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Hungry Cat
No longer in business
Opened: 2007-04 Closed: 2016-12

1134 Chapala St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 884-4701

  • Category: Seafood
  • Hours: Mon: Closed, Tue-Thu: Noon-3pm, 5-10pm, Fri: Noon-3pm, 5-11pm, Sat: 11am-3pm, 5-11pm, Sun: 11am-3pm, 5-10pm
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
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Reviews by the General Public

Disappointing
Reviewer: JP from Santa Barbara, CA
Four of us went for the Anniversary Clambake dinner. This was my second time eating at Hungry Cat and will be my last. The first course of fish stew was delicious. The clambake was horrible. No flavor or seasoning was noticeable. The clams were rubbery and inedible. The crab claws and legs were not cracked so we had to "wrestle" with the food. I don't care for that. There was a bowl of drawn butter supplied but it quickly became cold and congealed. Overall, for the price, it just didn't make it. There are better seafood restaurants in town.


No Substitutions....no modifications...NO PATRONIZE
Reviewer: Jojo from Santa Barbara, CA
The food is fine, the service...with the very firm no substitutions or modifications is rough. I like this place, I like their drinks, but the chef and this rule cramps my style. Simply asked to swap the grain for a vegetable and got the firm "NO". It was an easy swap... and my preference would have been for the waiter to at lease entertain my request and step away and pretend to ask the chef.


some of the best seafood
Reviewer: marie from Santa Barbara, CA
The arctic char was amazing as well as the oysters! Creative drinks and friendly staff.


disappointed
Reviewer: Linda from Santa Barbara, CA
We have been eating here since it opened and loved the food. However last night we went, hoping to have a great meal since reading about the changes. It was VERY disappointing. The cod fritters were mushy, the seafood special was recommended so we were excited as we have eaten this dish all over town(CAVA has best Zarzula).. it was minimal and the sauce tasted like beef bouillon ! We left hungry and went to Olio for a pizza!!!


Excellent but be willing to pay
Reviewer: Mario from Santa Barbara, CA
First off, whoever listed this place as having a price range of $10-20 is misinformed. You can get two oysters for $10. For $20 you can get two oysters and a drink. The last time I went on a date there we got a dozen oysters, two entrees, and two drinks each. The bill, including tax and gratuity was $170. That being said, this is one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara. The food is excellent and the drinks are the best in town. But if money is tight and/or you don't like seafood - in particular raw - this is probably not the place for you. The only really negative experience I have had was that I recently called up to make a reservation for 6 and was told they had a table. When I then went on to say that two of our party were children, the table suddenly was not available anymore. The person I was taking to claimed it was just an honest mistake on her part, but part of me thinks they don't want kids in the place. They make more $$ off people who drink...


Good Fish Tacos but...
Reviewer: Toby from Santa Barbara, CA
The food here is typically good. Fish tacos are a standard, the oysters are incredibly fresh, and the cocktails are solid, but the more i have been here in the last 6 months, the more i learn that nobody likes working here. and the staff turnover is the highest of any restaurant i know. it has me thinking of other places to go these days...


I don't see what all the fuss is about
Reviewer: PJ from Santa Barbara, CA
Went there for lunch and had never been before. I heard raves about the food. Really it was nothing special and expensive. The lunch menu is limited for my tastes--I don't eat raw or on the shell so that eliminated a lot of choices. The fish tacos were good but nothing special for $15. $22 for a lobster roll? $16 for a burger? I wouldn't bother and won't be going back.


Overpriced mediocre food
Reviewer: Hal Incandenza from Santa Barbara, CA
The burger seemed to come together the best (not too many ways to go wrong...), but a sweet sauce that didn't complement the raw yellowtail, overly bitter beef, and cheap-tasting crab balls that made for a surprisingly large bill left me feeling more taken advantage of than my last relationship. Great place if you have a limited budget and want to start dieting.


Great Place
Reviewer: B R from Goleta, CA
Took two of my friends to lunch at the HC on Sunday. We were all very please with the service and the food. We will definitely return. The Chef was great! Try the watermelon salad!


Hungry Cat does a flip-flop
Reviewer: jinelle from Santa Barbara, CA
File this under does it really matter what I think, but Hungry Cat the other night failed in the food and did far better in the service at least no longer up-selling or giving that always unwelcome dose of attitude. They finally got the wait staff part right. Place was full of 30 somethings, happy diners. Went for the beloved Pug Burger which always kept me coming back, but alas no longer. The beloved PB just was not that good anymore and add me to the list of those finding no charm in a bloody bun, that dissolved into sticky, sickly glop which made eating the full, over-sized burger totally impossible. Probably was my 9th and final life with them after giving them more chances than they should have gotten. The last few times the food and service failed but we kept hoping it was just an off night for the PB which was heavenly the first few times after they opened. Yet, this place is a success so as I started out, does my petty complaint about their consistent PB inconsistencies matter? Nope. Carry on Cat. You have your fans and to your credit. This is a tough town for restaurants and you carved out your niche. Meow.


Really liked it!
Reviewer: Susan from Thousand Oaks, CA
Great food, good service. Like that it's small and casual. Loved my Seafood Cobb Salad. Would certainly go again!


First visit the Last Visit
Reviewer: Susan from Santa Barbara, CA
Went to HC for first time yesterday with some friends. Won't be coming back. It was small and cramped, there was some definite comfusion in the kitchen,and took what seemed be forever to get our food. Ordered the Pub Burger medium well. First time it came to the table it was RARE! The second time it came back,I cut into my burger and it was still undercooked, red juices running on to my plate and into the bun. Finally get my burger, this time it was cooked to order, but did you have to put it back on the same blood soaked bun!! Really people!!!!!


sadly disappointed
Reviewer: chris e from Santa Barbara, CA
we live here in SB as well as NYC, so we are used to extremely fresh ingrediants coupled with creative flair, something my last 5 visits to Hungry Cat always had. We always sit at the Bar, it allows direct and personal interaction with the chef and and bartender. The new chef has cut the menu choices by 20%and was surly, telling us he got tired of preping the whole fresh fish so its gone. Was told the Stone crab claw special(ala Joe's of Miami) would be 3 pieces, but a single claw came and price was $30. Even NYC's finest wouldnt charge that much. Oysters there are great, but new attitude and smaller menu choices and portions bring Hungry Cat down to a tourist spot rather than a Local's favorite. Very sad, we loved this place, but its still worth a visit for the great cocktails.


Oyster heaven
Reviewer: April from Santa Barbara, CA
We wandered into the Hungry Cat last weekend for brunch and left pleasantly surprised. My fiance had the pug burger, and I had the cobb salad. Both were delicious, but what impressed me the most was the knowledge of the staff. Our waiter was great. He was charming, patient (we ask a lot of questions), and was like an oyster sommelier. Based on a couple of oysters we remembered liking, he chose two West Coast oysters to fill out our dozen, describing one of the oysters as "sweet and cucumbery," something that we honestly didn't understand until we tried it. Will have to try the Hungry Cat for dinner next!


meow!
Reviewer: amanda oh from Santa Barbara, CA
planned a birthday lunch for a friend for 12 and was pleasently surprised! the service was very attentive, i believe it was jesse? they kept refilling water, love that when someone does something before you think of it! and the food was pretty fresh and tasty. i had the oyster salad. could have been a little bigger lettuce portion but i think they want you to long for more! cant' wait to go back again and try some other yummy stuff. love the name of the restaurant! love my kitty and she's always hungrrrrrry! Purrrrrrrrrr


Still one of my favorites but service remains mediocre
Reviewer: Amy from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been dining at Hungry Cat since it opened in Santa Barbara April 2007 when (full disclosure) I was the first hostess there. At the time, the owners were up every weekend from LA making sure that it lived up to the hype, the temporary manager from LA was on the floor constantly, and the chef team from Chicago, led by Dylan (now at Hollister Brew?) was second to none. I still go in a few times a year because frankly I can't get enough of their oysters, their Roots salad, and their freshly muddled drinks. However, I've continued to observe the service going downhill since that first Spring and sadly my most recent visit confirmed this: Not even eye contact or a greeting from the bartender when I sat down, just a silent handing of the menus; servers and chefs arguing right next to us about the temperature of a plate that was sent back by a customer; no smiles or welcome greeting from the server/host when I walked in. The high point was, again, the food, and the one male chef who did make friendly conversation with my friend and I, even making menu suggestions on oyster choice. Will continue my tri-yearly visits but with my fingers crossed that HR gets it together and does some serious customer service training.


