Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Area 5.1 Winery
As you may have guessed by the name, there’s an undeniable alien theme to this Anacapa Street tasting room: the tasting list comes in a manila folder stamped “top secret,” intergalactic art pays homage to the early days of America’s space program, and the wines feature names like Clouse Encounter, Conspiracy Red, and Declassified. It’s all a play on the fact that the owners are resident aliens from Australia who specialize in unusual blends of grapes that are bolding going where no winery has gone before.
The Funk Zone
Nestled between the ocean and Highway 101 in an old industrial area of downtown Santa Barbara, this up-and-coming 10-block neighborhood is booming with cool new restaurants, vintage stores, art galleries, breweries, and scores of urban wineries. A few highlights we suggest to check out: dinner at the brick- and stone-accented Seven Bar & Kitchen, tasting wine at the fun and hip Municipal Winemakers, and perusing through mid-century modern furniture at the Blue Door.
This small, hidden gem of a tapas bar on Cliff Drive features a cool vibe: low lighting, bohemian decor, and a projection screen that shows vintage cartoons. But their small plates are the star. Try the lamb sliders house-ground with raisin, mint, and pesto, and the bacon-wrapped dates served in wildflower honey.
The Book Den
Carefully curated the way only an independent bookstore can do, this local business features a small selection, but it’s truly top notch with a mix of new releases and rare (sometimes, even signed!) editions of older books. Staff members are book nerds at their best and are happy to help you scour the shelves to find that perfect read.
Cold Spring Tavern
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an antique-filled 1860s stagecoach stop, this cozy space lit by gas lamps is worth the trip outside the city limits. Tucked away in the hills in what feels like a tavern out of fairy tale, the spot serves comfort food fare and features a selection of famous tri-tip sandwiches roasted over an outdoor oak pit rig.