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Bay Cafe
[closed, no longer in business]

131 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 963-2215


Reviews by the General Public

So so food, worst service
Reviewer: Amanda Cooper from Vancouver, BC
Walking down the main street in Santa Barbara, we decided to have dinner in this place. Decor got our attention! Although were not fully disappointed by the food, but we were really discouraged by how slow service was. It took almost one full hour to get couple of drinks, share an appetizer and receive the main dinner plates. It seems that they need better organization. At least, we really liked the Chicken Picata. We live in Vancouver and have many small places like this, and we usually get seated and served promptly. We used this website to know about Santa Barbara so it seem appropriate to leave feedback for other tourists in the area: you are better of trying other restaurants close to the downtown area or at the beach. Thanks


What Happened?
Reviewer: Gerianne from Santa Barbara, CA
We dined at the Bay at least twice a month. Happy Hour Menu was terrific and the food was very good. Now, it has gone down the tubes. I have been in the new "Bay Roadhouse", twice and it is horrible. Did they fire the cook? Food is very greasy and they have changed the menu to bar type food. It would have been nice if they kept the same food they had at the other location. I will miss it. They should bring back the calamari rings, ceviche tostadas and the happy hour menu.


Moving to new location
Reviewer: John from Santa Barbara, CA
Bay Cafe is moving to 202 State Street.


Food is good.Service is good.
Reviewer: Santa Barbara from Santa Barbara, CA
The food is good.The service is good.


Very Blah-type Experience
Reviewer: Rob from Santa Barbara, CA
Nothing great about my dinner there this weekend, nothing horrible either, just very "blah" all the way around. I've always wanted to try this place (lived here for 15 years) and finally broke from the norm to go there this past weekend and left largely unimpressed. Food wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either, and the service was adequate. They didn't go over the top for us, but they didn't forget about us either, they basically did just enough which is fine. In the end there was nothing about my dinner that will make me go out of the way to go back in the future. Been there, tried it, moving on.


Nice Dinner
Reviewer: Karen from Santa Barbara, CA
Had dinner mid-week with a friend, and we had a nice dining experience. Appreciated the waitress's honesty when making recommendations. Service was prompt, unobtrusive, and though we sat there chatting until closing time, we never felt rushed to leave. The food was yummy. I like the Bay Cafe, and will be back.


Lackluster evening but nice Tuesday deal!
Reviewer: Erica from Santa Barbara, CA
Recently dined at the Bay Cafe and received a great deal with the Tuesday Night Coin Flip Special. However, service was wanting: bread dishes on the (outdoor) table were grimy with black dust, a request for drinking straws wasn't filled for quite a while, and an order of a glass of wine placed early in the meal wasn't filled until everyone was finished eating (and we were not fast eaters!). While their red bell pepper sauce is fantastic (it draws my family back to the Bay Cafe), I found the rest of the food to be disappointing...most entrees came with an uninspired roasted potato/vegetable side. The entree salads are not as attractive as they could be, with all ingredients so finely chopped it's hard to tell if what was listed on the menu is even in your salad! I also felt that the menu items were slightly overpriced.


Good, Except for the Salt
Reviewer: steven appleton from Santa Barbara, CA
We sat on the patio and listened to live guitar music with a nice fire burning in the back to keep us warm. The waiter and other staff were very friendly. Warm crunchy/chewy bread was served with a wonderful cilantro butter spread. My wife and I both ordered the grilled salmon, which was expertly cooked and very flavorful. UNFORTUNATELY, everything except the rice was heavily salted (for me, the veggies more than the fish), and this would be the main take-away for the night. We're looking forward to Tuesday night's coin flip special with the owner...


Great things happening at the Bay!
Reviewer: Brian from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been going to the Bay Cafe on and off for a couple years now. My most recent experiences have been fantastic. Wednesday some friends and I went in for the crab legs night, delicious. I was back for the shellfish paella Sat. night and was impressed by the quality of the seafood and the service. I will be back soon.


