The 7 Best Places to Eat and Drink Vegan in Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara may be known as a quaint beach town just north of Los Angeles, but make no mistake, the foodie scene in Santa Barbara is on-point. It has some incredible vegan restaurants and veg-friendly menus that rival the best in LA. Here, we guide you through some of the best places to help eat (and drink) your way through Santa Barbara in plant-based style.
1. Oliver's Montecito
2. Bella Vista Restaurant at The Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore
You would never know The Four Seasons has a super vegan-friendly menu at its main fine-dining attraction, the Bella Vista restaurant. It recently debuted the new menu and brought in the experts to help, partnering with healthy living educator and vegan chef Leslie Durso. The menu is clearly marked for (G) Gluten Free, (V) Vegetarian and (PB) Plant-Based, making it easy for anyone with food preferences to dine.
Calling All: Hopeless romantics...and those obsessed with finding the best falafel. And, for the claustrophobic who want a spacious, open-air place to dine, Zaytoon is for you. If you’re with those that want a meat option, they’ll appreciate the non-veg items on the menu.
Plant Yourself: At one of the tables around the fountain in the center of the outdoor patio.
Order for the Table: Any mix of Mezza—hummus, baba ghannouj and tabouli should be at the top of the list.
Don't Miss: The Vegetarian Choice entree which includes a generous portion of falafel and a number of accompanying sides.
This natural wine bar in Santa Barbara’s downtown does everything right, from wine to food to service. Satellite’s vegetarian menu (which is mostly vegan) is prepared from organic produce provided direct from local farmers in the region. As for their wine, they exclusively source wines grown with organic and/or biodynamic principles, so all wine is natural with minimal manipulation and additives.
Calling All: Wine aficionados that like small bites and appreciate soaking in wine knowledge from the friendly and educated staff.
Plant Yourself: At the bar to chat with a local or one of their wine experts to answer all your burning wine questions...or for people watching grab a seat at the bar/window that faces out onto State St.
Order for the Table: The Smoked Shrooms, made with locally sourced mushrooms and bread from a local bakery.
Don't Miss: Their Vegan Tacos, stuffed full with a hefty serving of locally sourced veggies and other goodies.
5. Modern Times, Academy of Recreational Sciences
For a fun, upbeat spot on lower State St. with great beer on tap—and a 100% plant-based menu—visit Modern Times. Santa Barbara may be best known for its wine, but good beer is also abundant in the city. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and surrounded by funky wall art, the setting is cool and casual. Modern Times has over 30 beers on tap, and also cold brew coffee, kombucha and wine.
Calling All: hipsters that geek out over good beer, and anyone with the need for some good-ass elevated bar food.
Plant Yourself: along the gold fork art wall inside to do some people watching while admiring the hip and playful digs.
Order for the Table: the Chili Verde Cheese Fries which come topped with lots of fixings including Beyond Meat crumbles.
Don't Miss: Make sure to opt for one of their beer flights so you can get a taste of all the beer goodness they are brewing up.
Since it is Santa Barbara, we end on a note about drinking some vegan wine in the city. Recall not all wine is vegan (this article explains) since many use fining agents like egg-whites and other animal products not listed on the label so you would have no idea of knowing. Here are a few recommended places to taste that you can trust make clean and quality vegan wine:
6. Folded Hills Montecito Tasting Room and Wine Shop
Just a short walking distance from The Fours Seasons Biltmore in Montecito, is the Folded Hills wine tasting room, perfect for a stop before heading to dinner at Bella Vista (or Oliver’s, both mentioned above). Here you can lounge and drink award-winning vegan, organic wines produced locally just 30 miles north at the Folded Hills Homestead estate (which is also worth a visit if you are headed to wine country).
At their Montecito tasting room, you’ll encounter knowledgeable passionate staff pouring wine flights and wines by the glass; this juice is some of the best in Santa Barbara, and sure to please any pallet. Pick up a few bottles to go, or consider joining their wine club that gives you special access to events plus wine shipped direct to you twice a year.
7. Pali Wine Co. Tasting Room
If you are head out in the popular Funk Zone of Santa Barbara—which you should if you are seeking a hotspot that 20 and 30-something-year-olds converge to eat, drink and party—pop into Pali wine Co., a hip winery on the main drag. They are known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines but try a flight to get a little taste of everything. Also, enjoy their outside patio and take in that glorious Santa Barbara sun while you sip. Note that they do serve some bites, but offerings are not very vegan-friendly; in fact most wine tasting rooms still have a way to go in terms of the bites they offer with the wines. So go for the wine, and then venture onto one of the above-mentioned spots for your vegan food fix.