Santa Barbara > Restaurants > Matador
Neighbor Tims BBQ

No longer in business
Opened: 2008-04 Closed: 2008-12

714 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 965-1307

Reviews by the General Public

Atmosphere, good. Food, no., 10/15/2008
Reviewer: Amanda from San Jose, CA
Last time I was in Santa Barbara for a wedding, this place was a sushi restaurant called Pirhana. That closed down, and I'm sure Matador will too. My boyfriend and I love Spanish food. The tortilla soup was more like a baby food paste. I'm not kidding. It was a dark reddish brown color and thick and tasted like baby food. We had them take it away. Then, we ordered some combo thing that had chicken, steak and lamb chops. The lamb chops were about 2 inches long and a quarter of an inch thick...and tasted bland. Oh, we only got 3 of those...the rest was bland as well. We also ordered albondigas (meatballs). It was basically meatballs in a spaghetti sauce. The only thing we enjoyed was our coronas.

Just OK, 9/29/2008
Reviewer: Eric from Santa Barbara, CA
I felt as if this place was lacking the sophistication and environment some of the other tapas restaurants in town offer. The decor was simple and the wall treatments a bit tacky. The only thing that really stood out with the food was that the bread was good, otherwise it really was not a memorable meal. They do have a decent happy hour menu I would say.

Great Food & Atmosphere, 9/14/2008
Reviewer: Heather from Santa Barbara, CA
The food was extremely flavorful and there was a large variety on the menu. Good service and the perfect place for a light meal. I would highly recommend the sangria and calamari!

Delicious, 8/31/2008
Reviewer: Courtney from Santa Barbara, CA
The atmosphere was great. They had live music and the band was playing Gypsy Kings. Great! The food was wonderful and quickly served. It was very authentic. I have traveled to Spain on several occasions and the food and spices took me back. This was the first time I have eaten there but it will certainly not be the last... I would recommend it to anyone wanting to not only taste something new and exciting but also anyone who is wanting to really experience the Spanish Culture. While you're there start off with a pitcher of Sangria!

Let down, 8/25/2008
Reviewer: Sharon Remacle from Santa Barbara, CA
I finally got the chance to check this place out on Friday before the Ben Harper concert. My friend and I were really looking forward to having dinner here. We were really surprised at the bland food. The meatballs were just ok. The mole was flavorless. As for the sangria.....way too sweet. Not what a typical sangria tastes like. We did have great service though.

A mix of unique flavors made for an enjoyable dinning event., 8/12/2008
Reviewer: Jack G. from Mission Viejo
The tapas were phenomenal. I was with a group of friends and we were able to try a series of different appetizers and tastes. The lamb chops were my favorite. I also had a ribeye steak that was out of this world. I highly recommend this place. Treat yourself and go for some sangria or a mojito.

Great Tapas..Great spot, 7/31/2008
Reviewer: Chrystine from Santa Barbara, Ca
My boyfriend and I saw this places and decided to try it. Great choice, the tapas are great and our server was attentive but not overbearing. The hostess wasnt the best but cant complain too much because we didnt have to deal with her much. The food was great and came out quickly, the prices are completely reasonable and the second time we went we ended up with the same waiter who even recognized us. Major props to him...wish i knew his name. But check it out if your looking for something different its a great new addition to downtown dining!

Great Happy Hour!!!, 7/28/2008
Reviewer: natalie from santa barbara
Came here for a casual date with my boyfriend, and had a great time! We got the happy hour prices, so that was even better. We got 3 Tapas for just $15 and a pitcher of Sangria for $16. It was fun to sit outside and people watch. Our server was very cool as well and had cool hair. I will be coming back for some more happy hours!!

Salty & Tiny Food, 7/16/2008
Reviewer: Kim from Santa Barbara, CA
I loved the atmosphere and idea of the restaurant. I dined with 10 friends, so we really had a good taste-test of the food. We ordered everything- ribs, lamb, ahi, hummus, olives, shrimp, mole...a lot of tapas plates!! In general, things were so salty! All of the servings were tiny -expected, but for $8-$12 each for TINY plates? Not a good value. The Sangria was great as was the steak meal. Wait staff was fun & attentive...All in all, not a good value for the price, but a fun atmosphere.