Slow service, bland food
Reviewer: Susannah from Santa Barbara, CA
I am so sorry to be writing this review...but I was so disappointed with my dinner at Bay. I have been purchasing fish here for a while and was always happy with it. So I took my boyfriend here for dinner. There were only 2 other tables in the restaurant and it took about 10 minutes for our server to come over after we were seated. We ordered wine and she came back 10 minutes later and asked me to point out which wine we wanted again. I don't think she knows her wines at all. Rolls were hard and cold. My paella was very bland, and my bf got the ravioli with shrimp. It was decent but also bland. Our glasses were empty for quite a while before asked if we wanted more wine (very slow service). I just wish I had spent my money on fish that I could have cooked at home rather than spend $70 on dinner. Maybe sitting outside in the evening would have helped the experience, but it was closed (a bit cold). I am not giving this review to dissuade customers from going in, but rather in hopes that the restaurant makes some changes.


Excellent Food and Value
Reviewer: Scott Grant from Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I live in Santa Barbara, and whenever we can, we eat at the Bay Cafe. Bring in a Santa Barbara wine, and there's no corkage fee! What could be better? My only criticism is the bread: it's like Wonder Bread, white and flavorless. C'mon folks, spend a few dollars and go to a good bakery!


Great service!!!
Reviewer: Mary from Santa Barbara, CA
I go to the Bay once a month, the fish is the freshest in town and the service is very friendly, I can't believe the reviews I saw you just need to ask for Claudia, she is very helpful and funny. She would make your night!!! Just relax and enjoy the food. The best dish is the almond crusted halibut or the seared ahi.


Horrible Service, but good food
Reviewer: R. from Santa Barbara, CA
We're a mid 20's couple who dines out alot, and I think this spot took our age and $ for granted. We were seated at 7pm, given no bread while others seated after us were. Took 30min before our order was taken. No refills, had to goto the bar for a simple refill on a coke. Took 20min to recieve salads after ordering, Food took another 45+min after salads. Food was hot and grrreat! But waitress forgot we existed. Other tables with older couples were given more attention than us. Took forever to get check and to get credit card back. Very bad service!!! After to waiting to order and waiting for our meal, we left at 9:30!! We "might" give it another chance, since the flavor was ideal....


Great dinner, nice waiter
Reviewer: Lesa from Santa Barbara, CA
Took my parents here the other night. Our waiter was really friendly and each of our meals was delicious. The Paella was the best. A little different from a traditional paella but really fabulous. My new favorite!!


Good quality fish is the high point
Reviewer: Jason from Santa Barbara, CA
We ate here on a Tuesday evening, and were the first people seated except for a couple of people at the bar. The server (who appeared to be the only one for the evening) was courteous and helpful. My first concern was that the server didn't write down our order (a pet peeve of mine - why don't they all just write it down?!?) My first issue was that one of the appetizers (calamari) arrived shortly after the soup / salads, which isn't terribly good timing. When salads were being cleared I inquired about the oysters I'd ordered, and asked for a wine menu. A few minutes later the dinners were being served, so I killed the oyster order, and asked for the wine menu again. Fortunately the wine was delivered quickly so I could have it with dinner. The seared ahi tuna was pretty good - all the fish entrees looked to be of good quality fish. The rest of my meal, some rice and some steamed vegetables, was seriously boring, like an afterthought. The seared portion of the tuna wasn't very spicy, which was my recollection from the last time I ordered this entree. My wife had spiny lobster over fettucini. The presentation was fun, with little pieces of lobster legs around the plate, but she thought the meal was something she easily could have made at home. She also mentioned that she didn't know why they were rushing the orders, as the restaurant wasn't that busy and we hadn't asked to have dinner move quickly. It would have been nice to have better timing of the courses. The atmosphere was nice enough, and the staff was helpful and friendly, but the overall experience just wasn't that great.


Great food, but pricey
Reviewer: Lizzie from Santa Barbara, CA
Came here for a late lunch on Sunday afternoon and sat on the patio. It was a very nice, relaxing environment, and the menu choices looked delicious. It is pricey for the portions. I did not appreciate being cheated in getting ONE scallop cut into 3 pieces when the menu specifically said that the peppercorn scallops had 3 jumbo scallops. Each piece of scallop was a quarter to 3/8ths of an inch thick, and two of the three pieces were cut so lopsided that you could tell they didn't even bother to hide the fact. I love seafood and have eaten at many places throughout the world. Jumbo scallops have always been just that - jumbo, not sliced in to thin pieces. I also don't understand how they charge more than the Stonehouse Restaurant for fresh seafood, so I skipped it. I did not have the abalone, but at least that was a good deal for the price. The scallone I had was delicious, but had more sides than main. However, my fiance's crab melt was delicious and a good size. Maybe sandwiches are the way to go here.


