As one of the most eclectic and diverse culinary hot spots in California, Santa Barbara is replete with a plethora of restaurants for every fancy, but more on that later. First let’s get to know each other. This colorful section you are perusing is On the Menu, a weekly Daily Nexus treat that will provide you with punny remarks and deliciously dripping adjectives about the tastiest places in the Santa Barbara area. As your guide to the Santa Barbara food scene and On the Menu editor, I have compiled a geographical list of some of my favorite dining locations to help you discover your newest cravings and some of the sweetest places to get your parents to take you before you begin the daily march to the dining commons.

The Breakdown:

Isla Vista, the collegiate community bordering UCSB, is a quick and affordable grub heaven, offering everything from pizza, to sandwiches, to sushi and nachos at all hours, and is sure to be a favorite stop for those first venturing outside the campus taste bubble.

Freebirds World Burrito
879 Embarcadero Del Norte
Isla Vista, Calif.
Phone: (805) 968-0123
Open 7 days/week: 24 hours daily

Of the many restaurants and establishments surrounding UCSB, the one most associated with the culture, tastes and sleep schedules of its students is, undoubtedly, Freebirds. Freebirds never gets one single second of shut-eye; it is constantly buzzing and is rightfully so. This Isla Vista favorite is a Mexican food wonderland with nachos, tacos, burritos, tostadas and plenty more made to order. Specialty beverages provided at the joint, such as an Horchata or sweet Mexican cola, make all the difference in washing down the delicious grub. For a fast food establishment, it runs a bit pricey at an average of $12 dollars per order, but the portions are large and extremely sharable.

If there is only one place you venture to in place of a dining commons meal, make it Freebirds.

Woodstock’s Pizza
928 Embarcadero Del Norte
Isla Vista, Calif.
Phone: (805) 968-6969
Sun: 9:30 a.m. – Midnight
Mon-Thurs: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Fri-Sat: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.

How could a restaurant named after one of the most psychedelic music festivals known to man be a failure? It certainly can’t. Woodstock’s Pizza is everything you would expect in a pizza parlor – laidback atmosphere, delectable pies and satisfying beers (in due time, younglings, in due time). From traditional cheese and pepperoni to local favorites such as the I.V. Classic and the FireBird, Woodstock’s delivers. They also deliver literally, in case you were wondering, but the minimum is a fair $12. The most quintessential and original item Woodstock’s is known for is surprisingly not a pizza, but a glazed up CinnaBread – a doughy dessert topped with cinnamon and frosting. At about $4 for a regular CinnaBread, Woodstock’s puts a modest price on this little slice of heaven.

Due to its fun ambiance and creative menu, Woodstock’s is the perfect place to head with roommates or new friends to enjoy a night in Isla Vista.

900 Embarcadero Del Mar
Isla Vista, Calif.
Phone: (805) 961-1700
Open 7 Days/week: 11 a.m. – Midnight

There had never been a single rumor about college that had terrified me more than the freshman 15. In hindsight, I realize now that the fear I myself had as a freshman brought me closer to one of my favorite restaurants today – Silvergreens.

Silvergreens is consistently recognized as the freshest and healthiest establishment in all of Isla Vista. Hand-tossed salads, delicious soups and delectable pastas are the staples of this fast and fresh establishment. At about $8 per item, Silvergreens is rather fairly priced and will leave you feeling satisfied but not stuffed. This restaurant is known as a pioneer in the health world, as it is the first restaurant in the world to boast a Nutricate receipt that lists the caloric value of each item you purchase. For a wonderful way to combine taste and health, visit Silvergreens at either their Isla Vista or downtown Santa Barbara locations.

As many of you may have discovered, UC Santa Barbara is not actually in the city of Santa Barbara. Instead, the closet incorporated community is Goleta – a town you will become familiar with as the home of Costco and one of the priciest gas stations in the state. However, don’t let this big little city fool you – there are still plenty of culinary treats a short drive or bike ride away.

