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Recommended restaurants along the central California coast


Big Sur
Nepenthe, Highway 1
The views are the main event at this legendary Big Sur restaurant.
On clear days, you can see 40 miles of Pacific coast from their terrace 800 feet above the ocean. In 1944, Orson Wells bought the property for Rita Hayworth. There are good appetizers including a Mediterranean platter and a smoked trout plate, as well as burgers, salads, and sandwiches. Overpriced, but worth it for the view.
Phone:  831.667.2345
Fax:  831.667.2394
Hours:  11:30AM to 10PM
daily
Web:   Www.nepenthebigsur.com
Credit cards accepted:  MC, V

Cambria
Brambles Dinner House, 4005 Burton Drive
Housed in a 127-year old farmhouse, the Brambles has been serving diners fresh seafood, grilled meats, and Greek specialties for more than 45 years. The patio is a pleasant alternative to the dining room. The Brambles has won numerous awards, including the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The menu is huge, and you can't miss with anything from their oak wood pit. Specialties include shrimp with feta cheese and prawns and artichokes au gratin.
Phone:  805.927.4716
Fax:  805.927.3761
Hours:  4PM to 9:30PM Sunday through Friday; 4PM to 10PM Saturdays; 9:30AM to 2PM for Sunday brunch
Web:   Www.bramblesdinnerhouse.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   6.95USD
Main courses from:  13.95USD

Robin's Restaurant, 4095 Burton Drive
The eclectic menu at Robin's spans the globe. You can get tandoori prawns, Thai red curry, porcini muchroom raviloi, or Southwestern appetizers. You can dine in the old house in Cambria's East Village or in the garden.
Phone:  805.927.5007
Hours:  11AM to 9PM daily
Web:   Www.robinsrestaurant.com
Credit cards accepted:  MC, V
Lunch from:   6.95USD
Main courses from:  9.95USD

The Sow's Ear, Street
Voted "Best Restaurant in San Luis Obispo County" and "Most Romantic Restaurant" by the Reader's Choice Awards, The Sow's Ear is located in Cambria's East Village. The menu features updated comfort food like chicken-fried steak with country gravy, barbecued baby back ribs, grilled meats and chicken and pasta dishes. Save room for dessert.
Phone:  805.927.4865
Hours:   Open for dinner from 5PM daily
Web:   www.thesowsear.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   7.95USD
Main courses from:  13.95USD

Carmel-by-the-Sea (Monterey Peninsula)
Anton & Michel, At Court of the Fountains
Located on a pretty outdoor courtyard with gurgling fountains, Anton & Michel is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Carmel. The menu centers around updated French classics including Rack of Lamb, Steak au Poivre, and Veal Grenadin. Seafood is also very good. The wine list is impressive. And service is among the best in town. Save room for dessert.
Phone:  831.624.2406 Reservations recommended
Hours:  11:30AM to 3PM and 5:30PM to 9:30PM daily
Web:   www.carmelsbest.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Main courses from:   20USD

Casanova, Fifth Ave between Mission and San Carlos
It's hard to imagine a more romantic spot than this cottage that was once the home of Charlie Chaplin's cook. There are several cozy rooms here, most of which are warmed by fireplaces. But the heated fountain patio is the place to dine. The menu is Mediterranean with French, Italian, and Spanish dishes and the three-course dinners include an antipasto. The wine list is encyclopedic -- there are more than 1,600 lables in the hand-dug cellar. Just the place for a special night out without breaking the bank.
Phone:  831.625.0501 Reservations recommended
Hours:  11:30AM to 3PM Monday through Saturday, 9AM to 3PM Sunday; 5PM to 10PM Sunday through Thursday, 5PM to 10:30PM Friday and Saturday
Web:   www.casanovarestaurant.com
Credit cards accepted:  MC, V
Three-course dinner from:   21USD

Flying Fish Grill, Carmel Plaza
Flying Fish serves some of the best Asian-influnced seafood anywhere. With its papier mache fish flying from the ceiling, the decor is inviting. And the Carmel Plaza location is convenient to everything. One taste of the ginger-tomato-cilantro-Jalapeno-cucumber-rice vinegar salsa that accompanies Kenny Fukumoto's fried won tons and you'll be hooked. Entrees like black bean salmon and peppered ahi really sing. And there are two clay pot dinners to choose from. Non-seafood lovers can order chicken with a ginger-soy glaze of sliced New York steak with Madeira sauce.
Phone:  831.625.1962 Reservations recommended
Hours:  5PM to 10PM Wednesday through Monday
Web:   www.restauranteur.com/flyingfish
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   4.75USD
Main courses from:  13.75USD

