F&W's guide to Santa Barbara's best, including recipes from local chefs (at right), hotels and wineries to visit. Plus, picks from Addison sommelier Jesse Rodriguez.

Santa Barbara’s Best

Places to Eat in Santa Barbara

Bell Street Farm (Santa Ynez Valley)

Former fashion marketer Jamie Gluck opened this stylish market, sourcing artisanal cheeses, jams and other picnic staples. He hired Santa Barbara chef Evan Klein to create juicy rotisserie pork sandwiches with apple-jicama slaw, among other tasty to-go dishes. 406 Bell St., Los Alamos; 805-344-4609.—Gina Hamadey

The Blue Owl

Three nights a week, from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Thai restaurant Zen Yai becomes the Blue Owl, a spot for Asian-style street food like tri-tip sandwiches with chili mayo.—Jen Murphy theblueowlsantabarbara.com


Photo © Shelly Vinson.


Jesse’s Pick "I had one of the best pairings I’ve ever had at this restaurant," says Jesse Rodriguez. "The sommelier matched Dungeness crab cakes (left) with local Cold Heaven Cellars Viognier. The rich wine brings out the buttery sweetness of the crab." —Megan Krigbaum

Brothers’ Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern

The wine list at Brothers’ is chocka-block with Santa Barbara Pinots. Consider ordering a bottle to go with the pan-sauteed Idaho rainbow trout with lemon-chive sauce—a prospect made all the more tempting by a sweet oak fire burning in the fireplace. —Brad A. Johnson matteistavern.com

Cecco Ristorante (Santa Ynez Valley)

Local winemakers hit this spot for thin-crust pizzas with interesting toppings. The Porchetta pie has imported porchetta, egg and sage; the Cinghiale is covered with wild boar sausage, braised kale and smoked mozzarella. 475 First St., Solvang; 805-688-8880.—GH

D’Angelo Bread

This bakery has an incredibly moist dark sour rye bread called Rudolf Steiner (presumably after the 20th-century health-food guru).—Kate Krader

French Press

The French Press, an artisanal coffee shop, is the place to try Fair Trade beans from Santa Cruz’s Verve Roasters and blueberry buckle.—JM

Handlebar Coffee Roasters

Kim Anderson and Aaron Olson were professional cyclists (hence the name) who started roasting Ethiopian and Guatemalan coffee to sell at cycling events, using a five-foot-tall Probat roaster in their garage. Now they’ve moved the roaster to a new storefront, where they also serve locally made chocolates and croissants from nearby Renaud’s Patisserie. 128 E. Canon Perdido St. #A; no phone.—GH

The Hitching Post II

Truckers, cowboys and Los Angeles socialites converge at this unpretentious roadside steak house, made famous by the film Sideways.—BAJ hitchingpost2.com

The Hungry Cat

This branch of the Hollywood joint is run by David Lentz.—Chip Brown thehungrycat.com


The young husband-and-wife team behind this 40-seater serves an adventurous seasonal menu of dishes, like ricotta ravioli with sweetbreads and braised pig tongue on grilled sourdough.—JM restaurantjulienne.com

Olio Pizzeria

© Kevin Steele

Olio Pizzeria

The wood-gas hybrid oven cranks out thin, blistered pies (left). All wines are available by the glass, quartino, half liter and bottle.—JM oliopizzeria.com

Paradise Cafe

Jesse’s Pick "As a native Californian, I grew up loving the famous In-N-Out Double-Double," says Rodriguez, "but the Paradise Burger (oak-grilled with cheddar, onions and tomato) blows it away." Have it with a local Rhône-style red. —MK

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

This adorable restaurant was favored by Julia Child (who lived her last years in Santa Barbara). Since it’s at the end of a pier, you can watch pelicans fly by as you eat tacos made with shrimp or local lobster, cabbage and creamy dressing.—KK sbfishhouse.com

Scarlett Begonia

This breakfast-and-lunch-only spot is almost always packed, thanks to the large patio and chef Henry Ramos’s creative dishes, like mascarpone polenta with poached eggs and quinoa oatmeal. 11 W. Victoria St. #10; 805-770-2143.—GH

Taqueria El Bajio

Jesse’s Pick "The made-from-scratch food here reminds me of my grandparents’ Mexican family restaurant" says Rodriguez. "I get the carnitas and pollo asado tacos." —MK

Places to Stay in Santa Barbara

Biltmore Santa Barbara

Photo © Betty Helton/Four Seasons.

