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Museum Cafe
[closed, no longer in business]

1130 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 884-6487


Reviews by the General Public

A hidden gem in SB
Reviewer: Jonathan from Santa Barbara, CA
I always forget about this place, but when I do remember I am always very happy. The soups and salads are all excellent. It a very peaceful setting inside the art museum.


fresh and creative
Reviewer: Chris C from Santa Barbara, CA
An outstanding lunch spot with top-notch ingredients and great service. The muffaletta was excellent - not quite Central Grocery since black olives were missing from the mix and a huge sesame bun sub'd for the crispy Italian roll that makes a muffaletta a muffaletta - but a brave interpretation of a classic. A salmon plate was beautifully seasoned and well-cooked with fresh veg on crisp mixed greens. To top it off came a beautiful thin cheesecake built on a chopped nut base, so gluten-free and still properly guilt-inducing. Despite a crowd, service was superb and the whole crew worked in smiling harmony.


One of the Best SB has to Offer
Reviewer: Tyler from Santa Barbara, CA
Ever since discovering the Museum Cafe a few months ago, hardly a day goes by without craving their food. Even the more simple dishes on the menu are approached with such creativity and playfulness. The food reflects the bubbly, dynamic personalities of the women who this place. The menu changes seasonally and based on the museum exhibits. You really can't go wrong with anything. The tapas menu is authentic and innovative. The tuna melt with garlic aioli is extremely addictive. The muffaletta sandwich is surely the best this side of the Mississippi. Save room for delicious homemade desserts like rum cake or bread pudding. The only bummer is it's not open for dinner. We want to try their weekend brunch soon.


Sweet Food and Art Spot
Reviewer: Mark from Santa Barbara, CA
After having my family in for the holidays, we decided to brave the fading restaurant scene and came across the Museum Cafe. To our delight, we were pleased at every turn. The menu is inventive as the Chef matches the dishes to the art exhibits and the flavors are well put together. My parents each had the toasted panini and enjoyed them. The portion was enough that they could take some home, so important for seniors! My wife and I shared the Roasted Salmon Nicoise salad that was very fresh and lovely. The salmon was lightly smoked, the potatoes and green beans were well seasoned. The desserts offered were just the right size and delicious with our lattes. The service was friendly, light and upbeat. Not pretentous. I look forward to the return visit and will send my friends to have a delight of their own. Way to go Museum Cafe!


beautiful spot with sad, wilty, confused food
Reviewer: Nancy from Santa Barbara, CA
My Roasted Veggie quiche "special" came out with 2 small round quiches which were mostly pastry - very little filling. Took a bite of the first one, and to my surprise it was filled with very undercooked bacon! (Glad I'm not a vegetarian.) I realized they'd given me the quiche Lorraine by mistake, which the menu described as filled with "crispy" bacon - it was nearly raw. When I told our server a mistake had been made, the reply was,"We ran out of the Roasted Veggie quiche"! It would have been nice to have been told ahead of time so I could change my selection. The server offered to give me "a few bucks off", or a free dessert. I should have asked for a new meal. The other little quiche on my plate was okay, not much egg or veggies, just a lot of pastry. My "salad" was merely some greens, and not very fresh ones; I picked out a pile of ones with black, rotting lines throughout, which I hoped the waiter would notice.(they didn't) I love sweets, but the 'free' mini-carrot cupcake was very dense, pale in color and flavorless - like a heavy muffin. The frosting was the only highlight. My friends did not even finish their bread pudding. I have to say I had high expectations of this place, given the very bright and cheerful atmosphere, and the staff for the most part was friendly and helpful. I would be embarrassed to serve someone what I was given. If they cannot serve a simple dish like quiche and a pile of greens, I cannot imagine what they would do to some of the more elaborate, gourmet dishes I saw on the menu. I won't be going back. Feeling a bit ripped off,