Exceptional food and service!
Reviewer: Susan from San Diego, CA
I go to the Bay Cafe whenever I stop in Santa Barbara, they have the best Ciopino in town. They have more than 10 fresh fish from the market to order for dinner. The service is very attentive and friendly ask for Claudia, she is a delight to talk to. The patios are very cozy.


Funny I come to the Bay almost everyday and no cobb on menu?
Reviewer: Chris from Santa Barbara, CA
I hate when I read such negative reviews on such a wonderful place. I eat lunch at least 2-3 times a week there, and for the record there is no Cobb salad on the menu? So oviously this guy Dave dose not know what he is talking about? maybe another restarurant? And by the way the staff always gives you water and hot bread as soon as you sit down. So please folks do not believe what you hear. I have never had a bad meal or bad experience EVER! The Fish is the freshest in town as well as great service. Always smiles on everyones face. Try it you'll like it. ")


ok food...horribly slow and spaced out service
Reviewer: Dave from Santa Babara
I was really excited when this place got new owners and started fresh. I was quickly disappointed in the fact that nothing had changed. I sat down with my sister and the waiter didn't show up for a good 5 minutes. It was not incredibly busy but it took the waiter forever to get our wine that we ordered and our water. When the wine was gone our glasses sat empty without an offer to refresh them nor did the waiter think to take the empty glasses away. My sister ordered a cob salad and when she got her salad it was not a cob. When we brought this up to the waiter he seemed confused and annoyed. We actually had to argue with him and in the end he just shrugged and walked away. This is all after waiting over 45 minutes to get our salads. We attempted to talk to the manager but the waiter kept saying that the manager was busy so we got up and left. No tip for that guy and no repeat customers from us. Horrible.


Rehearsal Dinner
Reviewer: Lisanne from Santa Barbara, CA
I held my wedding rehearsal dinner for 24 people here on July 11. I planned the dinner 3 months in advance and had a set menu. We arrived at 6:00 pm and did not receive our food until after 8:30 pm. We rarely saw our server (yes, only one server for 24 people), had to ask to have the heaters turned on, had to ask for water refills, bread refills and finally had to ask when we could expect our food. When the food finally came out, it was cold and either tasteless or extremely salty. I do not recommend the Bay Cafe if you want customer service or good food. It was a horrible experience and a poor start to our wedding weekend.


Great food for a reasonable price
Reviewer: Westerberg from Philadelphia, PA
Found the restaurant through this webpage. We came to Bay Cafe at 7PM on a Thursday evening and were surprized that there were not that much people there. Service was excellent and the fish was fresh and delicious. The price was very resonable for the quality of food we got.


GREAT ATMOSPHERE & FOOD
Reviewer: Leta from Santa Barbara
Service was great and enjoyed the cozeyness. Food was the best we have had in a long time. We will for sure go back again. Prices were very reasonable.


COOL PLACE AND FANTASTIC FOOD
Reviewer: Joe from Santa Barbara
My husband and I go to the Bay Cafe often. It is sooooo cozy inside as well as the patio areas. Three patios with two fireplaces. The food is wonderful and the service was great. I don't think we have ever been dissapointed. Now they have music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Just perfect


A great place???
Reviewer: Dave from Santa Barbara, Ca.
I used to eat at the Bay Cafe when Siobhan was the executive chef a while back. I'm here to tell you that the food back then was "off the chart". Fast foward to last week. Went there with a few friends expecting another great experience...no such luck. My fish was soggy, vegetables were dipped in hot water and served.....it sucked. Anyhow long story short-very dissapointed and WILL NOT go back again.


