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The Taj Cafe
[closed, no longer in business]

905 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 564-8280

  • Category: Indian
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sun 11:30am-11pm
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
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Reviews by the General Public

Answer to the question below
Reviewer: Surinder gill from Santa Barbara, CA
They dont


How do they stay in business
Reviewer: Alan Smithy from Santa Barbara, CA
We went here after being unable to get into The Flavor of India, which was packed. one customer sitting at a table in this large place should have tipped us off. The rudest host I have ever seen greeted us with "What do you want?". This was followed by being seated in a booth that was freezing. It was actually colder inside then out. The doors were wide open. We packed up and went to Aldo's. We obviously wont be back. This guy needs a new career and he should give up this space to someone who knows how to run a restaurant.


ok food slooow service
Reviewer: Dana Alexander from Santa Barbara, CA
This is the second disappointing experience this year. To be honest, went there because of the discount card, but probably will not go again. There was only a couple there finishing up their meal when we arrived but our meal took 40 minutes. I got fish Tikka, and maybe this is typical, but it came with literally nothing but a plate with chunks of fish - no veggies, sauce, rice or anything, and for $12.95. When you ask a question they look at you like there's something wrong with you. Another in our party said the chicken was dry and tasteless.


Food Not Indian; terrible service
Reviewer: Tridi Jena from Santa Barbara, CA
1st the food: it may be ok bu tit is not indian food. I am from India and the food was very bland and even the components were not Indian. The amount served was tiny as well....for $28. If you want authentic indian food, do not go there. service: even worse. Didn't get the initial appetizers and were kept waiting while people next to us got served. They had a big sign outside about a lunch buffet while there was none. I mentioned the food 'seems to be a little tailored away from Indian' and was told..no,this is how we eat in india. I am from India and we do not eat food like that!


Terrible Service as of Late
Reviewer: Jess from Santa Barbara, CA
We love the food at Taj and have been regular customers for the past few years, but lately their service has been horrible. Last night, despite the place being mostly empty, we waited over an hour for our food. In the meantime, two families who came in 30 minutes after us were served their meals. Upon asking the waitstaff when our food might be out, they replied with annoyance in their voice that it was coming. When it finally came the food was no longer hot, and the orders were incorrect. Unfortunately, this is the second time in a row that this has been our experience. Despite a disappointing meal we still thanked them upon walking out of the restaurant, but received no acknowledgment from either waiter in return. The food may be good, but no food is worth putting up with such terrible service/treatment in return.


Horrible Attitude
Reviewer: Amanda from Santa Barbara, CA
I have to agree with other people about the service and the attitude. I was walking on State St. with my fiancée when as we were passing I saw a flyer in the window for a yoga and meditation course being held at the Unity Church, I walked in to get one of the phone number tags from the flyer when the waiter standing at the front counter says to me in a very rude, loud voice "Excuse me but we are closed!!!". I was really taken aback by his attitude and explained to him that I was just in there to get information off of one of the flyers in the window, he begrudgingly let me but after that I will never eat there. There are too many choices for Indian food in Santa Barbara for anybody to spend their money and be treated as such.


Danger Zone
Reviewer: kim from Santa Barbara, CA
While eating lunch with my two children on November 13,2010 a fist-fight broke out between two of the waiters. I felt the atmosphere was dangerous. A customer had to break up the fight since there was no manager in the house. Not a safe place. The waitstaff needs to be screened better.


best indian food in town
Reviewer: nidhi gupt from Santa Barbara, CA
i have been to the taj cafe in downtown santa barbara for the last 7 years , the food at the taj is delicious, dining rooms are beautiful decorated and service is extremely friendly, quality of spices used is the best you can get in indian cuisine,


Bad food, bad service
Reviewer: Omer from Santa Barbara, CA
This is our second time in 10 months. First time everything was average, but this time a total failure. We waited about 40 minutes after ordering. Food was awful, chicken very dry, shrimp was smelling bad. We couldn't finish the food. The only thing acceptable was the garlic naan. When we complained, no excuses, no apologies. We will never go there again.


Good Food Bad Service
Reviewer: John from Santa Barbara, CA
So when I went here for dinner, I had the rudest server. When I asked what exactly a certain dish was, he gave me a sarcastic answer. He also took a long time to order and hardly gave any attention. Food was good though I'll gave them that


memorable experience
Reviewer: monique king from ventura, CA
we went there on 4th of july ,and decided to dine in at taj,we really liked the rack of lamb, and the guy who waited on us looked like the manager was really nice and gave us detailed information about about india,we really enjoyed everything at taj plus the fireworks were really good ,we will be back of course.


WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS
Reviewer: ELIZABETH from Santa Barbara, CA
THE SERVICE HERE IS NON-EXISTENT AT BEST AND FLAT OUT RUDE AT WORST. I HAVE BEEN HERE A FEW TIMES AND I AM EITHER IGNORED, WAITING FOREVER FOR A TO GO ORDER (CALLED IN ADVANCE), OR INSULTED. THE ONLY REASON I WENT BACK WAS BECAUSE OF THE GINGER LEMONADE...I LOVE IT...BUT LIKE ALL ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS THIS ONE MUST END AND IT HAS I WILL NOT GO BACK NO MATTER HOW MUCH I MISS THAT SWEET TREAT!


Delish Food, Subpar Service
Reviewer: Shaon B from Santa Barbara, CA
Ok i took my G/F hear for our anniversary becuz we always pass by this place and it looks very fancy from the outside looking in. When we got in i must admit i expected a more of a upscale atmosphere inside. We were first greeted by a rude server. he said, "Were not serving the buffet rt now, if thats fine sit where u want" He was just rude and weird. The food was definitely the best thing about this place! Ive been to Chennai, India before and this is definitely Authentic India food. I will be back because the food was that good and very affordable...