Tired restaurant
Reviewer: August Rush from Santa Barbara, CA
The Hungry Cat SB has the potential to be a great destination restaurant. Small, copper bars, farmers market driven seasonal menu and freshly squeesed juice drinks.Unfortunately, they can't keep a staff long enough. It's been a giant revolving door of chefs ever since it opened. I used to go in here for the happy hour on Fridays, but I didn't want to hear the tattooed hosts snyde remarks about a wait for seats. I really liked the menu last year, they seem to have scaled it down a lot this year. Even the raw bar selection. I wish them the best, and hope they can make it to open five years. Hopefully they can get a great chef to bring back to the high quality food and high caliber service the restaurant used to provide.


Really?!?
Reviewer: Jason from Santa Barbara, CA
Hey Donald from Santa Barbara, A greyhound IS vodka with Grapefruit juice! PS, the hungry cat doesn't carry "sewar" vodka like stoli, they only carry artisanal vodkas hand crafted by independent distillers If you're looking for craft cocktails, this is your place. If you want a rum and coke or a redbull and vodka go to applebee's


Consistently great food, drink, and service in my experience
Reviewer: Andrea from Santa Barbara, CA
I find myself at the Hungry Cat about once a month if not more. Their cocktails are among the best, if not THE best in town, and during happy hour you get a great deal at 1/2 off. The food and service has always been good too... it bums me out to see so many poor reviews, especially for service, when my experience has been the opposite. If you haven't been to HC, try it out and decide for yourself.


You'd better not arrive too hungry...
Reviewer: Ron from Santa Barbara, CA
...unless you're willing to pay dearly to satisfy your appetite. The price range listed here ($10-$20??) needs an update. All the entrees were well above the range indicated in this restaurant guide. Service was okay, food was fair not great, but I really expect more for this kind of money. $40 for three cold crab claws? $28 for two tiny medallions of sea bass on top of a tiny scoop of rice, with artfully arranged vegetable(s)? And the cocktails were good, but skimpy on the liquor and carefully measured from a shot pourer. The place is trendy and busy, and it has a big-city vibe in a small town, so I can see why it does well, but for me, once is enough for this place.


veins in shrimp are okay according to Hungry Cat
Reviewer: Cynthia from Santa Barbara, CA
I live in SB and have been going to the Hungry Cat since it opened. I've had some great meals there in the past, so I was shocked and disappointed when I bit into a peeled shrimp and tasted the dirty grit of the vein. There are two types of shrimp (you peel and already peeled. I paid extra for the peeled ones, which are normally deveined - I've ordered them many times). The other shrimp on the plate still had the black vein intact (the others had been been deveined). I told the waiter and manager about this and they both laughably argued that serving the shrimp with the vein in it is perfectly okay "It's normal," they said. When I protested that the vein is the digestive track and contains waste, the waiter said, "It's not poop, it's seaweed." The waiter was argumentative and rude. I've worked in restaurants and for catering companies for years and have never served shrimp with the veins in them. No, they don't make you sick, but they don't taste or look good. Hard to imagine why they would defend this practice with such vehemence, esp. when the rest of the shrimp had been deveined. It was obviously sloppy prep and instead of just bringing me a few new shrimp, they treated me as if I was an idiot. Seaweed indeed! Shrimp don't even eat seaweed! So if you go, make sure to ask for the shrimp without the veins.


great happy hour. period.
Reviewer: Scott from Santa Barbara, CA
oh what fun we had. stiff drinks that don't taste like joe's but leave your head as woozy as a plushy, overstuffed mattress from the 80s. service is almost laughable -- don't you love stuck up young people who think that they will soon be the cat's true meow!!! lol. flashdance for the new millennium. (for the constructive part i would add, just be customer-friendly. that's all. act like you care a little. not too much, but a little. seriously. you are there to serve us. that's what your job is) but you can't beat their half-priced drinks. seriously. these. are. delicious. drinks. made. for. the. gods.


Make a reservation!
Reviewer: Brian from Santa Barbara, CA
Tara, you showed up to a busy restaurant with 5 people on a Saturday. It's a tiny restaurant. Make a reservation or at least call ahead.


Rude Host
Reviewer: Tara from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I eat here pretty regularly and often recommend it to out-of-town guests and local friends. The food is usually very good, some of my favorite in town and of course, the best cocktails in SB. The service is always spotty and I agree with some of the other reviewers, that we are often made to feel that we are bothering them by eating at their restaurant. We usually just try to laugh it off and witness how rude the bartender, waiter, host can actually be. But during our most recent visit (and quite possibly our last), we stopped in at 9:15 on a Saturday night to see how long the wait would be. The place was fully seated but there will only 2 people waiting outside so we thought we might have a chance. I asked the host how long the wait would be for a table of 5. He said "yeah, that's not going to happen" and walked away!!!!!! Really? When he came back he said the exact same thing again. Honestly, have never experienced this level of unprofessionalism and rudeness before and we probably won't be going back until they hire a more frienldy face up front to greet customers.


Atmosphere: Sardine-like, Food: Not a bang for the buck
Reviewer: Sarah from Santa Barbara, CA
My boyfriend and I went there on a week night. We had never dined previously and thought that the service was quick and friendly; which was a surprise from all the horrible customer service reviews. The food wasn't out of this world, and for the price it definitely wasn't. We ended up with nearly a $200 bill between the both of us. I had a salad and an appetizer. My boyfriend had (I believe Halibut) or something close to that, with an appetizer. We both had 2 drinks. I don't plan on going there again when there is so many more restaurants that trump this place, but it was worth the one time.


Atmosphere: Sardine-like, Food: Not a bang for the buck
Reviewer: Sarah from Santa Barbara, CA
My boyfriend and I went there on a week night. We had never dined previously and thought that the service was quick and friendly; which was a surprise from all the horrible customer service reviews. The food wasn't out of this world, and for the price it definitely wasn't. We ended up with nearly a $200 bill between the both of us. I had a salad and an appetizer. My boyfriend had (I believe Halibut) or something close to that, with an appetizer. We both had 2 drinks. I don't plan on going there again when there is so many more restaurants that trump this place, but it was worth the one time.


favorite brunch spot
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
While the Hungry Cat might be heaving with trendoids at night, the brunch on the weekend is both mellow and sublime. I may only come a handful of times a year, but every time the food and service have been perfect. I came here for brunch this past Sunday, sat at a 2-top and shared a Greyhound Proper with my friend. We had Natura fizzy water, which our waitress automatically topped up anytime she saw us running low. I had the cobb salad, which was one of the freshest I've ever had, mainly because it was not drowned in the thick, bottled, blue cheese dressing that's turned me off of cobb salads at other restaurants. The peeled segments of grapefruit and orange were also a nice touch. My vegetarian friend got the strata, with shaved fennel, arugala, and beautiful fluffy eggs. Our waitress wholly approved of the strata and we cannot blame her, it really was delicious. I am loving all the seasonal fennel turning up on local dishes around town, and not had it as a breakfast item until now. It's really good! This restaurant has beautiful light around lunchtime, and brightens up the dark wood tables and copper bar. It's a pleasure coming here for brunch. I hope I make it back soon to get the strata all for myself before fennel goes out of season.


Horrible Experience
Reviewer: Wissam from Santa Barbara, CA
The two of us came in, sat at the bar and decided to start with just a few drinks. Two dirty martinis were ordered. Grey goose was requested, however instead we received "top shelf" vodka that tasted like rubbing alcohol. The shots for the martini's were carefully measured out as we watched the bartender with the small measuring glass. The martinis were doused with salt I felt like I was drinking from the sea. To top that, the "martini" glasses looked like port glasses! The bartender had little knowledge about the wine, beer, or liquor. Bad experience and at 12 dollars a martini.. give me a break. Great Ambiance we had a good little appetizer but please work on the service!


service is everything
Reviewer: Brian Whitney from Ojai, Cal.
When I go to a restaurant a drink had better be on the table within 5 minutes. People in the restaurant business don't understand that. At the SB Hungry Cat we waited 25 minutes for a drink (12-26-09). The whole socializing thing includes a drink for 90 percent of the patrons. GET A DRINK ON THE TABLE!!! Guess what? You'll make more money, GEE... what a concept... Then my dinner didn't come. Fourteen people at the table and I'm the only one not eating... Unreal. No drinks, no food. My grandson's hamburger was good but we had to share it. Never again...


Best restaurant in S.B.
Reviewer: Brian from Santa Barbara, CA
We went to The Hungry Cat (again) last night and everything was terrific. Great food, great service and the drinks are killer. If you can get a seat this is truly a hidden gem.


Caviar with a side of misery
Reviewer: Madeline Black from Santa Barbara, CA
At first when we arrived we were hopeful- adorable atmosphere, perfect cocktails & interesting menu. When asked to describe the difference between 2 types of crab our distracted waiter sighed and attempted to explain with absolutely no interest. The answer was not satisfying. Throughout the entire experience we felt as if we were unwelcome and perhaps even doing something wrong. It was as if they wanted us out in order to fill the tables but simultaneously had no interest in filling tables. The atmosphere does have a metropolitan feel rare in SB. Perhaps the entire wait staff was having a bad night but the service was truly abyssmal. Everyone in our party agreed.


