Fiesta, Santa Barbara’s Spanish heritage celebration, will continue consuming the city through this weekend with the usual parades of caballeros and costumed kids, plus staggering drunks and teens itching to stab each other. While half of Southern California desires to be on the patio of fancy, fantastic Carlito’s on State Street or at Julia Child favorite Super-Rica Taqueria, you will need the bloodthirst of Cortez to cram into their slammed spaces. Skip the hit-or-miss plaza and try these ten alternatives for fantastic Mexican food in and around the gorgeous seaside city:
Cafe del Sol 30 Los Patos Way Santa Barbara, CA 93108
Skip the food and go heavy on drinks, seated on the outdoor patio over views of a waterside bird refuge.
Chilango’s 503 State St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Wonderful State Street people-watching and generous salsa bar for above-average Tex-Mex.
El Sitio 2830 De La Vina St. Santa Barbara 93105
SB’s most authentic chain does no wrong, turning out an inexpensive and superior chile relleno burrito and terrific tortas too.
Los Agaves 600 N. Milpas St. Santa Barbara, CA 93103
The new kid on the block for dressed-up Mexican entrees. We haven’t been yet, but feel the buzz about their creativity all the way in L.A.
Los Arroyo’s 1280 Coast Village Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108
Could be a crowded mess of Montecito’s elite chowing Mexican eats, so get the large, crisp chimichangas to go.
Mama Yoli’s 5877 Hollister Ave. Goleta, CA 93117
Dark and dank with a delicious home-cooked buffet, excellent enchiladas, and an a la carte menu.
Reyes Market 4795 Carpinteria Ave. Carpinteria, CA 93013
Carpinteria’s backstreet store skips the fancy decor for epic burritos and grilled meats.
Romanti-Ezer 701 Chapala St. Santa Barbara, CA 93190
Classic corner stand slings quick and convenient State Street-adjacent tacos.
Rose Cafe 1816 Cliff Dr. Santa Barbara, CA 93109
We like the family’s food best at the Mesa location, but love the Haley St. classic for its characters and diner charm.
Taqueria el Bajio 129 N Milpas St. Santa Barbara, CA 93190
Discovered by Gourmet Magazine, everything is hand-selected and home-made for absolute freshness.