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Mexican Restaurants in Santa Barbara

Top 20 Mexican Restaurants in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a beautiful location about two hours north of Los Angeles along the 101. This coastal town is famous for its sandy beaches and winery tours, but it has the sense of an old Spanish community. Whatever your reason for visiting, eating and drinking should be a top priority. Here are 32 terrific Mexican Restaurants in Santa Barbara, ranging from old-school taquerias to new-wave seafood specialists.

Santa Barbara’sculture is linked to Mexico, making Mexican dishes a part of the city’s food scene. This makes Santa Barbara a particularly delectable destination for taco enthusiasts.

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Top Mexican Restaurants in Santa Barbara

When it comes to getting a real Mexican dining experience, California reigns supreme. There are many Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, but some offer more amazing culinary experiences than others.

That said, here are the top 20 Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara.

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1. Los Agaves Restaurant

Los Agaves Restaurant
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Los Agaves Restaurant

Los Agaves is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara. It offers unique flavors with an emphasis on authenticity and creativity. This award-winning restaurant is one of the most popular in Santa Barbara, offering a fine dining experience in addition to Mexican cuisine.

If you want a Los Agaves specialty, try the Alambres (homemade corn tortillas, grilled bell peppers, onions, chicken, and melted cheese), but if you want something spicy, try the Enchiladas Guadalajara.

2. Santo Mezcal

Santo Mezcal
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Santo Mezcal

Santa Mezcal, one of the finest Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, is the place to go for contemporary Mexican meals prepared with care. Dining at Santa Mezcal is like taking a tour through Santa Barbara’s local areas and the heart of Mexico all at once.

If you want a rib-eye steak, try the Filete Costeno, or the Tacos Salmon, which comes with chipotle sauce and grilled pineapple.

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No matter what you eat here, make room for dessert. The Pan de Elote is fantastic! The meal here is ideal for an afternoon in a seaside town like Santa Barbara.

3. Corazon Cocina

Corazon Cocina
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Corazon Cocina

Corazon Cocina serves real Mexican street food. This dish, like the street food we love so much in Mexico, is cheap enough for everybody to enjoy.

For a pleasant and unusual flavor, we recommend the Al Pastor from Corazon Cocina, which, by the way, is one of the top restaurants in Santa Barbara.

The ceviche is also delicious, particularly the Sayulita, which is crafted with many delectable ingredients such as mango, wild white shrimp, and burnt habaero aioli. The menu alone is enough to make your mouth drop.

4. La Super-Rica

La Super-Rica
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La Super-Rica

Drive up Milpas till you see a modest white hut with aqua trim on the right for an amazing feel of Santa Barbara. There is no evident sign, but a line stretching from the entryway will tell you that you’ve arrived.

It is worth knowing that Julia Child regards La Super-Rica as one of her best Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara.

The items on their menu range from tamales to gorditas and pozole, which are equally delicious as their tacos. Portions are tiny and prices are reasonable, so order a little more than you normally would.

While you’re waiting in line, look through the windows so you can see the tortilla being prepared by hand.

5. Rose Cafe

Rose Cafe
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Rose Cafe

Rose Cafe, a family-run, full-service restaurant, has been chosen as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara on multiple occasions. The prices are reasonable, and the portions are large.

There is plenty of space for families and groups. Mexican-style breakfast dishes, Enchiladas with green sauce, and less usual delicacies such as tongue are among the house specialties. Frozen margaritas by the pitcher or glass are available.

On your way out, don’t forget to collect a lollipop from the bowl by the door! One thing to keep in mind: the entire family takes a month off after Christmas, and the restaurant is closed, so schedule your chilaquile desires appropriately.

There is free parking in front and back. There’s some really cool art on the walls that you should check out.

6. Lito’s

Lito's
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Lito’s

At first glance, this is not the kind of restaurant you expect to be recommended to as a traveler. But trust us, it’s amazing.

This family-run eatery offers amazing breakfast burritos, savory chile Colorado, delicious enchiladas, and much more every day from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Order at the counter, grab a seat and savor the tasty chips and homemade salsa while you wait. Or you could order a takeaway.

Lito’s, one of the top Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in 2011 and even visited by Guy Fieri.

7. Lilly’s Tacos

 Lilly's Tacos
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Lilly’s Tacos

For the most delicious tacos in Santa Barbara, visit Lilly’s Tacos. Located in a shopping center at the end of downtown, Lilly’s Tacos, one of the finest Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, have been serving tasty meats on soft corn tortillas to customers for years.

There are no chips, no nary a bean, or rice in sight… just tacos. For $2 a pop, you can get a variety of meats, including adobado, asada, and even ojos. Lilly’s also serves a variety of less-common taco fillings like eyes, cheek, and tongue.

8. Cuernavaca Tacqueria

Cuernavaca Tacqueria
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Cuernavaca Tacqueria

This location of Cuernavaca Taqueria, one of the trendiest Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, has been added to famous branches in Oxnard and Ventura.

The tacos here are delicious and the torta cubano is amazing. For a really beautiful surprise, order one of their gorditas – it sounds heavy but is actually light masa cakes packed with your choice of fillings.

The veggies tacos here are delicious too, as are the potato taquitos

9. Mony’s Mexican Food

Mony's Mexican Food
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Mony’s Mexican Food

Just a few blocks from the beach, Mony’s is the place for tasty, inexpensive tacos and a killer salsa bar. You can get pollo, asada, fish tacos, and more at this casual dining restaurant. Enjoy free chips while you wait.