Il Fornaio, Ocean Avenue At Monte Verde
No surprises here. If you've been to an Il Fornaio anywhere, you know what to expect food-wise: good wood-fired pizzas, grilled fish and meats, and rotisserie specialties. But the real draw here is the attractive dining room in the historic Pine Inn and the fabulous terrace right in the heart of Carmel. The bakery is great for a quick breakfast.
Phone:  831.622.5100
Hours:  7AM to 10PM Monday through Thursday; 7AM to 11PM Fridays; 7AM to 11PM Saturdays; 7AM to 10PM Sundays
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   5.95USD
Main courses from:  14.95USD

Rio Grill, 101 Crossroads Blvd.
As the name implies, Rio serves Southwestern cuisine in a casual, colorful atmosphere -- the walls are covered with cartoons. The oak wood grill turns out all sorts of wonderful things, including a house-smoked salmon tostada and baby back ribs. Start with a marinated and fire-roasted artichoke, onion rings with Guajillo chile ketchup, or a crispy rock shrimp taco. For dinner, you'll find everything from Gulf shrimp to calf's liver, all imaginatively prepared using the freshest local ingredients. Make reservations well in advance -- Rio is very popular.
Phone:  831.625.5436 Reservations recommended
Hours:  11:30AM to 10PM Sunday through Thursday, 11:30AM to 10:30PM Friday and Saturday
Web:   www.riogrill.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   4USD
Main courses from:  12USD

Davenport (Santa Cruz)
New Davenport Cash Store Restaurant, Highway 1
This place has been a local legend since it opened in 1977. Its funky, weathered-wood ambience and nice views are undeniably appealing. But a new chef has made the cooking here the big draw once again. Dishes like goat cheese tart, crab cakes, and grilled pork medallions are elevated by fabulous local ingredients. Save room for the scrumptious bread pudding. You can't miss with anything from the sea, and service is better than in years past. This is one of the best restaurants in the region, and the Cash Store itself is a fun stop.
Phone:  831.426.4122
Hours:  8AM to 9PM daily
Credit cards accepted:  
Starters from:   6USD

Half Moon Bay
Pasta Moon, 315 Main St.
For ten years, Pasta Moon has treated local diners to imaginative Northern Italian dishes, fresh pasta, and imaginative pizzas from their wood-burning oven -- what's not to like about a proscuitto, caramelized onion, goat's cheese, and arugula pie? Main courses include chicken breasts stuffed with Italian sausage, marinated flank steak, and tiger prawn salad. Service is friendly, the Main Street location is convenient, and the ambience is appealing.
Phone:  recommended
Hours:  11:30AM to 2:30PM Monday through Friday; 12PM to 3PM Saturday; 5:30PM to 9:30PM Sunday through Thursday; 5:30PM to10PM Friday through Saturday; 11AM to 2:30PM Sunday
Web:   www.pastamoon.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   6.50USD
Main courses from:  13.25USD

San Benito House, 356 Main St.
This charming little dining room in an historic, turn-of-the-century hotel is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the area. It's been favorably reviewed by Conde Nast Traveler, Gourmet, and the San Francisco Chronicle and its Executive Chef trained with Jacques Pepin. There are French-, Italian-, and Asian-influenced dishes and seafood is terrific. One caveat -- when we dined here, the food was wonderful and the ambience was romantic, but our waitress was completely disinterested.
Phone:  650.726.3425
Hours:  5:30PM to 9PM Thursday through Sunday
Web:   Www.sanbenitohouse.com
Credit cards accepted:  MC, V
Starters from:   5USD
Main courses from:  15USD

Sushi Main Street, 696 Mill St.
With tempura, teriyaki, sukiyaki, and clay pot specials, even non-sushi lovers will find plenty to enjoy at Sushi Main Street. But with impeccably fresh rolls containing unexpected treats like artichoke hearts, fried jalapeno peppers, papaya, avocado, macadamia nuts, and smoked trout, why not live dangerously. The attractive interior is Balinese and there's a nice selection of sake, wine, and Asian beers.
Phone:  650.726.6336
Hours:  11:30AM to 2:30PM and 5PM to 9PM Monday through Saturday; 5PM to 9PM Sunday
Web:   Www.sushimainst.com
Credit cards accepted:  MC, V
Sushi from:   2.90USD
Clay pot dinners from:  8.50USD

