Family Travel




13 Michelin Reviewed Restaurants in Santa Barbara Worth Exploring

haute cuisine

13 Michelin Reviewed Restaurants in Santa Barbara Worth Exploring

Earning a Michelin star is the dream of most restauranteurs and chefs alike. To earn three is a momentous achievement. There are currently 12 Michelin Guide-reviewed restaurants in Santa Barbara, California. Please note that a review from Michelin is different than receiving a star.

Michelin recommends quality restaurants in a certain region, and awards stars to restaurants to represent the best of that region. To be considered in the rankings, a restaurant must demonstrate its worth in several categories. According to a Michelin panel, judges look at the quality of the ingredients and the consistency of the restaurant. They also consider the technique and process for each menu item, as well as the resulting flavors. The personality of the chef must shine through the menu. Overall, stars are awarded in a tier of “very good,” “excellent,” and “exceptional”. A secondary award can be given through Michelin, this one called the Bib Gourmand rating, which notes if a quality restaurant is affordable.

Michelin stars have been awarded since the early 1900s. It started in France as a guide for local restaurants. This guide was sponsored by Michelin Tires to encourage exploration of the country's fine dining, in cars using Michelin tires. It was a win-win situation. Since its beginning, Michelin has become a defining rating system for some of the best cuisine in the world. Stars are awarded in certain U.S. cities, as well as parts of Asia, Europe, and the UK. More recently Michelin awarded stars in Toronto, Canada. Let's learn about the Michelin Star restaurant in Santa Barbara, California, and about the places recommended on the Michelin website for their great food options.

Caruso's – One Michelin Star!

1773 S. Jameson Lane, Montecito, 93108, USA

Try Home Chef - Family Meals Made Easy
  • 4-serving meals starting at $3.77 per serving (up to 25% cheaper than HelloFresh).
  • Incredible variety with 10+ weekly meal options, delivered directly to you.
  • Easy to prepare meals ready in 30-minutes or less.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
haute cuisine
Enjoy some phenomenal food at Caruso's, one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Santa Barbara.


Caruso's in Montecito, California, just outside of Santa Barbara, is the true star of this list for having one Michelin Star! Known for its take on Californian cuisine with inspiration from Italian recipes, the menu is centered around regional ingredients and local produce. Try their A5 Tartare or their Channel Island spiny lobster. This restaurant has also earned a Michelin Green Star, which means that it adheres to a high level of sustainability in the gastronomy world.

Bibi Ji

734 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Bibi Ji is an Indian restaurant headed by Alejandro Medina and the wine sommelier Rajat Parr. Michelin commended the space its efficient setup and beautiful outdoor patio. Plates are small, and great for a tapas-esk meal. Dishes are apparently so flavorful and well-executed. Top dishes include the crisped cauliflower in chili-garlic sauce and sesame, and the Baingan Bharta, a ginger eggplant plate with toasted cumin, and tomatoes. They have a well-rounded section of tandoor and curries, with the Barra Kebab lamb chops recommended as a Michelin favorite. The dinner menu is the most highlighted, but leave room for desserts. Try their sorbet or their ice cream.


205 West Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

This Californian-style restaurant features a fusion of some of the best cuisines in a beautiful and creative blend. Located right in the hustle and bustle of downtown Santa Barbara, Barbareño serves alcohol from local breweries and wineries. The plates are a pairing of unique details with plentiful flavors and colorful choices. Items to note include their grilled avocado, which was highlighted by Michelin. Also mentioned are Barbareño's “Eggamuffins”. These come with a topping of whipped seascape cheese foam, Italian cured speck, and grated, cured egg yolk. Mains include options like local black cod and pork chop with apples. Their Michelin-tagged desserts include the Hive and Honey panna cotta that's completely dairy-free.

Panna cotta dessert with strawberry sauce
Save room for the panna cotta that made it into the Michelin review!