Love the TAJ
Reviewer: monica Spier from Santa Barbara, CA
It is wonderful food, very fresh and great selections. We will drive to Ventura if we have to! PEOPLE HAVE SOME STRESS IN THEIR LIFE AND THEY CAN'T ALWAYS GIVE YOU EXPLANATION. It is obvious that that was the case on 5/18. I am sure the owner would have been happy to have you eat there. We were there on the same day and having been business owners ourselves, we understood that it was a difficult time for the restaurant. I hope they stay in business for many years, as they are one of our most favorite restaurants.


Taj unexpectly closed at 12:30 PM (noon!) on Tuesday 5/18/10
Reviewer: Miguel Checa from Carpinteria, CA
I had a date for lunch. I drove all the way from Carpinteria. When I was already inside the Taj restaurant, a fellow standing at the entrance told me abruptly --in an unpleasant disposition-- that the restaurant was closed. He didn't give any explanation. When I asked for one, he said, "You can go to our other restaurant in Ventura." We left and ended up walking to the Spice Avenue Restaurant nearby. How unpleasant!!!


Best Indian Buffet & Service
Reviewer: Marilyn Baseman from Sheffield, Ma.
Three of us stopped by for their lunch buffet on Saturday & had a wonderful experience. Their choices were not the usual fare, & any I'd had elsewhere were far superior here. The most memorable for me were the chicken masala & creamy spinach. Their condiments, especially the carrots & riata, were also excellent. The latter was thicker than I've had elsewhere & was made even better by their addition of some diced veggies. Service was excellent. Once we finished eating, after each trip to the buffet, the plates immediately were removed. Each member of the staff we came in contact with was very attentive & pleasant.


Very good food, service a hit and miss
Reviewer: Elizabeth from Santa Barbara, CA
We've eaten here plenty of times. The food is always quite good and it's plentiful. The entrees are usually enough to feed two people (though we never learn and always order too much food!) The prices are very reasonable and it's usually fairly easy to get a table even at peak times. You'd think: what's not to love, right? I'll tell you what. The service. The waiters themselves are pretty good, but the guy who manages the floor (he's there almost every time we've been in) is more interested in correcting his waiters on every tiny detail than actually attending to customers. And if, like we did last night, you get him as your actual waiter....watch out. Everyone around us had their orders while we still waited and we were literally there and had ordered some ten minutes before anyone else showed up. He berated a waiter when we asked for something extra and then that waiter was so overwhelmed with directions from the manager that he completely forgot our request. We felt sorry for him, he was trying hard but being stopped every few steps and berated must be awful. Anyway, the bottom line is that while we may return at some point, I think even the best food can't compensate for such poorly managed service.


Terrific Indian Cuisine
Reviewer: Brat from Napa Valley, CA
My husband and I always make certain to eat at The Taj Cafe when we are visiting in Santa Barbara. As we both enjoy Indian cuisine, this restaurant never disappoints us. Unfortunately, on our most recent visit, they were out of lamb vindaloo so I had to make another selection. Instead of spicy, I tried their chicken curry. The meal was terrific. The portions quite generous. Good beer, too! Recommend highly.


Rude host food good but will never go back
Reviewer: Marla wilson from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been her before for lunch & dinner. The food is good but this time the host was sooooo rude, I will never return. I don't think in this economy you ca afford to dismiss your customers. There are so many restaurants out there to spend your hard earned dollars in. I love Indian food I said thank you 4 times to this host 2 times when he brought the bill and each time he ignored it and never when he dropped off the bill did he smile or say thank you. I waited a long time for my lunch order and when I asked where it was, no apology just a very very surly it is comming. The waiter forgot my chai but at least he was friendly. I hope this guy is not the owner and if the owner reads this I hope he will tellthis guy that he lost a weekly customer/ I will go to one of the other Indian choices. All India, or something somewhere they want me to return, it is a shame the food is good. But Service is more important than ever!!


coconut chicken curry - alliterative bliss
Reviewer: ChrisC from Santa Barbara, CA
We always enjoy a meal at the Taj. On this visit we tried their coconut chicken curry along with a vindaloo for some spicy balance. The meal was excellent all around, plus very generous portions and some pleasant surprises. The condiments and sides are tasty, and the service was attentive and friendly without being obtrusive.


rack of lamb and buffet a great deal
Reviewer: jonathaan from Santa Barbara, CA
me and my friends went there specially to try there buffet and rack of lamb dish ,which our friends recommended us ,to try surprise the quality of food and portions were amazingly good ,we liked it alot and would recommend our friends too.


horrible staff... out plain rude.....
Reviewer: rakhi nagarajan from Santa Barbara, CA
horrible horrible service! the man who was handling the restaurant was just plain rude... he didnt even greet us... never gave a straight answer.. as soon as we walked in, all he could say was "wait outside... we will call u when we r ready!" hello.. who is the business giver and who is the receiver here? we found the restaurant temp. very cold... and when we asked him to close the door or something. he didnt even bother to stand and reply.. he was walking and gave a rude reply like " we dont close the door.. dont bother asking!!"... the other staff were friendly.. but this guy (I guess the owner), his attitude literally ruined our dinner.. would never carry my business to a place which disrespects customers... and all this to a group of 8 folks..!! cant even imagine how I will be treated if I went in a smaller group..


long wait, disappointing food
Reviewer: Greg from Goleta, CA
We eat at the Taj every so often and generally enjoy it, but last night it was really disappointing. First, it took 30min for our food to arrive. Then, when it did, the food was almost inedible. The chicken tikka was tough and completely tasteless. In fact, it tasted like the chicken was frozen and not defrosted properly, and so it didn't cook very evenly. The gobi aloo (cauliflower) had very little flavor, either. We usually take leftovers home, but not this time. Something was really off with the Taj last night. Hope it was just one bad night.


