A link to Santa Barbara's past, Aldo's Italian Ristorante resides on the grounds of the Janssens-Orella adobe house, which was built in 1857 and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1986, Aldo's has done its part to write its own chapter into the historic site's story, serving homemade Italian specialties for lunch and dinner every day of the week. During visits, diners may enjoy freshly prepared dishes inside amid ornate pillars and elegant artwork, or outside in the heated courtyard.
The chefs at Gino’s Sicilian Express pile house-made crusts with fresh tomato sauce and all-natural mozzarella cheese to animate a menu of more than 20 New York–style pizzas, as well as calzones and a selection of beer and wine. Pies range from classics, such as the margarita ($12–$16) and pepperoni ($13–$17), to specialty creations ($16–$20) such as the Polpette, festooned with basil, garlic, and sicilian meatballs. The Spinaccia pizza, strewn with fresh spinach and feta cheese, is also amenable to the New York fold-and-bite or the Antarctica freeze-and-lick technique. Diners taste test crust-free creations with a handful of hot wings ($4–$7) or sandwiches such as the chicken parmesan ($5). Chefs also present an evolving selection of desserts; ask Gino’s staff about the day’s saccharine selection or their opinions on mixing corduroy and plaid.
Shine Blow Dry Bar offers upscale blow-dry services to residents of Santa Barbara and beyond. During treatments, a team of expert stylists wash hair with fragrant and hydrating shampoos as guests sip champagne or nibble gourmet cupcakes. After relaxing scalp massages, the stylists break out the blow-dryers, fluffing and curling hair into red-carpet-ready ?dos that are perfect for special occasions or memorable nights out. Shine currently operates two locations, both sporting a classic, feminine vibe with cream-colored walls, sparkling chandeliers, and ornate mirrors that reflect each guest's elaborate princess gown.
Upscale yet unpretentious, like a hood ornament in the shape of Morgan Freeman, Coast Restaurant offers landlubbers a comfort food menu that avails itself of Santa Barbara’s aquatic adjacency. Local farms and wharfs supply ingredients, and a raw bar stocks recently netted oysters, clams, crabs, and shrimp. Dip a toe into the local rock fish, pan-roasted with brussel sprouts and roasted onions ($25), or dive delicately into the crab cakes, with poquillo peppers, local citrus salad, and a smoked paprika vinaigrette ($14). Sea-shunners can shimmy toward the popular tortilla soup, with avocado, chicken, poblano chiles, and cheddar cheese ($9), letting Coast’s warm wooden furniture and soft lighting belly-dance captivatingly across pleasure receptors.
Coffee Cat and Cafe Zoma satisfy caffeine cravings with a wide selection of freshly roasted fair-trade coffee drinks, and silence grumbling tummies with homemade baked goods, sandwiches, and crêpes. Perk up after an exhausting night of sleepskating with a foamy cappuccino ($3.50) or classic house brew ($1.90). Taste buds can nestle up to one of Coffee Cat’s specialty espresso drinks, such as the chocolate-raspberry mocha ($4.55) or honey-hazelnut latte ($4.20), served hot or iced, or the tantalizing selection of premium loose-leaf teas. Break up sipping, slurping, and gargling regimens with a morning-glory muffin—a freshly baked confection of coconut, carrot, cranberries, and walnuts—a slice of vegan zucchini bread, or a cherry-lemon scone. Homemade fluffy crêpes at the Coffee Cat location serve as a snuggly sleeping bag for sweet and savory concoctions, such as smoked ham, egg, and cheese ($6.95) or banana and Nutella ($6.75).
Having mastered several subsets of Chinese cuisine, the chefs at China Pavilion couldn't fit all their entrees onto a single menu. So they created three: one with America's popular staples, one brimming with traditional platters, and one showcasing chef specialties. The first lines up dishes that are now familiar—sweet 'n' sour chicken and mongolian beef—as well as recognizable feasts served in new ways, such as the peking duck wrapped in crepes. More traditional and exotic options abound on the Chinese menu, such as pickled cabbage and pork noodle soup, or spicy king crabmeat sprinkled with basil and served in a clay pot. The chefs’ selections, meanwhile, range from classic to experimental: strips of Angus beef sizzle in oyster sauce, and garlic-pepper salt coats Alaskan halibut in a wok. China Pavilion’s full cocktail bar balances meals with citrusy sips of sour plum martinis, and on weekends, visitors can drop by for a dim-sum brunch that leaves tongues more satisfied than an astronaut wearing Moon Boots.