Best drinks in town!
Reviewer: Cassandra from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been to the hungry cat many times, itís one of my favorite places to go for happy hour and because of that Iím probably more familiar with their drinks and liquor list than I should be! I recently went to one of their wine dinners where they prepared a tasting menu to pair alongside a featured local winery. The food was impeccable. I enjoyed oysters 3 ways, crab salad with blood orange slices and roasted beets, and charred kampachi, and that was just the beginning! I invited one of my friends without realizing she had a shellfish allergy. The chef completely accommodated her and made sure her meal was just as enjoyable as mine. One of the things I enjoy most about this restaurant is the fact that they only carry lesser known spirits, combining those with their fresh squeezed juices makes their drinks some of the best and most interesting in town. I was a little put off on my first visit when I couldnít have the Stoli and cranberry I order everywhere else, but Iím glad they didnít have it because it forced me to try something new and different, which is what seems to be hungry catís specialty. Donaldís review below confuses me because Iím nearly positive they donít actually carry Stoli, at least theyíve never had it in all of the times Iíve been there. Also, the drink is called a Greyhound Proper, and it doesnít have a sugar rimÖ I would know, itís my favorite drink. Iím not sure what you were served, or what you thought you were served, or who you think the manager is there but I would suggest you go back and give it another try, maybe read their list of spirits this time and try listening to the staff.


Pricey, but totally worth it.
Reviewer: J.D. from Santa Barbara, CA
My girlfriend and I stumbled in here recently just looking for a good happy hour but ended up staying for dinner. The drinks are amazing and unique, and the food held up to the hype. We don't eat red meat, so this spot is a dream come true. Our waiter was fantastic and recommended a great and strangely affordable greek wine, and it seemed that even the busser knew more about the menu than some servers at other restaurants. The only negative comment I have about this place is that you dine in close quarters with other patrons. Needless to say, I'm impressed and I will return.


I still cannot believe what happened
Reviewer: Donald from Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I and friends have dined here four times. First time: 5 stars food and service; that was when they first opened around two years ago. Last time was a few months ago, but I have to tell this story. Four of us walked in and sat at the bar. My friend ordered a Stoli and Grapefruit; I ordered the same. Fresh juice, well mixed: perfect. We were eventually seated at our table and after a little while I said to the waiter, "I'll have another of the same, Stoli and Grapefruit." The waiter came back ten minutes later and said, "you had a Greyhound Perfect." I said, "No, I had a Stoli and Grapefruit, so if that's what you call a Greyhound Perfect, that's what I'll have." He came back with a swishy looking drink with sugar around the glass edge, and a sugar swizzle and a different glass (smaller): not a Stoli and Grapefruit. I called him back: "what's this?" "That's what you ordered." I said take it away. By this time the I and the rest of the party were aghast but chuckling. I went to the bartender and said, "please mix me what I had before." He remembered and did. I sat down. The manager came over and said,"you ordered a Greyhound Perfect." I said, "no I didn't." I asked the waiter why the manager came over. (His reply was classic). "To make sure to got what you ordered." It went on, the whole table was hysterical, the waiter stood there like an oak. The manager twitted around us like a mosquito. I did manage to get my Stoli and Grapefruit from the waiter. The bill came stating: Greyhound Perfect, $12. The price was $10 for the S&G. I will never go back. This was the most ridiculous restaurant encounter I have ever had. What happened to the original, wonderful staff? This was, for a few months our favorite restaurant. Please improve.


Wonderful restaurant that continues to grow on you
Reviewer: Candace from Santa Barbara, CA
My boyfriend and I dine here often, as it is my favorite restaurant for cocktails. At first he wasn't convinced, but over time he has become a believer in not only the drinks, but the food as well. The cocktails are unmatched anywhere else in the city nor are the peel and eat shrimp, which they so nicely peel for you. For those that haven't eaten here, they make all of their drinks with infused alcohol and fresh juices. Service has definitely gotten better. They recently hired a new manager and I can tell the difference. He is often the person who greets us, and always remembers us. The only negatives we have experienced is that it is a tad pricey and their beer selection is somewhat wanting. Overall I highly recommend. P.S. They've just begun a Happy Hour.


Excellent Food and Service
Reviewer: Kellie from Santa Barbara, CA
August 19, 2009. My husband and I walked to this restaurant as a recomendation from the concierge at the Canary Hotel. We did not have a reservation, so we were seated at the side along the window near the kitchen door. They were very nice and our waiter told us it was his favorite place to sit because it was quiet. He was right. Throughout the meal our water glasses were filled as well as our wine and it was done without interrupting our conversation. The food was excellent; Alaskan King crab claws, and lobster. The staff was pleasant and we were treated very well. It was our first time to Santa Barbara and we really enjoyed watching the people go by while we dined. The evening was perfect. We will make reservations for our next visit and will request the same seating along the long window. We have moved here and look forward to Hungry Cat again.


Service marginally better - they are listening?
Reviewer: jinelle from Santa Barbara, CA
As a long time on-again off-again Hungry Cat patron, I have liked their food and often hated their service attitude but was willing to give it another chance and am happy to report that maybe things are slightly improving.

There is still a front door attitude that is inappropriate in the hospitality industry, but at least they are more low-key in their attentions rather than aggressively trying to sell-up the moment you sit down. They even offered tap water as a choice which has to be a first instead of sneering which pricy bottled water did you want in order to start running up the bill. I hope they keep this up and let the patron make their own choices rather than being told to try something else instead of what they originally choose, which always cost more.

The place was slowly filling up and there were a number of noisy bar patrons and enough loud music to give the place a buzz. They are finding their niche and they could increase it with this more considerate approach to service. It is really okay to make diners happy rather than feel harassed or insulted.

The food was off its mark that night, but still quite tasty. Pug Burger now comes with fries rather than onion rings and is now up to $16, very pricy for a burger but it is good. They need to stop skimping on the blue cheese because this is what made it such a signature menu item, but I am willing to believe it could have been just and off-night for that particular cook.

Yes, I will return. Love that PugBurger. And happy to report they are softening a bit into being a friendlier Santa Barbara restaurant, rather than being a hard-edged LA one. They deserve to be encouraged to continue in this direction. It doesn't hurt to like your customers, rather than cop an attitude against them.


Another vote to upgrade the service......
Reviewer: Karen from Santa Barbara, CA
My sister and I had brunch here yesterday. We came after what I would assume would be prime brunch time (around 1:45). There was only one other table filled when we ordered. I just could not believe the food could be as good as the service was bad. The waiter acted disinterested when he served us...made me feel like I was bothering him. I didn't get the drink I ordered until after my meal arrived ...and when he brought the cream for my sister's coffee the creamer was so full he spilled it on the table. He did not even take it back to empty it a bit so we could use it without also spilling cream on the table. Too bad, the food was really good. If I go again maybe I will try eating at the bar....also before it get's busy...I don't want to imagine what the service must be like when there is a crowd.


Service intervention required
Reviewer: jimstoic from Santa Barbara, CA
Though the selection is small, the food is good, from the seafood platter (oysters, two kinds of clam, two kinds of crab, lobster, urchin, roe) to the lemon parfait (lemon curd, whipped cream, and sugar cookie). My one request, in terms of the menu, is for a fish with a cream sauce. I've been there twice. The first time was not long after they opened, when they were packed all the time and didn't accept reservations. This time we had reservations, and the place was not packed. The service was inappropriate for a restaurant of this caliber. First, the waiter mocked one of my party's use of the word "genre" to describe a category of seafood. Second, we had to ask three times to get the table wiped down after the very messy seafood platter. Finally, when we asked to split the check across three credit cards, the waiter asked whether we'd written down how we wanted it divided. While that's not an inappropriate request, he asked as if we were foolish for not knowing he would want that--and he hadn't provided us a pen in the first place. Splitting checks is not unusual. There were only two numbers to remember, as the third amount was "the rest." And I have never, in the U.S. or abroad, had a waitperson ask me to write down how much to charge to each card. Most of these matters could have been addressed by a simple attitude adjustment by the waiter. There was no need to mock anyone. And the waiter should have written down the breakdown himself. Finally, the place seemed a little dingy. The music was loud and grungy--not music to eat by. And there were no towels in the bathroom. These matters--and the fact that it took three requests to get the table wiped down--might have been addressed by having an extra person on staff. I don't rule out going again. The food is that good. But I may wait until I hear from others that the service has improved.


