Santa Barbara, nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, is a coastal city of unparalleled natural beauty. Beyond its pristine beaches, oceanfront parks, and hiking with breathtaking views, the city has a vibrant culinary scene that will impress even the most discerning vegetable-seeking foodie. Head to Santa Barbara, less than 100 miles up the coast from Los Angeles, to slow down.
On State Street—one of Santa Barbara’s main thoroughfares—stop for a bite to eat at Satellite, a natural wine bar and completely vegetarian restaurant, where you can enjoy light bites while soaking up wine insight from knowledgeable staff. Don’t miss dishes like the house foccacia served with confit garlic and the yoga pants salad made with everything local and fresh from the farmers market.
If there’s one local chef who’s gained popularity and become affectionately synonymous with Santa Barbara’s vegan food scene, it’s Dalan Moreno, chef and founder of Rascal. Moreno’s Mexican-inspired dishes are meticulously crafted down to the last detail, including milling corn in-house for their freshly made tortillas. Be sure to try one of Moreno’s fan-favorite dishes, the spicy elote: corn topped with vegan mayo, crushed takis, nutty Parmesan and cilantro.
3 green table
For clean eating at its best, Green Table, a vegetarian daytime restaurant, has you covered with plenty of vegetarian options; It’s also all gluten-free and organic, with almost everything made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients when possible. If visiting for lunch, try The Raw Veggie Wrap, a house favorite. Or, when your pastry-and-a-drink mood hits, pop in for banana bread made from scratch. Sweet treats must be paired with a special matcha latte.
4 Points of inspiration
In Santa Barbara, self-care is the name of the game, and with so many nature hikes to enjoy, there’s no shortage of places to start. To achieve your panoramic views, set aside two hours for the trek up Points of inspiration. For an easier and more leisurely outing, the Douglas Family Preserve has a maze of flat trails perfect for strolling and sightseeing by the sea—you can even bring your pup along for some off-leash fun. Or head to Shoreline Park, with long footpaths sandwiched between long grassy runs. Don’t miss the slightly hidden stairs to wade into the beach and tidepool at low tide.
5 green table
After working up an appetite, head to the nearby Mesa neighborhood and pop into Vegan Mesa Verde for some plant-based Mediterranean-inspired dishes. You’ll have a choice of dishes full of unique and amazing flavors like the Squash Blossom Quesadilla and the Mushroom Umami Burger, which are sure to be a few crowd pleasers. And since you’re in Santa Barbara, a glass of organic wine with a slice of rich chocolate cake with maca, blueberries and candied macadamia nuts is a perfect way to round out your meal.
Pali Wine Co.
6 Pali Wine Co. Wine Garden
Just a few blocks from the Santa Barbara Pier is The Funk Zone, a hip area for a taste of room galavanting. Visit the Pali Wine Co. Wine Garden, serving more than 30 varietals sourced locally from California’s Central Coast. Opt for a flight, or try some new, fun, natural wines while soaking in the scenery. They also offer some light vegan snacks, a perfect complement to your vino. For some angst with your brew, head down the street to Flying Embers, where you can cool off with some strong kombucha. After sampling here, you might just become a hardcore ‘butch convert’.
7 Bar talks
At the Santa Barbara Public Market, a casual, busy food hall with a variety of food vendors, the all-vegan Fala Bar You will be hurt. The familiar falafel is great, but the stars of the show are the falafel burgers. If five options leave you with choice paralysis, opt for the greens-infused kale burger. It’s a thick, crispy patty topped with avocado, pickled purple cabbage, roasted onions, lemony kale and house-made Thousand Island dressing on a soft brioche bun.
8 Paradise found
In the heart of downtown, Paradise Found’s multicolored storefront will draw you in and keep you perusing the selection of books, crystals, jewelry, and other soul-stirring items for hours. You can even book an appointment with an intuitive reader for some in-depth one-on-one exploration. Want to keep the positive vibes going? Head 15 minutes south of the city to Little Oasis, a sanctuary for stunning gardens and cozy pockets to lounge in while sipping hot tea.
9 Oliver’s Montecito
Cruise Coast Village Road south of Santa Barbara towards the town of Montecito – a charming enclave where you’ll discover coffee shops, boutiques and the town’s star restaurant: Oliver’s Montecito. Take a seat in the year-round outdoor dining area surrounded by fairy-tale light strong trees and start with artichoke crab cakes, made with hearts of palm and served with spicy aioli. From there, let your palate run wild with refined dishes from dragon fruit ceviche to scallop pesto bucatini. And keep your eyes peeled: Oliver attracts a seriously star-driven clientele, so don’t be surprised to brush elbows with a celebrity or two.
10 of Caruso
Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort in Montecito is a breathtaking beachfront property with Caruso’s Restaurant, sure to whet your appetite. Book a four-course, prix fixe, Southern Italy-inspired vegan tasting menu in advance and spoil your taste buds while gazing out to the ocean horizon. You’ll have several options to choose from for each course, but look out for the creamy Cacio e Pepe for your main. Save room for the dessert course—everything from chocolate mousse combined with peanut butter to a great classic cheesecake is to die for.