Sometimes you need more to satisfy your hunger than just a bland salad the size of a raw cherry tomato. If your culinary fantasies are filled with images of Bessie the Cow, look no further than Santa Barbara’s best steakhouses to fulfill those dreams of yours. Whether you prefer your meat well done or rare, these restaurants are sure to grill yours to perfection.

Cowboy Cut
Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood
512 State St.
Price Range:$20+

Even despite the constant lack of parking during ongoing construction projects downtown, one State Street establishment continues to bring in customers from all around. Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood boasts the oldest bar in Santa Barbara – it’s been in use at the location for 108 years. In addition, Holdren’s does not only specialize in great steaks, the restaurant does an amazing job of presenting its patrons with nothing but the best quality food and a hip atmosphere.

“Our top steaks here include our signature Cowboy Cut bone-in rib eye, as well as the New York Prime Strip. Everyone also loves our lobster, our salmon and our secret ingredient macaroni and cheese,” manager Trevor Lowder said.

Though Holdren’s may be on the pricey side – ranging from $17 to $68 per meal – and also tends to be busy during dinner, you just can’t top the great taste of the eatery’s food; nor can anyone fail to love the Chicago-inspired theme that characterizes the interior of the steakhouse.

“This place is great for date space, our red room seats up to 10 people and is available for a two-hour stay if you reserve the 6 p.m. slot, but you can stay until closing if you pick the 8 p.m. seating.”

For a complete meal, any curious new Holdren’s patron should begin with an appetizer, like the restaurant’s Cajun fried calamari rings. For just $9 you can enjoy tender rings of calamari that are first flash fried and then served alongside Holdren’s famous sweet and spicy dipping sauce. The carmelized apple and walnut salad is also a good starter for any diner, especially before delving into an entrŽe like Holdren’s grilled salmon with orange honey glaze. Of course, don’t forget to finish off your meal with a tasty dessert.

“Everyone loves our specialty dessert of s’mores by the campfire,” Lowder said. “We bring the melted chocolate and the other ingredients to your table, so that you can enjoy a nice and unique dessert.”

Holdren’s classy ambience – dim lighting, velvet and leather booths, candles on the tables and decorative art on the brick walls – makes the restaurant a definite must-visit place for those who wish to fully appreciate a fine dining experience.

“Most come for dinner and drinks,” Lowder said. “We have a great bar crowd at night, and we are always featuring specialty martinis and good wines that a lot of restaurants cannot get. Our motto is ‘fine dining with an edge.'”

So if you are in the mood for steak, you can order yourself a juicy filet at lunch or dinner at Holdren’s any day of the week – the establishment is, of course, on the cutting edge of steakhouses.

In Good Company
Shalhoob’s Resturant & Deli
632 Santa Barbara St.
Price Range:$10-20

In the midst of corporate downtown Santa Barbara, Shalhoob’s Restaurant and Deli – or Jill’s Place, as it is becoming more commonly known – has a long history in Santa Barbara. The Shalhoob Meat Co. has been operating since 1973, when it opened in a building called Jill’s Place on Santa Barbara Street.

Jill Shalhoob, the restaurant’s owner, started Shalhoob’s in 1987 as a deli and catering company. Now, Shalhoob’s has expanded its hours and added dinner options to its menu, specializing in steaks for the evening meal.

“We are a steak place,” Shalhoob said. “We are known for our Spencer’s, which is the old school name for a rib eye steak. Our filets are also quite nice. Prices start at $16.95 and go up to $25.95 for our steaks and all of our entrees are served with soup and salad.”

Open every day and night but Sunday, Jill’s Place also runs a deli menu during the day with fresh cold cuts and great burgers from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. No matter the hour of day, locals keep on coming back for more.

“We have two completely different menus for lunch and dinner, which is unique,” Shalhoob said. “So, if you want something off of the dinner menu at lunch, then you have to come back and try it at 5 p.m.”

This tactic may account for the high percentage of regular local visitors who repeatedly return to the eatery – for both lunch and dinner – year after year. The consistent crowd and the casual Santa Barbara atmosphere is a direct result of the quality Shalhoob family name and quality steaks to back it up.

Island Fever
Chuck’s of Hawaii
3888 State St.
Price Range:$10-20

Enter Chuck’s of Hawaii through tiki torches, tropical foliage and a native wood-carved door. Here you’ll find great steaks and a full bar with a true Hawaiian atmosphere. So, jump on the sugarcane train and head down to Chuck’s of Hawaii to enjoy award-winning cuisine.

“We are well known for our steak and seafood,” John Randolph, a bartender and server at Chuck’s, said. “We have the best priced meals around and have been featured in the Independent year after year for our great food,”

This creative aspect of the restaurant ensures you won’t miss a thing on the menu, since it’s condensed. Chuck’s serves only the best cuts of meat; from the establishment’s tasty sirloin for $20.95 to its exquisite filet for $28.95, no one can be disappointed by Chuck’s grilled-to-perfection selections.

“All of our steaks are great,” Randolph said. “Regulars and locals keep coming back for more. In fact, being at Chuck’s make you feel like you are in your living room. The atmosphere is laidback, dark, cozy and candlelit for a nice dining experience. Chuck’s offers the full spectrum, from being a good date spot to a casual restaurant.”

Cocktails, Mai Tais and good wine are also served up daily at Chuck’s full bar. In addition, Chuck’s late-night dining – food is served from until 11 p.m. on weekdays and until 11:30 p.m. on weekends – is one feature unique in Santa Barbara, since most everything closes early downtown.

“Our menu is not expansive, but we are consistent in what we do,” Randolph said. “All of our meals also come with a trip to the salad bar and fresh bread. Some customer favorites include the grilled artichoke for $7.95, which goes well with the 18oz. T-bone steak for $29.95.”

Don’t wait too long to venture to Chuck’s of Hawaii because your Mai Tai, a hearty steak and the aloha spirit await you.

Juicy Couture
Rodney’s Steakhouse
633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
Price Range:$20+

Beachside and full of grandeur, Rodney’s Steakhouse is located within Fess Parker’s Double Tree Resort. Walking into the restaurant, you find yourself immersed in the royal blue and gold tones that line the interior’s plush seats and tables.

This quaint spot is perfect for a night out on the town, boasting a spectacular view of the ocean from the restaurant’s courtyard.

“Our 6 ounce and our 9 ounce steaks are our specialties,” James Marcinonis, the head chef, said. “Kobe beef, which comes from Japan, is also especially popular, but tends to be higher priced at $65. If you are looking for a mix of steak and seafood, our surf and turf is another wonderful option. It comes with eight ounces of Australian lobster and six ounces of filet.”

Rodney’s Steakhouse’s acclaim has also recently been confirmed with an impressive rating from the Zagat guide, which the steakhouse’s owners have placed in clear view near the entrance.

“We have a great atmosphere for a hotel restaurant, and most [guests at the Doubletree Resort] are pleasantly surprised to find us,” Rick Gavin, a supervisor at Rodney’s, said.

However, Gavin said tourists are not the only ones who become fans of Rodney’s after just one visit.

“Rodney’s Steakhouse is Santa Barbara’s best-kept secret,” he said. “And every Thursday is local’s night, which gets you 20 percent off your entire bill, including alcoholic beverages.”

So if you’re looking to enjoy scrumptious artichoke au gratin or crabcakes with your dry-aged beef -and maybe finish off such a fine meal with Grand Marnier cr