Los Olivos (Santa Ynez Valley)
Panino, 2900 Grand Avenue
This is a great spot for gourmet sandwiches and picnic supplies in Los Olivos.
Phone:  805.688.9304
Credit cards accepted:  

Monterey (Monterey Peninsula)
Cafe Fina, 47 Fisherman's Wharf
The restaurants on Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf aren't noted for good food. Cafe Fina is the exception, and it's one of the best places around for seafood. Mequite-grilled fish and steaks, and pizzas from the wood-burning oven are terrific. And there's a nice selection of pastas and veal dishes. Great views of Monterey Bay and a better-than-average wine list.
Phone:  831.372.5200 Reservations recommended
Fax:  831.372.5209
Hours:  11:30AM to 2:30PM Monday through Friday, 11:30AM 4PM Saturday and Sunday
Web:   www.cafefina.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Main courses from:   13USD

Fresh Cream, 99 Pacific St., Suite 100C
Located in Heritage Harbor, Fresh Cream has lovely views of Fisherman's Wharf. The menu here is classical French with starters like lobster bisque, lobster ravioli, and pate de foie gras. Entrees include rack of lamb, poached salmon, and veal medallions. Fresh Cream has more than 3,000 bottles in its cellar and has won Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. It's been voted the "Best Restaurant in Monterey County" seven years in a row in a reader's poll and was named one of the 100 best restaurants in America by Conde Nast Traveler. Consequently, you'll need to make reservations well in advance. Take money.
Phone:  831.375.9798 Reservations recommended
Hours:  6PM to 10PM daily
Web:   www.freshcream.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   9USD
Main courses from:  22.95USD

Montrio, 414 Calle Principal
Esquire magazine named Montrio "Restaurant of the Year" in 1995 and though the imaginative decor and old firehouse location aren't as cutting edge as they once were, Montrio still has a lot going for it. The large menu has Mediterranean, Cajun, and Italian-influenced dishes that make the most of local ingredients and are packed with flavor. Dungeness crab cakes with spicy remoulade, crispy calamari with coriander-chile aioli, and pancetta-wrapped prawns are great appetizers. And entrees run the gamut from duck to veal cheeks. Try a Side Sampler with polenta, spinach, mushrooms, and artichoke fritters.
Phone:  831.648.8880 Reservations recommended
Hours:  11:30AM to 10PM Monday through Thursday, 11:30AM to 11PM Friday and Saturday, 5PM to10PM Sunday
Web:   www.montrio.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   5.65USD
Main courses from:  14.85USD

Stokes Adobe, 500 Hartnell Street
Housed in a historic adobe that dates from 1833, Stokes Adobe has been going strong since it opened in 1996. The interior was renovated in 2001, and now the restaurant resembles an old Mediterrean villa. The menu includes dishes from Provence, Tuscany, and Catalonia -- three of Europe's most appealing cuisines -- made with ingredients from local producers. You can start your meal with tapas, something from the wood-fired oven, or a small plate of seafood salad, crispy duck confit, or lobster mac-and-cheese. Large plates include shorts ribs, lamb t-bones, or crispy duck. Stokes is one of the best restaurants in the region. Reserve well in advance.
Phone:  831.373.1110 Reservations recommended
Fax:  83l.373.1202
Web:   www.stokesadobe.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Tapas from:   3USD
Large plates from:  15USD

Tarpy's Roadhouse, 2999 Monterey-Salinas Hwy
Located in an old stone ranch house outside Monterey, Tarpy's is a local legend. It's especially appealing when the weather's fine and you can dine on the huge terrace surrounded by gardens. The menu features updated comfort food like meatloaf, prime rib, and baby back ribs. Start with Cajun spiced prawns or Dungeness crab cakes and a margarita. Casual and enjoyable.
Phone:  831.647.1444 Reservations recommended
Fax:  831.647.1103
Hours:  11:30AM to 10PM Daily
Web:   www.tarpys.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   4.95USD
Main courses from:  13.25USD