Great people -but dissapointing food
Reviewer: Steve from Santa Barbara, CA
Garlic. That says it. too much garlic in a lot of things, and not good garlic. Can ruin the nicest food. Well presented though. Nice folks at counter and serving. Place feels nice and interesting. Chairs very comfortable though understated modern simple artsy plastic. Nice linens and mild mediterranean look. Nice service. Lousy garlic. Please change, -consider using garlic like salt or hot pepper, -carefully.... and only cooked well(white/light-purple high quality kind from the farmers market). None of the food was as good as it looked. And it looked good. Your food deserves to be as good as your plating. Hard to smell bouquet of wine from the skinny narrow glass. What's up with that? Please look at Spieglau's inexpensive(online) festival bordeaux wine glasses. Perfect size for your tables(the other festival ones are too small)..these have that incredible platinum finishing process -"increases durability and adds a brilliant shine". Not a sales pitch... would really make it with your wine..and they hold up very well...and just $5 a glass in quantity. Just get 1...try it..and you will see. It's attention to all these kinds of things that will put you over the top.(Even though they are 16 oz doesn't mean they will make your pours look skimpy...they look pretty good with 6 -7 oz in them. Friendly staff perhaps sets expectations higher than normal. Better attention to details would turn the corner and make this place an outstanding enclave.


SB needs more of these!
Reviewer: Scott from Santa Barbara, CA
The food is inventive, unbelievably tasty, and inexpensive, and the waitstaff unflappingly cheerful. Why can't there be more SB restaurants with this kind of culinary imagination and sparkle? It's a unique eatery for our little town, one that might instead have easily thrived on a corner in San Francisco, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a local spinoff that serves at dinner hours.


Absolute Favorite in SB
Reviewer: Betsy from Santa Barbara, CA
From the first time I ate here last year, this has been my favorite restaurant. It is so difficult to choose what to try when I eat here for lunch because everything I have tried is so delicious I want to experience it over again, but the anticipation of one of their new dishes is so overwhelming. My favorite thing to do is go in with 2 friends and order ALL of the tapas. They are the best tapas Santa Barbara has tasted! The flan is the best I've ever had, and the entire staff make you feel as though you've come to a friend's house to eat. I hope that this place remains in SB as it is such a rare gem!!


A secret the tourists should know about
Reviewer: John Hegstad from Santa Barbara, CA
Just the right size crowd and pleasant staff - maybe its good we tourists havve a hard time finding it! Best cuisine I've ever had for lunch. Can't wait to try the Tapas next time I'm in Santa Barbara.


LOVED IT...
Reviewer: Sandy from Santa Barbara, CA
Have been here several times and the food is excellent. They have a super happy hour deal. My boyfriend and I stopped in intending to have a "snack" before dinner but ended up ordering tapas after tapas because they were so wonderful. Can't wait to go back!


Favorite new place in town
Reviewer: Ginny from Santa Barbara, CA
This is one of Santa Barbara's hidden treasures that I feel so fortunate to have come across. The food here is just so amazingly good, and the service is superb. I'm always so delighted with everything I order here, and the proprietors, Emily Stuart, and chef Brenda Simon always make everyone feel so welcomed in their establishment. As much as I want to re-order the same thing I got last time, I have gone out on a limb and ordered something new, with the result being that for the moment that becomes my new favorite. When I saw that they had added afternoon tapas hour to their repertoire, I returned the first chance I could to try a selection of the 9 tapas they are currently serving. The pricing is incredible, with an offering of any 3 tapas, and a glass of wine for $15.00. There were two of us, and we could not find a single tapas that we felt we could eliminate, they all sounded so good, and so we ordered them all. We were so grateful we had, because each one was outstanding, and as we sat there enjoying each savory delight, we could not agree on a single one that either of us felt we could eliminate from our next visit. It is definitely worth trying out!


Wonderful spot!
Reviewer: Jonathan from Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I have been here several times and love it. Bruschetta with heirloom tomoatoes, figs and olives was to die for. Delicious desserts too! Great atmosphere and the sweetest owners. We'll be back often!


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