Freshest Fish in Town
Reviewer: Chanda from Santa Barbara
I could not believe how fresh the fish is at the Bay. You walk through the door and right there is a big fresh fish case with soooo many beautiful fresh fish, as well as a live lobster/abalone tank. The service was good as well as the awesome wine list. The fires were ablaze outside as we dinned and listened to music by John Fleisher a local artist. On our way out we noticed a Brunch menu that looked great, we can't wait to come back this weekend to try it. Best dinner I have had in a very long time.


fantastic, fantastic, fantastic
Reviewer: Jim Evers from Freeport, Illinois
The food was great, the service very attentive and, I know this doesn't have anything to do with the restaurant experience, but the owner (?)/manager Terri is drop dead gorgeous and right there to help when questions need to be answered. It was like being attended to by a movie star. Thanks from a wayward Illinoisian looking for some Santa Barbara hospitality and fresh seafood......we found it in this extra-ordinary restaurant.


ARE YOU KIDDING?
Reviewer: Leah from Santa Barbara, CA
It was our first and last time at this empty, has-been haunt. For starters, no pun, aren't we beyond boiling our vegetables in the year 2007? This reminded us of an upscale old folks home both food and decor-wise...no taste, no seasoning, the crab cakes had enough flour in them to sink my stomach & the fish had been forgotten on the flame.....The only thing redeemable about my meal was the spicy escolar and pepper soup, but even that tasted more like a sauce than a soup. Also, the waiter did not seem to get our joke about bringing a heat lamp inside because it was so cold- he said " No, it would burn the place down."


Best Margarita in town!!!!!!
Reviewer: Todd from santa barbara
The bartender/manager Cheryl makes the best Margaritas in town. Cheryl was so pleasent and fun. Cheryls service was above and beyond any service I have gotten in Santa Barbara.


Rehearsal Dinner
Reviewer: Venie from San Diego, CA
This is a bit late, but we had a rehearsal dinner at The Bay Cafe in 2005 and it was the best experience I have ever had with a restaurant. We had 40 guests and the menu was wonderful. Dominik and John were the best to work with. Our guests all came to me complimenting me on the location and the food.


awesome resraurant
Reviewer: Stew Weishaar from Edmonton, Canada
Firstly, when you enter the parking lot you already anticipate a great dining experience. the menu selection was great and the pricing very reasonable. my party of 4 all received large portions...even the half-order...bread and soup to begin with was nice to whet our hungry palate...the restaurant wasn't overly busy so we received great service from Jeanine..friendly and smiley and knowledgeable of the menu...thank you from 4 hungry Canadians who likely will never return but not because of this restaurant...thank you Bay Cafe...thank you Santa Barbara and thank you California for a great hoiliday


Stopped for lunch - great food - great service - party of 8
Reviewer: William from Oxnard, CA
This was my first time dining at the Bay Cafe. My job takes me all over the SB area. I have been by the Bay Cafe several times and always wanted to give it a try. I took the opportunity with guests from the Midwest. Our guests wanted to go to a local sea food restaurant before leaving the next day. Our party consisted of four adults and four elementary school age children. We stopped in late for the lunch hour, about 2:00 p.m. There were a few other folks dining. The staff was very welcoming. Our server was helpful and patient while we figured out what would work for the kids. They do not have a kids menu but accomidated the kids quite well. The burgers are 1/2 pound with fries and the fish and chips were plentiful. We were able to divide a couple normal servings into plates for the kids. The server mentioned the chef put a "little extra" in to make sure the kids had plenty. Our selections were of excellent quality, freshly prepared and plentiful. In my opinion they live up to their claim of high quality sea food at a reasonable price. The Bay Cafe is on par with other restaurants in the SB area that charge higher prices. I enquired as how business was going since they reopened under new management. They said it was coming along but goes in spurts. They earned my coming back. I hope they are doing some advertising to make tourists aware they are "just off the main drag". We had been to the harbor and walked to the Bay Cafe. We passed by many Cabrillo establishments that were busier. The Bay Cafe is worth the extra walk, or drive. And if you drive they do have free parking.