Very, very good, recommend to all.
Reviewer: Logan Lehman from Hesperia, CA
I visit my family in santa barbara often, and this restaurant is a must. I ate once, and I was hooked. The food is so authentic, and the flavours are incredible. The service quite good, but I think the english has to improve a little bit, but for America, this is expected.


indian resturant with a high quality
Reviewer: sandoval tom from Santa Barbara, CA
Food is great,serving staff very friendly ,great prices as compared with quality of food and service.i love it whenever i get a chance to go there.


Favorite SB Restaurant.!!!!
Reviewer: Melanie from Santa Barbara, CA
WE LOVE TAJ CAFE! We have been eating at Taj at least once a month for the past three years and are pretty much addicted. We have tried the other Inidan restaurants in town, and nothing else comes close to Taj. We are always greeted with smiles and nice conversation, seated in a romantic, private booth is a special experience like nowhere else in SB, the food is consistently excellent in both quality and flavor (even though, as a picky eater, I always ask chef to alter the recipe a little which they do for me without any hesitation), the spiciness of the dishes is done perfectly delicious, and the serving staff and manager (maybe owner?) assist with a very comfortable attitude. Cannot say enough about Taj...Love it! Love it! LOVE IT!


Rude Service!
Reviewer: CAksoy from Santa Barbara, CA
Food at the Taj isn't overpriced; their diverse menu is one of the few on State that students can afford. However, I have to say that some of its preparation was questionable (Pink Chicken!). Regardless, the service there was just bad. Servers did not seem to be assigned to tables. Therefore, you can't identify who to talk to about complaint or requests. Additionally, the owner was very cold and rude, and even went so far as to "hush" one of the people at my table with a question. I realize that this restaurant is busy, but the owner of any restaurant should act like a diplomat, and be the most personable one there. That kind of service was totally unacceptable. I'd avoid it, and go to "A Taste Of India" up the street, just for the friendlier atmosphere.


Great Lunch Specials and Lunch Buffet, Horrible Service
Reviewer: Cassie from Santa Barbara, CA
I work down the street from this place so I come here often for lunch. The lunch buffet is a great deal with great food--especially for a vegetarian. The variety is satisfactory and the price is reasonable. Also they have lunch specials which include a large amount of food for a relatively low price--especially when you compare the special price to the price of ordering these items a la carte. However, the service is very unsatisfying. I often am in a rush to pay and leave towards the end of my meal so that I can make it back to work on time, but the service is just way too slow. Also the manager is very cold and rude. When I went in to pick up my lunch special he was reading and took a very long time to stop reading and assist me. He did not smile once and just seemed very cold and unwelcoming.


buffet is the best deal in town
Reviewer: Suzie from Santa Barbara, CA
I always have the lunch buffet here when vacationing in Santa Barbara--everything is very fresh and healthy; and there is a good variety. Some of the dishes are a little spicy for my taste but there is something for everyone. Pleasant atmosphere, convenient location on State Street near the Paseo Nuevo. Never ordered from the menu, but service has been fine for what extras I've asked for. Quality of ingredients is top notch for a buffet meal!


Decent food, lousy service
Reviewer: Another Mark in Santa Barbara from Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I ate here last week. The food is okay, the atmosphere is fine, but, man, what lousy service. We wanted to catch a movie after our meal, so we gave ourselves 90 minutes to eat. After 50 minutes, still no food. People who came in after us were eating. I asked two waiters to check on our meals, and neither one bothered to report back to us. I asked to speak to the manager; no manager appeared. I'll never go back.


Tasty food, but really slow and poor service
Reviewer: Mark from Santa Barbara, CA
I really like the freshness and the flavor of the food at The Taj Cafe, but the service has been consistently slow as if they are doing you a favor to eat there. The guy in the front insists that it is the best Indian food and he may be right. One last comment. Always go through the front door. If you go to the back door, you will find a smelly, dirty kind of atmosphere kinda like a dirty Indian hotel lol! It's true!


I will NEVER eat here EVER again.
Reviewer: Marjorie from Santa Barbara, CA
The food was okay; wasn't terrific, wasn't horrible. But the service was ridiculously crappy. When my friend and I walked in to eat lunch, we were seated by the manager with menus as is typical of any restaurant dining experience. We ordered our food and enjoyed our average meal. When we got the check, my friend thought she had been charged too much so she got up to ask for a menu. She was handed a lunch special menu, which was NOT what we were given by the manager when we walked in at 1:30 p.m. We had been handed the DINNER menu at 1:30 in the afternoon, which is much more expensive. When we questioned the manager about why he had handed us the more expensive dinner menu and not the lunch menu, he said that we should have ASKED for the lunch menu, even though we were clearly there for lunch! When we asked him to honor the much cheaper LUNCH prices (the dinner price were almost twice as much - and what we ordered was very comparable) he refused and would not budge, insisting again that at 1:30 in the afternoon, one must specially REQUEST the lunch menu. He never acted with grace or understanding towards us or the situation - never acknowledging his agency in the whole fiasco. Quite possibly the worst customer service I have ever experienced; not only was it bad customer service, we felt we had been deliberately duped so the Taj could make $15 extra dollars that day. I think if the manager had acknowledged that he should have handed us the lunch menu at lunchtime and honored the lunch prices because it was clearly lunchtime, we would have come away much happier.


worst of the worst places ever...
Reviewer: Deena from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I went to the Taj Cafe on a sunday evening since our usual spot was closed, after being seated we were given a glass of warm water with no ice, I looked around and everyone had ice besides us, nevertheless I asked for ice on the side and we ordered our drinks, snacks and dinner, we waited for more then 30mins and nothing arrived not even the dam ice or were we even aproached by the waiter.A couple came in sat besides us, immidiately they received snacks and dip and even got ice water..we waited for another 15mins and decided to leave, Disappoint and Hungry. The service sucks so does there additude. I will never go there even if im desperate.