Biltmore Four Seasons

Exotic plants fill the expansive botanical gardens of this beautiful, recently renovated Spanish Colonial–style hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean (left). Built in 1927, it attracts celebrity guests like Tom Cruise. Rooms from $425.—CB fourseasons.com

Presidio Motel

The Presidio Motel’s 16 whimsical rooms were designed by local art students. Bikes are available for tooling around the city.—JM

San Ysidro Ranch

The resort, which dates back to 1893, was completely and luxuriously renovated in 2007. Comprised of 40 well-appointed cottages on 500 acres at the foot of the Santa Ynez Mountains, it’s a short drive from downtown Santa Barbara. Cottages from $1200.—CB sanysidroranch.com

Canary Hotel

The Slatkin brothers’ Spanish Colonial Revival–style boutique hotel, with ornate iron railings and vaulted doorways. —KK canarysantabarbara.com

Wineries, Wine Shops & Tasting Rooms in Santa Barbara

Alma Rosa

Richard Sanford produces acclaimed Pinot Noirs made from organically grown grapes.—CB almarosawinery.com

Alta Maria Vineyards (Santa Ynez Valley)

Alta Maria Vineyards is making great, affordable, small-production Pinot Noirs (2933 Grand Ave., Ste. A, Los Olivos; 805-686-1144).—GH

Au Bon Climat Tasting Room

Nearly three decades after founding Au Bon Climat, winemaker Jim Clendenen finally has a tasting room: The Au Bon Climat Tasting Room features new and vintage ABC wines as well as the Jim Clendenen Wine Library, the winemaker’s personal collection (813 Anacapa St.; 805-845-8435).—GH

Blair Fox Cellars

The winemaker of Fess Parker Winery also creates single-vineyard Syrahs and an excellent Viognier under his own Blair Fox label.—CB blairfoxcellars.com

Fess Parker Winery

However you might feel about souvenir T-shirts, cheesy wine paraphernalia and bus parking, it is hard to quarrel with the quality of wines created by winemaker Blair Fox under the Fess Parker label.—CB fessparker.com


Though it has a solar-powered tasting room, Foxen winery still pours some of its wines in a funky shack that looks like it could be a cool bar in the Caribbean. foxenvineyard.com


This Ballard Canyon winery is a new project from the owners of cult Napa winery Screaming Eagle. Winemaker Matt Dees turns out big Syrahs and Bordeaux-style Cabernet-dominant blends at Napa Valley prices.—CB jonata.com

Kunin Wines

Jesse’s Pick Rodriguez likes Seth Kunin’s Kunin Wines tasting room for its surfer vibe. Try the red 2009 Pape Star, a juicy Rhône-style blend.—MK

Lompoc Wine Ghetto (Santa Ynez Valley)

Located in an industrial warehouse district, the no-frills Lompoc Wine Ghetto (lompocghetto.com) is a spectacularly unglamorous destination. But the collection of wineries in this 85,000-square-foot business park is top-notch. Most of the 16 tasting rooms opened in the past year-and-a-half. Samsara is the garagiste project of Chad and Mary Melville (Melville Vineyards), while Zotovich Cellars, run by 28-year-old Ryan Zotovich, is known for its experimental approach—it’s one of the few wineries in the region planting Grenache. The new tasting room at Stolpman Vineyards, where Sashi Moorman is winemaker, is above its crush pad, so customers can see the action.—GH

Municipal Winemakers

© Dave Potter

Municipal Winemakers

Fess Parker’s Dave Potter is the man behind this tasting room, where the wine is on tap, info is on iPads and visitors who come by bike get free wine delivery (left).—JM

From Thursday through Saturday, Municipal Winemakers keeps its new tasting room open until 11 p.m. and invites food trucks to park out front (22 Anacapa St.; 805-931-6864).—GH

The Supply Room

Courtesy of Presidio Motel + Supply Room

The Supply Room at the Presidio Motel

When the Presidio reopened in 2008, it became the coolest hotel in town, with bright, playfully painted rooms and bikes for loan. Guests can pick up stylish souvenirs (Rachel Comey booties, Dream Collective beaded necklaces) at the well-curated hotel boutique. 1620 State St.; 805-963-1355.—GH

Tessa Marie Wines (Santa Ynez Valley)

Tessa Marie Parker, 26, is Santa Ynez royalty. The daughter of Eli Parker and granddaughter of famed actor-turned-winemaker Fess Parker, she pours three Italian varietals at Tessa Marie Wines’ minimalist tasting room (2901 Grand Ave., Ste. C, Los Olivos; 805-688-6081).—GH

Valley Vino Wine Bar and Merchant (Santa Ynez Valley)

The wine list here is full of the Valley’s best bottles, like the great Pinots of D’Alfonso-Curran. There’s no kitchen, but customers can order salumi, cheese and sandwiches from the new Succulent Café, which is right next door. 1557 Mission Dr., Solvang; 805-691-9548.—GH

Wine Cask

Jesse’s Pick The legendary Wine Cask tasting room, wine shop and restaurant is now once again run by winemaker Doug Margerum.—MK

Santa Barbara Wines to Try

Jesse’s Pick "The Flying Goat Cellars Pinot Noirs come from some of Santa Barbara’s best plots," says Rodriguez. "They’re darn good Pinots. And sommelier Rajat Parr, from San Francisco’s RN74, has a new winery here called Sandhi. I’ve already sold 30 cases of his minerally Chardonnay." Another RN74 sommelier, Eric Railsback, made a killer Sauvignon Blanc with Tyler Winery. Railsback will have his own label starting in 2011." —MK

Best Wines Over $20
Photo courtesy of Qupé.

More Top Bottles

  • 2007 Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander Pinot Noir
  • 2008 Brewer-Clifton Mount Carmel Pinot Noir
  • « 2006 Qupé Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Syrah
  • 2008 Alma Rosa Chardonnay
  • 2009 SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc

Three Great Wines from California’s Central Coast