Too bad - food great but overall experience poor
Reviewer: Kristin from Santa Barbara, CA
The food at the Hungry Cat is great. Interesting, well prepared dishes, fresh fish specials, handy and charming location, what could go wrong? Just about everything else. I have been there three times now and the service has always been snobby. I get the feeling that I am not young or beautiful enough to get good service. But everyone in my group felt the same way - and some of them are younger and more beautiful than me. The music was blasting, the table was left dirty, the waiter acted as if he was doing me favors. The bathroom had no towels and the trash was overflowing. If this was a diner or taco stand I wouldn't blink, but these aren't taco stand prices and I expect more. A more welcoming feeling, attention to detail, and better service. Too bad.


The Cat is great!
Reviewer: Sara from Santa Barbara, CA
I've dined at the Cat many times, for lunch, brunch, dinner....and have always left happy. Love the atmosphere. Have always had a great waiter and great food, served in a timely, friendly, fun manner. Tis a perfect SB place. (Not all SB'ers want a burger all the time!!!) The oysters are always spectacular, and it's great fun to have the fresh uni. And, OMG, the chocolate bread pudding is masterful!! The H. Cat rocks.


love this place
Reviewer: Tina from Santa Barbara, CA
I have eaten here and had drinks over 15 times in the last year. I love the drinks (have only ever had one that didn't hit the spot), and I love their happy hour -- 3 to 6, Tues-Sun. Last week I had a delicious tuna melt-style sandwich that was lovely and subtle (fresh tuna was poached in olive oil) there with a perfect glass of wine --recommended by the great server -- for lunch. Very tasty, and I love their green salad side. A few weeks back I had a fantastic Ramos Fizz there at brunch, and we've gotten great fish there for appetizers and as main courses. Additionally, once we got uni so fresh there the spines of its shell were still moving. YUM.


Great Lunch!
Reviewer: Liz from Santa Barbara, CA
I just had lunch at Hungry Cat and I have to say the food was great! Portions are perfectly sized and the food is flavorful. I will come back here again for lunch and would like to try dinner as well. My only complaint, it was way too cold inside.


Valentine's Day Review updated
Reviewer: Mrs. G from Santa Barbara, CA
Well I guess I should have probably waited a little befire writing my review about the valentines day menu. I wrote the hungry cat on their website as well because I felt very passionate about sharing my view with them about that night ( I didn't think they would respond but they did it right away!) and they offered to sent me a gift card and apologized. I think that is really nice! For me the best part is if they will re-think this menu in the future and make it really special :0).


VALENTINE'S DAY WALLET MASSACRE @ THE HUNGRY CAT
Reviewer: Mrs. G from Santa Barbara, CA
The Hungry Cat offered a special valentines menu, the only thing special about that dish : Still feeling especially STUPID being ripped off like this. They offered a price fixed menu ( $ 55/ $ 75- with wine pairing) that included one appetizer, one entree and one dessert to share with your partner. Everything else on the menu like the raw seafood items etc. had to be ordered/paid seperately. The valentines menu offered no special dishes. I was told by the waiter who was especially unfriendly that night that the whole fish on the entree list was also an item one could only share with a partner and since my partner had his eye on the Pug Burger I wasn't able to chose that option. On a regular night at the hungry cat my husband would have paid $ 6 for the roots farm lettuces,shallots, avocado, egg and pecorino salad appetizer, $ 16 for the Pug Burger and 4 dollars for a half dessert if he had to share it with me like that night. This adds up to 29 Dollars on Valentines day he paid 55. I'm still really baffled how they can get away with it. I'm not tight with money and I am absolutely willing to pay the price good food has but for no reason to extra charge 26 dollars seems ridiculous. I could have understood if we would have gotten a glass of champagne or anything special but there was nothing special whatsoever about this meal. His burger was even a bit burned. I had a cauliflower crab meat soup that was okay but the mushrooms had a burned after taste and the halibut dish in broth that tasted more bland than anything my grandmother would get at the old folks home. The dessert we split was a Mayer lemon parfait, and so rich and sweet that my teeth still hurt just by thinking about it. We ordered some bread on the side that was also very burnt and of course extra charged. This wasn't our first time at the hungry cat - we had some really good experiences before there. The very first time the food was OUTSTANDING! After that it went a little bit down taste wise but still good enough for us to come back. SAdly after the Valentine Wallet massacre there it's highly unlikely that we'll ever go back. My advice for the hungry cat would be, if you offer a "SPECIAL VALENTINES" menu than the heck make it special and not just over charge for regular food. I also wondered about single people that came that night, did they only get a half dessert as well? Were they not allowed to get the whole fish dish by themselves? Looking back I cannot believe I didn't realize the rip off right away and that most people in there didn't either. I guess being in love really makes you blind and vulnerable - which cannot even be excused by a bad economy to steal some extra cash from loyal customers.


Always excellent. And open for BRUNCH!
Reviewer: lemonjelly from santa barbara, ca
I've been here twice for brunch, and it's becoming one of my favorites. A friend once told me that the difference between a breakfast and an extraordinary breakfast is about $5. The Hungry cat is a perfect example of that. Pay about $13-15 and you'll have a brunch meal prepared with fine, fresh ingredients - it's a meal you'd live to eat, not one you eat to live. I've tried the confited yellowtail with poached egg and fried capers, the chorizo gravy with cornmeal biscuits and fried eggs, the dungeness crab scramble with avocado and creme fraiche, the cheeseplate with almonds and honey, and even the classic breakfast of bacon (their bacon is made in-house), eggs, potatoes. Really, all perfectly delicious. Throw in a couple sparklingly fresh cocktails, like the oro blanco margarita and I'm a happy gal. But wait, there's more. Service is so friendly, efficient, and spot on, I cannot criticize one single thing. They put their souls into the food and it shows. Maybe the evenings can be a scene, but brunch is mellow and pleasant. Sit at the counter and watch them prepare your food, it'll make you into a hungry cat.


Undecided
Reviewer: Rebecca from Santa Barbara, CA
To start off, the drinks were excellent, fresh and different, but IMO, overpriced. However, they have introduced a generous happy hour (5-7 Tues-Sun,50% off cocktails and draft beer) that we hadn't heard about until we saw the flyer attached to our bill and realized that our server had overcharged us. When my husband asked, the server was pretty condescending and told us to read the flyer again because it was only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. After correcting him, he was apologetic and fixed the bill. As for the menu, I'm not sure if it's seasonal or what but I wasn't very impressed. The menu wasn't clear. Appetizers were listed along with full portions with no indication as to portion size and if you're not an adventurous fish eater (I am but husband is not), the only option you have is the burger. I had a clams and chorizo dish with lots of yummy broth but only one piece of bread. In order to get more, I was told that I had to purchase the side for an additional $2 (and when I did, I only got two more pieces). Also, the clams were pretty gritty. My husband's burger had lots of potential but as he said "this is really more a work of art than an actual burger". The components were good but the burger was thick and the bun wasn't up to the challenge so it fell apart when you tried to eat it. In summary, while our meals were good and I'm glad that there is finally a fish restaurant in downtown SB that focuses on high quality fish in unique preparations none of our dishes were so good that I could classify them as unforgettable.


We left after 5 minutes
Reviewer: Mel from Santa Barbara, CA
Having been to Hungry Cat once before, we went again last night. The menu was totally unappealing and the waiter managed to appear quite arrogant in the 5 minutes that we spent there. Just one example: When I asked him whether the boiled shrimps were local, he replied that "there are no local shrimps and that's why we get them from Mexico." Noticing my German accent, he must have thought that I was a tourist. I replied that I get my fresh local shrimps at the Saturday farmer's market every week and that they are excellent, fresh catch of the day. He appeared not to believe me and just waved with an arrogant smile. We then had a brief discussion about the "braised cabbage, salted cod, apple" flatbread and the guy was just weird and unpleasant, not helpful at all. After having stared at the unappealing menu for minutes, desperately trying to find something that we could order, we looked at each other and decided that's not where we wanted to dine. We sneaked out (glad not to have ordered drinks yet) and enjoyed an awesome dinner at Arigato instead. I don't think we will ever go back to Hungry Cat, which is sad, because the interior and overall atmosphere is appealing.


Good Food, Rude Service
Reviewer: Bethany from Santa Barbara, CA
I have to agree with the review posted 10/9/08. HC staff definitely do quite a bit of upselling! I have found the food to be fresh and delicious along with the yummy cocktails. However, I DO NOT appreciate the pretentious attitude of the wait staff. In fact, some (hello, Brittany!!) are down right rude and snobbish. Our last visit we were told by the server that "other people" were waiting for our table. Our party had been there for a couple of hours, our bill was over $400 dollars, but there were other diners that had been there just as long. And there was only the one party waiting to be seated. Very annoying. Have not returned to Hungry Cat since and doubt that I will.