Very pleasant experience, 6/19/2008
Reviewer: Dana Alexander from Santa Barbara
We really enjoyed this dining experience of being able to taste from so many flavors. We went on Tuesday when there is a special of 3 tapas for $15 -- which is a good deal. Otherwise a meal there, especially if you are hungry, would be a bit expensive. The "lamp pops" were a highlight. The peach and apple cobbler for desert was disappointing; the overall effect was ok but the peaches especially were hard and flavorless. The service was some of the best we have ever had.

food and service, 6/16/2008
Reviewer: Edwin Javier from Santa Barbara, CA
I couldn't believe how wonderful the food was! I tried the "mixto" and the shrimp in ham and it was amazing. It is really a nice place. The servers were also nice. The food I noticed is both Spanish and Latino, which is unique. I am Dominican and I really enjoyed the Latin flavors! It is good to have a new place for Santa Barbara.

Was hoping for more flavor..., 6/11/2008
Reviewer: Sheila from Santa Barbara, CA
We tried Matador's for lunch - our first visit there. There weren't that many people in there, so our service was good. But the food was really disappointing. I LOVE Ahi Carpaccio - so we ordered that to start. I don't know how they did it - but the Ahi literally had no flavor at all. It was served with artichoke hearts, onion, etc. and we had to put salt on it to try to get some flavor from it. Even just a little balsamic or something would have helped. I tried the Cuban Sandwich which was ok - but the pork had some bones in it which I ended up chewing on, and the salad dressing was a bit to sweet. My friend had the ceviche salad and said it didn't really have any flavor also. I'm actually surprised to read some of the positive reviews, as we both determined that we wouldn't come back, as why pay $50 for a flavorless lunch? It seems they should taste their food as they played it on the safe side for flavors - and when you order smaller dishes, that's what it's all about - flavor!

I dont think they have mole in spain, 5/24/2008
Reviewer: sean young from santa barbara
santa barbara really needs an authentic tapas place. i was there last night w/ my girlfriend, and all my palate had to say afterwards was, eh. it really is not anything special, i think the dish that we enjoyed the most was the garlic shrimp, make sure to ask for bread to sop up the sauce later. the calamari couldve been crispier, the mixed grill was pretty basic, the ceviche was not spicy, the chips were stale, and the tortilla espagnola, the tomato sauce just doesnt go with it. and the sauces w/ the mixed grill, totally uneccessary. why does every tapas place in sb feature mole? and the prices are quite high.

Toro, Toro ¡Olé!, 5/21/2008
Reviewer: Royce Skopp from Santa Barbara
I am usually a bit skeptical about trying new restaurants because my excitement of something new is often deflated for one reason or another. The Matador was definitely a rare exception. So many perfect dishes. After much deliberation with my appetite, I decided to start with the Ceviché, the Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp and the Calamari. The Sangria was the best I have ever had anywhere. The flavor was well balanced; the wine nor the fruit were overpowering one another. The two marched in perfect harmony upon my palette. The ceviché was so refreshing, so crisp, so delicious. The bacon-wrapped shrimp waited for me patiently in a delightful tamarind-based sauce. I moved on to the calamari. Honestly, how good can calamari really be? It would be an understatement to just say "WOW." My second course of the Hot Combo Plate with filet mignon chunks, braised lamb shank, skewered chicken and grilled veggies was beyond amazing. As if I didn't already feel like I have had the best this world has to offer, it was topped off with the Banana Flambé. Dare I say that this dessert was of the heavens? Nothing but kudos all the way around. Harmonious. Delicious. Phenomenal. Amazing.

