Congratulations to the class of 2019. You did it, and what better way to celebrate your new degree than sharing a delicious meal with your friends and family? The On the Menu staff has curated a special list of all the different food spots for all you grads out there. Whether you’re looking for something more casual or something on the upscale side, there’s a place here for you!
One of Goleta’s best hidden brunch spots is located just inside the Kimpton Goodland Hotel. This is the perfect spot for a heartwarming family brunch without making the trek downtown and facing excessively long waits. Outpost offers an intimate setting with both indoor seating along with a full bar and outdoor courtyard seating that is very dog-friendly.
While the menu is pretty short in length, it offers a wide variety of different brunch cuisines, ranging from the typical egg plates to nutritious salads, yogurt bowls and the classic pancakes or french toast. I especially appreciate their wide selection of coffee beverages, even though these are not included on the physical menu itself. The almond milk cappuccino is especially satisfying. Another major plus of enjoying brunch at Outpost is their famous mimosas for all celebration purposes. If you’re looking for an intimate, enjoyable setting to celebrate graduation, I definitely recommend taking your loved ones to brunch at Outpost.
Located in the heart of downtown and home to endless baskets of chips and salsa is Casa Blanca, a perfect place for large parties to dine at. Whether you’re going for lunch or dinner, this incredible restaurant offers a variety of authentic Mexican cuisine with options for almost any dietary restriction. Their prices may be a little higher than your typical Mexican restaurant, but the quality of the food does not disappoint!
I personally recommend ordering one of their fajita dishes, which come out fresh off the grill along with warm tortillas of either corn or flour. Casa Blanca is also home to an extensive tequila bar with various margarita flavors to enjoy. If you are really in the mood to splurge, their homemade guacamole simply cannot be matched. Casa Blanca is the perfect restaurant for spending a little extra cash on some delicious food with your family and friends.
Another upscale restaurant downtown that offers a great atmosphere for celebration is Zaytoon. This restaurant offers both Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisines in a comfy outdoor courtyard. The seating area is surrounded by greenery and creates a calming setting for all its customers. The menu itself also offers many healthy options and vegetarian dishes.
Their organic hummus and pita bread is a must-have when visiting this restaurant. In addition to bringing out your entrée, the waiter will also bring additional pita bread for the table to share. Zaytoon is a cozy restaurant that provides a peaceful setting for catching up with loved ones as well as fantastic food for the whole family to enjoy.
Let’s say you and your family are looking to splurge a little for a graduation celebration because, let’s be honest, you deserve it! Stella Mare’s is the perfect place for you. This fantastic restaurant is located right by the Santa Barbara Zoo next to the bird refuge and has been serving French country bistro cuisine for almost 20 years.
They have amazing weekly offers like Bistro Tuesday, which includes their Prix Fixe Bistro Dinner Menu, and on Wednesdays they feature live jazz music. Their portion sizes are very generous, and all their dishes, whether it is an appetizer, entree or dessert, will not disappoint. Stella Mare’s is a perfect restaurant for a classy, relaxing dinner for you and your family.
On the Alley
If you’re looking for something more low-key than a traditional sit-down restaurant, head to the Santa Barbara Harbor. You can enjoy some beautiful views of the ocean, and while there are some exquisite waterfront dining options, On the Alley offers a casual outdoor dining experience perfect for larger families who want some tasty, inexpensive seafood that hits the spot. On the Alley has all kinds of food you’d expect from a traditional American seafood restaurant, such as fish and chips, clam chowder, burgers and tacos.
I’d definitely recommend the fish and chips because it’s such a classic dish, and the fish is perfectly crisp while retaining the moisture of the fish itself. The fries are well-seasoned and cooked just the way you’d want your fries to be. If you’re looking to eat something more unique, try the crab cake burger. It’s a nice twist on the traditional beef patty, and although the texture may be a little weird at first, the amazing flavors definitely make up for it. All the burgers come with their house-made potato chips, or you can substitute the chips with fries for an additional cost. Overall, this is the perfect spot to just chill by the oceanside and enjoy some classic American seafood.
Santa Barbara Fish Market
Santa Barbara is known for its seafood, so why not take your family to eat some of the freshest seafood in town? Although this isn’t an actual restaurant, it’s one of the best places to get fresh and delicious seafood for a very reasonable price. They have weekly specials on their fish, which is fresh from Santa Barbara or imported from around the world. Yelpers rave about their uni and oysters, which they claim is to die for. They have a fee to cut the fish into sashimi slices for you, but when it all adds up, you get an enormous amount of fish. The salmon and ahi tuna both taste extremely fresh. I could definitely imagine bringing this home and setting up a nice seafood platter with sashimi and uni. And on top of that, you can use your student ID for a discount, so get those perks in the fleeting moments you still have!
El Paseo Mexican Restaurant
If your family likes a good deal, head over to the El Paseo Mexican Restaurant to celebrate graduation. El Paseo Mexican Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara has been serving the community with its authentic Mexican cuisine since 1922. It’s a hidden gem all the way in the back of a plaza that resembles a Spanish village. You can opt for All-You-Can-Eat Taco Tuesdays, which is one of my personal favorites to enjoy with a large group, or go on any other day and order dishes a la carte, which are extremely authentic and tasty too.
Chumash Casino Buffet
Skip the lines and RSVP list at restaurants in Santa Barbara and take a drive up to the Chumash Casino and Resort in the Santa Ynez Valley to dine at The Buffet. The Buffet opens from 4 to 10 p.m. daily, and each adult enters for $24.95. Patrons have the option to choose from Mexican, Italian and Asian-inspired food stations. Guests can also grab seafood, sides from the salad bar and options from the comfort food station. If you have a sweet tooth, check out the dessert station for a variety of baked goods and frozen treats. If you are with a crowd that has a variety of food preferences, this buffet-style restaurant is the place to go.