Hungry Cat on 9th life?
Reviewer: Jinelle from Santa Barbara, CA
Love the Pug Burger here and could eat it every night, but hate going in because at every step of the meal is the constant hard selling up to keep adding more and more items to already a pricy burger. They tried aggressively to sell us unlabled, unbottled mineral water in a carafe, a pricey hard liquor cocktail, higher priced beer than we chose from the menu and naturally a dessert we had not asked for. We wanted just the burgers and the beer, yet we had to turn them down for mineral water, cocktails, more expensive beer and dessert. We wanted dinner. They wanted to strike gold. A better style might be to let the customer get what they ask for instead of "suggesting" what they don't want. It seemed like bullying and probably does work on the more faint-hearted. But I also bet they do not become regular customers. This is LA style dining, and it does not sell in Santa Barbara. We dine out for food; not for affect. This is all in staff training and projected budgeting which may still work in expense account LA, but the crowds were thin and the buzz was gone. Can you rework your selling-up format before it is too late and you turn everyone off for good? I would miss your PugBurger, but I hate having to run interference to get it.


Won't go back
Reviewer: Elizabeth from Santa Barbara, CA
Overrated. Exotic menue, ok food and overpriced. Service was slow and we felt like they didn't care if we were satisfied. The yellow tail dish had a distinctive taste of soap and after the server took it back we never got an apology or an inquiry from anyone about the problem with the food. To their credit they didn't charge us. But, it would have been nice to have been given a complemantary dessert or something.


Great Expectations Deflated
Reviewer: Chris Schwass from Santa Barbara, CA
We heard a lot of buzz re: Hungry Cat but found it lacking for our first dinner. The cocktail menu is extensive and provided the highlight of the meal, a lemonade Mojito-style drink. The three scallops were perfectly grilled but the succotash was bland. The Pug burger and onoin rings were saturated with grease, to the point that we could almost see through the bun. Too many good restaurants to deal with a bland or greasy meal. Also, service was slow.


Exotic food done right
Reviewer: Mr. Lee from Goleta
I love Hungry Cat! I think their selection of homemade cocktails are always inventive and delicious. The food is exceptional. I love the creativeness of the menu and always look forward to the menu items that I will encounter on my next meal there. I have to say, however, that the picture on the website does not do you justice; the ambiance at night is so warm and inviting. I recommend that you post a photograph of the great atmosphere at night, as opposed to the harsh lighting of the morning sun. Otherwise, wonderful!


Eh..
Reviewer: Ella from Santa Barbara, CA
First of all, I think it's kind of ridiculous to make a restaurant where nothing on the menu is not fishy. I don't mean not fish, but this was very fishy fish. I couldn't eat anything except the Kobe burger, which was pretty good but small. I was disappointed with the service, which could not keep up with how many people were in the restaurant. Will not be returning.


Oysters
Reviewer: Julie psarophagis from Santa Barbara Ca.
I just moved to Santa Barbara from up north, I am a Oyster fanatic and found the hungry cat right up to my expectations. Top service, exellant oyster, great service at the bar.


Finally! The Return of Real Food!
Reviewer: Jonathan Weber from Santa Barbara
Granted, The Hungry Cat serves unusual food: organic, seasonal, LOCAL produce and LOCAL fresh fish. Wow, what a concept! Every bite that you take is guaranteed to be of the finest quality, personally hand-prepared and cared for by one of the hottest and talented up-and-coming young chefs in the nation. This stellar chefing crew headed by Dylan, Michael and Pat represent the fruitition of the world's fastest growing food movement - the freshest possible local ingredients prepared with Old World patience and technique to create mightily flavorful, healthy bits of culinary magnificence that won't leave you with that bogged-down, gut-busted feeling. If you don't care about this kind of food movement, go to Aldo's and get yourself a two-pound plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Otherwise, for all the rest of us, this restaurant is unmatched in spirit and flavor and hands down . . . the best restaurant of its kind in Santa Barbara.


Over-rated/underwhelmed
Reviewer: Gary from Santa Barbara. CA
Despite great anticipation, we were greatly dissappointed. The Cat is trying way too hard to be unique. Questions about combinations were allayed by our waitress...but, I'm sorry the veal with tuna roumalade appetizer drenched in olive oil was marginal at best. The fresh clams in what was essentially chorizo chilli had lost any chance to have flavor. The yellow tail was good but not exceptional. The wine list while exotic was overpriced. We left the Still Hungry Cat reasonably certain we would not return.


I agree with Vanessa...
Reviewer: Allison from SB, CA
The portions are big enough to feed say...a hungry cat? So at $20+ a plate, it comes out to something like $4-5 a bite. Also, when I ordered a margarita, I was told that the house special was a tangerine margarita and while there was a huge bowl of limes on the bar, they would not serve me a traditional margarita. The crackers being tossed on the table with no explanation was kind of vulgar - I thought it was just our server but apparently not...I like the atmosphere and I'll go back but it's definitely not in heavy rotation.


Best seafood in SB (aside from the ocean)
Reviewer: Weber from Santa Barbara
The food is amazing!!! the monkfish is hands down the best piece of fish i have ever had, and the grilled flatbread with veal and fried capers is addictive. The drinks are equally appreciated, fresh squeezed (and from local fruit growers) to order. The service is friendly, and the dining room is crowded but full of happy diners. I think that maybe the negative reviews could be a result of either illegitimate expectations or an "off" night, as the Cat offers Santa Barbara's finest fish dishes.


Totally over-rated. It won't last
Reviewer: Vanessa from santa barbara, CA
So i went today. It was way overpriced and overrated for what you get. food was good, but very small portions for price. Service was sooo lame from out waiter. We recieved our appetizer before our wine. He insulted us b/c I asked about the Hhour app. He isulted us we ordered a mediocre bottle of wine. He was just totally concerned about making the check high to get a high tip. We go out to dinner almost every other night and are regular out to dinner people. This does not even compare to places like Ca' Dario. Do not go here! You will be totally dissapointed with the service and food is "oK". The portions are bite size. My opa fish was small cut pieces of smoked opa. I came home and made dinner as i was still hungry. The opa tasted like Trader Joe's smoked salmon. This is a just another attempt in SB to make a good restaurant. It had the big trendy hoorah when it first opened but it won't last as it is inconsistent and full of incompentent staff that simple has a vision but lacks what it takes to trully make it.


ME-YOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reviewer: Candace from Santa Barbara
Always amazing! For those who missed New Years Eve dinner at the Hungry Cat---you missed a great dinner, great people to dine with and great service. Lobster entree w/ porkbelly completed the pri fix menu, not to mention that killer souflee. Emma is a wonderful server, and Kat, an perfect hostess! Only one request....offer to-go menu!


Wonderful drinks, Overrated food, Abysmal service.
Reviewer: Kristen J from Santa Barbara
Being fans of the owners' other endeavour, Lucques, we'd been looking forward to visiting the Hungry Cat for quite a while. After being promised repeatedly by the hostess that our table was "coming right up" we had found ourselves waiting for over an hour, and though the hostess was apologetic we felt more than a little frustrated at their disorganization. We finally got our table and then waited.. and waited.. Our waitress appeared, realized she had forgotten to bring us the right menus, and disappeared again. When she finally came back with the proper menus (by this point we'd been there for almost a half hour without anyone even coming to fill our water glasses) we ordered an assortment of dishes to share and some drinks and waited.. and waited.. and waited. The waitress returned again to throw some packets of oyster crackers on the table and disappeared again without explanation. After an overeager busboy finally came by and topped up our sparkling water with tap water, we started to wonder what was going on with the waitstaff. We finally got our drinks - the reviews about the drinks aren't wrong, they were great - and we were feeling a little better about things, but then the food came. My husband took a few bites of the flatbread and couldn't finish - he said it tasted like cat food. We tried to choke down the lobster with pork belly - so promising - but every other bite was a nasty surprise of pure salt. We left, still hungry, and realized that perhaps the name was apropos. Maybe this was just an off night, but this was by far our worst experience at a restaurant in Santa Barbara, and the price tag will discourage us from returning, even for the drinks. My only suggestion, should you choose to visit the Hungry Cat, is to have a lot of those delicious drinks first, so you'll be too tipsy to notice the horribly overseasoned food and the inexperienced and inattentive waitstaff.


Consistent
Reviewer: Kelly from Santa Barbara
I have eaten here for both dinner and brunch, twice. Consistent food, portions are not too big, flavor is great. The oranges are squeezed as soon as you order a glass of juice. The service has been friendly, not always super fast but that's what you get in a busy place. I am a big fan! My only suggestion is to offer more menu items!


Hungry Cat is the best in SB
Reviewer: Sharon from Santa Barbara CA
We have dined there several times and each time has been fabulous. Can't beat the seafood platter. The homecured salmon with homemade saurkraut is out of this world. The atmosphere is okay too. The service is a little iffy, but what do you expect in a "college town" (Santa Barbara is not San Francisco). This has become our favorite Santa Barbara restaurant.


nice new high end restaurant
Reviewer: greta from oxnard
We enjoyed a very nice dinner here on Wednesday night. Service was very attentive, but not overbearing. Food was excellent. It's not inexpensive, nor are the portions huge, but it's just really well-prepared, fresh, and delicious. Nice cocktails and a good wine list. What more can you ask?


