A typical sunny day in Isla Vista usually consists of waking up late, hitting the surf and then grilling up a round of juicy burgers. But this weekend, excuse yourself from the usual hassle of struggling with the grill, brush and charcoal, and make a trip downtown to one of these Santa Barbara hot spots instead.

Burgers and Beers

Though State Street is usually home to never-ending construction projects and many monotonous traffic jams, it’s also the mecca of dining establishments known for their unmatchable quality. One of these restaurants is the Santa Barbara Brewing Company, located just a few blocks from Stearns Wharf at 501 State St. From the minute it opens until the last call for the day, beer is flowing readily from this eatery’s taps and cooks are flipping hamburgers for hungry customers without skipping a beat.

While the brews might be the initial draw for many patrons, Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s supervising manager Michelle Doherty said the restaurant’s multitude of tasty hamburger choices is what keeps the customers coming back.

“Everyone loves the Bacon Cheeseburger,” Doherty said. “Smoked bacon and aged cheddar cheese top the half-pound burger, which is placed on a giant sesame bun, for a mere $8.95. All of our burgers come with garlic rosemary French fries – which are amazing.”

Or, if you prefer a lighter option for dinner this weekend, try the Flaming Hot Greek Turkey Burger – a turkey burger topped with jalapenos and feta cheese – for $8.45.

In addition, the diner’s owners recently made the Brew Co.’s newly installed lounge the newest addition to the downtown bar scene – but of course, the posh private room is only open to the 21-and-over crowd.

“The lounge has four pool tables, plasma televisions, a full menu and is open from noon until midnight,” Doherty said. “It is the perfect place to come hang out before going out on the weekends.”

The restaurant’s favorable reputation for its microbrew beer has also been known to draw people off State Street and into the establishment’s dining area because of its well-known reputation as the perfect place to gulp down a cold one and eat a great burger – and do it with out breaking the bank.

“Our prices our pretty reasonable,” Doherty said. “Appetizers range from $6.95 to $9.95, entrees are $7.95 to $18.95, and our beers are around $4. If you come here on your birthday, we will even give you a free pint glass.”

Whether you choose the uniquely flavorful Bleu Cheese Mushroom Burger, the classic Santa Barbara Burger, or any menu option in between, you are sure to leave this brewery feeling a little bit happier – and a lot more satisfied – than when you came in.

The Santa Barbara Brewing Company is open on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m. until 12 a.m.

Grilled to Perfection

You’re sure to enjoy a day at the beach to its fullest when you end it with a trip to East Beach Grill. Located at 1118 East Cabrillo Blvd., this delightful eatery is open on weekdays for breakfast from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. for lunch, and on weekends from 7 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. for breakfast and 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. for lunch. So at practically any time you’re in the mood for a hot, juicy hamburger, this typical walk-up-and-order style restaurant will surely satisfy your fast food cravings.

Head supervisor Martine Chavez said the Grill’s menu features a variety of American favorites like hamburgers, sandwiches and shakes. But since there are always a few new customers who can’t choose between all of the diner’s delicious options, Chavez said she personally recommends the Grill’s classic beef burgers.

“Our charburger and our cheeseburger are great choices,” Chavez said. “You can even upgrade to a double-double hamburger for a couple extra dollars. Our regular burgers are $3.75, and our doubles are $6.00.”

Other options include the sourdough burger for $4.25 and the turkey burger for $4.30. For all the barbecue-loving vegetarians out there, East Beach Grill offers a garden burger as well.

Whatever you order, the great taste of their burgers and the scenic atmosphere combine to make your meal worth the price.

“For a lot of people our prices are considered expensive,” Chavez said. “However, we offer great food at the beach, so you are paying for what you receive.”

After ordering, choose a beachside table on East Beach Grill’s huge outdoor patio, and enjoy the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, while devouring a hamburger and fries – always well done.

Hot and Heavy

Open every day from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., Chubbies Hamburgers lures customers in with its big hamburger sign in front of their building. You can’t miss this quaint establishment – which is located at 2908 De La Vina St. – which not only boasts an unbeatable menu, but also a new interior and open kitchen.

Upon entering, the smell of meat permeates the room as your and boosts your hunger as you read the eatery’s short-but-sweet menu.

“Our menu is pretty small, but you can’t beat our originals,” said Chubbies manager Estella Coviam.

Their combo meals feature a choice from their variety of delicious, juicy burgers, fries and a soda.

“We have many combos, from cheeseburgers to veggie burgers,” Coviam said. “Our most popular is the Chavez combo, which includes a hamburger, soda and fries for only $5.70.”

To satisfy any guilty pleasure or carnivorous craving, head down to Chubbies Hamburgers – besides, everyone needs a little more meat on their bones.

Burn, Baby, Burn

If you get the chance to stroll down Santa Barbara’s famous Stearns Wharf, you’re sure to smell the sweet aroma of meat cooking on the grill coming from Char West – a pier-top diner where you can easily satisfy even your most intense hamburger hankerings.

Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., this fisherman’s haven has long had a reputation for offering some of Santa Barbara’s best fast food-style grub. Char West’s menu boasts burgers, fish and chips and salads – which is enough variety to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Despite Char West’s extensive menu options, owner John Williams said that some of the restaurant’s most popular choices are long-standing fast food classics.

“The Char Burger is definitely the customer favorite. It is topped with cheese, and served with chips for $5.95,” Williams said. “We actually stopped serving French fries in favor of our fresh potato chips, which we cut, fry and serve with our fish and chips too,”

Any choice on the Char West menu is great for anyone looking for a meal packed with protein. With relatively low prices, you cannot beat the atmosphere and the food.

“Our prices are low to moderate. For $4 to $9, you can enjoy a wonderfully grilled to perfection selection,” Williams said. “Our grilled chicken sandwich is also a favorite for $6.95, which is topped with mayo, pickles, lettuce and tomato and is served on a fresh bun.”

In addition, Char West Stearns Wharf location provides the perfect views to complement your meal. Both the indoor and outdoor dining areas can serve to accommodate all of your dining preferences.

“The views are spectacular. From the restaurant, you can see the Channel Islands and the mountains,” Williams said. “Our outdoor tables are especially popular during the summer months, when tourists come to try our food with a view.”

So, head down to the wharf to enjoy a juicy burger while you scope out Char West’s scenic location – you’ll be glad you did.

No one can deny that it’s OK to “have it your way” with a solid half pound of hamburger every once in a while. Wherever you decide to go in search of your craving, these fine eateries all promise to serve up one heck of a meal, and shouldn’t ever be merely tourist destinations. So, go explore your local area – and eat some meat while you’re at it.