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The Hungry Cat - Santa Barbara

4.1
311 reviews
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$30 and under
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Seafood
Perfect For:
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Hot Spot

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About

Proudly Serving Santa Barbara since 2007!



The Hungry Cat Santa Barbara retains the same focus as the Hollywood and Santa Monica Canyon locations: fresh, high quality fish paired with fresh, locally sourced ingredients from nearby farmer's markets.



Our rotating raw bar showcases Pacific and Atlantic oysters, clams, Santa Barbara sea urchin, raw and marinated fish dishes, crab and lobster.



The Bar at the Hungry Cat specializes in seasonal, market driven cocktails, craft brews and an eclectic wine list made for seafood.



We are open daily serving dinner, with brunch on the weekends.



Happy Hour is available Monday - Friday, from 4pm to 6pm.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Seafood
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Hours of operation
Happy Hour: Tuesday - Friday: 4pm-6pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday 5pm - 10pm
Friday 5pm - 11pm
Saturday 5pm - 11pm
Sunday 5pm - 10pm

Brunch Saturday & Sunday - 11am - 3pm

Our famous raw bar is served throughout the day
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Phone number
(805) 884-4701
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
David Lentz
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Private party facilities
Our recently added Dining Room can be reserved for parties from 6 to 12 people. The perfect size for a small celebration, wine tasting or business lunch.

We are also available for larger parties with advance notice. This may require a complete restaurant buyout.
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Private party contact
Bob Van der Veer: (805) 884-4701
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Anapamu
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Parking details
Street Parking is available and we are located 1/2 a block from 2 SB Public Lots. Enter off Chapala Street.
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Beer, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine
What 311 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.1based on all time ratings
4.2
food
4.0
service
3.6
ambience
3.4
value
Noise · Moderate
83% of people would recommend it to a friend
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3.0Dined on December 10, 2016

Food was ok. Limited wine list. Sad to HC closing.

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4.0Dined on November 26, 2016

After waiting about 40 minutes for our table, which was fine as the staff tried hard to make us feel at home at the bar, we had a view of the kitchen and how they prepare their food. It didn't feel like they loved cooking, or were even watching when they threw the food on the fire. But our chowder was great, a little rich, so have it with a salad. Very filling and yummy.

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2.0Dined on October 23, 2016

We were sadly disappointed with almost every aspect of our visit. We ordered a VERY expensive seafood platter and then were informed that they were out of 2 of the items. The items they did bring were unexceptional. Our food was delivered at wildly different times. There was never an apology or even a recognition from the manager over what was going on at our table even though the restaurant was not busy. I was shocked by our bill, no discount was offered and to top it off they charged us $4 for 2 slices of bread. A poor experience.

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2.0Dined on October 1, 2016

Unfortunately I took a friend there to celebrate her engagement, and the seafood triple tower we shared was not good at all. The king crab and Maine lobster had been previously frozen, the clams were sketchy. The waiter kept forgetting to bring things we asked for, such as small plates so we wouldn't have to eat over the table (!!). There wasn't enough room on our table for the tower, and he just left us with the big tower blocking our view of each other, until another waiter noticed and set up a table next to us so we would have enough room. The sauces for the seafood were only for one, so we passed them back and forth and lost track of which was for what. Our waiter must have been new, and sadly did not deserve the tip I gave him.
I had heard very good things about this restaurant prior to going, and so I would give it another chance, but I would not order seafood.

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1.0Dined on September 27, 2016

Awful, no choices on limited menu.

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1.0Dined on September 17, 2016

The service was painfully slow and we were not told before we ordered a dessert that took 14 minutes to make it after we had already been there for over 2 hours...The waiter did tell me that the restaurant does not give free birthday desserts. We were a party of 8 - I think they could have given the birthday boy his dessert on the house. We also had to ask repeatedly that the music be turned down because we could not hear the person talking next to us let along down at the end of the table. Note: we are not a group of old farts - we were celebrating a 28 year old's birthday dinner and had several generations there, all of whom thought the music was too loud to enjoy a meal at 6:30 pm.

