This is primarily a review of less expensive places in Santa Barbara. I enjoyed the food, especially because there were plenty of opportunities for some great Mexican food.
The Habit, 216 So. Milpas. We tried this because there was always a line for the burgers. They were good but not great, I'm not sure what the fuss was about.
Pacific Crepes, 705 Anacapa, downtown. Tres French! Charming small dining room and a good variety of main course and dessert crepes, as well as salads. Very good food, but they were clearly friendlier to the customers who spoke French. About $25 for lunch for 2.
La Super Rica - very good as expected. We had seafood tamales, queso, arroz, a special with rajas and corn tortillas, and tacos. Many of the dishes are just a couple of dollars so you can try many things. For all the business they do, you would think they can afford to have someone to wipe off tables between diners. 2 people can stuff themselves for under $20 for dinner.
El Bajio Tacqueria - a real gem, also on Milpas. Less of a gringo crowd than at La Super Rica, and charming decor with hand embroidered tablecloths. Incredibly clean! We just tried their breakfast burritos which were fabulous - probably the best burritos we had in S.B.
Tacqueria Antonio - a little shack on Milpas next to a batting cave, just south of the highway. Tasty and freshly prepared burritos, but not the best. Close to the beach.
Taqueria La Gloria, 336 N. Milpas. Pretty much a dive, but tasty carnitas, tamales, and burritos. You can get a dinner her for 6 or 7 dollars.
Piatti in Montecito, 516 San Ysidro. Italian, in Montecito. This is a small, upscale chain known for good-quality food. Clubby atmosphere, all seeming to be locals from affluent Montecito. The main dining room was crowded and noisy, so we ate in a screened in terrace. Our table next to the fireplace was pleasant, but the room was otherwise devoid of decoration. They have a great meatloaf - rich, almost like pate. I had a puttanesca with salmon which was tasty but not exemplary. Gracious and friendly service.
Ojai - Wonderful small farmers market - a real highlight. The most lucious and juicy strawberries I've ever tasted. We ate at Azu, a moderately upscale Mediterranean restaurant at 457 E. Ojai Avenue. They have good salads and also serve a variety of tapas, which we did not try. They make their own gelato which was good on a warm day, but certainly not the best I've had.
I look forward to returning. Santa Barbara is a beautiful town with friendly locals and comida mexicana muy rica!