Overpriced and Bland
Reviewer: Gretchen from Santa Barbara
After stopping by here for a drink and salad after work, I'm pretty disappointed. Though the service was friendly and prompt, the drink "special" I ordered was not only mediocre and small, but also more expensive than the salad, which was completely bland. I basically spent $25 bucks for a head of lettuce w/ a little bit of avocado and a glass of ice with a splash of alcohol.


The Cat's Meow
Reviewer: Jonathan from Santa Barbara, CA
Ok, I couldn't resist the terrible pun. We finally ate here after having lots of people tell us how good it was. And, the food was very good. All the staff were very friendly. It is a little pricey so we won't be eating there all that often. We had a drink at the back bar while waiting for a table which worked out ok.


Strange "review" below.....
Reviewer: roger from Santa Barbara
So a couple of squeamish diners go to a seafood restaurant, complain because the menu has seafood on it, order a hamburger at a seafood restaurant, complain again, call two of the most ancient and popular vegetables on the earth "strange and trendy", Complain that if the seafood restaurant does not change its menu to reflect the reviewer's burger and fries taste, it won't be here long--somehow that adds up to "Way too L.A."? Well, my experience was way different, from the service, to the ambiance, to the delicious SEAFOOD, all went marvelously well on our recent visit- a welcome addition to the scene! Burger joints already abound.


Way Too L.A.
Reviewer: Kathy from Santa Barbara, CA
The waitress was very pleasant and gave good service. We ordered the burgers, because for a non-sushi restaurant there is way too much raw fish on the menu. The burger that was ordered cooked to well-done was pink inside, and when shown and asked to have it cooked more, instead of taking it, the waiter got defensive, describing the wood fire oven as an excuse. It took another 20 minutes to have it cooked to order. We also waited at least 40 minutes for our food to arrive the first time. Most of the side dishes are strange and "trendy" such as cabbage and lima beans. I won't go back and this restaurant won't be here long unless they change the menu.


A Great Addition to the SB Dining Scene
Reviewer: JB from Santa Barbara
The food at Hungry Cat is great. It's very fresh and local if possible. Lots on interesting preparations, but it's obvious that many of the recipes have been thought out and/or refined as they "work" and the food tastes great. The flavors are balanced, but there. This is a great place to introduce people to "Uni" for the first time and the cold seafood platters are great. The "crudo" section of the menu may be the highlight, but the larger cooked plates have been excellent as well. The space is cramped and lively, and yes the people watching. For better or worse this place seems to be filled with wannabe important LA types that seem to have followed the cat up from Hollywood. Depending on how you look at it they are either funny or annoying, take your pick. The service is about turning tables, but they take care of you and the space is really not conducive to a relaxing meal. Personally I like to sit at the bar. The worst thing though is the design of the menu. In an attempt to be "hip?" or who knows what, but it's confusing. There's no separation on the menu between the smaller crudo plates and the larger main courses. With a better layout I imagine diners would be less confused and receive what they had in mind. Same for the wine list. Keep the innovation to the food, not to the menu design. Overall, this place is buzzing and the food is the star. Nothing quite like in SB these days for the price. I'm getting hungry just thinking of it.


Finally a great place
Reviewer: shelley from santa barbara
I went there for my b-day shall i not tell you my age, but I am knowledgeable of great restraunts since I am from L.A. and I must tell you I have never had a bad meal there... My daughter had the lobster and fish and I had the whole fish with basmati rice, of course I did share it with my friend, YUMMY!!! I went on google to find the recipe for the bread pudding and this site came up so I thought to share with you how amazing the food is... Also it has quite the variety of people so if you are on a bad date its great for people watching, lol!!! Enjoy...


Fancy Feast
Reviewer: Mesa Nick from Santa Barbara, CA
This place is great. The service on my first visit was lacking but the food was outstanding so it merited a return visit. We have returned 3 times and have not been disappointed. It seems they have worked out the kinks in service. We have tried several different menu items and have been happy with almost every single dish. These flavor combinations and flare have simply not been available to Santa Barbara diners, at least not in my memory. The oyster selections have been exceptional. They offer the smaller, sweeter variaties that are hard to find her in SB. The cavier selection is divine, coupled with delicious mini-pancakes (blini's) and creme fresh, it is very tasty, I recommened the padle fish variety. The cocktail list is innovative and unique. The entree selections are as well. I would strongly suggest the clam/chorizo dish. It is served wiith a sofrito that is just the right leve of saltiness. To top it off, a piece of grilled bread with a delicious butter that is halfway melted and slowly melting into your clams and sofrito mixture. It's very good! Yes, the place is small, they only have one small bathroom, but that is what you would most likely find in culinary destinations like New York or San Francisco where this place seems to be plucked right out of. The dessert menu is only one item long, lucky for me, I like to finish a fine meal with a equally fine selection of cheeses accompanied by a nice glass of port. Hungry Cat, you are officially in my top 5 and on any given night could easily be my favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara. Please continue to lead by example.


I'll never eat here
Reviewer: Doreen from Santa Barbara, CA
I have read various reviews good and bad about this restaurant. I did not like reading about the lack of service towards customers, but I decided not to let that stop me when I decided to give a friend a gift certificate for her birthday. Today I went in around 5:00pm and asked the two gentlemen sitting at the bar if I could purchase a gift certificate. The one gentleman said, "Could I come back later because they were finishing up a meeting." I said, "No, I can't come back later." He said, "Could I come back tomorrow or give him a call and he could mail me the gift certificate." I left the restaurant and walked across the street to another restaurant where I was greeted with smiling faces. Within a few minutes I had my gift certificate and it was pleasant experience. I would not eat at the Hungry Cat because of their attitude and service. A customer comes in to spend money and gets turned away because they are busy with a meeting!! I'm sorry, I just can't imagine how it would be to eat there.


Delicious!!
Reviewer: Frank from Santa Barbara
Our first visit, weekday, about 6:00. Called to be put on the waiting list - got the welcome reply "come on down - we have plenty of open tables." Apparently the opening buzz has worn off. Most of the fellow diners were couples - and apparently single. Creative wine list (who dares put an Austrian red on a Santa Barbara wine list?) at reasonable prices. Very creative drinks list (I tried the cucumber martini - and will have it again!). The menu took a bit of study - the waiter pointed out that "salmon and below are entrees - above are more appetizer size" - gee thanks, why not put that on the menu? I had the corn chowder; she had the ahi with pomegranate seeds, pumpkin, persimmon, figs, red arugala and frisee. Both were large sized, very tasty, and very creative. Save room for the only dessert on the menu - a chocolate bread pudding with a brulee finish. Definitely one to return to - but not on a weekend!


Cat's Meow
Reviewer: Cam from Santa Barbara
What a fun little place! The drink specials are incredible and the service is great. The food is delicious (although a little on the salty side for my taste) but the portions are a bit small. Well worth a try if you've never been!


Amazing
Reviewer: Andrea from CA
The Hungry Cat is my favorite new restaurant in Santa Barbara. I recently moved away and although I am living in a big city with lots of amazing restaurants, I can't help but miss the fresh made cocktails and insanely delicious food served up at the HC. Give me a luke's lemonade and tuna tartare and I am a happy happy customer! I recommend sitting at the bar...the service is always friendly and you get the added bonus of watching the chef's work their magic!


WOW! What a Great Meal!!
Reviewer: Matthew from Santa Barbara, CA
We finally tried the Hungry Cat for the first time, after having walked by it several times. What a fantastic dining experience. It was tough trying to decide which of the many delicious sounding dishes we would pick. We finally agreed to share a whole Rock Cod that had been grilled and placed over Basmati rice, eggplant, figs, tomatoes, and almonds, with a chermoula (a wonderful marinade paste) smeared over it. We also shared a delicious salad of fresh greens and the perfect amount of dressing. The appetizer drink was a fig lemonade, with Old Grandad, that set the mood and tone of the rest of the meal. By the time we had finished picking the fish apart, we were full but needed to try the ONE dessert on the menu: the bread pudding, with chocolate sauce on the bottom and bruleed on top. Off the charts!! We were fortunate to have gotten there early enough to choose a window seat and enjoyed a nice meal while the place filled up with diners. We can't wait to eat there again.


Fantastic.
Reviewer: Jordan Downs from Santa Barbara
The Independent recently wrote an extensive review of the Hungry Cat and they hit the nail on the head. Teetering somewhere between a metropolitan atmosphere and tri-county fare, they are a huge success. The cocktails are local, the seafood local, and the atmosphere upbeat and city. Well done.