Condesceding Owner
Reviewer: Glenn from Pacifica, CA
This place could have earned 4 stars overall if the owner/operator wouldn't have been so condescending. I ordered a $12.95 lunch special of Yellowfin Tuna. My wife had the $10.95 Red Snapper special. The Yellowfin had quite a few bones the size of toothpicks [NO exaggeration] and tasted strong (dark stripe left in) AND it was dry. Wife's dish was fantastic: could NOT complain. Told the waiter who promptly told the owner. She came out with this set of lines: "All fish have bones." {SO insightful of her.} "The dark meat is considered a delicacy" {This is NOT true that for general consumption of tuna fillets that they leave this meat in. The fact that this cut was both dry and strong tasting is not a good combination.} "If we were to remove all the bones the fish would be mush." {If this owner knew how to properly filet a TUNA this would not be necessary.} Not anything like a sincere apology from this woman. I've been eating tuna filets all over the world and have never seen the kinds of bones found in this cut. This particular fish was cut poorly across the back or bottom of the spine, which left in the long toothpick-like bones that stiffen the fish dorsally and ventrally. These bones are NOT normally present in a properly done fillet--especially in tuna. So this place might SAY that it has a fresh fish market next to it, but that is no guarantee that they can cut it properly for their own dishes.


Great Restaurant and Awesome service
Reviewer: Dayna from Victorville, CA
Our server Roberto was awesome! Best service ever! He was so accommodating with our two children and made the evening wonderful. They made a special dish for our 3 year old who insisted he wanted spaghetti. The food was really good! We would definitely do back just for the service! Nice portions for the price and the steamed clams are really good!


Very nice evening
Reviewer: Christine from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I with 4 friends had dinner on Saturday night to celebrate our anniversary. Great points: decor and table settings looked less casual than before and felt "ritzy," all of the appetizers sounded so good, we ordered 5 of them, and they were all great, the coupon online for a free glass of house wine for the entire table was a great "freebie," everyone enjoyed their dinners with zero complaints or "wishes" about the food, prices were right on the mark. Things for improvement: the guitar guy was a nice touch but a little too loud, made conversation tough (of course, we were seated 2 tables from him so it might have been quieter elsewhere), the waitresses were off just a bit but friendly (took too long to get drinks/wine, asking to clear plates when we were obviously still eating), entrance was confusing. We had a wonderful night however, and will definitely be back!


Great Food and Great Prices
Reviewer: Mary from Goleta, CA
This was our first time with the new manager and owner. We told them it was our Anniversary. My husband and I each got a FREE glass of champagne. Nice variety of wine list. I had the swordfish with large pieces of crabmeat with cream cheese and spinach, roasted potatoes and steamed garden vegetables. The swordfish was juicey and delicious. My husband had the top sirloin with roasted potatoes and steam garden vegetables. The bread is delicious with their great butter spread. The prices are more reasonable that about a year and half ago and we will go back. Yes, the front entrance is not easy to know where to enter. We entered under the sign and we were greeted! Everyone friendly and gave us a nice quiet corner of the patio to relax.


pretty good
Reviewer: Mike from SB
I got something different than what I ordered for my appetizer, but it was good anyway so I felt it wasn't necessary to send it back. The contents of the crab sandwich was good but the bread seemed like it could be higher quality, and everything could have been warmer. The fries were cold. The new layout is really nice and I will be back for more!


Lots of Potential But Room For Improvement
Reviewer: Amy from Santa Barbara, CA
I dined here for the first time for lunch at noon on a Friday. The free customer parking was a definite plus. The parking lot was rather empty as was the restaurant which surprised me. I soon discovered why. At first I was unsure about where to enter the restaurant from the lot since there seemed to be several possibilities. There was also no host/hostess so I walked in beneath the sign that said "Bay Cafe." It was the correct way to enter I later found out. I walked up to the bar and was told to sit wherever I liked. While I was seated I noticed several other customers make their way to the cafe and at least two other people also seemed confused about where to enter from. One started to walk toward the door that led to the fish market and another person walked past the main entrance and started to go to one of the entrances from a different patio. The main entrance could have been more obvious. The waiter was polite and his attire was that of a fine restaurant. The owner was working that day also but was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. The contrast with the waiter's formal attire took a little away from the fine dining experience. I love seafood and am always looking for a great cup of clam chowder. After seeing an ad for this restaurant in Food & Home magazine proclaiming that their clam chowder was their claim to fame, I just had to stop in and have some. I also ordered the Maryland Blue Crab Sandwich. While waiting for my selections to arrive, I tried the bread. It was fresh, but nothing special. A basic Italian-style white bread, served room temperature. The chowder came next. It was pretty nice, actually. It had just the right amount of clam and potatoes. I didn't think it good enough on its own to go back for, but I wouldn't refuse another cup at another time and place. The crab sandwich sounded very appetizing from its menu description: Maryland blue crab, mushrooms, garlic, and tomatoes topped with melted jack cheese served on grilled sourdough. Unfortunately it sounded much better than it tasted. It turned out to be very bland and the ingredients did not seem to go well together. Also disappointing was the amount of shell pieces that came mixed in with the crab. Overall, the restaurant is very well maintained. The decor is nice as is the atmosphere. The service was highly satisfactory. However the most important element, the food, could use improvement. The prices would also be reasonable if everything tasted great.


