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Cafe Stella
3302 Mc Caw Ave, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 569-7698

Cafe Stella writes: welcome // bienvenue Cafe Stella your place to eat, drink, enjoy coffee, relax, read, go online, have a glass of wine and meet friends at the bar enjoy // bon appetit join us for happy hour french-american cafe breakfast // lunch // dinner bar // happy hour outdoor dog-friendly patio 7 days // 9am to 10pm

  • Specials: breakfast // lunch // dinner
  • Happy Hour: join us for happy hour daily 4pm - 7pm $4 special appetizers $2.50 select bottled beers $3.50 house wines $4 select cocktails
  • Private Room: inquire by email / phone for more information

Reviews by the General Public

Friendly service and great happy hour margarita, 5/17/2014
Reviewer: Drew from Santa Barbara, CA
After trying to find a late afternoon lunch spot, we came upon Cafe Stella. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Lunch was delicious. We ordered the Brie and Chicken sandwich and Breakfast crepe. There was the added bonus of finding one my new favorite happy hour margaritas. What set it apart is they used their own homemade sweet and sour mix. Beautiful atmosphere as well.


Used to be one of my favs, but never again, 10/18/2013
Reviewer: Kasey from Santa Barbara, CA
This was one of my favorite restaurants in town, until today. We sat on the patio because we had our dogs with us. After a few minutes, we noticed that ants were swarming the table and the dogs, so we moved. We placed our order but about half way through the appetizer, ants swarmed us at the second table. I told the hostess what happened and that we would pay for our app & drinks but to please cancel the rest. And then got up and waited for the bill. About 10 minutes later the waitress comes out with our food.I explained about the bugs and said that we couldn't/wouldn't eat here with bugs crawling all over us. She said if we didn't take the food, it was going in the trash but we still had to pay for it. We spoke to the manager, who gave us our food to go and the bill. He charged us for the full amount -minus the cost of 2 cans of soda-which he so proudly said he comped-2CANS!Then he had the nerve to ask how the app was, I told him good until the ants got to it. He said ants can't be controlled this time of year. I explained to him that we eat outside all over town and have NEVER had ants crawling on our food and legs and arms. He offered us a discount for our next visit. Unbelievable! I had to pay the full amount for the food while I listened to his excuses and half-hearted apology all the while they kept seating customers on the infested patio!So yeah, I'll never eat there again.


Great get-away
Reviewer: arlene from Santa Barbara, CA
Came and sat at the bar- service was good & food was excellent!


A Few Tweaks Needed, but overall Ok/Good
Reviewer: MB from Santa Barbara, CA
After eating at Cafe Stella about 3-4 x in past year, I think that I can write a review. As you enter, you will notice that he ambiance is very nice, casual, relaxed, and comfortable. The menu is varied, with burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, chicken, fish choices, etc. Food to make everyone happy. The brie/chicken sandwich is a standout, though a bit dry. The fries are thin cut, and are over salted. The chicken caesar is tasty with well prepared chicken. The service is hit and miss. Though well staffed, it seems somewhat disorganized, with tables not getting cleared in a timely manner, and drink refills not occuring promptly. That being said, the servers are nice and pleasant, with good attitudes. In summary, Cafe Stella is a great choice for affordable cuisine, with a menu that will make everyone in your party happy. Service needs some tweaks, but overall, the staff tries hard.


Why recommend a salad with preknowledge of bad tomatoes?
Reviewer: Kari from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband took me to Cafe Stella for dinner after having a good meal here a few days before. I was really disappointed. The waiter raved about the Tuna (seared on the edges, raw in the middle) Salad. The balsamic dressing was tasteless, but the waiter never returned so I could request an alternative. I don't think he stirred the dressing before pouring it into my little "on the side" container. Nearly an hour later, I got up to discover him in a hallway yakking with co-workers. I did finally get an alternative ranch dressing which was quite good. When I mentioned the cherry tomatoes didn't have any flavor, he explained that is because all tomatoes are bad in January. He knew this because he grows them himself. So why did he serve them or recommend this salad? I asked him on 3 separate occasions if the tuna itself was fresh which he insisted it was. Being a huge tuna sushi fan, I was convinced by the woody dry texture and lack of flavor, it had been frozen. Certainly it tasted as if it had been frozen. Lastly, the bread was stale. Although the waiter behaved cheerfully, he just completely neglected us indicating poor management. As for the meal, I honestly believe the cooks do not taste the food they prepare. Between the lack of service & the sad food, with so many great eateries in this town, itís not worth giving this place a second chance. If other customers are experiencing what I did, this place will surely die if the owners don't get their act together.


