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Cafe Stella
3302 Mc Caw Ave, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 569-7698

Cafe Stella writes: welcome // bienvenue Cafe Stella your place to eat, drink, enjoy coffee, relax, read, go online, have a glass of wine and meet friends at the bar enjoy // bon appetit join us for happy hour french-american cafe breakfast // lunch // dinner bar // happy hour outdoor dog-friendly patio 7 days // 9am to 10pm

  • Specials: breakfast // lunch // dinner
  • Happy Hour: join us for happy hour daily 4pm - 7pm $4 special appetizers $2.50 select bottled beers $3.50 house wines $4 select cocktails
  • Private Room: inquire by email / phone for more information

Reviews by the General Public

Good food, some mis-steps this past year or so
Reviewer: michelle from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I have been regulars for years, ranging from once a month to once a week. Disappearing menu items like the Croque Monsieur and a seafood pasta from the dinner menu are disappointing. On our last visit two recipes changed for the worse. The mussels I ordered had cream in the broth for the first time which was too rich, heavy and masked the flavor of the broth and mussels. My husband's carbonara was no longer real carbonara, but just pasta with a cream sauce that looked very similar to my mussel broth. We would not order either of those items again. I hope they switch back to their better recipes!! The bartender gave outstanding service to the tables!

Nothing like Stella Mare
Reviewer: Charlotte from Goleta
From the outside the place is cute. The inside however, reminds me of an upscale Cody's. Nothing like it's charming older sister, Stella Mare. They really need to redecorate and get rid of those hideous burgundy booths and formica tables. The menu is nothing like Stella Mare! Not French whatsoever. $28 for scallop and shrimp special served with a squash custard and a riff on Sauce Americain. It was ok. But the scallops were very small to begin with and butterflied, so I only got two small scallops. The shrimp was chopped and was treated as more of a garnish then a principal of the dish. Custard was the star of the plate and the sauce was actually good. Unfortunately if you ordered the soup du jour, (shrimp bisque) it was so similar to the sauce, it was redundant to have on the menu whilst running the "special". I tasted the bisque, it was on its way to becoming a lovely soup but it was just too salty, no cream or sherry or even a shrimp garnish or any garnish. It's as if they ran out of time and just served it before it was finished. Very poor execution and confused, disjointed menu. Way too expensive for the coffee shop esthetic and lack of skill. Service and wine list were excellent though. Had the menu been available online, I wouldn't have bothered and just gone to Stella Mare.

Reviewer: AnnieB from Santa Barbara, CA
Patio is wonderful; food is hit or miss: I mean, how hard is it to do a creamy oatmeal? I've had it twice and it was chewy and hard both times. Salads were good though. The other thing they need is a decent cappucino/latte machine - or someone who knows how to work the one they (might) already have.

Good food at a reasonable price
Reviewer: Palmer Beaudette from Santa Barbara, CA
I came with my son and his family 6 of us in all.We had the grilled salmon with the sweet potato fries- excellent. Also had the grilled ahi and salmon special and they were both excellent. My grandaughter had the lasagna which I took home and ate. It was excellent. The waiter was friendly and knowledgeable as to the specials. He was attentive and repeatedly filled our ice tea. Two in my party had chicken-very good. All in all an excellent experience and I will come back again. My son eats here often. Don't know what other reviewers are complaining about. I'm a retired restaurant manager and am pretty picky about cuisine and service. No complaints here. By the way it was the day after Christmas and busy.

Friendly service and great happy hour margarita
Reviewer: Drew from Santa Barbara, CA
After trying to find a late afternoon lunch spot, we came upon Cafe Stella. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Lunch was delicious. We ordered the Brie and Chicken sandwich and Breakfast crepe. There was the added bonus of finding one my new favorite happy hour margaritas. What set it apart is they used their own homemade sweet and sour mix. Beautiful atmosphere as well.

