Your guide to the best beachfront restaurants in Santa Barbara

Published Date: May 20, 2022

Santa Barbara beach and mountains
Santa Barbara offers miles of coastline, long stretches of sandy beaches and gorgeous views of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Did we mention the sunny weather? With all this natural beauty, the last thing you’d want to do is eat indoors — after all, how are you going to get all that sand off your feet?Here’s our list of oceanfront al fresco dining destinations in the Santa Barbara area for every meal of the day. No matter which you choose, you’ll be able to soak up incredible ocean views while savoring the Santa Barbara culinary scene which features plenty of fresh seafood. 

Breakfast & brunch 

Shoreline Cafe 

Grabbing a bite to eat before a day spent at the beach is easy when your restaurant of choice is literally on the beach. Shoreline Cafe offers outdoor dining in the sand as well as on a shaded deck. Sink your toes into the sand of Leadbetter Beach while enjoying breakfast favorites like pancakes with fresh fruit, scrambles, breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros. Come back in the afternoon for a weekday happy hour!

Chad’s 

With an enviable location adjacent to Santa Barbara Harbor, Chad’s offers breakfast classics like omelets, eggs benedict, french toast and oatmeal, as well as a unique take on the California breakfast burrito — they add bacon, avocado and french fries! Adventurous diners will want the 911 Emergency Omelet which is packed with chorizo, roasted green chiles and jalapenos. Another can’t-miss is the mimosa flight. 

On the Alley

Tucked away near the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, On The Alley offers quick counter service with outdoor picnic tables close enough to the water you can feel the ocean breezes. On The Alley serves breakfast all day, with simple and delicious favorites like breakfast bowls, oatmeal with fresh blueberries, waffle or french toast sticks, and fresh fruit smoothies. Headed out boating? Order ahead on their website and enjoy a take-out breakfast on the water. 

Lunch & dinner

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

You can’t get more waterfront than dining on a pier! Santa Barbara Shellfish Company has been a mainstay since 1980, with favorite dishes that include Dungeness crab, shrimp ceviche, oysters, clams and lobster. The restaurant is popular, so don’t be surprised if there’s a wait. If you’re in a rush, you can always order from the walk-up window. 

Brophy Bros.

Enjoy American cuisine overlooking the Santa Barbara Marina at Brophy Bros. Grab a table on the patio and treat yourself to an impressive variety of fresh seafood. Start with steamed clams or mussels, ceviche or oyster shooters. Main course specials vary, but popular dishes include grilled swordfish, Cajun sea bass and beer-battered fish and chips. 

Boathouse 

For sunset cocktails, a romantic dinner or a celebratory evening, book a table at the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach. The restaurant features a cozy heated patio and a menu that goes on and on. There are extensive raw bar offerings, plus plenty of seafood starters. Main course options include (you guessed it) more fresh seafood, or opt for classically prepared Harris Ranch steaks. 

Tydes 

Enjoy indoor-outdoor fine dining at Tydes, a chic restaurant in the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore. In addition to jaw-dropping views, Tydes features incredible dishes like poached local halibut, grilled lobster with black truffle gnocchi and Wagyu beef short ribs. 

Toma Restaurant & Bar 

Open for dinner only, the award-winning Toma Restaurant & Bar is an upscale Mediterranean eatery on the waterfront. Start by sharing handcrafted flatbread before enjoying an incredible array of house-made pastas, risottos and main dishes like braised beef short ribs or seared scallops. There’s also an extensive wine list featuring selections from both California and Italy. Time for an after-dinner beach walk? Cross the street and you’re on the sand of West Beach. 

Give yourself more time to explore

Become a part-time Santa Barbara local and give yourself all the time you need to find your favorite restaurant (and beach, gallery and boutique). With Pacaso, you can co-own a second home in Santa Barbara and enjoy al fresco dining every day.

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Jen Lyons


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