Stroll the entire 2,000-foot length of this city’s historic 1873 Stearns Wharf and you’ll get a nice reward: a chance to enjoy first-rate seafood in an unpretentious, everyone’s-welcome setting. In a building that originally housed a buying station for locally harvested shellfish, the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company stands out as a longtime local favorite, replete with weathered lobster buoys hanging from the roofline.
If it’s a nice day—and that’s just about any day in Santa Barbara—grab a table outside on the deck and watch the sun set over the western mountains (Santa Barbara Harbor faces south). Or head inside to nab a counter seat, where you can watch the chefs in action as the skillets flame up and the smell of fried scallops fills the restaurant. Scan the chalkboards above the grills for specials, or check out seasonal favorites such as fresh local Dungeness crab or spiny lobster.