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The Best Santa Maria Restaurants to Try Out

The Best Santa Maria Restaurants to Try Out

A trip to Santa Maria is not complete without a gastronomic experience! Here are the best Santa Maria restaurants to choose from.


5 min read

February 06, 2022

One of California’s least explored yet best foodie spots is Santa Maria. Nestled by the coast in beautiful Santa Barbara, the unsung hero of delicious regional barbecue gives you a journey of flavors like no other in the state. The smell of red oak hangs thick in the air and a friendly atmosphere welcomes you at the family-owned joints around town. Are you in the mood for Mexican, Hawaiian, Mediterranean, American, or maybe Korean? You’ll find the best of it and more at these awesome Santa Maria restaurants.

These are the Santa Maria Restaurants You Should Try Now

Are you having a rough day? Here, have a nice slab of steak at Shaw's Steakhouse. As long as there’s pink, we’re all good.

1. Shaw’s Steakhouse

Address: 714 South Broadway, Santa Maria

Santa Maria’s BBQ restaurants have a massive reputation, and Shaw’s Steakhouse is renowned for being one of the best. An elegant and old-timey place, Shaw’s is decorated with shining wood, brass, and historic local barbecue photos. If you want to get an introduction to the entire range of local barbecue traditions, this is the best restaurant in Santa Maria to dine at. Everything from tri-tip to spicy oak-grilled sausage shows up on the menu of this old-school chophouse. Bon appetit! 

We just want someone to look at us the way we look at Mediterranean food. A well-balanced meal is hummus in both hands.

2. The Garden Mediterranean Restaurant and Cafe

Address: 122 East Boone Street, Santa Maria

We can’t help but crave a proper Mediterranean feast every now and then. Kebabs, dips, boraks, and lemon and olive oil-drenched salads have us daydreaming on an empty stomach at least once on a weekly basis. When in Santa Maria, The Garden Mediterranean Restaurant and Cafe is where we go to satisfy this craving. Besides absolutely delectable food, this restaurant in Santa Maria, CA also provides a delightful atmosphere in a traditional dining room setting with a patio—perfect for large family gatherings! 

3. The Pantry on Park

Address: 726 South Broadway, Santa Maria

Another favorite local spot serving American comfort food is The Pantry on Park. Head over to this beloved Santa Maria restaurant for brunch or lunch and you’ll enjoy all your favorite diner staples in generous portions. The waffles and hash browns at The Pantry will definitely give you a strong kick of nostalgia.

There, we said it: the only bad taco is the one you didn’t eat. Live every day like it's Taco Tuesday. Have your guac and eat it too.

4. El Palenque Mexican Restaurant

Address: 715 South Broadway, Santa Maria

El Palenque Mexican Restaurant honors the Mexican tradition of investing time and passion into the sourcing, preparation, and cooking of fresh food. Hailed as one of the top Mexican restaurants in Santa Maria, this modest joint is the best place to hit up if you’re in the mood for a cheesy quesadilla, juicy grilled meats, refreshing aguas frescas, and a positively laid-back atmosphere.

5. Jaffa Cafe

Address: 2530 South Broadway Avenue, Santa Maria

What is the best restaurant in Santa Maria for a shawarma wrap, you ask? Our vote goes to Jaffa Cafe. Family-owned and operated since 2002, this casual dining spot with rich ethnic cuisine is always a delight to dine at. Serving baba ghanoush, tabbouleh, baklava, hummus, kofta, and much more, Jaffa Cafe is a Santa Maria restaurant that has rightfully earned its loyal customer base.

Who needs gender rolls when we have sushi rolls? Love and sushi are a lot alike. You can never have too much of either.

6. Mikado Sushi

Address: 209 Town Center West, Santa Maria

A fresh and tasty sushi spot is a quintessential part of every Southern California town. Mikado Sushi is Santa Maria’s own resident sushi joint serving creative rolls and other Japanese fares in an intimate setting. For a festival of fresh flavors in your mouth, try any of this Santa Maria restaurant’s Mikado Premium Rolls—you’ll thank us later. Make sure to leave room for dessert as well; you don’t want to miss out on Mikado’s delicious sushi ice cream.

7. SizzlinGogi

Address: 1841 South Broadway, Santa Maria

Are you a fan of barbecue but not quite the traditional American type? Book a table at SizzlinGogi. Providing a traditional Korean food experience complete with tabletop grills and delicious banchan, this Santa Maria restaurant is a spot you must absolutely check out if you haven’t yet. You get to choose your own combination of delicious gogi and have fun grilling and sharing it with your loved ones around the table.

While some people give steaks a bad reputation, you can't deny that a nice thick steak grilled or cooked to perfection can be the ultimate indulgence.

8. Jocko’s Steakhouse

Address: 125 North Thompson Avenue, Nipomo

Up for a quick 11-minute drive to Nipomo? You’ll discover Jocko’s Steakhouse: a hidden gem of a restaurant near Santa Maria, CA that only the locals know about. Famous for hand-cut aged steaks grilled over an open fire of red oak coals, Jocko’s is a traditional Santa Maria BBQ restaurant through and through. This style of cooking is native to the area, dates back to the Spanish Rancheros, and is honored perfectly by the chefs at Jocko’s Steakhouse. You’ll get the hype once you bite into your first piece of aged steak.

9. Far Western Tavern

Address: 300 East Clark Avenue, Orcutt

Another awesome restaurant near Santa Maria, CA is the beloved Far Western Tavern in Orcutt. This restaurant specializes in Santa Maria-style barbecue and a variety of other regional delicacies inspired by the valley’s Swiss-Italian ranching heritage—it’s practically a local landmark. You’ll have to splurge a little extra when dining at this Santa Maria restaurant, but you’ll immediately realize that it’s totally worth it.

Indulge in mouthwatering Hawaiian-style barbecue at Santa Maria's favorite restaurant, Zoe’s Hawaiian BBQ.

10. Zoe’s Hawaiian BBQ

Address: 2880 Santa Maria Way, Santa Maria

Authentic Hawaiian-style food is done right at Zoe’s Hawaiian BBQ. One of the best restaurants in Santa Maria for casual dining, Zoe’s promises food that’s prepared, hand-breaded, marinated, and cooked on the spot with non-processed ingredients. If you want to pair your delicious dinner with live music, head to this Santa Maria restaurant on Friday or Saturday nights. A live band plays beautiful island tunes on the weekend, creating a positive atmosphere that’ll transport you right to the Aloha State.

11. Pappy’s Restaurant

Address: 1275 Betteravia Road, Santa Maria

Pappy’s Restaurant in Santa Maria is so low-key that they don’t even have a website or any social media presence. But the locals know that this no-frills American joint is not messing around. Serving flavorful dinner options such as burgers and chicken-fried steak, as well as an incredible selection of traditional breakfast dishes, this hidden gem of a Santa Maria restaurant is about to be your next favorite find for when you crave home cooked-style food.

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