The 7th-annual Restaurant Survey of your favorite places for food & drink has begun. The online survey runs each year throughout December and the results will be published in January. The survey results, which cover 100 categories, will be displayed on the Restaurant Guide Best Of page throughout 2013.

To vote for your favorite restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries & more visit

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  1. RexOfSB says:

    Only two problems: (1) For Best Bakery and Best Cakes, the Costco Bakery wasn’t given as a choice, just the Costco food court. (2) For Best Gourmet Market, Indochina at the Kmart Plaza wasn’t given as a choice, despite the fact that it deals in pretty much nothing but gourmet/specialty imported food items.

  2. John Dickson says:

    If I don’t use the drop-down lists of restaurants (and let people manually type the name of the restaurant) it takes me 2 weeks to hand-tabulate the results. This is because people will type in the name of the same restaurant slightly differently (for example “The Palace Grill,” “Palace Grill,” “Palace Grille,” “The Palace Grille,” “Palace,” “Pallace,” “Palice,” “P.G.,” “Teh Palace Grill,” “cajun place near joe’s,” etc). Using drop-down boxes allows me to have consistent naming which then lets me automate tabulation and shorten the time from 2 weeks to 2 minutes. I introduced the drop-down boxes last year and the number of submissions was the highest-ever in 6 years of polling so it doesn’t appear to be a significant barrier. I agree it is more of a pain to fill out but this was a necessary trade off.

    Here’s a trick: If you click the drop-down box and then type the first letter of the name of the restaurant, the drop-down box instantly scrolls down to the appropriate place.

  3. Bob says:

    I thought the same thing. Not to denigrate your hard work John, but in past years I seem to remember it being more ‘user friendly’?

  4. SL says:

    Arguably the best place to buy local produce besides the Farmers’ Market, Mesa Produce is missing from the survey.

  5. SL says:

    Also confusing is you have “Santa Barbara Fish Market at the Harbor” (direct sales from fishermen on Saturday morning) but you don’t have the brick and mortar Santa Barbara Fish Market, the best place to buy local fish in SB.

    It seems many people who review this on the guide are even more confused and think the listing is for the Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. most likely as the reviews all reference prepared food and service that don’t even exist at the Santa Barbara Fish Market which is simply just a fish counter and processing area for supplying local restaurants and stores.

  6. Chris says:


    I love this site and the survey! Just an question…instead of having to scroll down through EVERY restaurant on the list, why can’t each drop down list only have the restaurants that match the category?

    • John Dickson says:

      I tried it that way the first year. When I artificially limited choices to “match the category” I received lots of complaints from people who said their choice wasn’t listed. For example Lazy Acres was listed in Markets but not Deli and someone complained. Anna’s Bakery was listed in Bakery but not Coffee and someone complained. Sojourner was listed in Vegetarian but not Dessert and someone complained. I listed Domino’s in Pizza but someone actually complained because it was not listed in Italian. I kid you not. So I opened it up to let the public pick any place they want as their choice (with the limit being every place in this guide).

    • lemonjelly says:

      The times I needed a little help remembering businesses under a certain category, I opened a second window back to the dining guide and browsed the categories there. Then used the first letter prompt in the survey to drop down to my selection.

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