nice surprise off the beaten path
Reviewer: Suzanne from Los Angeles, ca
Wonderful service with waiter who had excellent knowledge of dish ingredients and customer favorites. Home style decor. Nice selection of wines for purchase home or to have there. Its nice not to be stuck on State St1


Food terrific, service finally up to par!
Reviewer: Stacey from Santa Barbara, CA
I've been dining at Le Cafe Stella since its opening, and can say with pleasure that the restaurant has worked out its new-restaurant kinks. Like many of the reviewers below, I had several experiences with not-so-good service. However, at every visit in the past three months, the service has been excellent, no matter which waiter or waitress serves us. I've been here with a party of 3, a party of 5, and a party of 7, at various mealtimes, and have enjoyed every visit. The food has remained consistently good, too. At my most recent visit I ordered the grilled ahi and was pleased to receive a generous fish portion for a very reasonable price, along with large portions of sides. Whether we're going for Happy Hour or for a nice family meal, Cafe Stella is at the top of our list these days.


Love it!!
Reviewer: Allysen from Santa Barbara, CA
The first few times I went here, I sat in the restaurant and like most reviewers, I was not impressed. Now, I sit in the bar area. The service is always great. I love the chicken brie sandwich and the burgers. The lemon tart is great. They have a weekly special drink that whenever I try, I am impressed. If there's ever a problem with the food (not often), they are quick to fix it. I go at least once a week.


Overall Good Food and Service
Reviewer: Glenn from Buellton
I liked the place. Only negative was the pork loins were too cafeteria like(they should drop from the menu) but the coq au vin was very good! Everything else was decent to good. The place was packed but service was adequate. All managers or front desk type people were bending over backwards for people so no issues there. Service was slightly slow but waiter was nice, they may need to add one more waiter for busy times. The decor is nice and there is outside seating for noisy kids and those with dogs if want to come with those needs. Seems like a converted house? It has the charm of a house.


I would go back
Reviewer: Mike F. from Santa Barbara, CA
I liked the salmon and everone in my party thought the food was a 3 or 4. There is a problem with the sun blazing in on you when seated near the window in the afternoon. Hard to believe they don't do something about this. The water served was warm and the salad is the OH so common these days limp weeds. Would help to have some romaine mixed in or even, dare I say Iceberg. OH, the staff was OK and the server was very nice. She even brought me some ice for the warm water.


Tasty food, service uneven
Reviewer: Justine from Santa Barbara, CA
Had only been here once for happy hour and came back Saturday evening. Missed happy hour window this time, so paid a little more, but it still wasn't exorbitant. The sweet potato fries are excellent, and come in a very generous bucket! They don't offer honey-mustard (best dipping sauce for them, imho) but if you ask nicely they might whip you up some. Between my friend and I we split the fries, and an order (comes with 2) each of the chicken, beef, and lamb sliders for a decent portion of 3 for each of us. I'd tried the lamb before and both the sauce and the meat are a little too spicy for me, but the beef and chicken ones were tender and delicious. Our server was very friendly and personable, but not super-quick, most other staff was lackadaisical. For dessert, I was in the mood for a brownie sundae, which they don't have, but another server clued us in to their chocolate cake with vanilla gelato as the closest thing available, and it was FAN-tastic. Super light but also moist and not too sweet but ultra-chocolately. Recommended! I guess they didn't have a hostess on duty when we got there, but we literally stood by the podium while about six staff people passed by without even looking at us. I understand they were servers and it wasn't their job to seat us, but a quick, "Hi, someone will be right with you" goes a long way. I will likely go back but will make a point to get there for happy hour. My friend goes there a lot and calls it "Cheap and cheerful."


Not much bad to say,,,
Reviewer: Marie from Santa Barbara, CA
It was mother's day. The place was PACKED. Yes, we waited 45 mins to get a table and at least 30 mins to get our food after ordering. But it was, after all, the busiest day for restaurants out of the year. And it gave us all time to visit so no big deal for us. I highly recommend the bloody Mary; perfect spice, perfect alcohol-to mixer- ratio. I also HIGHLY recommend the mussels; fantastic as a starter- even better as an entree. The artichoke and lamb sliders (only two!), not so much; a little skimpy on the portions. Had to ask for bread for the mussels; perhaps it wasn't included but should have been as the broth was that good. I will definitely go back.


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