Delicous and Funky Fun!! Amazing Experience.
Reviewer: Huyen from Santa Barbara, CA
Party of Flavors in My Mouth! Me, my 2 best ladies and boyfriend arrived first and were immediately seated at the back bar for cocktails. I had their special of the evening, "The Plum" with fresh squezzed juices of all kinds and bourbon, and little chunks of sweet plums. Perfection. My friends had the Pimlico, a very strong & tropical-esque cocktail and a "Sundance" with Lillet Blanc, a soft white wine wiht juice and soda, very refreshing! We were seated at a great corner table for 6 about 25 mintues later, the rest of our party arrived and we began our ordering escapade. Yes, SOME, NOT ALL of the portions may be small, but always filling and with natural, intense, delicious seasonings and flavor. you get what you pay for, it's a seafood restaurant!! I had the Thresher Shark escebeche with cilantro and melon, pured for over 10 hours, with nice fat chunks..i wanted to order 2 more for myself it was soOo good!! My main course was the braised clams and homemade chorizo with sofrito and grilled bed topped with perfectly metled mozerella. I hated to share because I loved it so much,lol, but did and hogged the rest to myself! Great textures, colors, and of course yummy. My friends had the giant fried cod sandwhich, which she could not even finish, so if you are complaining about the price order that. The Heirloom tomatoes, wtih argula,buratta, and cibatta bread was fantastic too. The last thing ordred was the house made noodles, chantrelles, pancetta and tomatoes, also fantastic. My boyfriend ordered dessert for dinner along with his dirty martinis. Chocolate and bread pudding, seared with this crunchy caremel-esque topping was out of this world...I like how this place is managed, all the larger restaurants should take notes. They have a smaller establishment but had 2 managers, 2 hostesess, 2 cooks, 2 bus boys, and 2 bartenders and it did not feel overstaffed or suffocating at all, very streamlined and professional. Our waiter was nice, not too enthused about our crazy, giggly group, but the rest of the crew was on point. I wish I had more money to come here more often, but definitely an amazing treat when I can go


Disappointing experience
Reviewer: Mark from Santa Barbara
This restaurant was very disappointing. I feel I just wasted $70.00. I noticed that the restaurant was very crowded a month ago but when I went to try it at 8:00pm yesterday there was plenty of seating. Any restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara that has plenty of seating at 8:00pm is a red flag and I see why. The waitress was very good but the food took forever to be served. The pasta dish was watery. For the high prices for these meals it just can't be justified. I think its great they are trying something new in SB like this but the menu and service need fixing fast or this place will be history. This is more of a restaurant for those transplants from large metro cities that just can't adjust to SB lifestyle. This is not a restaurant for true Santa Barbarans. With some adjustment to the menu it might work but its much to pricey and portions to small. I wish them luck but for these prices there are some of the great standard places in town that are far superior.


Cramped quarters at the Cat
Reviewer: Annex from Santa Barbara
A friend and I came to have drinks at the cat around 5:30 on a weekday. Sat at the bar, the drinks were good: i had a mellon ball and my friend a glass of red wine. Pricey though: with tip for two drinks almost 25.00. Atmosphere: spartan urban bistro. The bartender was cute and nice. Attn: Manager: PLEASE remove one seat from the bar. My comment is on how packed in it was at the bar. We were squeezed in like sardines, at this was on a weekday before 6:00! I could see one poor fella eating his meal with his elbows by his sides. I would go back but not sit at the bar, want to try the food. Also because one of the chefs prep table was right in front of us, felt very closed in.


Excellent food, urban ambience, a bit pricey
Reviewer: Kaye Walters from Santa Barbara, CA
This was my first time dining at this bustling little downtown bistro. Even when calling 45 minutes in advance as recommended, we waited another 35 minutes at the bar once we got there. They are definitely enjoying the proverbial "Honeymoon Phase" so common to new restaurants in Santa Barbara! All cocktails come with fresh squeezed juice, as signified by the bowls of fresh fruit lined down the copper bar (nice touch), but the wines by the glass are 20%+ overpriced. It took a while to get our food (I had the beet salad, then seabass), but it was perfectly prepared with superb flavor pairing! (Small portions a la carte.) The waitress was friendly, but a bit overworked (due to understaffing) and forgot us a few times. The urban ambience with large windows looking out on the corner streets is refreshing for S.B., and if you like crowded little eateries with top dollar fare, you'll probably enjoy the Hungry Cat. (Dinner for two with wine, salad, tip $130).


Awesome
Reviewer: Andrew from Santa Barbara, Ca
I have been wanting to try this place since it opened and when I finally got the chance to I was impressed. We arrived last night at about seven and i enjoyed a tangy tangerine margarita while we waited for our table. We waited about twenty minutes but when you are in good company and in a amazing atmosphere this does not matter. The wait was well worth it for the experience. We were seated at a table in the corner of the resturant by the window and almost instantly there was a server there who went through the menu with us explaining what was raw, what was cooked, what the fish of the day was, and which were his favorites on the menu. We started off with the platter and took the tour with clams, two types of oysters and a motley of other delicious seafood. This was a great way to start out. It was fun having to deshell the prawns and sucking on crab legs and claws. I found this is a good way to get to know your date. As the experience continued my drink was always full and my empty plates always cleared. For an entree, which was timed perfectly ariving about a minute after we finished the platter, I enjoyed the braised clams with in-house made chorizo, Amazing, and my date let me try her tastebud tingling seabass. The Hamachi sashimi was like a party in my mouth. As to those who did not enjoy the fact of the close quarters I for one never felt as if my space was invaded. A resturant of this calaber should be crowded. The decor was really cool with all the polished copper and the music was great. This place is a little slice of heaven. Thanks mike you are doing great really enjoyed it.


Great Food, Small Portions, Poor Service, Way too noisy!
Reviewer: Henry from Santa Barbara
Food was unique, interesting, tasty. Portion were small. Service was poor- food delivered by someone who tossed it on table and tossed off insincere "enjoy" and left. Crowded and noisy table set up. Felt like it was coach on an airline who were seeing how many more seats they could cram in!


Great Food!
Reviewer: Andi from Montecito
I too researched this restaurant and waited and went for the first time last week. I have been so desperate for good food in this town and I didnít want to have my expectations too high. I called first to get the lowdown on the ďno reservationĒ policy. They told me to call 45 minutes before we want to dine or come in 45 minutes before you want to dine Ė odd policy, so we just showed up at 6ish and hoped for the best and we were seated in 5 minutes. A little early to eat, but l was desperate for good food. We ordered immediately and waited a long, long time. The oysters were fabulous. I had the soft-shell crab with the bean salad and it too was fabulous. I noticed about 7:30 when our main course was being served that there were several empty tables Ė so the whole reservation thing is puzzling. The waitress did apologize for the long wait and explained there was a backlog in the kitchen. The music was awful and the acoustics bad. Maybe no music would work. When you have to yell over loud awful music it kind of spoils the dining experience. Too bad the place isn't big enough to have the party animals on one end of the room and the serious diners on the other side -just a suggestion. We didnít care so much about the fancy drinks, as I am a foodie and the food was the draw. The wine selection wasn't huge, but very satisfying. Everything was seasoned perfectly and nothing was over salted. We will dine there again this week. We didnít have the pasta with morels, but it looked delicious and I hope it is on the menu this week. And as a bonus, the prices were very fair. Fabulous food!


bistro SB has waited a long time for
Reviewer: Russ from santa barbara
Santa Barbara has a lot of high end restaurants that serve mediocre food. I always crack up when people call this a "food" town. Most of the truly distinctive restaurants here are the less expensive ones, most of the more expensive ones survive on tourists and diners who don't know any better. Service in SB is often inexcusably, shockingly bad, even at nicer restaurants. Hungry Cat is different, and easily the best restaurant in town now, especially for the price. Too many good qualities to list, but it's everything a quality restaurant should be, great euro-bistro vibe, really exceptional service by experienced and gracious servers, and the food is prepared with passion by real chefs, not listless grunts brought in and taught to do someone else's food. Drinks are excellent ... all juices are fresh squeezed and each drink is made one at a time, with care. Next time you are there, watch the guys in the kitchen and behind the bar, they are really paying attention to what they are creating, and they are doing it with pride, not just cramming it out. My hope is that Santa Barbarans will be educated by this place, and that it will set the bar so that other restaurants here are forced to actually serve food that is worth the money they charge. It's sad but somehow appropos that it took someone from LA to do it.


Great Drinks!
Reviewer: Nathaniel from Santa Barbara, CA
Went in with a buddy just to look around. We weren't ready to try out the food yet. Sat at the bar and wasn't sure what to order. The bartender tried to help but didn't know where to go on the list of cocktails. So we said ok make a fun mojito, something a bit different. It was great. Then I asked for a special request, it was amazing. She was more than willing to help and please. The one dessert they have needs a little more something to truly please, but still a good experience. Will try their food out soon.