Sama Sama Kitchen

1208 State St., Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

One of the more affordable Michelin-reviewed restaurants in Santa Barbara is Sama Sama Kitchen. This restaurant received the Bib Gourmand rating through Michelin, which means it is quality food with a great price range for its customer base. It also happens to be right in the center of this beautiful California city. A locally-sourced Southeast Asian restaurant, Sama Sama is co-owned by chef Ryan Simorangkir and Tyler Peek. Peek hails from Nashville, while Simorangkir is a Santa Barbara local with Indonesian roots. Together, they pool their expertise and Le Cordon Bleu training to provide a thoughtful homage to Indonesian recipes (via Nooz Hawk).

Michelin recommends their green papaya salad to start. Sama Sama's bao buns are described as “pillowy soft”. Their signature wings come in a tamarind soy barbeque marinade. Michelin also notes that their happy hours are even more affordable than their typical prices. For being a Michelin-reviewed restaurant in Santa Barbara, this is one of the most budget-friendly options!


230 East Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

Try Home Chef - Family Meals Made Easy
  • 4-serving meals starting at $3.77 per serving (up to 25% cheaper than HelloFresh).
  • Incredible variety with 10+ weekly meal options, delivered directly to you.
  • Easy to prepare meals ready in 30-minutes or less.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Closeup of chef hands preparing japanese food. Japanese chef making sushi at restaurant. Young chef serving traditional japanese sushi served on a black stone plate.
As a part of the Kaiseki dining experience at Yoichi's, you'll enjoy seven courses of masterful sushi.

©Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

Yoichi’s is a multi-course Japanese dining experience headed by Chef Yoichi Kawabata. Kawabata was previously working at Nobu Tokyo, so his technique alone is enough for a trip to check out this experience. Enter a minimal space with clean white walls and dark tables, where you'll enjoy a truly unique dining experience of seven courses in total. Following the practice of traditional Kaiseki dining, where only seasonal and fully-fresh ingredients are used, the menu courses are bound to change. However, it follows the basic order of Zensai. First up are appetizers, of which the Michelin review recounts the grilled Waygu beef in sansho pepper glaze, and duck breast in sweet soy sauce with green peppers. Next comes the Owan course, a soup, followed by sashimi, a grilled dish, a simmered dish, and then Shokuji, the sushi course. The final course is the Kanmi, or dessert.

Corazon Cocina

38 West Victoria St., Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

Corazon Cocina is a gem of the Santa Barbara Public Market. Chef and owner Ramon Velazquez pulls from his Guadalajaran heritage and combines tradition with creativity to form the final menu. They feature locally-sourced produce and ingredients. Top dishes include grilled octopus tacos and the Oaxaca cheese quesadilla paired with confit tomatoes, radishes, and broccolini. They have an array of ceviches, burritos, specials, and sauces that compliment the bursting and brilliant flavors. Michelin awarded them a Bib Gourmand rating.


202 State St., Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

This Bib Gourmand-rated beachside Spanish restaurant is located in an aesthetic building, with wooden countertops and an attractive outdoor patio from which to enjoy this amazing food. Loquita‘s Michelin-recommended tapas include a crusted pan con tomate and a chorizo y pollo paella. There are smaller bites as well, including Medjool dates, with blue cheese and smoked rosemary almonds, as well as some top-notch charcuterie offerings. Loquita has a hearty gin and tonic cabinet. Try out their unique blend of kaffir lime-infused gin, tonic, and blood orange, or a blend of cutler's gin, tonic, and blueberry yuzu foam. This is also one of the Michelin-reviewed restaurants in Santa Barbara that won't deplete your wallet in the process of a truly inspiring culinary experience.

Closeup shot of friends toasting with cocktails. Young people drinking at aperitif. Shallow depth of field with focus on friends hand toasting juice glass. Close up of hands holding a cocktail glass.
Loquita offers unique drinks to go along with its curated menu items.

©Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

The Lark

131 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

For another Californian-inspired cuisine option, check out The Lark. Nestled in Santa Barbara's arts district, The Lark features a vividly decorated dining room, with excellent service and a decidedly hip vibe overall. The menu features family-style portions of locally-sourced ingredients like blistered shishito and sweet-and-sour pickles. Main dishes include an array of grilled vegetables, as well as a hand-cut pappardelle pasta with roasted butternut squash, maitake mushrooms, and a soft poached egg. Lastly, The Lark's dessert offerings include cardamom-spiced donuts, dark chocolate pot de creme, and a lime mango sorbet. Their wine offerings feature local vineyards to further celebrate the bounty of the central California coast.

