brings a wealth of culinary expertise and local knowledge to the heart of Santa Barbara. Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, he honed his skills in various kitchens, including Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and Lucky’s Steakhouse. Caudillo's passion for food began at a young age, growing amid a large family where meals were a cornerstone of connection and memory-making. Drawing inspiration from both Californian and Mediterranean traditions, Caudillo's dishes offer a tantalizing blend of aesthetics and nutrition — a testament to his love of crafting memorable experiences.

Top review
BarbaraA
Dined on May 12, 2024
Lovely dininge experience. Quiet, great ambiance. The salmon was a bit ivercooked, though.
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