Country Catering Company Deli
5925 Calle Real
Goleta, Calif.
Phone: (805) 964-3811
Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sandwiches are often imagined as the lackluster and unimpressive food-on-the-go. Country Deli will undoubtedly cause a paradigm shift in the minds of those who share this belief. The grinders offered at this joint are extremely tasty and satisfying, with creative sandwich specials making an appearance on the menu daily. Try the Grilled Pastrami Sandwich or Aloha Grilled Pork Sandwich for about $7 a piece on Monday or Friday, respectively, or wait until Saturday when everything is specially priced. Sandwiches include one of the company’s delicious sides such as cole slaw or chili beans. This establishment serves as a great and affordable lunchtime treat that will certainly give you the most bang for your buck.

Gina’s Pizza
7038 Market Place Dr.
Goleta, Calif.
Phone: (805) 571-6300
Mon-Sun: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

As an alternative to Woodstock’s, Gina’s Pizza is a more thorough and down-to-earth locale for pizzas, calzones, salads and paninis. Like the majority of pizza restaurants, Gina’s boasts both traditional and more creative pies. Crowd pleasers like the Maui Mamma – a pizza including pineapple, two kinds of bacon and Mozzarella – and the Barbacoa Chicken – which includes a barbeque sauce in place of marinara, smoked gouda and marinated chicken – are among just a few of the wonderful menu items Gina’s has to offer. A personal pizza goes for about $10, while subs and hot sandwiches sell for $7. Gina’s location in the Camino Real Marketplace is among one of its best attributes, allowing patrons to stop by before a movie or after a long study session at the neighboring Starbucks.

Oh, Santa Barbara… a short 15 minute drive or slightly longer bus ride,[[nix comma]] will transport a UCSB student from the doldrums of the De la Guerra Dining Commons to an exciting locale perfect for a day trip of shopping and dining as well as an excellent destination for birthday dinners or dates.

Ca’ Dario
37 East Victoria St.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Phone: (805) 884-9419
Daily: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Ca’ Dario is assuredly one of the best Italian restaurant in all of Santa Barbara county. The mellow ambiance, professionally prepared food and meticulous attention to detail all combine to make this restaurant a devastatingly tasty delight. This romantic hot spot is perfect for dates or an intimate dinner with friends and is certainly on the pricier side of the restaurants listed thus far. Dinner items such as the Ziti Al Ragù Di Olive e Capperi or the Fusilli Tartufati are as authentic as they sound and include only the freshest and tastiest ingredients in combination with both the sauce and pasta. Dinner at Ca’ Dario will likely be about $20 a person, so expect to dine here on special occasions. Lunch menu items are slightly more forgiving with the primi averaging about $12. During your stay at UCSB, I highly recommend giving Ca’ Dario a try on an occasion you deem fit. It is truly a wonderful dining and culinary experience.

La Super Rica Taqueria
622 N. Milpas St.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Phone: (805) 963-4940
Mon-Sun: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Wed: Closed

La Super Rica Taqueria is living proof that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Upon the first sighting of the establishment, you might assume that there is nothing to offer beyond the dilapidated walls and paint-stripped façade. But how very wrong you are. La Super Rica Taqueria is home to some of the cheapest, best and most authentic Mexican food in all of Santa Barbara. From tamales to tacos, La Super Rica offers only the finest Mexican dishes and sides. While the establishment takes only cash, a few dollars can get you quite far in this grub heaven. The tiny shack provides a wide array of homemade sauces for its patrons and makes every item to order, inviting guests to customize their orders. Friday and Saturday include homemade tamale specials, while Sunday’s special boasts a classic Mexican soup known as pozole. In this kind of economy – or in any economy – La Super Rica Taqueria is certainly a best bet when it comes to delicious, fast and reasonably priced food.

If you would like to explore more of the culinary options available in the Santa Barbara area, check out these helpful Web sites for reviews, hours, prices and locations.