Moss Beach (Half Moon Bay)
Moss Beach Distillery, 140 Beach Way
The patio overlooking the Pacific is the big draw at this beach-house restaurant dating from the 1920s. In good weather, it's heaven. In cool weather, snuggle up to your sweetie in a big wooden rocker under one of the Distillery's sturdy wool blankets. Bar snacks are available on the patio. There's a view from every table in the dining room, which specializes in seafood and steaks.
Phone:  650.728.5595
Fax:  650.728.8135
Hours:  Open for lunch and dinner daily; 10AM to 2PM Sunday brunch
Email:  george@mossbeachdistillery.com
Web:   mossbeachdistillery.com
Credit cards accepted:  DC, MC, V
Sunday brunch:   25.95USD

Pacific Grove (Monterey Peninsula)
Fandango, 223 17th St
Located in an atmospheric southern European-style farmhouse, Fandango specializes in the cuisines of the Mediterranean. You'll find tapas, paellas, couscous, bouillabaisse, ossa bucco, and canelloni Nicoise on their eclectic menu, as well as mequite-grilled seafood and steaks. There are several cozy upstairs dining rooms and a lovely terrace. Great wine list too.
Phone:  Phone 831.372.3456 Reservations recommended
Fax:  831.372.2673
Hours:  11AM to 3PM Monday through Saturday, 10AM to 2:30PM Sunday; 5PM to 9:30PM Daily
Web:   www.fandangorestaurant.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   6.95USD
Main courses from:  13.95USD

Fishwife, 19961/2 Sunset Dr At Asilomar Beach
Frequently cited for "Best Seafood on the Monterey Peninsula," Fishwife serves fresh seafood with a California/Caribbean flair. Start with prawn flautas served with salsa brava, salsa fresca, black beans and creme fraiche, then dive into Tilapia Cancun with a green cashew sauce or salmon with cilantro and serrano aioli. The Fisherman's Bowls feature grilled fresh fish served on rice, black beans, and cabbage drizzled with ginger/sesame vinaigrette. Save room for Key lime pie. You can eat wonderfully here without spending a fortune.
Phone:  831.375.7107
Fax:  831.375.4650
Hours:  11AM to 10PM Monday through Saturday, 10AM to 10PM Sunday
Email:  fishwife@fishwife.com
Web:   www.fishwife.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   5USD
Main courses from:  11USD

Joe Rombi's, 208 17th St At Lighthouse Avenue
This small, well-priced restaurant on a Pacific Grove side street is a great choice for traditional Italian fare. You can begin your meal with eggplant parmigiana or grilled calamari. For dinner, there's a nice selection of pizzas, pastas, or seafood, chicken, or veal. The dining room is colorful and nicely decorated.
Phone:  Phone 831.373.2416 Reservations recommended
Fax:  831.373.2106
Hours:  5PM to 10PM Wednesday through Sunday
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   5USD
Main courses from:  12USD

Passionfish, 701 Lighthouse Ave.
Formerly the "Crocodile Grill," Passionfish features fresh seafood and big, bold flavors. Start with Squid with a spicy cilantro/orange relish or crispy crab cake with lime salsa, then try duck confit with a Tasmanian honey sauce or sea bass with a caper/raisin/walnut pesto. The wine flights -- which range in price from $8 to $15 -- are a great buy and a good way to discover new favorites. Passionfish has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence three years in a row.
Phone:  831.655.3311
Hours:  Open from 5PM daily except Tuesday
Web:   www.passionfish.net
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Main courses from:   20USD

Peppers Mexicali Cafe, 170 Forest Avenue
When you get the yen for Mexican food in the Monterey area, Peppers in Pacific Grove is the place. In addition to the expected fish tacos (made with unexpected mahi mahi, swordfish or salmon) and burritos, you'll find more ambitious dishes like snapper Yucatecan. Great chips, salsa, Mexican beers, and a fun, casual atmosphere. Voted "Best Mexican Restaurant" by the readers of Coast Weekly.
Phone:  831.373.6892 Reservations recommended
Fax:  831.373.5467
Hours:  11:30AM to 10PM Monday and Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30AM to 10:30PM Friday and Saturday, 4PM to 10PM Sunday
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Main courses from:   6USD