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5.0Dined on September 16, 2016

After reading the reviews on Yelp we were worried, but WOW what a meal. The chorizo and oysters entree and the special lobster risotto were just sublime. Then the lemon dessert - one was perfect for four of us - outstanding flavor, dreamy-smooth texture. With cozy atmosphere and great service, we could not have been more pleased. A bit noisy (Friday night) but fine. Be sure to ask for their bread, which is fresh and lightly toasted, as you will want to sop up every drop of sauce. They should be more generous in offering it with both appetizer and entree - our only criticism.

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2.0Dined on September 10, 2016

We were visiting the area and hoping to have a great meal for dinner. The service from the very start was terrible. After ordering a glass of wine, I waited almost 15 minutes only for the server to tell me they were "out of wine glasses" and it was served in a martini glass. The lobster roll was just ok but Branzino whole fish was actually much better.

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5.0Dined on September 7, 2016

This was a great restaurant to visit while vacationing in Santa Barbara - service was excellent and so was the food!

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2.0Dined on September 6, 2016

Let me start by saying that the appetizers were great. Perhaps we should have stopped there. The entrees were late to arrive, I'm talking an hour from the time we sat down to eat which is unacceptable. We requested the catch of the day to be filleted, but each bite had multiple bones it. I couldn't even finish eating it. My suggestion - go for happy hour, enjoy the crab toast and call it a night.

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3.0Dined on September 4, 2016

I like the Hungry Cat. I think we caught them on a bad night. They moved our reservation because they got a party. The waitress was lovely but the burger we ordered had stale bread, barely cooked bacon and the burger itself was rare when we ordered it medium. Like I said I think I caught them on a tough night.

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3.0Dined on August 23, 2016

Very pricey. Mixed thoughts on the quality of the dips and sauces. Weird mignonette with apple cider vinegar. We had two waiters serving us and yet the sevice was uneven, overbearing at the beginning then crickets. Our clam chowder took ages to come out and it was very tasty (heavy on the alcohol though) but the bread we ordered was redolent of burnt marshmallows and tasted like nothing. All the seafood on the single tier platter was exemplary.

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3.0Dined on August 20, 2016

We were a little late for our 8:30 Saturday night reservation and were treated dismissively over the phone when we called to notify the restaurant. We got there 8 minutes late and the whole place was empty. I guess they wanted to go home early. Having said that, the waiter was outstanding and he made up for our first impression. The food was inventive, very tasty and in ample portions. The draft beer selection was weak, but we were impressed with bar/cocktails, and that they had Old Plymouth Gin for our martini's.

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5.0Dined on August 20, 2016

We ordered the Hungry Cat shellfish tower that includes caviar as an extra. Gorgeous presentation. Very fresh. Chocolate bread and butter pudding was decadent. Great waitress. Cocktails are good, but small selection. Great spot.

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4.0Dined on August 20, 2016

Unique and creative dishes that are presented beautifully!

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5.0Dined on August 12, 2016

So many disappointed reviewers made us almost second guess our reservations. So glad we didn't. The service was spot on. Kind, attentive, informative. The food was so fresh and well prepared and perfectly proportioned. We tried sea urchin for the first time, after all this is Santa Barbara for heaven's sake, the things practically live across the street! While I still prefer oysters, it had all the wonderful taste of a day at the beach. Fresh and salty. The hamachi crudo was yummy and very clever with a wasabi sauce and edamame. The market fish was a locally caught sea bass on a bed of fresh, still sweet and crunchy, corn purée. My husband ended with a lemon curd parfait that he enjoyed. The drinks, alcoholic and non went perfectly. We wanted seafood without feeling we were tourists at a beach front chain restaurant, and we got a hip, sweet place that made us want to return.

