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Cities Barbecue
[closed, no longer in business]

901 N. Milpas St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 892-4483


Reviews by the General Public

Out of Business
Reviewer: Scott Burns from Santa Barbara, CA
The restaurant closed it doors 2-28-10, I have no more information, I work near it and noticed it closed Monday looking very vacant


Was that pork?
Reviewer: Scooter from Santa Barbara, CA
Phoned in my to go order and the guy said "10-12 minutes". 28 minutes later, i had my food in hand. When i opened the box & looked at my chopped pork sandwich, i expected it to look like a bbq pork sandwich. Instead, it was a beige molded mound of what looked like stuffing, and tasted more like crab cakes than pork. Runny sauce. The mac n' cheese had little to no flavor. Nobody else in my office was impressed with theirs, either. I've had good food here in years past; they must've changed owners. I had the secretary shred the menu (she likes to shred stuff anyway).


$29 = Two Half Racks = 12-ribs weighing 28-ounces
Reviewer: M from Santa Barbara, CA
I don't want to pile on. The ribs are oven baked, no hint of smoke. Slow service even when there is only one other table and they got their order piecemeal.


Bbq chicken salad
Reviewer: Jennifer from Santa Barbara, CA
I went there today to buy a bbq chicken salad and it was really good, that was the best salad in the town of Santa Barbara and also I get a collard green it is really-really GOOD!


Ugh, What happened to this place?
Reviewer: Brent from Santa Barbara, CA
When this place first opened a few years ago, it was one of my favorite places in Santa Barbara, but it has completely gone downhill. My only guess is that it must have changed owners, because the entire staff there is different. I had a bad experience a couple of months ago, and thought it was just an off night. Now this second time just sums up how far they've fallen. The dry rub ribs used to be incredible, but are now incredibly tough. The sauces could be bought in any grocery. All the sides taste like cafeteria food. The staff is almost always surly or indifferent. The food is way over-priced, and the size of the portions I think have become smaller. The place used to have SB's only authentic southern style BBQ, and had great staff that worked hard for the customer. Now, I will never go back.


Never Again
Reviewer: Herschel Greenspan from Santa Barbara, CA
The service was horrible. The guy behind the counter was more interested in having a conversation with a friend than taking my order. The food was a joke. Three pieces of tri tip with some store bought BBQ sauce on to IS NOT BARBECUE. The owner of this establishment should think long and hard if he / she is serious about staying in business


What happened?!?!?
Reviewer: Jon from Goleta
We used to love this place, the ribs and sides were so good. Last night we went again and it has completely changed! Did they change management? We were there at 7pm and there were no other customers. Our ribs were tough and the sauce was tasteless. The sides were also strange and unappetizing. The collard greens were definitely oversalted. How do you ruin something as simple as cole slaw? Everything used to be so good!!! We'll never go again.


Unremarkable barbeque
Reviewer: Joe from Montecito
I had the tri-tip sandwich and it was bland and tasteless. Can't believe this place stays in business, the way the food was prepared seemed amaturish. Won't be back. Cashier was nice, though.


Worst Place Ever
Reviewer: Erik from Santa Barbara, CA
I eat out pretty frequently and I have never written a review, but I was so disappointed, I felt compelled to warn others. We were the only customers in there (which should have been a tip-off). The waitress was very slow in getting to our table, despite the fact we were her only customers. The food was on the pricey side, but I figured that it would be generous portions of food. Instead, we got very small portions of BBQ with bland, watery sauce (I actually had to stop on the way home and get a corn dog from Mad Dogs to fill me up). On top of the food, our waitress literally left the restaurant after bringing us our food (we were there at 6:30, so it wasn't like we were there right before close). We didn't get refills on our drinks and we had to go and ask the cook to figure out our bill. I'm not a picky person, but I felt really cheated after eating here. Overall, the service was bad, the food was expensive, the portions were small, and the taste was bland. Needless to say, I won't be back.


Won't be back
Reviewer: Laurie from Tracy, Ca.
Fodd was bad and so was the service. I'm from Santa Barbara but now live in the bay area. I'm surprise this place is called a Bar-b-que joint. The hot links taste like hot dogs and the ribs were tough. The cashier was rude!


Once Great......Once Horrible......
Reviewer: Ryan from Santa Barbara, CA
I guess the theme of this review is inconsistency. I went to Cities maybe 4 months ago and the food and service was great. Friendly, quick, and the ribs were really good. However, my experience last night was an absolute 180 from previous times, so I was compelled to write this review. To start off, I was overcharged. One dish was rung up a dollar over the menu price, then when I used a discount card for the 50% the second dish it really threw them for a mind bender. Anyway, I was overcharged for the meal. My wife's meal was pretty good as she had the blackened chix breast with side salad and succotash (?). I ordered the Memphis dry rub 1/3 rack with coleslaw and mac n' cheese. The sides were really good, but the main part of my meal was horrendous. The ribs were way over cooked and dried out. To make it worse, when they heat the ribs up on the grill before serving the cook kinda burned them and they were more crispy. I did not return them and kept eating them thinking they would get better...maybe that was a bad rib. But they never got better. The outside surface was dry, the meat chewy and grissly, and frankly, the worst ribs I've ever had. There is no excuse for bad ribs like this at a BBQ joint! I was so bummed that I'm never returning. I've been to Woody's a thousand times and never had dried meat. You have to keep a closer watch on your food quality!