The Old Bath House, 620 Ocean View Blvd
There's no place in Pacific Grove with a better location than this one overlooking the Pacific from Lover's Point. Once a bathhouse for Methodists in the area on retreat, the Old Bath House has been a local favorite for more than 20 years. The views are wonderful and the dining room is quiet and refined. Order one of the appetizer samplers to start. You can choose from Dungeness crab cakes, grilled prawns, and boar sausage or crab and asparagus martini with carpaccio. The entrees here cover all the bases with duck Merlot, venison tenderloin, and Chilean sea bass adding interest. Desserts are good and you can end your meal with a chocolate or Grand Marnier souffle. At $24.95, the three-course prix fixe dinner served before 6PM (5:30PM on Saturdays) is a good buy. A good special-occasion restaurant.
Phone:  831.375.5195 Reservations required
Hours:  5PM to 10:30PM Monday through Friday, 4PM to 11PM Saturday, 4PM to 10:30PM Sunday
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   9USD
Main courses from:  24USD

Pebble Beach (Monterey Peninsula)
Roy's At Pebble Beach, 2700 Seventeen Mile Drive
Roy Yamaguchi has created world-class restaurants throughout the Pacific and his outpost in the Inn at Spanish Bay is no exception. Roy combines Asian techniques with fresh local ingredients to create what he calls"Hawaiian Fusion" cuisine. You could easily make a meal off delicious appetizers like teri-glazed duck breast, rock crab cakes, blackened ahi, seared shrimp, and potstickers. But save rooms for mahi mahi with lobster sauce, or Korean-style barbecued beef.
Phone:  831.647.7423
Hours:  Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   9USD
Main courses from:  16USD

The Clubhouse Bar & Grill, 2700 Seventeen Mile Drive
The Clubhouse at the Inn at Spanish Bay has great ocean views and is a great lunch spot if you're doing the 17-Mile Drive. The menu leans toward Southwestern with quesadillas, taquitos, burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
Phone:  831.647.7470
Hours:  Open daily for breakfast and lunch
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Lunch from:   6.95USD

The Stillwater Bar & Grill, The Lodge at Pebble Beach
The Stillwater is a good place for lunch if you're doing the 17-Mile Drive. The stylish dining room looks out over the 18th green of Pebble Beach, There's a raw bar and a sushi board, or you can order seafood specialties like planked salmon, grilled swordfish or smoked sea bass.
Phone:  831.625.8524
Hours:  Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   6.75USD
Main courses from:  19.75USD

Princeton-by-the-Sea (Half Moon Bay)
Barbara's Fish Trap, 281 Capistrano Road
You won't find fresher seafood than what's served at this casual place built on stilts out over the water. You can dine inside or out at one of the picnic tables overlooking the harbor on deep fried or broiled fish, clam chowder, shellfish, or steamed mussels.
Phone:  650.728.7049
Hours:  11AM to 9PM Sunday through Thursday; 11AM to 10PM Fridays and Saturdays
Credit cards accepted:  No
Meals from:   7USD

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Avenue
This year-old brewpub on Pillar Point Harbor has the best outdoor deck in Half Moon Bay. The grey, shingle-style structure looks like it's been here forever and the views are sensational. They serve a good selection of fresh ales that are not yet brewed on the premises. The menu leans toward fresh seafood, baby back ribs, and steaks. But if you're in the mood for pub grub, you can get burgers, chicken sandwiches, or fish tacos. There's live blues on Sunday afternoons.
Phone:  650.728.2739
Hours:  11:30AM to 10PM daily
Web:   hmbbrewingco.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Pub grub from:   9.95USD
Main courses from:  13.50USD

Mezza Luna, 459 Prospect Way
This stylish Italian restaurant has earned several awards recently, including "Favorite Restaurant" and "Best Atmosphere on the Coast." They serve inventive pizzas -- including one topped with smoked salmon and mascarpone -- fresh pastas, grilled meats, and seafood.
Phone:  650.728.8108
Email:  Dinner@mezzalunabythesea.com
Web:   Mezzalunabythesea.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Lunch from:   7.50USD
Dinner from:  10.50USD

San Luis Obispo
Big Sky Cafe, 1121 Broad Street
No matter what ethnic cuisine you're craving -- from Creole to Thai -- chances are you can find it at this swell spot opened by a former chef from L.A.'s Kokomo Cafe. The kitchen makes the most of fresh, local produce, and healthy ingredients like free-range chicken. It's a great place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and the atmosphere is casual.
Phone:  805.545.5401 Reservations recommended
Hours:  7AM to 10PM Monday through Saturday; 8AM to 9PM Sundays
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Main courses from:   14USD