Excellent Restaurant
Reviewer: Thomas Nix from Lompoc, CA
This place is great!! The atmosphere is good and the food is excellent. The waiter explained how spicy and the taste of the items we were thinking of getting. The vindaloo was the best I'd had anywhere (LA, Houston, Orlando, Dallas, Washington DC). Overall, this is an excellent restaurant and the portions are substantial and the price is comparable to any other restaurant of it's caliber.


great resturant
Reviewer: kamal from santa maria
we had our graduation party last saturday with more than 32 people. the service and food was great,we definately had a memorable experience and the service was great.


some great indian dishes
Reviewer: bob guitirez from santa barbara
live in santa barbara for last 30 years ,but this amazingly good .i specially love some of there unique dishes like chicken tika masala,mango chicken e.t.c.


Just Better than Average
Reviewer: Leon McNaught from Corona, CA
The service was good. The starter courses were very good, but the main dish was disappointing. The vindaloo was runny as was the chicken curry, both had tough overcooked or old chicken. Always on the search for a great Indian restaurant. I picked this one based on the reviews from this site. Save time and go to the next best reviewed Indian restaurant here.


Simply Delicious
Reviewer: Elisha from Aspen, CO
I used to live here in Santa Barbara, and every time I come back I make sure to go to the Taj Cafe. Their food is delicious and their service is simply top notch. Thanks for being so great.


Great place to dine.
Reviewer: Frank Hernandez from Santa Barbara,Ca
The Taj Cafe reminds me of times in my life when the great food of a culture has given me both satisfaction and piece of mind. The Indian food of the Punjab region of northern India is best to be tasted and the ambience of the region is everywhere. Frank


Great Taste... Great Service!!!!
Reviewer: Howie from Ventura, CA
Took my girlfriend here for Valentine's Day and we were very impressed with the food, service and atmosphere! They sat us in one of their private booths which made us feel special. We eat Indian food often and found this place to be exceptional. Our waiter named Singh was very friendly and made us feel welcome. We will most certainly dine here again. Go korma!!


great food and excellent service
Reviewer: robert cardinas from ventura
we had our annual office meeting at the taj cafe with more than 20people .the food at the resturant was excellent,specially the tandoori fish,and lamb curry,we loved it,the waiting staff was very polite and the service was great.we all loved it.


Bad food, really bad service
Reviewer: michelle from santa barbara
It took us 25 minutes to get our order taken. A very grumpy guy who was on his laptop in the back of the restuarant finally got up, put an apron on, and took our order. The wine I ordered was unavailable. We had come in because we had a discount card, and the waiter/manager with the laptop argued it was only good for 2 entrees get one free, even though it said order one get one free on the card. The food came and it was a horrible presentation (maybe he was disgruntled over the 2 for 1 deal) and it tasted just as bad..overcooked shrimp and mushy fish curry. The grumpy waiter came and asked if we would like more wine, and when my husband ordered another glass of Pinot, the waiter grabbed the glass he had that was still 1/3 full. We got it back. When he brought the new glass, he informed us they were out of the Pinot, but this was an upgrade glass of red. It tasted like whatever was left in the bottle that they were trying to get rid of. The only friendly face at the restaurant was the guy who brought us our chips and chutney!


Yummiest buffet ever!
Reviewer: Jess from Santa Barbara
I only go here for the buffet and I have never ever been disappointed. I love the chicken curry and the korma is amazing. I mix it all together and scoop it up with some naan bread. I always leave this place with a tummy ache cause I eat too much! :) For two people eating the buffet the price is around $20 which is not bad when you can eat as much as you want. The service is great but it's not like they have to do much since I eat the buffet but they are always very nice and I'm pretty sure by now they recognize me...


Nothing but good things to say...
Reviewer: Amy V from Santa Barbara
I eat at The Taj Cafe about one time a month. The service is always warm and welcoming and the food excellent. There have been several times when I was given a complimentary dessert, or a glass of wine to taste and give my opinion on. The food comes out promptly and hot. The flying horse beer compliments most all dishes. Thank you Taj Cafe!!!


amazing experience high end indian resturant
Reviewer: snow hunter from reno nevada
hi,i am from reno ,i often come to santa barbara for my bussiness trips.my favourite dish here is lamb curry .this is really a high end indian resturant ,although the service of food is sometimes slow because it is busy.


Worst Service Ever
Reviewer: Raj from Tustin, CA
I live in Orange County and have been staying at Carpinteria from Monday to Thursday for last three months. To have indian food I travelled to Santa barbara as there are no Indian restaurants in Carpinteria. After placing my order I waited for more than an 75 minutes (not) to get it and reminded three times during that one hour. I was frustated with that long wait and left that night with out dinner. The excuse I got for delay was my order was delivered to another customer by mistake. Mine was a simple order, during my 75 minute wait they could have served many more even if they had mistakenly delivered. While I opened this site to write this review, I found similar review by another customer. Very unpleaseant experience...


Good food. Terrible Service
Reviewer: Anthony from Santa Barbara, CA
As it seems many have stated, the food was pretty good but the service was terrible. I went by myself and watched as a few families received their lunch before my 1 entree order. 35 minutes later I received my food. Might try and find a better place rather than return.


Consistenly good, we eat here 1-2 times a week!
Reviewer: Elizabeth from Santa Barbara, CA
My roommate and I eat here 1-2 times a week, sometimes at the restaurant, sometimes take out or delivery. Always excellent service. The food is always great and consistent. Chicken Korma is our favorite!


Very good
Reviewer: John Dickson from Santa Barbara, CA
I am actually seated inside The Taj as I write this review from my iPhone. I ordered the Mango Chicken and it is heavenly. Order a side of rice with it for the complete experience. Excellent dish.


