It’s no secret that a close proximity to the home country makes Southern California the number one domestic destination for tacos, burritos and all of their compadres. Right up there with LA and San Diego, Santa Barbara enjoys a blissful abundance of top notch Mexican restaurants, and here are a few of our favorites.

Lilly’s Tacos

Lilly’s Tacos has everything you need in a taco joint. Most choices are under $2 a pop, and they range from steamed beef cheek to grilled beef and marinated pork to roasted veggie tacos with corn, zucchini, carrots or green beans.

Cuernavaca Taqueria

Also offering an attractive selection of street-style tacos, Cuernavaca explores the spicy world of Mexican cuisine a bit further. Quesadillas, tortas, sopes, carne asada—you name it and they have some heavily-grilled take on it. They specialize in alambres, which are similar to tacos with melted cheese, and a long list of various renditions impresses from top to bottom.

Cielito Restaurant

This sit-down Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara charms with its red brick courtyard and elegant, Southwest-style dining room. Cielito’s serves over 90 types of tequila and serve beloved tapas like shrimp and crab quesadillas, house made guacamole and carrot tacos. It’s a little slice of heaven—fitting, seeing as that is what the name translates to.


Romanti-Ezer is an unassuming little shop front with plenty of outdoor seating and the best wet burritos in town, hands down. Whether you go with the ole mole, chicken ranchero or chile relleno, the only way to go wrong with this specialty is to try and pick up the soppy mess with your hands.

Los Arroyos

Los Arroyos is a comprehensive Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara with stellar options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The machaca de pollo kills the early morning with shredded chicken over scrambled eggs, while burritos, tacos and nachos rule the lunch and dinner menus.