Buona Tavola, 1037 Monterey St.
Next to the Art Deco Fremont Theater, Buona Tavola offers wonderful Italian country cooking and stylish dining inside or on their lovely, vine-covered patio. Start your dinner with an artichoke, capaccio, or bruschetta with imported mushrooms. Then indulge in risotto, gnocchi or one of their wonderful pastas such as tortellini stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta cheese in a sage-mascarpone sauce. If you have any capacity left, try grilled fish, chicken, or beef.
Phone:  805.545.8000
Hours:  11:30AM to 2:30PM Monday through Friday; 5:30PM to 9:30PM Sunday through Thursday; 5:30PM to 10PM Friday through Saturday
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   7USD
Main courses from:  11USD

Gardens of Avila, 1215 Avila Beach Drive
This restaurant in the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort is a very romantic spot. In fact, the local paper voted it "Best Place to Propose." Most tables have views of the lovely gardens outside. Chef Ralph Fabula's eclectic menu includes starters like crispy potstickers with Thai coconut peanut sauce and vegetable risotto, and entrees like rack of lamb, blue lump crab cakes, and seared ahi. Service is first rate.
Phone:  805.595.7365 Reservations recommended
Hours:  Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays and for burnch and dinner on weekends
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Main courses from:   17USD

Mo's Smokehouse BBQ, 970 Higuera Street
Mo opened his barbecue joint twenty years ago after a 3,500-mile road trip that visited 80 barbecue places in ten states. The result is barbecue dishes done in the Virginia, North Carolina, and Memphis styles. Sandwiches come with baked beans and cole slaw or potato salad. You can get mild or hot sauce and the house special is shredded pork. Plates features pork ribs, beef, or chicken. Pick up lots of napkins and come with a big appetite. Yum.
Phone:  805.544.6193
Hours:  11AM to 9PM Sunday through Wednesday; 11AM to 10PM Thursday through Saturday
Web:   Www.mosbbq.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Sandwiches from:   6USD
Plates from:  9USD

SLO Brewing Company, 119 Garden Street
The SLO Brewing Company has good pub grub like burgers, salads, nachos, and sandwiches and frequent live entertainment. But the real draw here is the award-winning ale. SLO took five medals at the Great American Beer Festival 2001 including "Small Brewpub of the Year." Their Extra Pale and IPA are both Gold Medal winners.
Phone:  805.543.1843
Hours:  Open from 11AM daily
Web:   www.slobrew.com
Credit cards accepted:  
Starters from:   2.95USD
Burgers from:  5.45USD

Santa Barbara
Bouchon Santa Barbara, 9 West Victoria St.
There's no better place in Santa Barbara to enjoy fine food perfectly paired with local wines than Bouchon. Chef Charles Fredericks shops the local farmers markets for ingredients and inspiration in creating his "Santa Barbara Wine Country Cuisine." Flavors are bright and everything is superbly fresh. You can dine in the intimate dining room or on the terrace. Start your meal with a salad of organic greens, Windrose Farm heirloom potatoes, or foraged mushrooms. Follow with grilled swordfish or bourbon and maple-glazed duck. The staff would love to help you select a different wine for each course -- Bouchon serves scores by the glass.
Phone:  805.730.1160
Hours:  5:30PM to 10PM Daily
Web:   www.bouchon.net
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Two course dinners:   38USD
Three-course dinners:  45USD

Brophy Bros. Clam Bar & Restaurant, 119 Harbor Way
As the name suggest, Brophy Bros. is the place in Santa Barbara for seafood and harbor views. The deck is a great spot for cocktails and fresh oysters or beer-boiled shrimp. Or come for dinner and enjoy fresh fish grilled, sauteed, or fried. The New England-style clam chowder is a local favorite. Since reservations aren't accepted, the weekend wait can be long. Make up your mind to take your time and enjoy a beer and one of the best views in Santa Barbara.
Phone:  805.966.4418
Hours:  11AM to 10PM Sunday through Thursday;11AM to 11PM Friday through Saturday
Web:   Wineriesofsantabarbara.com/brophybros.htm
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   7USD
Main courses from:  13USD

