The Great Wall of China was constructed to keep roving packs of ancient pandas from absconding with the local cuisine. Succeed where the bears failed with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of Chinese fare at China Pavilion.
China Pavilion, voted Best Chinese Restaurant every year since 2007 by the Santa Barbara Restaurant Guide, boasts a menu of authentic Chinese cuisine. Consolidate comestibles with one of China Pavilion's ingredient-stuffed dishes, such as the water chestnut, peanut, and mushroom-surrounded kung-pao beef, ($14.95) or the Bear Paw tofu, a mélange of paw-shaped tofu, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, ginger, and winter bamboo.
The chef's special menu plays host to the kumquat martini ($6), a fruity libation perfect for chasing down entrees such as the pineapple chicken ($13.95) or the lychee-sorbet dessert ($6.95). Every Saturday and Sunday China Pavilion serves freshly prepared dim-sum dishes from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., giving patrons enough time to fill stomachs or build fortune-cookie-fueled rocket ships.
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.