Went for the food, left because of the service.
Reviewer: Mark from Agoura
Went there Saturday for lunch after debating between here and the Palace Grill... bbq won out. Waited to be seated, even though place was empty. Then waited twenty minutes after getting menus for someone to take our order. They never came and we left. One thing I noticed as I waited was that there was no smoke smell. Can't make 'que without smoke. I'm happy that my money didn't end up in their register.


sauce needs to be mixed in w/meat
Reviewer: sally from santa barbara
i had, i believe the pulled pork sandwhich (maybe tri tip I forget) but what I was suprised was they serve two little tins of sauce on the side instead of the shredded meat being in the sauce already: the result is a too sweet goop and the meat was rather dry. wouldn't go back.


You must have the pulled pork!
Reviewer: Violet from Goleta, CA
The pulled pork sandwich was awesome. The BBQ sauce was so sweet and yummy. The tri-tip was good, but sort of regular. It is a really casual place, but will go back.


mmmm delish, and they deliver!
Reviewer: katherine from santa barbara, ca
Delicious pork sandwiches! My boyfriend and I are regulars both in the restaurant and for delivery. Favorite BBQ in SB.


Small portions and pricey, but surprisingly filling
Reviewer: Jessica M. from Santa Barbara, CA
The portions here are very small for what Cities charges. Most of the bbq places i've been to before charge alot too ($20-30 per person), but those places pile the food and include more sides and a soup/salad to start. At other places, you can definitely share, but just to illustrate how small the meat and sides portions are i'll just say that the average combo plate here is perfect for just one person. The ribs were tasty and tender, but the tri tip was bland and chewy. THe cheese sauce for the mac n cheese was not "saucey" but had a thick and grainy texture. The grits i tried was delicious, but overall the sides are very small. The servers were very nice though. Cities is a little above average place for bbq as long as you don't mind spending a lot of money and not being able to bring home leftovers.


Good Joint.. But Not The Greatest!
Reviewer: Jason from Goleta, CA
I will make it short and simple: Prices are high..but thats to be expected for santa barbara and for rib joints in general. Remember that what you pay for is to have that authentic midwest and east coast bbq taste that you wouldnt be able to do yourself. The interior decor is nothing to be excited about. My advice is if you dont mind dropping 22.00 dollars for 1/2 rack combo with drink then by all means give it a shot. The food for sure is definitely 3X better than woodys on Hollister. Oh and by the way...the sides for some reason are excellent as noted by other reviewers. Loved the beans they give you with the combo. Would i go back? Maybe in about a year on special occasion.


Are you Kidding Me?
Reviewer: ryan from Santa Barbara, Ca
Where is the this place, in K.C.? NO SB. I love ribs, Pork Ribs, I've eaten at the best places in MO, TX, ILL, etc and I've never had a better pork rib. Both rubs rock but I'm partial to the wet. OUT


Great SB BBQ
Reviewer: Matthew from Santa Barbara, CA
I lived all around Tennessee and Missouri before I came to SB, and spent a number of years in Memphis (best BBQ in the world). I also own my own smoker and spend a lot of time thinking about BBQ meats. I may not know much else, but I think I know BBQ. Cities is definately some of the best BBQ in SB, but you should go knowing what to order.

First, no southern BBQ place serves chicken unless its for tourists. If you slow smoke it ahead of time, then when you warm it up later to serve it'll be dry. You can't smoke it to order because it takes 4-6 hours to get good flavor in it. So, those that complained about the chicken ate poorly because they ordered poorly. Get your chicken Mexican BBQ style from the Chicken Ranch... thats the best way to do it. Don't get it at Cities.

Instead, spend your money on pork ribs. Their Memphis style dry ribs are a great version of the best BBQ in the world. I've had much worse in VA and NC, and they are a lot closer to the source. I'd put less sugar in it, but thats personal taste. Their sticky ribs are nice too... not too much sauce, but enough to keep em good and wet. As many mentioned, the sides are great too. Stear clear of the peaches (they are canned), and even good restraunt slaw is usually bad. But the grits, collard greens, salad, and dirty rice were great.

