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7 Hot New Restaurants in Santa Barbara

From reimagined Indian to elevated ranch cuisine, head to the American Riviera to try something delicious and totally new

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Posted 3 years agoby Jessica Sebor

As a city already boasting an exceptional climate and pristine beaches, the excellence of Santa Barbara’s food scene feels almost unfair. In this gem of a city two hours north of Los Angeles, there are plenty of longstanding classics like Bouchon Santa Barbara, The Lark, La Super-Rica Taqueria, and so many more. If you’re in the mood for something new, however, here are seven recently opened restaurants in the American Riviera.

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1. Bibi Ji
The lovechild of a celebrated chef (Jessi Singh of San Francisco and New York’s Babu Ji) and renowned sommelier/winemaker (Rajat Parr of Sandi Wineds), Bibi Ji serves reimagined Indian cuisine alongside a killer wine list. Pair your favorite vintage with the Santa Barbara uni stuffed with biryani (spiced rice).

2. Blackbird
Last September, the much-anticipated Hotel Californian opened on State Street—and with it the in-house restaurant Blackbird. The restaurant marries Old World luxury and West Coast vibes, delivering obsessively seasonal dishes and craft cocktails with a Mediterranean twist.

3. The Bear and Star
Drive north to Los Olivos to find elevated ranch cuisine in a cozy setting. One of those spots that’s more of an experience than simply a restaurant, The Bear and Star, sources much of what it serves from the family’s Fess Parker Home Ranch, which raises everything from heirloom fruit to Wagyu cattle.

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4. Oliver’s
This new Montecito spot proves that vegan cuisine can be both delicious and thoroughly chic. Plant-forward guru Matthew Kenney perfects the basics—think avocado toast served on turmeric oat bread, topped with shaved cucumber. Request a table in or near the patio for an enchanted-forest feel complete with lighted trees.

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5. Santo Mezcal
Creative Oaxacan cuisine in the heart of the Funk Zone—what could be wrong with that? Absolutamente nada. Developed by the creators of the well-loved Los Agaves Restaurants, this concept offers the opportunity to taste new flavors in a beautiful backdrop. Don’t miss the mezcal cocktails mixed with cold-pressed juices and fresh herbs.

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6. Satellite
The heart and soul of Satellite is on the backside of the menu: It’s all about the wine. That’s never a bad thing, especially when paired with fresh-from-the-farm dishes. Snack on the crowd-favorite Cauliflower Powa, drizzled with parsley-coconut emulsion.

7. Smithy Kitchen + Bar
With cheery lighting and batten walls, you probably wouldn’t guess this restaurant was once a blacksmith shop. But look closely and little nods abound, like the flaming hearth on the patio and coal-roasted dishes dotting the menu. Come for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, or enjoy sunset under the olive trees during happy hour.

 

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