Curry up and finish!!!!
Reviewer: Steve Forsythe from UK
Well I admit, we were late at approximately 10pm but we were not the last couple in that evening. That said, we asked if it were ok to dine & we were accepted quite freely & seated. There was at the time quite a full restaurant & everything seemed quite nice & relaxed. We ordered our starters & entree, settled down to our Indian beers but it was then it dawned on us that we were almost alone. People had been leaving as we had been talking & all of a sudden there was us & the later couple who were already finishing their starter. How could this be? We ordered before them & we only had one beer. They were speed eaters. Already on to their entree before our first course came, they boxed most of it & were out of there. So here we are in an empty restaurant needing another beer but afraid to ask. We didn't! Our food arrived, nice enough but then we started to be, very politely disected from within. Tables started moving, then disappearing. Faces appeared & dishes disappeared. After a few minutes the restaurant was stripped bare. Not a table in sight apart from ours & about six or seven people attaching hoses and cables. We were about to have our carpet cleaned right in front of our very noses. They milled around politely although a bit impatiently until we paid our way & then it was full on soap suds. I have to say, it was a nice meal if only that we felt a little hurried but they were nice about it and it was quite funny to witness. I would recommend it just don't leave it too late unless you're up for speed curry!


Great Food & Excellent Service at a Reasonable Price
Reviewer: Mike Martin from San Francisco
We stopped at The Taj Cafe about a month ago for a wonderful dinner. I am just now getting around to writing this review; the food and service impressed me so much that I did not want to forget to leave this review so that others could also enjoy this fine restaurant. The food was excellent, but the service was even more impressive with a complementary dish being served without request. The staff was all wanting to please us and went out of their way to do this. I would highly recommend this restaurant. I hope I get a chance to dine there again. Unfortunately, I live in San Francisco and rarely get to Santa Barbara.


A Regression in Spice
Reviewer: Michael Jerryson from Santa Barbara, CA
I have frequented The Taj Cafe off and on for the last four years (since it opened in Santa Barbara). When it first arrived its only competition was The Flavor of India, which had sub-par food and a lackluster buffet to enjoy. The owners worked The Taj daily and the food was always an amazing (albeit pricey) delight. It soon gained notoriety as being the best Indian restaurant in Santa Barbara. The service from the general staff was usually poor, but the food and ambiance usually made up for this. Within the last year the food quality has fallen. Masala sauces have gone from a thick speckled brown to a light orange color, revealing the lack of spice and a heavy mixture of dairy. In the past papadam was given free to guests (a nice fried lentil-based crack) with dipping sauces. Now they hand out heavily fried nuggets of chickpea batter (and you have to pay in order to enjoy the papadam). The service has not improved and thus the experience is no longer as pleasurable as it used to be. It is with regret that I write this disfavorable review, since The Taj Cafe used to be my favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara.


The Best Undiscovered Hole-in-the-Wall EVER!!!!
Reviewer: Astrid Saleh from West Covina, CA
We ordered Lamb Tandoori and the Garlic Chicken- I knew the place was going to be good when they came out with what is equivalent to salsa and chips (but Indian style) and the salsa was flavorful and delicious. Our meal came and Wow.. huge portion with the rice and salad and a basket full of naan. It's the most wonderful sight ever. Anyway, I took a bite of the lamb tandoori, and not being a fan of lamb, was so surprised at the tenderness and the flavor of my meal. Not dumbed down at all to please the locals. In fact, it's probably the best marinated meat of Any ethnic I've ever eaten. I loved! We talked about why it's called a cafe. A cafe brings to mind ready-made food slapped together at last minute. This was not a cafe food. Ooh and try the mint tea with sweet milk- unlimited free refills surprisingly enough. Perfect complement to the spices of the food. And do try the rice dessert. Yummy!


Best Indian Food in SB!
Reviewer: Kim from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I love this place. Our favorite is the chicken tikka masala with pullao rice. I put their mint chutney on everything as it gives the food a great flavor. They also have the best naan in town. We enjoy sitting in the hideaway booths and he loves their Yetti beer. Feels like we're on vacation...if only for an evening.


Divine Meal with sinfully DELICIOUS food!!!
Reviewer: Robert Byron Markle alias The Markle from Denver/Colorado
I visited Santa Barbara for the wedding of a friend of mine and I ate at the Taj Cafe during their buffet meal on a Saturday afternoon. I often eat vegetarian with a local Denver meditation group, Ananda Marga, and with this group Monks cook our meals. These Monks cook delicious meals, but I must admit at the Taj Cafe your food was SUPERB! I sampled about EVERYTHING in the buffet and it ALL was delicious!!! The wait staff were very polite. If I ever needed anything I spoke up and they responded well. When I get the chance to visit Santa Barbara again I am putting Taj Cafe top on my list to dine at again and again. SUPERB WORK!


we love it
Reviewer: Nancy Hunter from SANTA BARBARA
very very yummy we like it a lot.


Garlic Naan was Incredible!
Reviewer: DJ from Brooklyn, NY
I loved the little cubby for a more intimate space. The shrimp salad was on point. Did I mention that the Garlic Naan was awesome....amazing...so good. Mangochutney chicken is a must with basmati rice. It was all good!


my birthday party.
Reviewer: AVINI SANDEEP DOUGLAS from SANTA BARBARA
hi,i am a regular at the taj cafe';i am going to the taj cafe for last 4years.they definately have the best indian food as compared to all the other indian resturants in town. me and my boy friend willams decided to celebrate my birthday at the TAJ,the food was really wonderful,and we enjoyed indian movie songs.iT WAS REALLY A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE.WE ALL LOVE GOING BACK TO THE TAJ CAFE.


One of the greatest Indian food I ever had in my life
Reviewer: Goel from Palo Alto, CA
We were in SB for a visit. We thoguht to try an Indian dinner and decided to goto Taj. Wow!! extraordinary service and amazing food. They treat you like king!! Undoubtedly this was one of the greatest Indian food I had in my life. Highly recomended!!