Finally, if you go and try to eat healthy, you won't enjoy yourself. Southern states are the fattest in the nation for a reason--the food is great tasting and bad for you. Count calories and fat somewhere else, not here.


so good I had to write a rewiew
Reviewer: Jordan from Santa Barbara
Sides were awesome, all the food had great flavor, and all in all was amazing... If you want a good meal give this place a shot, I have never had better BBQ


good bbq
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara
I've eaten at Cities several times and have been pleased each time with the food I order. Do try to avoid it during the weekday between 12 an 1 because it is swarming with high schoolers and the wait for a table or for your food takes a while, in addition to it being extremely noisy and full of angst-ridden teen hormones. I highly recommend the dry rub ribs and the grits. And if you're looking for the best bang for your buck, get the lunchtime 3 meat combo as two portions of pork rib dry rub, and one portion of chicken, with a side of grits. It will also come with garlic bread and will easily feed two people with leftovers. Although the staff are friendly, I give the service a slightly low rating because it has always taken a long time to receive my order. Considering good bbq ribs take hours to slow cook (6 hours?), I figure the ribs are started early in the morning and should be ready to go by lunchtime, so what takes so long?


OK - Nothing spectacular
Reviewer: KS from Santa Barbara, CA
Had been wanting to try this place so went two weeks ago. I got the 2 meat plate (spicy hotlinks & bbq chicken), my wife got a grilled chicken sandwich. Hotlinks were good, chicken was average (I had to apply my own bbq sauce? Also didn't seem fresh) My wife said chicken sandwich was bland and flavorless. Also they forgot to bring her salad. Too expensive for an average meal.


Pretty Good!
Reviewer: Sarah from Goleta, Ca
I just came here today with my parents and fiancee and it was wonderful! My dad and fiancee had the Kansas City "sticky" ribs with the Ranck beans- Excellent! It was a lot of food for around 9 bucks, and came with a huge piece of great garlic bread. My mom had the Killer Cajun shrimp- so good! The broth it is served with was amazing, and I dipped my Tri-tip sandwich it it! The tri-tip was a little overcooked and chewy, but it is usually hit or miss with tr-tip anyways. Mac and cheese excellent!!!! Great place, a lot of food and cool ambience!


Absolutely delicicous and well done
Reviewer: Elaine M. Baltazar from Lemoore, CA
I was only in Santa Barbara for a medical evaluation at the Sansum Clinic and I was looking for a restaurant to go out for dinner, and stumbled upon this restaurant driving around and somewhat lost, back in November 2005 after Thanksgiving. I parked my car and decided to give it a try. I really liked the atmosphere, it was nice and the people working there were very friendly. This was my first time to eat there, and the BBQ ribs were excellent and very tasty, and tender. In addition I had the peaches in whiskey for dessert, and it was wonderful. I would eat there again. I highly recommend anyone who is looking for a great barbecue to eat there. This is not your high class restaurant, but not a hole in the wall either. The only problem was that the parking situation wasn't the greatest, but the food is extremely wonderful and the taste was perfect. The price was right as well, and the food was more than enough. If I had to score this place above 5.0, I would give it a 10 for sure. A job well done at this restaurant.


Impressed!!
Reviewer: Cynthia Acosta from Santa Barbara
Last night was our first time. I'm a very picky person when it comes to barbecue, especially at restaurants. This is a great place. I liked it a lot. The service was good and the food impressed me. I was not a believer before we got there but I have changed my mind definitely! We will be back often especially since it is to cold right now to barbecue at home.


Baby Back Ribs
Reviewer: Steve from Santa Barbara, CA
I had the sampler meal and found the tri-tip too tough and the 'sticky' Kansas ribs pretty tasteless. The dry rub Memphis ribs were far more tasty and tender. The BBQ chicken was very moist but also lacked a lot of taste. I think they need a selection of tasty BBQ sauces on the tables. Nothing I had would make me want to go back, except perhaps for one of the side-dishes. Their GRITS are killer! Never thought I'd ever say that about grits. The service is curteous but do be forewarned, the inside dining isn't very pleasant or comfortable.


Run, Don't Walk, to Cities BBQ
Reviewer: Doug McFarling from Santa Barbara, CA
Awesome BBQ. I had the sticky ribs and yearned for more when the plate was empty. My wife had the pot roast and described it as "melt-in-your-mouth tender." My 4-year-old son flipped for the mac-n-cheese and bacon-cheddar grits. Fantastic stuff... We'll be back.


Rockin Ribs & Off the Hook Chicken Sandwich
Reviewer: Jacob Banks from Santa Barbara, Ca
The food was excellent!! Try either the sticky or dry ribs and be sure to try the sauces. The side dishes are interesting and delicious. Prices are great considering the amount of food that is served.


Finger lickin' GOOD
Reviewer: O. Sands from Santa Barbara
if it's good bbq you're hankering after, cities definately is the place to go. the ribs are tender, the sauces tasty. the sides are delicious and well proportioned. there are a few wrinkles that have to be ironed out service-wise, and the touches that give a restaurant a welcoming ambiance have yet to be completed. but if the reason you go to a restaurant is to eat good food particularly, and bbq specifically, get yourself over to cities!


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