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4.0Dined on August 7, 2016

Generally excellent. Coming in on the backend of Fiesta may have explained the " off " night. Got my Hors d'oevres before my cocktail which they forgot until reminded and it was not as good as usual.
Salad was sloppily presented and frisée was falling off plate. It was a visual mess. Taste was fine. Entree was good but not exceptional as is the case usually. French press was excellent and their own cream made a big difference. Desert was good but I am not a custard fan so am not a good judge . Overall good but not up to its usual stamdard

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1.0Dined on August 6, 2016

Big disappointment....nothing like their Santa Monica location...looks like a hole in
the wall restaurant...Menu horrible...don't bother going to this location.

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2.0Dined on August 5, 2016

A frustratingly disappointing experience. Service was Santa Barbara amateur hour at its finest: one of us ordered the branzino and the waiter begrudgingly took the fish off the bones *using the knife and fork of the diner who ordered it*! What's that all about? Whatever happened to bringing another set of tools to the table to do the job?

My halibut was as well done as the grilled toast we ordered as an appetizer, and the wine-pouring experience was weak as well. We had to ask the waiter to pour, even though our glasses remained empty for several of his passes by the table.

We have always loved The Hungry Cat and Suzanne Going restaurants, but this meal was a huge loser for our party of four. And we dined during Fiesta, a time when the restaurant wasn't busy at all.

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5.0Dined on August 2, 2016

One of the best seafood meals I've ever had. Service was a little distracted but the place is comfortable and chill

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3.0Dined on July 30, 2016

Great Sea food, drinks were very bad service was slow. Nice location in downtown Santa Barbara but the place was a hole in the wall. They need to increase the amount of waiters.

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3.0Dined on July 19, 2016

Had not been there in several years. Now I know why. Menu is down to a few limited items, apart from their featured high-priced seafood items. The wine pour was miniscule -- and $15 for an average chardonnay. With the limited space, close seating and hard surfaces conversation is difficult at best. There are so many great alternatives in this city, it is surprising that they have survived. We won't be back.

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5.0Dined on July 6, 2016

Loved our server and the food! Our first sea urchin was a dud and the manager gladly sent another one without question. We left happy and full

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1.0Dined on June 30, 2016

Seafood tower was fresh, delicious and beautifully served. Salads and our cocktails all made with fresh, quality ingredients...superb. Kids menu items a bit expensive at about $12 for fish and chips or toasted PB&J. Ordered halibut, arrived dry/over cooked. When they replaced it it was raw throughout and basically seared. Properly cooked halibut should flake off in moist sheets easily with a fork. The service we had this time was poor. They were snotty about replacing the fish the first time and the second time, they were non apologetic, though it was removed from the bill. When we first arrived, my 4 year old had accidentally spilled his freshly made mock tail, and they didn't even offer to replace it. A manager huffed over with big sighs to clean it up. We have visited several times prior and the service has never been amazing- but this was definitely under par.

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3.0Dined on June 28, 2016

Our experience was OK. The server and other staff were very friendly. Our fish was overcooked, however the french fries were delicious. Given all the great reviews that I have read, I was disappointed with the experience.

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4.0Dined on June 25, 2016

Great seafood platter! Worth the price.
The service isn't bad but for this quality of restaurant, it could be a little better.
A fun night out for a special occasion.

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5.0Dined on June 10, 2016

I'll be honest. We picked the restaurant because of the name. We were looking for fresh sea food and we got the two tier tower. We were very pleased with the taste, presentation and quality. The sauces took it to the next level. We'll definitely be going back.

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3.0Dined on May 5, 2016

The Hungry Cat has been my husband's favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara for the last few years, but we were both disappointed with our most recent dining experience. When we walked in, the entire staff was new, from the general manager to the cooks to the servers. The music playing in the background was grating and abrasive. Our server was prompt, but his manner bordered on obsequious. Our dozen oysters included some partially frozen ones, but our server promptly replaced them, so we were pleased with the way this was handled. Because it was Cinco de Mayo, we ordered the specials. The Caldo con Pollo was delicious and so was the Mexican corn on the cob, but the Mexican cod main dish was a disappointment. The piece of cod was tiny, the succotash didn't include the promised butter beans and the flavors weren't remotely Mexican. Our 4 on the Floor bourbon drinks and the chocolate bread pudding were excellent as usual. We also noted that the price of a lobster roll and fries is now a staggering $25. Although I'd return and give the new crew a chance to settle in, my husband is determined not to come back anytime soon.

