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Diners' Choice: Lively restaurants in California Central Coast

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Updated May 05, 2024

Looking for restaurants that have the most vibrant bar scenes in California Central Coast? 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 Dametra Cafe restaurant
4.8 (178)
$31 to $50
About the restaurant
Dametra Cafe is a casual Mediterranean restaurant. Here, diners can expect high-quality healthy food delivered quickly in a relaxed atmosphere. The decor and styling of the dining room is distinctly Greek, specifically like one of the many coastal cities that the country is known for. Between that and the hearty portions and prompt service, Dametra Cafe sits nicely between an upscale restaurant and quick-service places.Dametra's Cafe features primarily Greek cuisine, with some Italian and Spanish thrown in for good measure. Appetizers include hummus with pita bread, fried calamari, grilled jumbo prawns and steamed mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce. The meals are split between sandwiches, pasta and entrée offerings and features dishes such as shrimp and crab ravioli, a salmon burger with red onion and tomatoes, lamb shish kebab and a Greek style lamb shank with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables.
Top review
Dined 4 days ago
As always, this place never fails to impress! The food is delicious (generous portions), amazing & attentive servers, and fun times listening to the singing and dancing to traditional music. Make a reservation! And be prepared to dance if you want to, talk to the people at the tables around you if you are in the mood to meet new people, or just enjoy your own dinner by yourselves!
A photo of LOCAL Montecito restaurant
4.8 (197)
$31 to $50
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
Dined 7 days ago
Excellent Branzino! Great house salad & jalapeño corn bread. Inventive cocktails.
A photo of Gala restaurant
4.8 (208)
$31 to $50
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
Dined on May 18, 2024
Gorgeous food, attentive and thoughtful staff. It was a beautiful night out.
A photo of Barley & Boar restaurant
4.8 (173)
$31 to $50
About the restaurant
Barley & Boar is a cozy boutique pub located in downtown Atascadero. We distill our own liquor, brew our own beer, and craft our own delicious fare from fresh and local ingredients. Dinner is full service, and our bar is open until midnight.

Join us monthly as we change our menu to showcase what’s in season.

Top review
Dined 1 day ago
I can’t rave enough about this restaurant! The food quality and preparation is fantastic. We had appetizers, cocktails, mains, and dessert and every course was delightful. The wait staff was also very attentive and obviously excited about the menu. So thankful to have this restaurant in Atascadero!
A photo of Alvarado Street Brewery & Bistro restaurant
4.7 (84)
$30 and under
Gastro Pub
About the restaurant
Situated in the Carmel Plaza in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, our bistro offers beers from our R&D program crafted on a pilot five barrel brewhouse - the only of its kind in one of the most picturesque and famed coastal towns in the country. Featuring an expansive, 60+ seat outdoor patio and a full bar, along with an ample dining room that can be sectionalized for private events. And the food! The Bistro offers California coastal cuisine with a regional twist, utilizing locally sourced ingredients that vary with the season.
Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined on May 18, 2024
Great ambiance, food, and drinks. Friendly and attentive service. Outside courtyard is dog-friendly.
A photo of Pequin Coastal Cocina restaurant
4.6 (247)
$31 to $50
Pismo Beach
About the restaurant
Pequín offers whimsical Baja Coastal selections highlighting local ingredients accompanied by a tequila-inspired cocktail program. Named for a spicy little chili pepper, breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner comes with an unexpected twist.

2 hours of Free Valet Parking when you show a dining receipt from Pequín. $5 per additional hour.

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on Apr 21, 2024
Absolutely awesome experience ! Highly recommend going.
A photo of Sur at The Barnyard restaurant
4.4 (442)
$31 to $50
Carmel Valley
About the restaurant
Voted "Best Restaurant in Carmel Valley 2023"!

Located in the picturesque Barnyard Shopping Village just off of HWY 1 between Rio Rd and Carmel Valley Rd. Sur at the Barnyard is where foodies, beer lovers and families escape the stresses of their day-to-day lives to enjoy a great meal!

If you don't see a reservation available give us a call anytime and we will be happy to assist!

Need a reservation for 7 or more? Give us a call at 831-250-7188 or email us any requests at reservations@suratthebarnyard.com

Top review
Dined on May 12, 2024
Wonderful food! Quality and variety were excellent. We sat outside so the noise level is quiet compared with an indoor environment. Service was a little slow.
A photo of Melville Tavern restaurant
4.3 (119)
$30 and under
About the restaurant
Wood Fired Pizza • Burgers • Beer • Brunch
Melville Tavern has a wide variety of menu items. Burgers, pastas, seafood, salads, ribs and dessert. Melville Tavern takes pride in a unique dining experience either in our main dining room or our outside patio while enjoy a large menu of beers and wines.
Eat at The Tavern!

Top review
Dined on May 12, 2024
We came here for brunch on Mother's Day and truly enjoyed ourselves. Although our wait was rather long to get our food, we understood it was a holiday, and the bottomless mimosas were perfection!
A photo of Coast & Olive restaurant
4.1 (583)
$31 to $50
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 (28)
$31 to $50
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
Dined on May 12, 2024
Lovely dininge experience. Quiet, great ambiance. The salmon was a bit ivercooked, though.
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