My husband and I spent the weekend in Santa Barbara, our first time back in a year.
I had heard all about the "legendary" La Super Rica (622 Milpas) from Chowhound and other sources. We did go on Saturday at 1:00 and started waiting in line with all the other gringo tourists. But it looked like it would be a long wait and we just didn't feel like being with the tourists (yes, even though that is what we are too!) so we decided to take other Chowhounders' advice and walk down to El Bajio (129 Milpas), and we were glad we did. There were a number of customers, but no long line and the food was delicious. My husband had the burrito pescado and I had the caldo de pollo (chicken soup). A plaque from Gourmet magazine graced the wall, along with a number of other accolades. Thank you, Chowhounders, for this recommendation.
The other great place we went to is Taiko, a Japanese restaurant at 511 State Street (near Haley). This place opened five months ago and is the third branch of Taiko restaurants (the other two are in the Brentwood area of LA and El Segundo). It is run by a Japanese company and has very authentic Japanese cuisine with beautiful presentation. The menu is extensive, ranging from noodles to sushi to donburi, along with many other dishes. We actually had both lunch and dinner there. For lunch I had tenzaru soba -- crisp, non-greasy tenpura with excellent cold noodles placed beautifully on a bamboo basket housed in a banana leaf. My husband had a curry rice combination that included a bowl of hot soba. Sushi was also excellent and generous -- for dinner I had the deluxe chirashi and my husband had the sushi dinner.
The chef came to the table next to ours and presented the customers with a huge, fresh uni (still moving, according to my husband), scooping it out. We're not sea urchin fans, but it was impressive. Decor is sleek and modern, there are many Japanese speakers on the wait staff, and there is an extensive wine and sake list, including a sake tasting "plate" for $10 where you select five sakes. Highly recommended.