Brown Pelican, 2981 Cliff Drive
Located right on Arroyo Burro Beach -- known to local's as Hendry's Beach -- the Brown Pelican is a great spot for breakfast, or anytime you want to hear the waves lapping against the shore. You can get fresh oysters and steamed clams, ahi tuna burgers, or something more ambitious like roasted halibut. The food's not really the attraction, so consider having an appetizer and a glass of wine.
Phone:  805.687.4550
Hours:  7AM to 9:30PM daily
Web:   www.travel-seek.com/sb_cust/brown_pelican
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   7.95USD

Citronelle, 901 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
Voted "Best Restaurant in Santa Barbara" by the L.A. Times and "One of Six Restaurants in the Entire U.S. with Perfect Food" by Conde Nast Traveler, Citronelle is a destination in itself. Located in the Santa Barbara Inn, Citronelle is a showcase for Chef Michel Richard -- of Citrus in Los Angeles fame -- who has been praised by Ruth Reichl of Gourmet magazine. Specialties include porcupine shrimp with goat cheese dressing, Japanese-style Norwegian salmon, and roasted lamb loin. The restaurant has a new $100,000 wine cellar and a fabulous wine list. And if that's not enough, the restaurant has 180-degree views of the Pacific.
Phone:  805.963.0111 Reservations recommended
Hours:  7AM to 9PM daily
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Main courses from:   24USD

Cold Spring Tavern, 5995 Stagecoach Rd., San Marcos Pass
Fifteen minutes from Santa Barbara, Cold Spring Tavern occupies an 1886 stagecoach stop near the top of San Marcos pass. The one-of-a-kind ambience is the big draw here. It's a cross between a biker bar and an old west saloon. The menu leans toward red meat with game like venison, black bear, and wild boar thrown in for good measure. Save room for Jack Daniel's pecan pie.
Phone:  805.967.0066
Hours:  11AM to 3PM and 5PM to 9PM Monday through Friday; 9AM to 3PM and 5PM to 10PM Saturdays and Sundays
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V

El Encanto Hotel Restaurant, 1900 Lasuen Rd.
The views from the terrace at El Encanto are fabulous and the old world ambience can't be beat. Dress up and plan on a relaxing, special meal.
Phone:  800.346.7039 or 805.687.5000
Fax:  805.687.3903
Hours:  7AM to 11AM, 11:45AM to 2:30PM and 6PM to 9PM daily; open until 10PMon Fridays and Saturdays; Sunday brunch served from 10:30AM to 2:30PM
Web:   http://elencantohotel.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Lunch from:   7.50USD
Main courses from:  16.25USD

Emilio's, 324 W. Cabrillo Blvd.
Nicely located across the street from the beach with views of the ocean, Emilio's offers Northern Italian cooking in a romantic, candle-lit space. It's great for vegetarians, with dozens of imaginative choices. But carnivores will be tempted by sea scallops, port-marinated beef, and sliced pork loin. The three- and four-course prix fixe dinners are a good value.
Phone:  805.966.4426 Reservations recommended
Web:   Www.sbweb.com/emilios
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   6USD
Main courses from:  13USD

La Sala at the Four Seasons Biltmore, 1260 Channel Dr.
High tea at the Biltmore is a treat. You can sit indoors or on the terrace overlooking the ocean while you indulge in cucumber, crab, and salmon sandwiches, custard tarts, scones with Devonshire cream, and chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Phone:  800.332.3442 or 805.969.2261
Fax:  805.565.8323
Hours:  Afternoon tea from 3PM to 4:45PM Monday through Friday and from 2:30PM to 4PM on Saturdays
Web:   www.fourseasons.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V

La Super-Rica Taqueria, 622 N. Milpas St.
This unassuming little stand serves some of the best Mexican food you'll ever eat. It's been praised by local resident Julia Child and was named one of the Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in the country by USA Today. Salsa fresca, salsa roja, salsa tomatillo, and salsa verde are fabulous. You can order tacos with steak, pork, or fish -- everything is fresh and made from scratch. And daily specials suplement the menu. Be prepared to wait and to eat from paper plates on a picnic table. Order at least three dishes for two people and blissfully overindulge.
Phone:  805.963.4940
Hours:  11AM to 9PM Sunday through Thursday, 11AM to 9:30PM Friday through Saturday
Credit cards accepted:  No
Main courses from:   3USD