Good food, great service
Reviewer: kaylie from Santa Barbara, CA
There's nothing negative I can say about the food-they serve good solid curries. But to my taste they are just not amazing, maybe even a little bland. I lived in India for a few years, and I've been craving curries like the ones I had there. But nonetheless, I frequent the Taj Caf, because I know their dishes are consistent, and the naan is very good. The waitstaff is always very attentive and friendly.


Order from the menu it is GREAT!
Reviewer: Kristy from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been a few times now and I am really impressed with their food. The lunch buffet is okay. It gives you a taste for the food if you are craving it but the dishes ordered from the menu are outstanding...worth paying a bit more for. We will for sure be return customers!


Nope
Reviewer: Lisa from Santa Barbara, Ca
The lunch buffet has continually failed to please by virtue of indifferent seasoning. While there is a lot to choose from, the only dish I enjoy is the carrot pudding for dessert. The one time I had dinner here, when it first opened, the food was terrific. Several lunches from the menu have just disappointed.


like Mulligatawny soup, without the soup
Reviewer: Nora from Santa Barbara, CA
I guess business decisions have to be made: here we have an America audience, and a distinctive segment of the American population, to feed and they would likely find south Asian food "funny," "weird," "too hot." Or so conventional wisdom would have it. But that is in fact not the case. "We" can handle spice - this is not the British empire circa 1857. If I can make better food from scratch without even Madhur Jaffrey to guide me, that is a bad sign indeed. Except the paneer - that I can't do and Taj does it fairly well. But otherwise, meh, as the kids say.


Great food! Great Service! Great Atmosphere!
Reviewer: Gabrielle Sunheart from Pismo Beach, CA
Im actually craving it again! I loved each dish and thought that it was very aromatic and pleasing to the eye. Im a vegan and will choose to eat here again and again because there were so many options. And each one was amazing. This is a must visit when your lucky enough to be in Santa Barbara!


Good buffet.. Wierd service
Reviewer: Lara. D from Santa Barbara
I have eaten here many times. Off the menu is very good food, but they do not help you with ordering. The buffet has great food. Yet the service is horrible. They didnt bring by bread till we were finished eating. They only brought it then because I asked three times. When I was there and ate off the menu, they seemed greedy and were mad at us when we didnt want dessert. But .. even then the food was and is very good.


Enjoyed our dinner!
Reviewer: Beth Loy from Cypress, CA
Second time to eat at Taj - don't come to Santa Barbara often. Husband had rack of lamb special - loved it. Lamb was very tender and seasoned perfectly. Delicious rice and great homemade lemony salad dressing on accompaning green salad. I had chicken curry - very good. Great service too. Would definitely go again.


Excellent!
Reviewer: Kari from San Dimas, CA
This was by far the best Indian food I have ever tasted. My family is Indian and this food tasted so close to home cooking! My husband and I ate here yesterday on our honeymoon. We visited during lunch and had the buffet. We really enjoyed eating here.


best indian on southern california
Reviewer: JIMMY PASACUA from NY
iam a big time fan of indian food.this is the BEST INDIAN i had in southern california.KEEP IT UP.


Worst service in SB award goes to.....
Reviewer: Joey from Goleta CA
You guessed it! They got our group order wrong, brought the food out over a span of half an hour...In four years of SB fine dining, never have I exp'd service quite as unacceptable as at Taj. The food was decent and showcased some interesting flavors, but I'll never eat here again. The waitress was plain awful.


Worst service ever.
Reviewer: Christine Adobe from Santa Barbara, CA
First, they placed the wrong order for my meal. Second, they denied a coupon that they had placed in an ad. Third, they overcharged us on our bill and then dared to add in an additional tip for themselves on our receipt. They are greatly lacking in their organizational skills. I have never been to a restaurant with such poor customer service. I would definitely not recommend this restaurant to anyone at all.


Maybe the staff could go through some new training methods
Reviewer: Hajir Sailors from Santa Barbara, CA
Well I was at the Taj last night i believe, with the mayor in the table right next to us. The food was great, naan tasted good, Masala chicken was great, Lamb Curry was wonderful, the Taj Special was all too dry, the Masala Chai was decent. But while the majority of the food was good, the staff wasn't, that was my annoyance number one. They didn't smile, they took over 30 minutes to get my masala chai, and over 20 to get the other drinks for the table, we had reservations and it took 10 minutes from when we got there, 2 minutes late, to set up our table. The food took a terribly long time to prepare. But it all tasted good. Now my second problem with the place is the apparent inexpensive price. A main dish cost around 9-10 dollars. but that doesn't include rice, naan, or anything else, everything else has to be bought including chutney and the like. Your main dish ends up being 20 dollars. I would like to go back again, but on a day i feel like spending money.


The flies could've carried us to our car on their shoulders!
Reviewer: Lew Marklin Mash from Santa Barbara, CA
I'm somewhat of an indian food junky, so whenever a new place pops up, I run down to try it like a dirty kneed kid with a box of baseball cards waiting for the comic book store to open. I took my girlfriend, Lisa (at the time) and a few fiends and were less than impressed. The atmosphere was ok, and the hostess who greeted us and seated us was freindly enough, but over all the service was sub-par at best, and when I told them that i liked flavor of Idia's lunch buffet, but I had noticed a new place to try, the gentleman and another lady proceeded to tell me bad stories about the their cross town rivals, which was somewhat of a turn off. The food was ok, but nothing worth shouting about, but the real problem...Flies! It was enough to make my girlfriend nautious, and she never finished her food.


eew
Reviewer: katie from santa barbara
i go to flavor of india at least once a week, and ive been to spice avenue many times, they are both 10X better than the Taj. the service was horrible (it took 10 minutes to get our water, and we didnt get one smile out of anyone who worked there the entire time we were eating), the food was tasteless and too spicy at the same time. I couldnt even eat my lunch!! i wouldnt reccomend it, especially for the lunch buffet. if you want a good lunch buffet go to flavor of india (if youre short on time and cash) or to spice avenue (if you can spare the extra dollar fifty and you have a little more time to enjoy your meal)


Bad service, less-than-mediocre food
Reviewer: Phil from Santa Barbara, CA

My first experience at The Taj Cafe was quite OK: their lunch special proved to be a good deal, the food was tasty although not outstanding, just the service was clearly lacking friendliness and care for customers.