Used to be one of my favs, but never again
Reviewer: Kasey from Santa Barbara, CA
This was one of my favorite restaurants in town, until today. We sat on the patio because we had our dogs with us. After a few minutes, we noticed that ants were swarming the table and the dogs, so we moved. We placed our order but about half way through the appetizer, ants swarmed us at the second table. I told the hostess what happened and that we would pay for our app & drinks but to please cancel the rest. And then got up and waited for the bill. About 10 minutes later the waitress comes out with our food.I explained about the bugs and said that we couldn't/wouldn't eat here with bugs crawling all over us. She said if we didn't take the food, it was going in the trash but we still had to pay for it. We spoke to the manager, who gave us our food to go and the bill. He charged us for the full amount -minus the cost of 2 cans of soda-which he so proudly said he comped-2CANS!Then he had the nerve to ask how the app was, I told him good until the ants got to it. He said ants can't be controlled this time of year. I explained to him that we eat outside all over town and have NEVER had ants crawling on our food and legs and arms. He offered us a discount for our next visit. Unbelievable! I had to pay the full amount for the food while I listened to his excuses and half-hearted apology all the while they kept seating customers on the infested patio!So yeah, I'll never eat there again.

Great get-away
Reviewer: arlene from Santa Barbara, CA
Came and sat at the bar- service was good & food was excellent!

A Few Tweaks Needed, but overall Ok/Good
Reviewer: MB from Santa Barbara, CA
After eating at Cafe Stella about 3-4 x in past year, I think that I can write a review. As you enter, you will notice that he ambiance is very nice, casual, relaxed, and comfortable. The menu is varied, with burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, chicken, fish choices, etc. Food to make everyone happy. The brie/chicken sandwich is a standout, though a bit dry. The fries are thin cut, and are over salted. The chicken caesar is tasty with well prepared chicken. The service is hit and miss. Though well staffed, it seems somewhat disorganized, with tables not getting cleared in a timely manner, and drink refills not occuring promptly. That being said, the servers are nice and pleasant, with good attitudes. In summary, Cafe Stella is a great choice for affordable cuisine, with a menu that will make everyone in your party happy. Service needs some tweaks, but overall, the staff tries hard.

Why recommend a salad with preknowledge of bad tomatoes?
Reviewer: Kari from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband took me to Cafe Stella for dinner after having a good meal here a few days before. I was really disappointed. The waiter raved about the Tuna (seared on the edges, raw in the middle) Salad. The balsamic dressing was tasteless, but the waiter never returned so I could request an alternative. I don't think he stirred the dressing before pouring it into my little "on the side" container. Nearly an hour later, I got up to discover him in a hallway yakking with co-workers. I did finally get an alternative ranch dressing which was quite good. When I mentioned the cherry tomatoes didn't have any flavor, he explained that is because all tomatoes are bad in January. He knew this because he grows them himself. So why did he serve them or recommend this salad? I asked him on 3 separate occasions if the tuna itself was fresh which he insisted it was. Being a huge tuna sushi fan, I was convinced by the woody dry texture and lack of flavor, it had been frozen. Certainly it tasted as if it had been frozen. Lastly, the bread was stale. Although the waiter behaved cheerfully, he just completely neglected us indicating poor management. As for the meal, I honestly believe the cooks do not taste the food they prepare. Between the lack of service & the sad food, with so many great eateries in this town, itís not worth giving this place a second chance. If other customers are experiencing what I did, this place will surely die if the owners don't get their act together.

nice surprise off the beaten path
Reviewer: Suzanne from Los Angeles, ca
Wonderful service with waiter who had excellent knowledge of dish ingredients and customer favorites. Home style decor. Nice selection of wines for purchase home or to have there. Its nice not to be stuck on State St1

Food terrific, service finally up to par!
Reviewer: Stacey from Santa Barbara, CA
I've been dining at Le Cafe Stella since its opening, and can say with pleasure that the restaurant has worked out its new-restaurant kinks. Like many of the reviewers below, I had several experiences with not-so-good service. However, at every visit in the past three months, the service has been excellent, no matter which waiter or waitress serves us. I've been here with a party of 3, a party of 5, and a party of 7, at various mealtimes, and have enjoyed every visit. The food has remained consistently good, too. At my most recent visit I ordered the grilled ahi and was pleased to receive a generous fish portion for a very reasonable price, along with large portions of sides. Whether we're going for Happy Hour or for a nice family meal, Cafe Stella is at the top of our list these days.

Love it!!
Reviewer: Allysen from Santa Barbara, CA
The first few times I went here, I sat in the restaurant and like most reviewers, I was not impressed. Now, I sit in the bar area. The service is always great. I love the chicken brie sandwich and the burgers. The lemon tart is great. They have a weekly special drink that whenever I try, I am impressed. If there's ever a problem with the food (not often), they are quick to fix it. I go at least once a week.

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