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The Fine Art of Outdoor Dining in Santa Barbara


The outside patio at Bacara's Angel Oak steak and seafood restaurant

Outdoor dining in Santa Barbara is the perfect alfresco repast. From the Santa Ynez Valley to downtown Santa Barbara, you’ll find the freshest ingredients on your table at a delicious variety of restaurants. There is something for every taste: from locally sourced, farm-to-table meals and fresh-off-the-boat seafood, to Santa Maria-style barbecue, authentic Mexican cuisine, and other coastal-inspired creations. Thanks to our perfect Mediterranean weather, locals can dine outside almost all year long.

Here are some of my favorite places for alfresco dining in Santa Barbara:

  • Angel Oak
    This modern steak and seafood restaurant, pictured at the top of this post, is the fine dining option at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara. This isn’t your father’s dark and dingy steakhouse. This bright and airy eatery’s main feature is the ambiance inspired by pure scenic beauty. Dine on refined classics or order from a rotating seasonal menu of ingredients such as A5 Japanese Wagyu, local abalone, and bone marrow as you watch the sunset and take in the ocean breeze from the outdoor patio. No matter what you order, dinner includes pristine views of the Channel Islands.

  • Loquita in Santa Barbara
    Those who are searching for a cosmopolitan dining experience in the city of Santa Barbara should head to the Funk Zone and sit beneath the strung lights on Loquita’s side patio. Both the outdoor patio setting and the delicious fare go toe-to-toe with the best in town. There, one can dine on quintessentially Spanish dishes featuring modern tapas with a twist like pork belly with kimchi paella. The pulpo, the scallops with chorizo, and the churros are also must-orders. This upscale restaurant with great cocktails has become one of the hottest tables in town.

  • Jane Restaurant
    With a menu featuring a collection of tried and true favorites, this popular eatery serves up a delicious Sidewalk Happy Hour, Monday through Thursday from 5:00 to 9:00 PM—staying open until 9:30 PM on Friday and Saturday—at its State Street location in the heart of the new Pedestrian Promenade. Family owned and operated, Jane serves California Cuisine at its best. They make just about everything in house, the old-fashioned way: from scratch. The restaurant owners are proud of their uncompromising commitment to quality, service, consistency, and value. And I can tell you, they nail it every time. Yum!

  • Shoreline Beach Café
    Serving Santa Barbara locals and visitors alike since 1997, the Shoreline Beach Café is the place diners can put their toes in the sand on the shaded deck while enjoying a wide variety of casual beach fare. Located just North of the Santa Barbara Harbor on Leadbetter Beach, this laid-back spot serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. The varied menu is designed to satisfy everyone’s cravings: from the popular Beach Burger, the loaded Nachos, Baja Style Tacos, or the Fresh Fish of the Day.  For breakfast, wake up with hot coffee and OJ Pancakes, Huevos Rancheros, or one of the restaurant’s other tasty dishes. 

Creating Your Own Outdoor Venue for Outdoor Dining in Santa Barbara

An outdoor kitchen is one of the things homebuyers are looking for today, especially in sunny communities like Santa Barbara. If you’re thinking of remodeling the outside area of your home anytime soon, here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. The Grill
    Wondering what size grill you need? Just think about how often you entertain and how many guests attend outside soirées at your home. For most people, a 30″-36″ grill is a perfect size, accommodating anywhere between 2 to 20 guests.
  2. The Materials
    I recommend you stick to natural stone because that look is durable and will last the longest. Think bluestone, limestone, or granite for your countertops. Definitely seal outdoor countertops using a silicon-based impregnating sealer.
  3. The access doors
    Since gas shut-off values are typically placed below the grill, you need to build access doors. You can also hook the grill up to the gas service at your house.
  4. What else do you want to add?
    Side burners, sinks, refrigerators, a wine cooler, storage doors, lights, a strategically placed GCFI (outdoor power outlet), and perhaps a rotisserie. Basically, just think of everything you need inside, and make sure the same items are found outside!
  5. Where to build your outdoor kitchen
    Make sure you build your outdoor kitchen close to your indoor kitchenThat way, you can easily utilize your indoor space for food prep.

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Alfresco at Home

Every Santa Barbara homeowner needs their own space for outdoor dining, where they can enjoy our beautiful weather and breathtaking views. Having your own place to dine alfresco also comes in handy when you have an impromptu gathering and don’t want guests to enter your home for whatever reason. Just bring everyone outside to the best room of your house—the backyard.

Imagine outdoor dining at any of these 3 homes currently on the market:

The outdoor patio of a European-Inspired Montecito Contemporary Estate

This European-Inspired Montecito Contemporary Estate has an exquisite patio with an incredible ocean view for the owners, their friends, and family members to enjoy. In fact, the entire property is set against a stunning backdrop. Imagine inviting the tribe over to dine outside for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Plan the right timing for dinner and you’ll see why there is nothing better than enjoying good friends, good food, and a breathtaking sky lit with a golden and crimson radiance as the sunsets.

The back patio of this French Country-Style Montecito Home in Birnam Wood has its own fireplace.

How about having a friend join you for a round of golf followed by an intimate alfresco lunch on your veranda? That image could be a reality if you owned this French Country-Style Montecito Home in Birnam Wood. Bordering the 12th fairway and green of the enclave’s world-class golf course, this patio, with its fireplace, is the perfect spot to relive the excitement from that hole in one. Like many homes in Birnam Wood, this estate is set amidst towering oaks, a verdant lawn, and impeccable landscaping, plus it’s close to endless amenities, recreation services, and much, much more!

This Ocean View Mediterranean-Style Estate has a back patio inspired by Spain.

The backyard dining patio of my Ocean View Mediterranean-Style Estate listing is simply stunning. Take a tour of this beauty nestled on approximately 3 private acres and you’ll witness the magnificence for yourself. Many rooms open to a sprawling terrace that overlooks the gardens, ocean, and islands. The new owners will undoubtedly spend a lot of time on the terrace with its pergola, pool, barbecue area, and built-in fire pit. It overlooks the grounds complete with a wealth of drought-tolerant landscaping, fruit trees, citrus orchards, raised planters, and an array of beautiful flowers. 

If you’re looking for a new home where you can enjoy the fine art of outdoor dining in any of Santa Barbara’s high-end communities, I’m here to help. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@Montecito-Estate. I’ll help you find the perfect new abode where you and your family can dine alfresco — nightly if you want. Begin your home hunt by checking out the listings on my comprehensive website. See something you like? Let me arrange a private tour. We can dine alfresco when the time comes to complete the paperwork. You choose the restaurant!


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