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3.0Dined on May 1, 2016

There was a problem in the kitchen so our food took a long time to come. So they first brought a dish of delicious fries on the house and in the end only charged us for our oysters appetizer. Nicely handled! I would definitely go back.

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4.0Dined on April 30, 2016

This was overall a fine experience. The oyster shooter came way late and the artichokes dish was partly burnt (so they didn't charge for it), but the crab leg was delicious and the clam chowder was excellent.

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5.0Dined on April 23, 2016

An amazing meal with great wine and service from the bartender. Get the clams and chorizo!

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2.0Dined on April 16, 2016

A seafood restaurant should be able to do seafood well. Not Hungry Cat.

If I were said feline, I'd choose to eat elsewhere too.

Muddy flavors, overcooked octopus, ridiculously saffron-y sauce, brussels sprouts that taste only of old oil. Eew.

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4.0Dined on April 9, 2016

One of our favorites for consistently great and innovative cooking. This time however, a few things really fell flat. Pre dinner oysters still had not arrived When salads were put before us. The waiter acted like he'd done this on purpose but it was clear he'd forgotten. Roasted Brussels sprouts were incredible, chorizo and clams always Devine. However, two orders of local halibut were very dry and tasteless. We were not in the habit of sending things back, but should have here since the dish was quite pricey and had been touted as a special. We will return but were not happy.

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5.0Dined on March 31, 2016

Fantastic experience! Highly recommend. Seafood platter was amazing and fresh. Clam chowder was a cut above any chowder I've had before with flecks of paprika and a drizzle of olive oil with a kick of spice. Our waiter was top notch.

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1.0Dined on March 20, 2016

If you like a grim, dingy ambience, terrible food and mediocre service, this is your place. We ordered three different entrees and it was hard to tell which one was the worst. The waiter spoke in a whisper and we had to ask him to repeat himself several times. I had out-of-town guests with me and was completely embarrassed by this place. NEVER again. I am shocked that this place is highly rated on the web. There was absolutely nothing to recommend it.

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5.0Dined on March 13, 2016

Our meal was absolutely incredible! Shrimp and Grits were the BEST I've ever tasted and the Eggs Benedict was amazing with Kale and Crab Cakes! The bottomless mimosas were made with Cava and fresh squeezed, in front of your eyes, orange juice. I would go back in a heartbeat! Wait staff was excellent!

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5.0Dined on March 5, 2016

It was our first visit to Hungry Cat and we were definitely impressed with the food AND the service! The fried brussels sprouts were out of this world and the chocolate bread pudding was worth every calorie! It was a bit pricey for our budget , so we see it as a special occasion place. I look forward to trying brunch on the weekend.

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5.0Dined on March 5, 2016

Every single time we've visited the Hungry Cat, in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara (which has been infrequent since we don't live near them), we walk away completely satisfied by their excellent cuisine and service. The wine list is small but varied in sensible selection at all price ranges. I will definitely recommend them to anyone as destination restaurants.

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5.0Dined on March 4, 2016

Really fresh & delicious seafood. Highlights included fresh uni, local mussels, scrumptious branzino from Italy, Pacific lobster, and clams & chorizo. All dishes were beautifully prepared with excellent sauces & seasonings. A terrific place for seafood lovers with friendly, knowledgeable, and professional service.

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4.0Dined on February 26, 2016

So many wonderful items on the menu, BUT clams with chorizo, OMG! Such a wonderful blend of flavors.
Nice wine list and the oysters wee excellent.

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