Pappardelle pasta with porcini mushrooms sprinkled with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, close up
The Lark's hand-cut pappardelle pasta is a mouthwatering experience.

©pbd Studio/Shutterstock.com


36 State St., Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

For a true Santa Barbara experience, head to the Hotel Californian's Blackbird restaurant. The décor is inspired by the rustic, yet classic, mood of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, and fits in with the exclusivity of an upscale club. The menu is heralded by executive Chef Travis Watson, who combines local produce and ocean ingredients in an experience meant to highlight all the food that California has to offer. Appetizers include west coast oysters, ceviche, a citrus salad, and broccolini. Bigger dishes feature seared scallops, black cod, eggplant, risotto, and more. Michelin recommends Blackbird's fig pavlova with savory olive oil. You'll definitely get a thrill of some kind at this Michelin-recommended restaurant in Santa Barbara.

Board of tasty Pavlova cakes with berries on light background, closeup
The fig pavlova is Michelin recommended!


Los Agaves

600 North Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, 93101, USA

For some Michelin-reviewed Mexican food in Santa Barbara, check out Los Agaves. Start with the chips, and be sure to get your sauces and refreshment options from the counter before ordering from their expansive menu of flavorful dishes. Michelin recommends the halibut ceviche tostada with cilantro and avocado. There's also the costra taco al pastor, which features pineapple, marinated pork, and pickled onions. They have delightful ensaladas, enchiladas, and burritos. There's also a hearty drinks menu with Mexican sodas and beer. Note that there are actually two locations for Los Agaves in Santa Barbara, with others in Westlake, Goleta, and Oxnard.


1014 Coast Village Rd., Santa Barbara, 93108, USA

Bettina Pizzeria is a local Santa Barbara Italy eatery and has a Bib Gourmand rating from the Michelin Guide. Co-owned by Brendan Smith and Rachel Greenspan, their restaurant features over a dozen varieties of wood-fired pizza. Of these, Michelin recommends the carbonara with pancetta, the egg with pecorino, and the seasonal summer peach with red onions, fontina, and poblano peppers. Try their trumpet mushroom or house sausage pizza options. They also have some dairy-free pies to pick from. Snacks include marinated olives and wood-fired bread. They have antipasto and vegetable dishes. Desserts include an olive oil cake with thyme and orange zest that looks mouth-wateringly good, and brown butter chocolate chip cookies with Jacobsen's sea salt.

Try Home Chef - Family Meals Made Easy
  • 4-serving meals starting at $3.77 per serving (up to 25% cheaper than HelloFresh).
  • Incredible variety with 10+ weekly meal options, delivered directly to you.
  • Easy to prepare meals ready in 30-minutes or less.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The Stonehouse

900 San Ysidro Ln., Santa Barbara, 93108, USA

The Stonehouse is aptly named for its location. This restaurant is situated on San Ysidro Ranch with amazing views of the nearby scenery. The menu is focused on hyper-local regional sourcing. Some of the featured fruits and vegetables are harvested right from the ranch itself. For starters, you can choose dishes like Royal Ossetra caviar and an heirloom tomato salad. For your main dish, try their Chilean sea bass, maple-glazed king salmon, or herb-crusted rack of lamb. Alcohol-wise The Stonehouse serves a huge variety of top-tier wines and liquors.

Sandwiches with delicious caviar on dark background
Caviar can often be found on the menu at The Stonehouse.


Sushi by Scratch Restaurant, Montecito

1295 Coast Village Rd., Santa Barbara, 93108, USA

Housed in the Montecito Inn, Sushi by Scratch is only a ten-minute drive outside of Santa Barbara, and well worth including on this list. Patrons start in the lobby with a drink, before being shown to their seats for a true sushi experience. While there are numerous locations, the Sushi by Scratch Restaurants are co-owed by chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee. This menu is known for its unique take on classic sushi dishes, like adding sweet corn pudding or sourdough bread crumbs to grilled hamachi. They're also known for their iconic house-fermented soy sauce. Pair brown sugar, chili ponzu, fried onions, and pineapple with wagyu beef and delicate fish dishes (via Michelin).

To top