The second time I visited for dinner - what a disappointment! Here's why:

1. The food is clearly overpriced. Just because the place is located on State Street doesn't justify selling shrimp curry - maybe I better say a pot of brown sauce with three pieces of shrimp - for $12. You pay extra for rice, for naan, for everything. Yes, I know, they have the right to do that, it's just that there are lots of other Indian restaurants that don't (at least in L.A., I haven't tried the two other Indian places in Santa Barbara). It might be a matter of personal taste, but to me the food seemed not well flavored, and the way it was prepared and displayed on the plates could be described as careless at best.

2. Again, the service was very problematic: not that the waiters were rude, but all those bored looks they give their customers certainly didn't make us feel welcome. Some waiters had the attitude of taking off dishes from the table without asking whether we were done, and once we had placed our order, it took lots of time until we could finally enjoy (or try to enjoy) our dinner.

My conclusion: This place is overrated.


Always Great
Reviewer: Melinda from Paso Robles, CA
Perhaps it is because we eat early, and the restaurant was not very busy, but we have always had the best food and very good service! I start eating here and just can't stop. The food makes my mouth happy!


Last Time for Take Out
Reviewer: Tiffany from Santa babrara, CA
I'd say last time EVER but they are so close to where I work and the lunch buffet is a good deal. Take out generally takes about 20-25 minutes. I had to catch a bus, so I made sure to give myself at least 10 minutes from when they said my food would be ready to catch a bus literally around the corner. Of course, I ended up waiting in the entryway for 10 minutes, missed my bus and to top it off, I am missing two items which I paid for. This has happened before. very slow and un-concientious. I used to order take out often, but the service has become so unpredictable that is my last time! Flavor, Spice Avenue, here I come.


Excellent food, OK service
Reviewer: Jackie from Goleta, CA
I eat here about once a month and the food is always excellent. The lamb vindaloo is absolutely amazing. The service is a little slow and inconsistant at times, sometimes we are given cracker bread before our meal, sometimes not. Don't expect your server to go above and beyond what's expected.


This place is great!
Reviewer: John Michaels from Santa Barbara, CA
This place is straight up amazing. the food tastes, smells, and tastes great. I love all of the waitresses


Very Tasty!
Reviewer: Aimee from Goleta, CA
I found this restaurant up to par with the better Indian restaurants I've been to, but my fiance did not like it as much as Spice Avenue. (He is very picky, and did not like what he described as the "large hunks of chicken" in his dish). My tandoori chicken was wonderful, though, and the chutneys were to die for. The place was hoppin' when we went (a Monday night) and the other customers seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. It's a bit cheaper than Spice Avenue, so give it a shot if you'd like to save a few bucks!


Authentic Indian food
Reviewer: Sharad from SB
This is simple authentic north indian food. proper use of spices. service is not the best, but the good fresh food makes up for it.


Good food, but with the wrong attitude
Reviewer: Thomas from Santa Barbara, CA
My family and I eat here often, and love the food. Unfortunately, the staff seem bored at best with providing good service. Why do we return? The attitude is so comical that we get a good laugh out of trying to make the staff act pleasant...and we can always go across the street after dinner and browse in Borders.


Best food we had!
Reviewer: A Zagoren from Newport Beach,CA
Hands down the best meal we had while in Santa Barbara. We happened upon their lunch special. The food was delicious and the service was great.


Great food
Reviewer: Jessica from Austin, TX
I just ate at Taj Cafe last Monday. The food was fabulous. I had a vegetarian combo which was really great because I got to pick a couple of dishes to try isntead of having to order three separate entrees.


Great food, greater price
Reviewer: Rodolfo Ceballos from Orange, CA
Walking down state street looking for a quick place for lunch, me and my wife were both drawn to the aroma coming from the Taj Cafe. We did not plan on eating there an when looking at its reviews on this site before, it did not catch our eye in any way, but after smelling the food, we decided at the same time to eat there. It was our first meal on our trip and one of the best. The food was excelent. Its nice to eat new foods once in a while especially when its good food. I dont know if the food is traditional to India, or if the resturaunt is true to the culture but It was a great experience and meal. The service was great and the food better than great. Especially when we had a great lunch for under 20 dollars!!!!


good food!!! but bad service......
Reviewer: ck from pasadena,ca
i've been to this restaurant last two times i visited sb. the food was very good. but the service was very bad. the first time my husband and i sat inside the private booth and our waiter never came to check on us even though the restaurant wasn't busy. when we needed service we had to get up and ask for our waiter. the second time the waitress gave us ok service. the restaurant needs to retrain their servers or hire servers that are more caring and friendly. until i read good reviews on their services i'll try other indian restaurants that offer same good food with friendly service.


Adventures in Indian Cooking Number 3
Reviewer: Laarni from Sydney, Australia
We dined at this place after trying out the other two Indian restaurants in Santa Barbara. The food was OK- I tried the chicken curry. The service wasn't very welcoming, though. The waitress who took our order looked bored and it took her a while to actually notice that we were waiting for her to take our order. The restaurant's decor was the one thing that made it stand apart from Spice Avenue and Flavour of India. Given the choice, I'd much prefer to eat at Spice Avenue and Flavour of India.