I wish the food was as good as the menu made it sound!, 5/14/2008
Reviewer: Jennifer from Santa Barbara CA
We were excited to try Matador because we love tapas so we came here with some friends for tapas and drinks. My husand liked his Mojito but my Sangria needed more flavor. The service was very friendly and the atmosphere was great, I love the high tables. But out of the 10 tapas we ordered, I think we really liked only 3 -- mushroom caps, dates, meatballs. The biggest dissappointment were the cold churros. They should serve them fresh and hot. This is a restaurant that's menu sounds better than the food actually is. Bummer. Hopefully they will get better!

superb food and great fun location, 5/14/2008
Reviewer: John Gough from Montecito
With a location convenient to the movies and walking distance from friends we anxiously awaited this new opening and have been six times since April.Friends or family accompanied us each time and a good experience was had by all. The service was very perfsonal and attentive; and better yet the food was absolutely tasty and beautifully presented. Try to get a table near the entry; the people watching is entertaining. Go now and try them out; you'll be pleased!!; and leave room for us as we are going back soon and often!!

Good food, fun atmosphere and attentive service, 5/13/2008
Reviewer: Annette Jorgensen from Santa Barbara
So many S.B. restaurants so little time...Matador is a refreshing alternative. The tapas are great and just the right size for a light meal or a snack before a concert. The service was attentive at the bar and the atmosphere fun and colorful. I have dined there three times and enjoyed each time more and more. The wine choices are good and I always end the night with a glass of chocolate infused port wine. I am going back again on Saturday with friends.

Not Great, 5/11/2008
Reviewer: KC from Santa Barbara
Expensive, small plates (even for Tapas), kept giving our food to the wrong tables and the food was not great. I have never written a review like this but if I can save someone else $75 on "ok" food, I thought it was worth it. My husband and I both walked away starving and poor! We love tapas and would maybe return for a tapa and just a drink.

Pretty Good....but alas still not real tapas, 4/25/2008
Reviewer: Tuioz from NYC
Delicious meat and salads. Though as with all the other tapas places in SB, their idea of tapas's is the north american bastardization of "small plates", a menu full of appetizers priced as such (give me half the appetizer size at half the price and now we're talking tapas). Nonetheless, everything was quite yummy and the sangria good. I'd recommend it.

delicious!, 4/22/2008
Reviewer: Joshua from Santa Barbara
This is one of the better restaurants to have come along in awhile. We ate there for lunch today and it was wonderful! Kudos to the chef and owner!! Best Calamari in town!

Nice Ambience; So-So Food, 4/17/2008
Reviewer: Steven from Santa Barbara
When a restaurant is less than a week old, one does not expect perfection. However, my wife and I tried a number of the tapas, and they don't compare favorably to traditional Spanish appetizers. I know the restaurant intentionally blends Spanish and Brazilian food cultures, but this can result in poorly concieved offerings. The ceviche, while tasty, was served on a rough lettuce bed, making the too small pieces of white fish and diced veggies difficult to scoop up with tortilla chips. The small croquetas had a heaviness and a slightly burned flavor, but I ate them anyway. The small strips of skewered chicken were nicely bbq'd and juicy, and the homemade mole sauce was tasty but a little thin. The sangria was light, sweet and a little fizzy, not robust and fruity like I prefer it. Kudos for the double-comp when one order was misunderstood (had we been charged for these two dishes, however, the bill for two would have approached $100). The bar-stools and high benches which provide seating for about 3/4 of the restaurant are slightly uncomfortable, with insufficient foot support for old guys like me. Overall, a work in progress.

It's the meat, dummy!, 4/17/2008
Reviewer: Bryan from Santa Barbara
I love the food here! I've tried 'em all from the Stone House, Plow & Angel, Lucky's, Ruth's Chris, etc. but Matador beat 'em all in flavor and atmosphere. The place looks great; totally spruced up from floor to ceiling. Comfortable environment and very tasty food. Go for the Chimichurri skewers, shrimp tapas, wrapped sugar dates, calamari (best I've ever had), ceviche. Drink some Sangria when it's hot, it's way cool! Next visit I'm trying an entree, probably the salmon.

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