Having grown up in Santa Barbara, I’ve come to know this quaint beach town inside and out. And after living in L.A. for five years and moving back, I have a new appreciation for things I always took for granted as a kid—picture perfect mountains, clean beaches, friendly faces and easy parking. Here’s a look at some of my Santa Barbara secrets on where to eat, sleep, play, shop and do. *Since I have so much to share, I’ll be doing this post in two parts.
Four Seasons The Biltmore Sunday Brunch—Pricey but worth it! The food is amazing and the views will keep you there for at least half the day. Oh yeah, and the mimosas are bottomless, need I say more?
Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro—The best croissants I’ve had outside of France. Especially the almond encrusted one. *There are a few locations but my personal favorite is the downtown one.
Tupelo Junction—Seriously good comfort food with a country-style meets southern-style flare. Do try the Beignets, I promise you won’t be sorry.
Jane—Right on State Street, this spot has the best salads, sandwiches and ambience but is most famous for their coconut cake—it’s a-mazing, don’t leave without having at least a bite!
Metropulos—On Fridays and Saturdays they make the best gyros with msg-free meat. Just beware there is a following and they run out fast!
The Burger Bus—One of the few food trucks in S.B., but it’s definitely worth tracking down. The CB&J burger (Cheese Burger and Jelly) is in my opinion the best burger in town—I know what you’re thinking but don’t knock it ’til you try it!
Brophy Bros.—Right in the harbor, this is the best spot to have fresh seafood and a cocktail.
Olio Pizzeria—An Italian Pizzeria that is so authentic you may not be able to understand your waiter. My most favorite pizza? The Umbra—black truffles, robiola cheese and crimini mushrooms.
La Super-Rica—Authentic Mexican food that even Julia Child’s called her favorite (yup she lived here). Don’t be intimidated by the line out the door, it moves fast.
Ca’ Dario—By far the best Italian restaurant in S.B. I have yet to meet a ravioli better than Ca’ Darios.
Arrigato Sushi—I live for the Fiesta and Dijon Ahi roll.
Cadiz—A new buzzed about restaurant/lounge with a seasonal Mediterranean menu that’s also chocked full of amazing options.
Plow and Angel at San Ysidro Ranch—The most romantic spot in Santa Barbara.
Casa Blanca—The newest Mexican restaurant in town and I have to say I’m a fan already. The ambience is ridiculously cool with Spanish tile covering every inch and the margaritas are perfection—especially at the $5 Happy Hour price.
Joe’s Cafe—A fun lively scene that is the epicenter of Santa Barbara. Beware they pour a stiff cocktail!
WhoDidily Cupcakes—Owner Wendy Jones won on the show Cupcake Wars so needless to say her creations are delicious. Best flavor to order: Lazy Dazy (vanilla with vanilla frosting and vanilla chocolate chunks inside)
McConnells Ice Cream—I’ve been coming to this favorite since I was a kid and it never gets old, nor does any other creamery top it. I’m a mint-chip kind of girl but all they’re flavors are worth every calorie.
The Presidio Motel—A fun relaxed downtown spot with a retro vibe. They’ll loan you stylin’ beach cruisers so you can take off and explore the town. Be sure to check out their boutique, The Supply Room.
Inn of the Spanish Gardens—A hidden gem in the heart of downtown S.B. With only 23 rooms it almost feels like you’re staying in someone’s (very large) home.
Hotel Oceana—Right on the water near the Harbor and the Wharf.
Four Seasons The Biltmore—Located on one of the best beaches in Montecito, Butterfly Beach, The Biltmore is one of the most idyllic places to stay in Santa Barbara. I’d stay there just to hang at the Coral Casino Pool for a day—a beach club across the street accessible to hotel guests.
*Stay tuned for my Santa Barbara Black Book Part 2—Play, Shop and Go.