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El Encanto
800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 845-5800

Reviews by the General Public

Expensive and not tasty- Parking costs $10
Reviewer: nats from Santa Barbara, CA
Bad tasting salad with dried out shrimp. Very expensive. Parking costs $10.

Tea Time not perfect
Reviewer: Karen from Santa Barbara, CA
This is the 2nd time I've been here for the High Tea. The first time things were perfect and I would have given the food and service 5 stars. This time around not so perfect. Our table was not ready when we arrived. After about ten minutes I had to go up and ask if our table was ready - strike one. Strike two was the over zealous maître d. And strike three was the tea served in French presses instead of the beautiful silver pots we encountered on our first visit. The view, of course, was stunning and the presentation of the sandwiches and pastries was beautiful. Strike four was waiting for the valet to acknowledge our existence and take our tickets. There are a lot of wonderful things about the El Encanto - service is not one of them. I think our next tea will be back at the Biltmore.

A Brunch Blow Off!
Reviewer: Kristin from Santa Barbara, CA
Let me start that brunch is $85 per person. If you're spending this much money on food the idea is you're getting amazing food and exceptional service. Neither of which happened. The location and hotel are beautiful but the service and food was lacking. Our server only realized we didn't get our order when he came to offer us dessert. Our main entrée then took way too long to get seeing as there was maybe 5 tables. Desserts were amazing to look at but lacked flavor. By the end of the meal we had a hard time finding any staff to serve us and had get up to get the hostess for water. Really, is this what we’re paying for??

Surprisingly great
Reviewer: meridith from Santa Barbara, CA
I've heard so many bad things that I hesitated to go here. We went for lunch on a warm Monday and from start to finish it was excellent. The service five star, the décor beautiful, everything well appointed. We will be going here often.

Nice, but not special enough to warrant the price
Reviewer: Kristin from Santa Barbara, CA
Anniversary dinner on the terrace - gorgeous view and nice ambiance. Wait staff had to maneuver around crowded tables & heat lamps near the terrace edge so a little awkward but I did appreciate the heat lamp. The lighting is super poor after sunset if you are anywhere near the terrace edges while lighting looks fine close to the main building. Service was sufficient and food was tasty but for the price of the food I would either expect outstanding service or more food - portions were small. We just weren't blown away by the food and there was no effort by our waiter, or perhaps knowledge, of how to really make it a culinary or "El Encanto" experience. One more note ... valet, they need to figure out an efficient system because when the pulled up our car we couldn't get in/out because they had other cars blocking the driveway from hotel guests who had not yet arrived to their call-ahead car.

Lovely Birthday Dinner
Reviewer: Sharon from Santa Barbara, CA
Things have definitely improved in the dining room, judging by the earlier reviews. My husband and I had a terrific dinner with excellent service. Nothing to complain about...enjoyed it all!

We won't be back...
Reviewer: PZ from Carpinteria, CA
I wish I could say that now they have it right, but they still don't. It was our anniversary and we were sorely disappointed. Our waiter seemed uniformed of the choices of vodkas and scotches..if you didn't name a high end liquor you felt snubbed. Our dinner companion ordered a vodka up and was upcharged $3.00 for the low-end house vodka. Rocks drinks were served in the incorrect glass. The appetizer of a fig terrine was hard to spread and bland. Our entrees were lost and we ended up waiting for over an hour and then they were disappointing. The manager did comp our entrees, but that didn't fix the evening. As others have said, it grew late and very dark...poor lighting. Over all, not a high end experience which is so sad for such a stellar place of beauty and view. Not at all like the old days...

Average food, terrible service and cheap decor!
Reviewer: Sophia from Santa Barbara, CA
The food here is so-so; not great by any means but not inedible. However, the food needs to be amazing here to overcome the logistical issues El Encanto is having. The valet circle only fits 3-4 cars at most, leaving traffic to back up down to APS when I went there for a lunch event. The service is bemused, and slow. The decor swung it for me, though - cheap cheap cheap everywhere. Finish coming off chairs that are faux wood, dirt already showing on walls and table linens that looked shabby, but not chic. Every penny possible was spared in the decoration of this hotel, and because of that, it doesn't qualify as a luxury destination or a Santa Barbara classic. Shame!

It is not cutting it
Reviewer: DPJ from Santa Barbara, CA
This is my third time there and it is not improving. I attended an event in the downstairs ballroom. A long line of cars backed up on Lasuen Rd. was the first negative impression. Clearly they can't handle parking for large groups. The ballroom was cramped. The food service was slow: half of our table was served and the other half had to wait as dishes passed by. I had to ask for a drink re-fill. The baked chicken breast and potatoes had no seasoning. I had to add salt and pepper. So my experiences have been less than good and for the prices not worth it. The only good thing so far is the view.

slow service/not tasty food
Reviewer: Karen from Santa Barbara, CA
Best of hotel: the view and location Decor: Contemporary Hollywood trendy Didn't like the service/food: young college kids as waiters who thought they were doing you a favor waiting on you. Unprofessional attitudes. Need seasoned professional waiters. Food: not tasty and very over priced Atmosphere: loud Sinatra crooner making it hard to converse. I could hear him crooning a block away. Whats wrong with quite background music??? So people can converse???? This place does not meet up to the Santa Barbara style or Orient Express reputation.

Go for the drinks: stay for the drinks
Reviewer: Mark from Santa Barbara, CA
In keeping with the asian theme I will now dishonor this restaurant in the form of a traditional Haiku. el encanto lame: chaotic service bland food: bad dessert to end

A special dinner: Friends - perfect; Dinner - not so much
Reviewer: Oma from Santa Barbara, CA
This was our 2nd visit to El Encanto since it reopened and our first time for dinner. The positives: The view and our waiter. Areas for significant improvement: The bar has not improved since our first visit in March. The service is still VERY slow. The quality of the cocktails has not improved and they still taste watered down like they have been sitting on ice too long. A Manhattan was served in a stemless wine glass accompanied by a small plate holding one lonely and tiny (but very good) cherry on a pic. Had the cherry and pic been in the wine glass it would have been impossible to grasp but on the plate by itself it was completely lost in translation. The martinis (ordered 'up') came in small 'juice' glasses or a large shot glass - we couldn't tell. Their presentation was unappealing as well. When our drinks finally came there was nothing to accompany them - no nuts - nothing. They finally brought us some bread but it was well after our cocktails were served. We don't mind paying $16 for a cocktail if it is prepared well but these were not worth it. Wine glasses: The correct wine glass should accompany the wine. They are using silver at the table so it seems they could offer the correct glasses. The food: While we weren't in a hurry, the food delivery was slow. The lamb loin had no flavor except for the sauce and it wasn't great. The gnocchi that accompanied it was very dry and again no flavor. No one at our table raved about their food. At best it was 'fine'. Our waiter was very nice and seemed embarrassed by the slow delivery, the cocktails and sub par presentation. It was not a busy night so there should be no excuse. I gave the service a 2.5 rating but in my opinion it was not the wait staff who were responsible for the slow service; it was the preparers. Ambiance: The view was wonderful. The table seatings look nice but the deep couches feel too far from the table and I kept adding pillows to be closer to the group. As it got later and darker the little table lights weren't sufficient. Overall, the disappointing service, cocktails and meal did not justify the expense.

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