California may have a strong reputation as a vegan-friendly foodie state, but it’s still sometimes difficult to find satisfying dishes that are completely free of animal products. Visit the wrong restaurant, and you’ll be frustrated by the limited selection. A little research can save you world of dining trouble. This shouldn’t be too tough; when it comes to vegan restaurants Santa Barbara clearly excels.
Thankfully, several local hotspots cater to vegetarians and vegans. These establishments occupy every category imaginable, ranging from local eats to international dishes. Every level of formality is available, including upscale meals and fast food chains. Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the best vegan Santa Barbara destinations for discerning diners:
A wine bar can be an excellent place to score vegan treats. Such is the case with local favorite Satellite, which is best known for its exquisite selection of fine wines. This location is also known as a farmer’s market, with seasonal ingredients forming the basis of some truly remarkable dishes.
Although technically designated as vegetarian, the majority of Satellite’s veggie menu actually qualifies as vegan. Ingredient availability will largely depend on when you visit, but you’ll definitely want to order the panzanella salad or the fillet de hongo if you get the chance. Details such as edible flowers make these meals appear as beautiful as they are tasty. End the perfect visit with a piece of lemon olive oil cake, which is a wonderful indulgence for vegans and non-vegans alike.
From salads to desserts, the Satellite menu makes it crystal clear when items are vegetarian or vegan. Abundant details also make gluten-free dining a cinch at this location. There’s no denying the appeal of this Santa Barbara vegan food, but the wine remains the main attraction. If this is a priority, you will love everything about your Satellite visit. If you’re more interested in cuisine than wine, one of the other restaurants on this list may be more to your liking.
Specializing in vegan and gluten-free dining, this curated restaurant is a dream come true. Beware that many of the tastiest menu items actually qualify as vegetarian, not vegan. Still, you should find plenty to keep you happy, such as stir frays, paninis, and even a grain-free version of vegan banana bread. The soup of the day is always free from animal products, so this is a safe bet when you want a comforting meal.
Green Table is also beloved for its smoothies and fresh juices, which are as tasty as they are nutritious. Fill your vitamin and mineral nutrient quotas with help from refreshing smoothies that are chock full of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Several options incorporate matcha or vegan protein. You’re always welcome to add shots of ginger, turmeric, or cacao. Otherwise, treat yourself to a delectable matcha latte. You’ll love your drink almost as much as you love the cheerful ambiance.
Navigating menus can be difficult even when restaurants have several vegan items. After all, many beloved dishes are loaded with cheese, eggs, or other animal products. Thankfully, a few local establishments take the guesswork out of the question by exclusively serving vegan meals. For example: Rascal’s is an amazing option when you want casual eats. Specializing in American classics and Mexican street food, this vegan Santa Barbara favorite serves the best tortas, elote, burgers, and shakes in town.
Eating at Rascal’s never feels like a compromise — even for visitors who typically prefer meat-based burgers. That being said, many people find the service just as compelling as the meat-free meals. Chef Dalan Moreno is obviously passionate about leading a plant-based lifestyle, as evidenced by his huge tattoo announcing his vegan status. He thinks of himself as a “rascal” due to his lack of formal training, but that hasn’t stood in the way of his culinary success; after years of experimenting on friends, his remarkable vegan creations have found a large and very enthusiastic fanbase.
Acai bowls are nearly always a safe choice for vegans, so it should come as no surprise that so many plant-based eaters are drawn to the local chain Backyard Bowls. In addition to its downtown Santa Barbara location, the business has outposts in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Studio City, and beyond. Devotees are especially fond of the conveniently located Santa Barbara location, where sizable acai and porridge bowls provide excellent fuel for a busy day. Meanwhile, appealing toppings such as hemp granola, almond butter, and local honey are sure to please.
This is also a great place to get your caffeine fix. Spectcular selections from the local Dune Coffee Roasters are served here, as are loose-leaf tea and iced matcha lattes. A wide variety of smoothies are also available. These fall under two main categories: light & refreshing or protein-packed. Both can be enhanced with pea protein, spirulina, collagen peptides, and many other add-ons.
As a fast-casual establishment, Backyard Bowls is a great choice when you’re in a rush but don’t want to compromise on nutrition. Most ingredients are organic and locally sourced, in support of the restaurant’s clear mission to maintain a minimal carbon footprint.
Another small chain worth exploring, Fala Bar has a popular outpost in Santa Barbara. While some California locations serve locally sourced meat, the Santa Barbara restaurant is exclusively vegan. Falafel balls are an expected offering, of course, but there’s also a lot to love about the Fala sweet potato fries, chickpea tacos, and kale falafel burgers. Everything is prepared to order, so some waiting is to be expected — but a few minutes after you order, you’ll be rewarded with some of Santa Barbara’s freshest and healthiest dishes.
This particular restaurant is favored not only for its all-vegan menu, but also, for its idyllic location at the popular Santa Barbara Public Market. Nothing quite compares to the market’s vibrant atmosphere. Feel free to mix and match as you order appetizers, sides, or drinks from other businesses represented here. Relax with all your favorites at the patio on West Victoria Street.
While this restaurant’s animal-free options are decidedly limited as compared to several other vegan Santa Barbara establishments, it makes for a great compromise when vegans and meat-eaters dine together. The vegan samosas and curries are downright divine, as are breads such as the Tandoori roti and lentil papadum.
Apna’s menu makes it abundantly clear which dishes are vegetarian, which are vegan, and which contain meat or dairy. Some meals are both vegan and gluten-free. With a few menu items, you’ll want to confirm while ordering that you prefer the vegan option. No matter what you order, it will be a lot more enjoyable alongside a glass of fine wine. The distinctive wine list includes a mix of local and international selections, such as Chenin Blanc from Sula Vineyards in the Indian state of Maharashtra. A few Indian lagers are also available.
As the crown jewel of the local plant-based dining scene, this acclaimed restaurant serves the best Santa Barbara vegan food. This is where you go for an unforgettable vegan date night, complete with delectable dishes and indulgent cocktails. Truffle fries, ceviche, flatbread…everything looks amazing and tastes delicious. Attention to detail is always evident, and yet, the serving sizes are large enough to satisfy hungry visitors.
The atmosphere at Oliver’s feels downright magical, with treehouse vibes giving both the patio and the indoor space a childlike — yet sophisticated — sense of wonder. Visit in the evening to enjoy the glow from the string lights as you enjoy the most indulgent vegan dishes in town.
DIY-style pizza is nearly always a safe choice for vegetarians and vegans, who can opt for veggie toppings and cheese alternatives when desired. This create-your-own approach forms the basis of the easy ordering process at Calif-Forno Pizzeria. In addition to vegan cheese, you can make the most of a gluten-free crust if you desire.
There are also lots of sandwiches and salads served here, although navigating the non-pizza menu can sometimes be difficult for guests with dietary restrictions. With so many great toppings available, however, there really is no reason to eat anything other than the delicious pizza. Dine-in is available, although many regulars opt for delivery or pickup instead.
After you eat at this popular hangout, be sure to check out its owner on TikTok. The restaurant has a strong social media following, made possible by its intriguing and hilarious clips that portray the pizza master at work. These humorous vibes can also be encountered in person, when you pick up your pizza or eat onsite.
Vegan Santa Barbara
Whether you crave acai bowls, pizza, burgers, or breakfast, Santa Barbara provides a wealth of vegan options worth exploring. Treat yourself to the American Riviera’s best meals while enjoying the health benefits and personal satisfaction of eating animal-free.