Santa Barbara, although small, prides itself on multiculturalism. Host to expats and tourists from around the world, this town has far more to offer beyond just great weather and California beaches. On your next visit, we recommend expanding your palate by trying a new cuisine. Here’s our guide the best of international restaurants in town:
Petit Valentien is a quaint French bistro situated in La Arcada Plaza Downtown. Serving all the classic dishes, including goat cheese salad, pâté, and seared duck breast, this is the place to go for a taste of France. For Sunday supper, a set four-course menu is planned that begins at 5pm. As a bonus, traditional Ethiopian food is prepared on the weekends for what has become a savory local secret.
Petit Valentien. 1114 State Street #4. 805 966 0222.
Zaytoon is one of the few restaurants in Santa Barbara that can transport you to another place, with a beautiful outdoor terrace including twinkle lights, firepits and live music. Come here on a night you want to indulge and enjoy delicious Lebanese cuisine. To start, order the vegetarian choice for a sampling of all the traditional appetizers, followed by any one of the Kebab specials.
Zaytoon. 209 E Canon Perdido Street. 805 963 1293.
Everyone loves Italian food, and Santa Barbara is packed with great options. A standout among them is Olio e Limone on Victoria Street. Here, the ambiance is lively and fun, so make a reservation and come with a group! Everything on the menu is authentic and fantastic, but don’t leave without spoiling yourself with a pasta and one of their signature cocktails, such as the Amalfi Dream made with Caravella limoncello or the Martini all’Olio with house-made olive oil.
Olio e Limone Ristorante. 11 W Victoria Street #17. 805 899 2699.
The Himalayan Kitchen is an excellent spot for a variety of international cuisine, including specialties from Tibet, Nepal and India. The food here is different from anything you’ll find anywhere else in Santa Barbara. Must-haves include Yak Mo-Mo dumplings, Lamb Korma and Sherpa Stew on chilly evenings. Come here for a true flavor experience that will leave you wanting more.
Himalayan Kitchen. 431 State Street. 805 882 1000.
When eating out in Santa Barbara, you’ll notice the abundance of Mexican restaurants all claiming to be the most authentic; with that said, your best bet is to stick to the true local favorite. Specializing in traditional dishes and seafood, La Playa Azul has maintained its following by serving quality ingredients year after year. Don’t miss “Callo de Acha,” made with scallops, pickled jalapeños and salsa verde. And of course, enjoy a margarita on the patio!
La Playa Azul Cafe. 914 Santa Barbara Street. 805 966 2860.