Story by Nancy Ransohoff
Photos by Lindsay Dobbs
Yes, the French are coming…and they’re bringing boatloads of Gallic gastronomy from frites to crêpes. Three new French restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara offer a taste of Paris without the hassle of airports and cash conversion. We gladly surrender.
The French Table (129 E. Anapamu St., 805/882-0050) is a gastropub and crêperie that covers all of the French bases. Think scrumptious sweet and savory crêpes and omelettes, fresh salads, les burgers with pommes frites, beef bourguignon and fresh local fish. Mais oui, you’ll also find escargots, pâté and charcuterie. Throw in a buzzing bar and a charming outdoor patio that overlooks the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens and you have a lively destination for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Relais de Paris (734 State St., 805/963-6077) is modeled after a 19th-century French brasserie with dark woods, warm brick walls, sparkling chandeliers and deep banquette seating. Nibble simple, traditional French bistro dishes from steamed mussels to creamy-dreamy crème brûlée, but don’t miss the spécialité de maison of steak and frites with the signature sauce.
Maggie’s at State and A (1201 State St., 805/770-2700), across from The Granada and kitty-corner from Santa Barbara Museum of Art, is a prime location for a cocktail, lunch or dinner in a relaxed, elegant setting. California-French offerings include crêpes, quiches, fresh salads, paninis, gourmet burgers, grilled steaks and fish, and duck confit. Sip at the full bar either inside or out on the roomy patio.
And we wouldn’t dream of forgetting our old French faves like Pacific Crêpes (705 Anacapa St., 805/882-1123), where you can parlez a bit of Français if you like while digging into hot, fresh crêpes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro (3315 State St., Loreto Plaza, 805/569-2400; 1324 State St., Arlington Plaza, 805/892-2800) is known for almost-too-beautiful-to-eat cakes and tarts, buttery croissants and lovely European breakfasts and lunch. Xanadu French Bakery (1028 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805/969-3550) tempts with delicieux French baguettes, pastries and sandwiches. Petit Valentien (1114 State St., 805/966-0222) is a cozy spot for everything from pan-seared scallops to steak au poivre. Stella Mare’s (50 Los Patos Way, 805/969-6705) offers French country cuisine in a charming, historic house. So, get out and eat…tout de suite!
This story was originally published in the Spring issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.