Getting Better
Reviewer: Alan from Santa Barbara
I was there just after the latest "soft" opening. They were obviously working out the bugs. Took my mother there for her birthday and had a wonderful experience. Food was excellent and the service was top notch. It was a Sunday evening and there was good music but hardly anyone there to enjoy it. Too bad.


Lovely Dinner
Reviewer: Patty from Santa Barbara, CA
A friend and I went for dinner to celebrate our birthdays (both birthdays in June) and had a really enjoyable evening. They were not too busy since I think most people don't know they are open again. We were seated in an outside patio and, with the heater going, we were very comfortable, and since we were the only ones on this patio, we felt like we had our own special room! The food was very good and the service attentive. The only negative comment would be that the bread could be improved upon - it was dry. I definitely will remember The Bay Cafe when friends and family come to visit and we want an enjoyable evening out.


Not a winner
Reviewer: ellen from santa barbara ,ca
We always wanted to try the Bay Cafe, but after a forgettable meal served by a restaurant that obviously doesn't care about top quality ingredients, I opened my husband's doggie bag and discovered they had kept his steak and given us another smaller one-We'll never go back.


I have always liked this place!
Reviewer: Hikmer from Summerland, CA
And it is just as good as I recall. Service was great. However, since no one knows it is open yet...not too many folks in here, that should change. Good Pinot wine selection...all my favs, including Foley, yummy :) Perfect date place in my opinion, or just really good friends! It isn't on the water, so they don't gouge you on prices and its not on State St...thank gawd! I would consider it perfect if the sun set on the patio, oh well can't have it all. Highly recommended is the Ahi and Ravioli...oh and they need to get a better dinner bread, hope someone reads this. It wasn't really that great, but everything else was...


Welcome back, Bay!
Reviewer: Karen from Santa Barbara, CA
Had a nice dinner at Bay Cafe tonight, and really enjoyed it. The service was attentive, though I had to ask for another drink and wasn't offered. The food was really good! I had the abalone/scallop cake (the name escapes me), and my friend had really good grilled salmon (wild caught; thanks, Bay, for being environmentally conscious!). The chocolate lava cake dessert was YUM! It was a fine dining experience.


The Bay has returned in full Glory!
Reviewer: Bob from Santa Barbara
We were long time ago customers of The Bay. We were sad when it closed last year. We were passing by last week and saw their Open sign. We were impressed with the food: it is superb. Their famous Coconut Shrimp was better than ever and their Saffron Prawns were exquisite! Music was great, the outdoor patio very romantic and the staff was very pleasant. To finish our evening we ordered their Creme Brulee. It was an very nice reencounter with this old Santa Barbara famous. Their Fish Market is supposed to be ready soon and that will complete the whole dining experience!


Reopening
Reviewer: Alan from Santa Barbara
Dropped in last night with a party of 6. They had been open for just a week at that point. It was our servers first night. She was clueless. The owner and another waiter had to help her out. We had to ask for rolls multiple times. I know they probably did some refurbishing, but that shouldn't explain why the water brought to the table tasted like it came from a brand new hose. Really disgusting. The food was pretty good. Had no complaints from the table other than the only tobasco they had was green, not red. I'll let it "shake out" for a few weeks and try it again.


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