They’re really just a vehicle for Mony’s great salsa bar, anyway. Try mango salsa, pistachio salsa, and others made fresh in the house. Like the rest of the Funk Zone, this restaurant gets filled up quickly on weekends. Good luck finding parking a space!

10. Cesar’s Place

Cesar’s Place
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Cesar’s Place

Located at 712 N. Milpas Street, Cesar’s Place, one of the top Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, is the place for fresh seafood as there is plenty of it on the menu.

You can order the ceviche campechana, a fresh blend of fish, octopus, and shrimp, served with a side of homemade saltine crackers and crispy tortillas.

Or go for the non-traditional route with a big plate of chips and fish. Whatever you pick, expect to leave happy and filled.

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11. Los Tarascos Bakery and Deli

Los Tarascos Bakery and Deli
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Los Tarascos Bakery and Deli

The aroma of pan dulce baking in the oven is all you need to be drawn to Los Tarascos Bakery and Deli, which is one of the top Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara. Expect delicious Mexican sandwiches (tortas) and pastries, as well as fresh juices.

The pastry menu changes daily, featuring dessert and lunch pastries straight out of the oven. From the torta collection, “La Tarasca” prepared with ham, egg, bacon, beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, and roast beef all on house-made Bolillo bread is a top pick.

12. East Beach Tacos

East Beach Tacos
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East Beach Tacos

East Beach Tacos (226 S. Milpas Street) is in the Waterfront section of the best Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara because it is on the south side of the 101 and just blocks from the beach, though it could easily be included on a Milpas taco trek.

East Beach Tacos offers hard and soft shell tacos with a modern twist, as well as an enticing shaded patio for post-beach munchies.

Their “Triple Play” option permits you to customize your order and try three different tacos, like spicy crispy shrimp, ahi poke, and banh mi.

13. Rudy’s Fresh Mexican Food

Rudy’s Fresh Mexican Food
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Rudy’s Fresh Mexican Food

The first location of Rudy’s Fresh Mexican Food is in the West Beach neighborhood. The local mini-chain also has outlets in the Presidio, Upper State, and Buellton.

Rudy’s delicious signature taco is heavy with veggies and, mushrooms, grilled poblano chile and onion, cheese, and your choice of meat. It also has fish and shrimp tacos topped with cabbage slaw, avocado spread, and creamy chipotle sauce.

14. La Playa Azul Cafe

 La Playa Azul Cafe
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La Playa Azul Cafe

For those seeking a more casual and laid-back dining experience, La Playa Azul Cafe, one of the top Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, is the perfect choice.

Located near the beach, this cozy cafe specializes in traditional Mexican breakfast and lunch dishes.

From their hearty huevos rancheros to their flavorful chilaquiles, La Playa Azul Cafe captures the essence of a sunny Mexican morning.

15. Carlitos Cafe y Cantina

Carlitos Cafe y Cantina
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Carlitos Cafe y Cantina

Carlitos Cafe y Cantina is a charming Mexican restaurant nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara. With its warm and inviting atmosphere, it’s an ideal place to enjoy a casual meal with friends or family.

Their menu has a variety of Mexican classics, including enchiladas, tamales, and sizzling fajitas, all prepared with fresh ingredients and an abundance of flavor.

16. El Paseo Restaurant

El Paseo Restaurant
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El Paseo Restaurant

Situated in a historic building that dates back to 1922, El Paseo Restaurant, one of the best Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, offers an enchanting dining experience steeped in Mexican heritage.

With its elegant courtyard and authentic dishes, this restaurant is a delightful fusion of history and gastronomy. From its signature margaritas to their exquisite seafood dishes, El Paseo Restaurant is a true Santa Barbara treasure.

17. Los Arroyos

Los Arroyos
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Los Arroyos

Los Arroyos is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving Santa Barbara for over 20 years. With its welcoming ambiance and attentive service, it’s an ideal spot for a memorable dining experience.

Their menu showcases traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist, featuring fresh ingredients and lovely flavors. Don’t miss their famous guacamole, made tableside the way you want.

18. Cielito Restaurant

Cielito Restaurant
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Cielito Restaurant

Cielito Restaurant, one of the finest Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, combines the flavors of Mexico with the elegance of Santa Barbara.

Located in the heart of downtown, this upscale restaurant offers a sophisticated dining experience with a menu inspired by the rich culinary heritage of Mexico.

Their dishes are carefully cooked using locally sourced ingredients, resulting in a fusion of taste and artistry.

19. Super Cucas

Super Cucas
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Super Cucas

Super Cucas is a casual Mexican eatery that has become a go-to spot for late-night cravings. Open until the early hours of the morning, Super Cucas serves up a variety of hearty and satisfying Mexican dishes.

Whether you’re in the mood for a massive California burrito or a plate of cheesy nachos, Super Cucas, one of the top Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, is the place to indulge your appetite.

20. Los Altos Mexican Food

Los Altos Mexican Food
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Los Altos Mexican Food

Los Altos Mexican Food is a family-owned restaurant known for its generous portions and affordable prices. Their menu encompasses a wide range of Mexican specialties, from carne asada tacos to chiles rellenos.

With its laid-back atmosphere and friendly service, Los Altos Mexican Food offers a casual dining experience that is sure to please.

Summary

Santa Barbara boasts an array of exceptional Mexican restaurants that cater to every taste and preference.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional street tacos, flavorful enchiladas, or innovative Mexican cuisine with a modern twist, you’ll find a restaurant in Santa Barbara that satisfies your cravings.

These top 20 Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara offer varieties of flavors, atmospheres, and dining experiences, ensuring that locals and visitors alike can indulge in the delicious world of Mexican cuisine in Santa Barbara.

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