Graduating college is no easy feat, especially for the Class of 2020. Your last two quarters at UC Santa Barbara got cut short, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve the best celebration for all those hours you spent working toward your diploma — and what better way to celebrate than with food? We can no longer go out in big groups, but takeout, making home-cooked food or saving these restaurants for future large outings once it’s safe again are still great options, so check out these 20 food options fit for the Class of 2020’s graduation celebration!
1. Downtown Brunch From State & Fig
Although you can’t celebrate graduation with brunch and endless mimosas, you can still order takeout from your favorite downtown Santa Barbara brunch spot. It certainly won’t be the same, but it’ll have to do for this year. Celebrate with the best gourmet brunch burritos, paninis and burgers while you drunk-Zoom your friends about how fast four years flew by.
2. Beachfront Brunch at Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach
Another great brunch spot that overlooks Hendry’s Beach and is great for special occasions is Boathouse. Their famous huevos rancheros or breakfast crab cakes are the perfect way to start the day off. If you’re a morning cocktail person, their bloody mary also may be a perfect starter to a day full of celebration.
3. Celebration Donuts From Hook & Press Donuts
Hook & Press Donuts is hands-down the most creative and aesthetically pleasing donut spot in the area. With their rotating menu and fresh doughs, glazes and everything else being made in-house, you won’t be able to get these donuts anywhere else except in Santa Barbara, so you better grab them before you leave! Their unique donut flavors currently include Blueberry Crisp, Lemon Olive Oil, Key Lime Pie and many more.
4. Fresh Seafood From the Santa Barbara Fish Market
What better way to end undergrad than with Santa Barbara’s finest seafood? Try to take advantage of the market’s student discount one last time and get a taste of their wild scallops, oysters and lobster. Since this is a special occasion, you’d probably want to treat yourself to the famous Santa Barbara sea urchin, freshly harvested from our local waters. If shellfish isn’t your forte, their vast selection of fish is great for the grill or even sashimi!
5. Appetizers and Cocktails From Finney’s Crafthouse
One of the best spots in downtown Santa Barbara for a celebration is Finney’s by the wharf! Not only does it have a great variety of appetizers and small plates, but its drink menu is also very extensive. This is the perfect place to bring family and celebrate this special day. After you’re done dining and drinking, you can walk across the street to the beach for your graduation picture needs.
6. Woodstock’s Feed the Fam Deal
If you have family visiting to celebrate graduation, this is a great way to feed the entire family at a good price! The Feed the Fam deal has four different options depending on how many you are serving. The largest option which feeds four to six people comes with an extra large pizza, a large salad and a regular CinnaBread dessert pizza all for the price of $32.95. There are also various deals for kids if you have younger family members coming to visit! Woodstock’s is also great for working around a wide variety of dietary restrictions to cater to the whole family.
7. Graduation Grub From Dave’s Dogs Grill
After countless nights studying at the library with only yerba mates and Arbor sandwiches to keep you going, what you deserve after completing undergrad is some savory grub from Dave’s Dogs. Devouring their Santa Barbara style dog, pulled pork mac and cheese dog or buffalo barbeque chicken dog is definitely a fitting reward for all the times you forewent a night out to finish your paper. If hot dogs aren’t your thing, Dave’s Dogs also makes amazing tater tots and fries loaded with the works — meat, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream.
8. Fireside Dinner at Zaytoon
Zaytoon is known for its gorgeous patio with fireside tables that can fit large groups of people (once it’s safe to do so). If you’re looking for a quality meal and great ambiance for celebrating your academic accomplishments, this may be the place for you. While you wait for your entrees and dine on warm pita bread, you can take the opportunity to reminisce on all the positive memories from the past four years. A fireside dinner together provides a warm and nostalgic ending to this special day.
9. Ice Cream From McConnell’s
You know you’ll miss this Santa Barbara favorite after you graduate, so make sure to grab one last bite of their decadent ice cream. If that’s not enough to fuel your celebration, you can find their pints in grocery stores or order on the McConnell’s website to get their signature pints delivered right to your doorstep!
10. Post-Ceremony Drunchies From Lilly’s Taqueria
A local favorite just outside of Isla Vista that never fails to impress is Lilly’s Taqueria, better known as Lilly’s Tacos. If you’re looking for a more casual setting for the occasion, this may be a great option for takeout. Although dining in isn’t an option at the moment, getting some tacos to go and taking them to the beach for a sunset picnic might be a nice way to close off the year. Nothing says Santa Barbara quite like tacos and the beach.
This is the perfect way to kickstart your graduation day with a healthy but delicious option. You can pick and choose how to customize it, making it also perfect for brunch gatherings with friends.
This recipe is perfect for graduates who love celebrating with brunch. Although it sounds intimidating, eggs benedict is not that difficult to make and it’s great to pair with some endless mimosas at home!
If eggs benedict isn’t enough, add some crunchy french toast into your graduation brunch menu and you’ll be good to go with that balance of sweet and savory! If you really want to take this recipe to the next level, try adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
In the given circumstances, you may choose to just stay in and make an easy yet delicious meal to celebrate the special day. This recipe is the perfect choice for satisfying your savory cravings as well as saving money by not eating out!
This recipe takes a lot of time and effort, but now that you’ve graduated, you’ve got all the time in the world to cook delicious food to celebrate your undergrad journey — just until you start the job search or grad school applications, that is.
For the graduates who have a need for a soul-filling bowl of pasta after four years of hard work, this pesto gnocchi recipe is perfect! It’ll give you a graduation dinner that tastes gourmet at a fraction of the price and effort.
Celebrate with this simple yet delicious bulgogi ground beef rice bowl. It’s not time-consuming at all and it’ll definitely be a great meal to end your year on.
A great alternative to the usual cake or pie, this pull-apart monkey bread is perfect for any special occasion.
If you’re craving something sweet in the morning, this might be the graduation breakfast for you! If not in the morning, they also make a great dessert for any time of the day.
20. Ice Cream Bread
For a more creative and fun-to-make dessert, you and your friends can make this ice cream bread. It’s a great, unconventional way to celebrate this special day!