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Carlitos Cafe y Cantina

$$$
Mexican
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1324 State St, Ste A, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-8720
805-962-7117
Website
Today
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Open now
See all hours
Hours:
Sun 9:30 am - 10:00 pm
Mon - Sat 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Late Night, Outdoor Seating, Reservations

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 261 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 104
    Excellent
  • 95
    Very good
  • 36
    Average
  • 17
    Poor
  • 9
    Terrible
Rating summary
  • Food
    4 of 5 stars
    Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
    Atmosphere
    4 of 5 stars
Great experience

We had just arrived in Santa Barbara for the weekend. Decided to try this restaurant was am glad we did. Food was fresh and tasty with very generous portions. We sat on the patio by the fountain which made for a relaxing meal. I had the shrimp tacos. The shrimp was seasoned and cooked beautifully... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed April 15, 2015
Trixie F
,
Phoenix, Arizona
Good for:
  • Romantic
  • Families with children
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261 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Southern California
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2015

Everytime we're in Santa Barbara, we eat at Carlitos. This time I had their fish tacos . . . yummmm. My daughter had the chicken nachos . . . delish. The food's always very good. Sit on the patio and soak up some great Santa Barbara vibes.

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Santa Barbara, California
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2015

It could be a wonderful place to sip sangria or margaritas and watch the world walk by. But the food ruined it for me. We have tried to like this place, and we have given it several tries. I can't drink enough to cause me to overlook just how ordinary the food here is.

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Santa Barbara, California
Top Contributor
157 reviews 157 reviews
102 restaurant reviews
98 helpful votes 98 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2015

First, Carlitos is in a convenient and ideal outside setting on upper state street and the restaurant often is frequented by patrons of Arlington Theater across the street. It is also almost always very busy, if not hectic. The food is also pretty good and relatively more healthy than traditional Mexican flair. I have eaten here probably a dozen times... More 

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Athens, Georgia
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2015

Great place to eat. Wonderful and kind staff! Great food. Great margaritas! Great, fast service. Fun time! You will like it!

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Phoenix, Arizona
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2015

We had just arrived in Santa Barbara for the weekend. Decided to try this restaurant was am glad we did. Food was fresh and tasty with very generous portions. We sat on the patio by the fountain which made for a relaxing meal. I had the shrimp tacos. The shrimp was seasoned and cooked beautifully and were abundant. My sister... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
Thousand Oaks, California
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2015

great avocado dip, always busy,grab a cab and go and enjoy. they have a live band playing your favorite mexican tunes

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Alberta, Canada
Top Contributor
296 reviews 296 reviews
150 restaurant reviews
283 helpful votes 283 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2015

The patio was a nice place to have dinner. The service was prompt and professional. The guacomole appetizer we had was very good. My fish taco was very bland. It was an okay dinner. The band was setting up as we were leaving, so if you enjoy live music during your meal, this will be a plus.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Arlington Heights, Illinois
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2015

The concept was awesome; outdoor cantina on State Street. Loved the atmosphere with live music. It was a little loud for conversations I was having with my dinner-mates but we made the distinct choice knowing the music was there so who can call that a negative? The food wasn't so spicy and I would border on saying it was designed... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2015

I've been to Carlito's twice now, each time on a Sunday. It's halfway up State Street, across from The Arlington Theater. They have valet parking, which is VERY nice in Santa Barbara. Though it is located in a small strip mall, they have pleasant outdoor seating with umbrellas and foliage. They also had a female musician singing and playing guitar,... More 

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Guangzhou, China
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2015

To me, Mexico is 10k miles away so on this trip to California and while in Santa Barbara (Spanish enough) we bumped into this Carlitos, a 36 years old cafe y cantina. I knew I made a right choice eventually. Fantastic food (exotic enough) with the help of a lovely waitress, warm sunrays casting upon us on the patio, chewing... More 

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Restaurant Details

Location and Contact Information

  • Address: 1324 State St, Ste A, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-8720
  • Location: United States  >  California (CA)  >  Santa Barbara
  • Phone Number: 805-962-7117

Price and Cuisine

  • Average Prices: USD 20 - 35
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Restaurant Characteristics

  • Good for: Romantic, Families with children
Open Hours
Sunday
9:30 am - 10:00 pm
Monday
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Tuesday
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Wednesday
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Thursday
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Friday
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Saturday
11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Questions & Answers

Questions? Get answers from Carlitos Cafe y Cantina staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do you have gluten-free options?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Do you allow dogs on the outdoor patio?