Excellent though rather mild dishes, great service
Reviewer: Jerry from Central Coast
We had an early supper. The food was wonderfully flavored, though dishes that I expected to be (spice) hot were tailored to a "sensitive" taste. Samosas for an appetizer were very savory. Served with a very spicy mint sauce and chutney, they were quite tasty. The garlic naan was great, my chicken Tandoori was tasty, though again, surprisingly mild. My wife´s Bangain Bhartha, a veggie dish, was excellent. The portions were large enough to leave some take-home. The service was friendly and attentive. We look forward to visiting again for the all-you-can-eat lunch special, to sample some of their other dishes.


Not even 1 star
Reviewer: Grant R. Destiny from Santa Barbara
They were advertising their free delivery so I thought I would give it a try. The language barrier made it rough. The driver couldn´t find my place which is right around the corner! Ok, maybe I´m lazy, but it was free delivery. I had to walk a block to pick up food which turned out to be the wrong order. I got my food two and half hours after ordering it and it was ok. The free delivery wasn´t worth it, neither was the food which was $34.


Awesome food, OK service

This is one awesome Indian restaurant! Their shrimp masala and garlic naan are superb and there is always enough to take home for leftovers! I think they should offer free soda refills, though, and also that they should be more attentive to the customers. It has gotten better, I have noticed, but the service still has some room for improvement. Overall worth it because the food is so good!


EXCELLENT!

This is by far the best Indian food in town!! Great Staff! Quick Service by far the best Indian food experience!!!


V Good Indian Food
Reviewer: G Man
I am from England where excellent Indian restaurants abound. I am now living in Santa Barbara & I think this place is the one of the best in SoCal that I´ve found for ambiance & quality of food. maybe try their lunch buffet (all u can eat) and then walk it off with a stroll down State Street!


Good Food
Reviewer: Jess Bourgeous from Goleta, CA
I´m not a connaisseur of Indian food. I like spices and moderate heat and I got enough here that I reeked of curry for the next 24 hours. Two were fed with soft drinks and a decent-sized appetizer for under $40. No regrets.


A Masterful Execution of Indian Spices
Reviewer: Michael Jerryson from Santa Barbara, CA
The Taj´s food lives up to its name. Although a small restaurant this quaint restaurant, nestled within the bustling commericalized State Street, makes good use of its space. There are many booths along both sides of the restaurant that offer privacy and quietude. My food relections are from when I dined during their lunch hours on October 14th and sampled the buffet. Their Indian food was, as it has been, exemplary for Santa Barbara county. There is not a wide variety of entrees offerd, but there is enough chicken and vegetarian dishes to delight the palate of most Western Indian cuisine appreciators. The Chicken Tikka Masala, much akin to their butter-chicken and other tomato-based sauces, is thick and creamy. The chicken is tender and does not suffer from the dryness that is rampant in many other Indian restaurants. Service was great. We never had to ask for our water to be refilled. Attendants would come and fill our garlic naan or water as if on cue. The Taj Cafe has been one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara and each visit reconfirms this decision. For $9 a person, this buffet is a steal in the center of a highly overpriced region.


Lacking flavor...
Reviewer: ln from goleta, ca
We dined there last night, and we were hoping for a good experience. Although the service was quick, the food didn´t shine. We can finish what we order (a chicken dish, a vegetarian, and a fish appetizer), but we took home leftovers that we should have left there. We were dissatisfied, as the dishes could have used more flavors. I don´t think we´ll be back again...


Food bland

I was thrilled to find out that a new Indian restaurant had opened downtown, but disappointed to discover that the food is not very good. I have been to this restaurant on two occasions, and both times left feeling unsatisfied. The dishes seem to be fairly bland, and there isn´t much of a variety. Unfortunately, I am still waiting for an Indian restaurant in Santa Barbara to compare to some of the restaurants in LA or San Francisco....but no such luck.


really bad service

I love Indian food and try to eat it as often as I can. I used to like this restaurant (and prefered it over others) when it opened two years back. The service used to be allright (atleast cheerful) and food used to be good up until the beginning of this year. But these days, the service here is so bad.. if there is an award for worst service, this restaurant would be a contender for that. The waiters dont seem to attend to you when you need them. The food is also not exceptional.. it is just ok. The other day we went for lunch and did not opt for the buffet. The naan that they served us was really cold. Upon asking them twice, they lightly warmed it up and brought it back rather than preparing some fresh ones. I think lately, these guys are losing interest in keeping their customers happy.


inferior service

The service is really bad at Taj. In fact, if you order a glass of white wine, you could easily get pink zin, which is what happened to me. The explanation? "Oh, we were out of the Sauvingnon blanc." huh??? Plus language barrier made the entire ordeal a bit frustrating trying to order wine. Food OK, not great.


dinner will take forever

The food at the Taj is quite good, but the service really needs more attention, so the overall experience can be really mixed. The lunch buffet is fine, but trying to eat dinner here can take a really long time.


Good Food

The food at Taj is very good, not the best Indian food I´ve ever had, but definitely a strong contender for best Indian in Santa Barbara. The menu is not as extensive as some Indian restaurants, but what is offered is quite well prepared. They also have some items you seldom see elsewhere--in particular, the selection of "frankies" and the masala dosa, one of my favorite snack foods. The food style in general is a little different from most, maybe more Bombay style cooking, which is a nice change. Prices may seem tad high to some who frequent Indian restaurants all over the state, but when considering the upscale location and portion sizes, it´s a good deal.


Best Indian food I ever had

The food was just great.


Good Food
Reviewer: Kristen from Goleta, CA
I have eaten here twice. The first time was during opening week and the service was beyond horrible, but the food was mighty tasty. I then went there after the solstice parade for lunch and I thought it was very good for a buffet, albeit somewhat crowded (I guess b/c of the parade). The price was decent and the food was good.


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