Still hungry for perfection
Reviewer: Vo from Santa Barbara, CA
Hungry Cat has a long ways to go in this cutthroat town. I brought two out of town guests here on Memorial Day weekend. We witnessed first hand the ambiguous "no reservations" policy when at least two tables were empty but we were told we had to wait 1 hour. Apparently, we were not good enough. When we returned 45 mins later, the host chased a visibly angry couple and their children outside. I was within earshot and could hear him pleading with them , trying to explain the policy which was obviously flawed. We finally were seated on three stools, at the bar. All the while, the tables were still empty. We sat in front of the cook's station which was fun because we could watch them cook. It made conversation a little difficult, sitting side by side. The bartender was our waiter and for the most part, did a great job. The drinks were great once again. The food was extremely slow to come out. We could watch our dishes being made then sitting for 10-15 mins to get picked up. I didn't make the mistake of ordering clams this time (listen to everyone - WAY TOO SALTY), and got the scallops. Excellent! If you can get over the whole pre-dinner show, then the rest of it should be pretty good. I will try the LA location to see how different they are.


Only 1 dessert?
Reviewer: Winston B. from Santa Barbara, CA
My girlfriend and I went to try this new restaurant after hearing from my family that Hungry Cat had an amazing bar. The bar is very unique and offer various options for their fresh made cocktails. My girlfriend had the cucumber martini and I had the fresh muddled tangerine vodka and lime cocktail. Both were very delicious and crisp. The restaurant is very small but we tried our luck at a table at 8p on a Thursday. The hostess quoted us 30 minutes but we were in no rush and tried to find a seat at the bar. Nothing was available at the bar for about 5 minutes but then we got two stools and ordered our drinks. The bartender was very friendly and let us transfer our drinks to our dinner tab. My girlfriend commented on how beautiful the female bartender was. Now to the food. My girlfriend got the kind salmon which was very red in color, could it have been artificially colored? The pug burger is what I ate. It was delicious but the onion rings were very salty. The atmosphere was very claustrophobic and very team work. I like the team work but also felt our waitress was MIA at sometimes, she did check up with us after we got our appetizer and meal but that was it. Also one last request, have more dessert options!


ANNOYED
Reviewer: Jean from Santa Barbara, CA
I was in the group that got rejected from the Hungry Cat (there were 6 of us)! I was SERIOUSLY ANNOYED since all 6 of us coordinated our busy schedules to go out to dinner and we all made sure to get off work early enough to grab a table at the Hungry Cat only to find out that they don't follow their own NO reservations policy!!! I guess if you call and ask them to "HOLD" a table for you, they will.. and confusingly enough, its not considered a "reservation"


good place, great service , way too much salt
Reviewer: Mike from SB, CA
The service, most notably the blond girl Molly, was outstanding. The drinks and menu ingredients seem high quality, fresh and well prepared. They need to lay off the salt however. One of my dishes was so salty I couldn't finish it and the other was again way too salty. That was the same and only complaint about the food from the rest of our party. Otherwise, this place is great!


Reservations?!?!?
Reviewer: Ryan from Santa Barbara, CA
After researching the Hungry Cat on their own website my friends and I were sure to arrive early on a friday night due to their "no reservations" policy. At 5:30 pm diners were scarce at the Hungry Cat. Three large tables were available with no parties at them. Unfortunately for us, the hostess rudely informed us that all 3 tables were "reserved." After questioning the "no reservations" policy she simply stated that the tables were reserved for patrons who had called in advance. A reservation, by definition is, "an arrangement to secure accommodations at a restaurant or hotel, on a boat or plane, etc." Needless to say, we took our $300 tab elsewhere. The Hungry Kitty needs to play by its own rules.


When there is no salt on the table...
Reviewer: Ginger from Santa Barbara, CA
...the dishes had better be perfect. I'm really glad that The Hungry Cat is on the SB dining scene but, like any new restaurant, there are ALOT of imperfections to smooth out. I don't expect much out of any establishment on a Friday night anyway - I was happy to just be able to finally experience this place everyone has been raving about. That being said, I cannot resist sharing that my dish - braised clams with chorizo and tomato - was insanely salty. I realize Hungry Cat is a bistro and I very well like the pared-down, unpretentious, elbow-to-elbow feel but it may be too underdone in almost every regard except for use of salt. When items from a raw bar are pretty much all that is offered in the way of starters, I'm of the opinion that the server should know which oysters are which and have some general knowledge about the house cocktails and wine. Unexpectedly, we had an additional guest show up. We made sure it would be okay with our server for our guest to squeeze in at our table but our guest was never asked if she'd like a drink. We ordered a salad from the busboy. The lobster roll was basically lobster drowning in mayonaise for $27. I'm a pretty savvy eater/diner but I guess I just don't get it. If you are going to serve something just as exciting as a well made tuna sandwich, why $27 and why call it "Dinner." I'd actually really appreciate if someone could explain to me if there is supposed to be charm in the juxtaposition of a $27 lobster salad sandwich on the same menu as a can of PBR in a place that delivers oyster crackers to the table. Or, that such thoughtfullness went into such carefully designed, handcrafted, fresh-squeezed cocktails but such utter laziness went into in the execution of a decent playlist for the evening. I could go on-and-on. I'm not at all bitter, though - I will go back at least a couple more times to hopefully discover that I was just hallucinating.


love it!
Reviewer: jayne from santa barbara
I have only been there for drinks and cheese but let me tell you....FANTASTIC!!! the greyhound is the most amazing cocktail, with housemade candied grapefruit twists! yummy:) I am quite picky about my cheese plates but this one is outstanding. They make a lo quat jelly that is great with the warm toast points served with it. Jessica is best, we sat at the bar so we got great service. i cant wait to go back:)


Great food but easy on the salt
Reviewer: Jay from santa barbara
Love the drinks, but I must say easy on the salt. I love salt but I felt there dishes were way over salted.


Very enjoyable experience
Reviewer: David from Santa Barbara, CA
I have been waiting for the Hungry Cat to open since February and I am glad to have tried it out tonight. I'll be brief. Cocktails were great. Management & staff was very friendly. Raw oysters rocked but took too long to be served. Service was good when it was there. I dropped a fork and when I looked up, another one was being handed to me. Food (I tried the braised clams and chorizo) was excellent but on the salty side. Dessert (bread pudding) was interesting, in a good way. Pricing was reasonable but a word of warning - it adds up FAST. I'll be back.


So far so good
Reviewer: Naneki from Santa Barbara, CA
So apparently they weren't quite open when we walked past. It was the day before opening, a kind of "friends and family" thing, and we just wanted to check it out. The hostess was so rude to us, but the owner was nice and said, "Sure, come on in". It's not like we weren't (like the "friends") going to pay, and it was still really early, like 530. So once we were in we asked to have a drink or two. Once we sat down at the bar though, I fell in love with the drinks. The blond server was really nice, and although we asked for ONE Pimms drink, (she gave us EACH one) it was such an amazing drink (made with Pimms and ginger beer) that I sucked it down! And the pisco sour was good too. I LOVE that they have fresh squeezed juice, which makes all the difference. My boyfriend had the tuna, which I don't eat, but he really liked it. I will come back for the sweet waitress and the Pimms drink! I really hope this place does well.


I think my friends sat next to "Emily"
Reviewer: Sweeny Todd from Santa Barbara
and we noticed how in spite of the entire restaurant vibrating with a convivial, food-lust atmosphere, there were a number of people who liked to be seen at a scene and didn't really go there for the food/drink love. That would be the first reviewer. The owner/chef came in, customers interacted with one-another, shared food, reccommended drinks and yeah, some people talked about the movie busines because- duh! that's what they do for a living. If you expect to be treated like you are the queen, stay home. You are a buzzkill to everyone else in the restaurant anyway. And who would complain not getting to SEE the raw bar? How is that a helpful review?


Some improvements to be made...
Reviewer: Emily from Santa Barbara
Frankly, was a bit disappointed with a restaurant whose opening I was looking forward to. Two specific concerns: (1) Tables are just too close together. Suggest clearing out a two top or two to make a little more space inside. I felt like we were having dinner with the people sitting next to us (who couldn't stop talking about the movie biz). Many restaurants can pull of the banquette table seating, and it can be fine but this was too extreme...with the acoustics of the space, it was hard to have our own conversation over dinner; and (2) the rack that the raw bar food comes out on is too high...I couldn't see the oysters or crab legs without craning my neck. It was also dropped off without any explanation of the sauces or which oyster was which, etc. Anyhow, the flatbread with salt cod was excellent in terms of flavor(though parts of the bread were so "charred" as to be inedible) and the menu overall seemed good (crab legs were a little flavorless...maybe is just the nature of the local crab). Our server (young blonde woman) was very nice and knowledgeable.


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