A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"


Favorite Bites in Santa Barbara

May 27th, 2011

There is always a heated discussion about the best restaurants in Santa Barbara, or the best food emporium. John Dickson compiles an excellent list of eateries on his website santabarbara.com. I love John’s site, but feel there is another way to identify our favorite foods.

Think about your food experiences over the last year. Did you taste something that really caught your attention? What food made you say “wow”? I have listed 5 of my favorite bites below…

1. Tropea Pizza at Olio Pizzeria (website)

This thin crust pizza with smoked mozzarella, sausage and onion rocks!

2. Spider Roll at Shintori Sushi

The softshell crab may not be raw, but it’s great. Delicious flavor with a crunch.

3. Cocoa Nibs dipped in chocolate at Chocolate Maya (website)

These little gems are so intense. Sprinkle them on ice cream and you will float to heaven.

4. Moussaka at Metropulos (website)

This Greek classic is done to perfection; and it’s the perfect choice for a dinner party when you have no time to cook.

5. Beach Burger at Stacky’s Seaside

This casual beach shack in Summerland serves up one juicy burger, and the fries are good too!

I know many of you have eaten something memorable. My list is far from complete, so I need your input. Please add a few of your Santa Barbara favorites; the more opinions the better.

13 Responses to “Favorite Bites in Santa Barbara”

  1. Allison Wells says:

    I sent you an email a week or more ago about our favorite bites!

    Thanks for your “tips” in your blog.


  2. Neil & Becca says:

    Our favorite is a slow smoked bbq tri-tip sandwich at the 150 year old Wells Fargo wagon watering hole off of san Marcos pass. Live bluegrass music and the historic saloon at cold springs tavern make for a Sunday to remember. Vegetarians need not fret, ask big Tom to make a grilled veggie sammy. Whether you’re a carnivore or not, these sandwiches are to die for. Homemade salsa, bbq sauces, and apple dijon compliment the flavor of the tender meats. Add an ice cold stagecoach blonde on tap to complete the meal. Only served on Sunday afternoons outside the restaurant.

  3. Dan says:

    Great list! Never had the burger in Summerland but will definitely get down there.
    Here are a few of my favorites in Santa Barbara:
    The blackened salmon sandwich and halibut tacos at Endless Summer.
    The ribs at Jade.
    Snapper Veracruzano at Cafe del Sol.
    Prime rib ravioli at Vittoria Tratoria.

  4. Maureen Ferrari says:

    My favorite eatery, hands down, is always when you and Nora cook!

  5. Michelle Greer says:

    The gyros at Metropulos is the best thing to have for lunch in Santa Barbara, especially if you are really hungry.

  6. Nicole says:

    I had an unexpectedly pleasant flat bread pizza at Montecito Confections while wine tasting on the m Urban Wine Trail a few weeks ago! Will definitely do again!

    Thanks, Ed!

  7. Alex and Gina says:

    For a quick light bite, we enjoy a glass of red and the duck confit at the intermezzo bar at the Wine Cask. You need to go early, especially on the weekends.

    The warm grilled octopus salad on a bed of potatoes and spinach is a meal in itself and really delicious at Tre Lune.

    The ribs at the Plow and Angel are amazing, plus the Tortilla Soup is always a winner.

    But, we also agree there is nothing like a home cooked meal at your house!!!!

  8. Betsy says:

    Thanks for all the great tips Ed! I mentioned this to Gary and he gave several of his favorites too:
    Ca’Dario’s Griglidata D’asparagi (pancetta wrapped asparagus)
    Holdren’s 10 oz. filet
    Opal’s Smoked chicken pizza
    CPK’s Chicken Milanese (yes, we go there often since it is a favorite with the teenagers)
    and when I really want to indulge…Renauds’ Croissants, especially the almond ones.

  9. Alison says:

    Glenn & Alison really like:
    1) FULL OF LIFE FLATBREAD in Los Alamos. Only open Friday-Sun evenings but their flatbread pizzas cooked in the big wood-burning kiva oven are all amazing. Wish it was in SB.
    2) Grilled (over oak) artichokes at THE HITCHING POST II in Buellton. Served with a smoked tomato pesto aioli. Glenn likes the Diestel turkey breast. The fries are great, too. Love this place. We like to eat in the bar part Mon-Weds. because that’s where they serve those hamburgers (can’t get ‘em in the main dining room.) Wish it was in SB, too.
    3) Spaghetti con fasolari (clams) at CA DARIO.
    4) Bucatini all’amatriciana at PANE E VINO.
    5) Eggplant parmigiana at VIA VAI. Spaghetti alla scoglia (mixed seafood with the pizza crust)
    6) Garganelli with chicken/prosciutto meatballs at PIATTI
    7) Turkey meatloaf at ZOOKER’S in Carp
    8) Baseball cut steak and wedge salad at THE NUGGET.
    9) Indonesian corn fritters at JADE
    10) Fish tacos at HOLLISTER BREWING COMPANY. Like pretty much everything about this place!
    11) Umbra (truffle) pizza at OLIO E PIZZA
    12) Chicken pot pie at LUCKY’S (Mondays) and Matzo Ball Soup. And those little brown molasses rolls
    13) Spaghetti puttanesca at TRATTORIA VITTORIA
    14) Pumpkln curry with chicken at ZEN YAI. Pork larb and chicken satay are great, too.
    15) Clam chowder and shrimp tacos at SB SHELLFISH COMPANY (on the Wharf.) Like the fried seafood combo plate, too.
    16) Tacos de Rajas (Number 6 — pasills chiles with melted cheese) at LA SUPER RICA. Also like the Enchiladas de la Plaza (with ground chicken) and the veggie (or whatever’s special) tamales. That cream sauce is rich, though.
    17) Raja tamales (Weds. and Fridays) at LOS ARROYOS
    18) Lo Mein (soft noodles) with chicken at CHINA PALACE. Also like the pan fried (pork) dumplings and scallion pancakes. Dip ‘em in some hot (as in spicy) oil. Yum!
    19) But Glenn likes Alison’s cooking the best!

  10. Ted says:

    Lots of good tips here.


    Tortilla soup at Plow and Angel

    On a more casual note:

    The arugula pizza at CPK

    Any prepared salad at Savoy Cafe

  11. PJ says:

    We recently tried Cadiz down on lower State. I had the saffron risotto w) mussels, chorizo and scallions. It was under the Tapa’s section but was enough for a meal if paired with something else. It was a great combo of flavors. A “something else” we shared was the margarita flatbread, which was good and tomato’s had genuine flavor!

    But, as previously mentioned, Chez McAniff is still the best. And, the staff is so friendly!!!!!!!!

  12. Ed McAniff says:

    Wow, great stuff. Although I know a few of the dishes mentioned, I am most excited about the new things to try. Thanks to everyone for their feedback.

    My wife Nora is out of town, so I will add her favorite dish…
    Chicken Saltimbocca at Tre Lune

  13. Michelle Greer says:

    I just made a salad with the following:

    1. tomatoes from Harry’s
    2. fresh, young, basil
    3. burrata cheese from C’est cheese – the real thing
    4. Olive oil, aged balsamic, sea salt

    It was divine. I was especially impressed with the quality of the cheese – thanks, Katherine and Michael from C’est cheese.

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