Palace Grill, 8 E. Cota St
Palace Grill has been packing them in since opening in 1985. The Cajun/Creole menu now offers some Caribbean dishes and pastas too. The Old Town location and lively ambience are all part of the draw. Have a Cajun martini in a Mason jar while you wait. You can start with crawfish popcorn, coconut shrimp, or jambalaya. Entrees include blackened redfish, crawfish etoufee, and soft shell crabs. And desserts like bread pudding souffle and sweet potato-pecan pie are the final temptation. The Palace Sampler and All the Best Sampler platters will let you try a little of everything. The service here has been voted best in Santa Barbara ten years in a row.
Phone:  805.963.5000
Hours:  11AM to 3PM and 5:30PM to 10PM Sunday through Thursday, 11AM to 3PM and 5:30PM to 11PM Friday and Saturday
Web:   www.palacegrill.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Main courses from:   20USD

Wine Cask, 813 Anacapa St.
Located in a lovely building from the 1920s in El Paseo, Wine Cask is entered through a beautiful courtyard. Inside, the dining room is very romantic with a beamed, frescoed ceiling and crackling fireplace. Starters include Maine lobster spring rolls, duck potstickers, and crab cakes. Your entree could be peppered ahi, Chilean sea bass, a braised veal chop, or grilled lamb sirloin. The wine list has more than 1,000 selections, and service is excellent. The five-course tasting menu on Sundays and Mondays lets you enjoy wines selected to complement specific dishes. Just the place for a memorable, albeit expensive, dinner.
Phone:  805.966.9463
Hours:  11:30AM to 3PM Monday through Friday; 10AM to 3PM Saturday and Sunday; 5:30PM to 9PM Sunday through Thursday; 5:30PM to 10PM Friday and Saturday
Web:   www.winecask.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, DC, MC, V
Starters from:   6USD
Main courses from:  20USD

Your Place, 22 N. Milpas St.
If you're in the mood for Thai food, Your Place is the best in Santa Barbara. There's often a wait at this unassuming little place, but they do take reservations. Good soups, curries, and seafood specialties. Just remember, when they say "hot," they mean it.
Phone:  805.966.5151
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Main courses from:   5.50USD

Santa Cruz
Crow's Nest, 2218 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor
You can't beat the views from this restaurant overlooking Santa Cruz's lively harbor. If the weather's nice, sit out on the deck. The menu's not terribly imaginative, but steaks, seafood, and salads are nicely done. At lunch, you can get burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and pasta dishes. The upstairs grill has better than average pub grub including chicken wings, fish and chips, and individual pizzas.
Phone:  831.476.4560
Hours:  11:30AM to 2:30PM and 5:30PM to 9:30PM daily
Web:   www.crowsnest-santacruz.com
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Starters from:   4USD
Main courses from:  13USD

El Palomar, 1336 Pacific Avenue
While several of Santa Cruz's better Mexican restaurants aren't much on atmosphere, El Palomar has ambience in abundance. The pozole -- a pork and hominy stew -- is as good as any you'll get in Oaxaca. The pork tacos, homemade corn tortillas, carne asada, and exotic seafood special are terrific and the margaritas are the best in town.
Phone:  831.425.7575
Hours:  11AM to 3PM and 5PM to 10PM Monday through Saturday; 10AM to 9:30PM Sundays
Credit cards accepted:  MC, V
Main courses from:   6.95USD

Tacos Moreno, 303 Beach Street
There's no ambience here, though the Beach Street location does provide plenty of opportunity to watch Cruzans cruising the beach. Barbecued meats are folded into soft tacos accompanied by pinto beans, cheese, salsa, and shredded cabbage -- no iceberg here. Great chile verde, carnitas, and fabulous salsa. There's a second location on Water Street.
Phone:  831.427.2200
Hours:  11AM to 8PM daily
Credit cards accepted:  
Burritos from:   4USD

Solvang
Bit O'Denmark Restaurant and Bar, 473 Alisal Road
You can order Danish specialties or indulge in one of Solvang's better smorgasbords here. Like everything in Solvang, the half-timbered building is cute.
Phone:  805.688.5426
Hours:  9:30AM to 9PM daily
Credit cards accepted:  AE, MC, V
Main courses from:   9.95USD

Ventura
Brophy Brothers
Credit cards accepted: