The best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Santa Barbara
[UPDATED February 2022]
Santa Barbara, known as the “American Riviera,” is home to beautiful beaches, great wine tasting and stellar vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Many mainstream Santa Barbara establishments have upped their veg-friendly menu game over the last several years. While there are plenty of casual places to pop in for a smoothie or salad, the below are spots you should turn to for your night out on the town—be it a mellow dinner or more happening hotspots, this guide has you covered.
Oliver’s is upscale dining at its finest, with a 100% plant-based menu that is dressed to impress all food preferences. It’s located off the main drag in Montecito (just a few miles south of downtown Santa Barbara). With seating areas both inside and out, plus a plush bar/lounge space, you’ll enjoy elegance and class...and of course good food. The Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza is a must-try with its perfect amalgamation of sweet and savory. Also to note are the Truffle Potatoes and Artichoke “Crab Cakes,” (pictured right) both great to share.
Bella Vista restaurant at The Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore
(vegan and vegetarian options)
[*CURRENTLY CLOSED, but suspected to re-open at some point*]
The Four Seasons recently debuted their new menu and brought in the experts to help, partnering with healthy living educator and vegan chef Leslie Durso. There are many satisfying plant-based items to choose from including a decadent vegan chocolate cake to finish off your meal. They also mark all their food items with (G) Gluten Free, (V) Vegetarian and (PB) Plant-Based, so no matter your food preference, you can easily find something. Make sure to sit out on the beachfront patio at sunset to enjoy a drink and/or your meal.
(vegan and vegetarian options)
Zaytoon is Lebanese cuisine, which is naturally vegetarian-friendly. Zaytoon has a secret garden-like setting, super romantic and peaceful. Veg-friendly items include soups, mezza and entrees, suitable for vegan eaters with all items clearly labeled. There is also a fun belly dancing performance that pops up on some evenings.
(vegetarian, mostly vegan)
This natural wine bar in Santa Barbara’s downtown does everything right, from wine to food to service. Satellite’s vegetarian menu (which is mostly vegan) is prepared from organic produce provided direct from local farmers in the region. As for their wine, they exclusively source wines grown with organic and/or biodynamic principles, so all wine is natural with minimal manipulation and additives. Their food is delicious; you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, and wine knowledge is always on tap from their friendly and educated staff.
Modern Times, Academy of Recreational Sciences
[*CLOSED as of February 2022*] For a fun, upbeat, casual spot on lower State St. with great beer on tap—and a 100% vegan menu—visit Modern Times. Santa Barbara may be best known for its wine, but good beer is also abundant in the city. With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and surrounded by funky wall art, the setting is cool and casual. Modern Times has over 30 beers on tap, and also cold brew coffee, kombucha and wine. Their food menu is best described as elevated bar food, heavy, but good and lots of great items to share and snack on like the Chili Verde Cheese Fries, topped with lots of fixings including Beyond Meat crumbles. Make sure to opt for one of their beer flights so you can get a taste of all the beer goodness they are brewing up.
Rascal's (located inside the now closed Venus & Furs) - Santa Barbara
Just off of the main thoroughfare on State St. in Santa Barbara you'll find Rascal's, cooking up all-vegan Mexican-inspired dishes. (It used to be inside Venus & Furs, a natural wine bar, but in February, 2022, Venus & Furs closed, but Rascal's still operates inside--and, yes, you CAN BYOB since there are not drinks for purchase inside!) The menu is ever-changing, so make sure to check out their Instagram for menu updates!
Mesa Verde (all vegan)
This casual sitdown vegan eatery has a diverse menu, inspired by cuisine from Spain and the Middle East, blended with a modern American twist. Mesa Verde uses all organic produce from Santa Barbara's farmers market to create some really good flavorful dishes. The service tends to be lacking, but if you are in no hurry, then this makes for a nice stop. Located in the Mesa area of Santa Barbara, it’s out of the main tourist areas and worth a visit if you are looking for vegan bites.