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1114 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 965-4770

  • Category: Mexican
  • Hours: Open Tue-Sun, Lunch 11:30-2:30, Dinner Tue, Wed, Thu, Sun 5-9, Fri-Sat 5-10
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
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Reviews by the General Public

Disappointing Sunday visit
Reviewer: Jeff from Santa Barbara, CA
We have been to Cielito quite a few times, including the newer inventive Sunday brunch. However, Sunday night proved disappointing and amateurish. A friend was visiting from the Bay Area and wanted to treat us to dinner. So, we picked Cielito. We were told the only times available for a reservation of 3 were 6:45 and 8:15. The place was less than 25% full. We picked the earlier time, ordered cocktails and the wonderful ceviche trio appetizer. We all also ordered entrees for each. Unfortunately, the entrees came out less than 10 minutes after the ceviche arrived. We asked to hold off until the appetizer was done. The waiter did not know what to do so he took the food back. We commented they'd probably just put it under the heating lamp. Still not quite done with the appetizer, a different waiter just brought out the entrees again and placed them on the table without asking if we were ready. The food was just as we thought, put under the heating lamp. The enchiladas sauce was dry and unpleasant, my salmon and sauce tastec like leftovers and the halibut was dry also. You expect, when you pay $90 for 3 entrees to have fresh food, but not all reheated entrees work. As I said, poor service and disappointing service overall. The restaurant was empty when we left so it was not a matter of the kitchen being too busy but of a kitchen not understanding the pacing of a meal or basic food facts - you can't just keep food warm and charge for it. It is not just the kitchen staff that was at issue but the waitress did not get involved to oversee the process. We felt rushed even though the restaurant was nearly empty. What was the rush?

Great if you like Foo Foo
Reviewer: Frank from Santa Barbara, CA
Overall, Cielito wants to impress. I myself was not impressed by the food in taste or portion size (very small). The service was friendly enough, but a little slow. At these high prices charged I expect much more from eating out these days.

Good food, but tipping was annoying
Reviewer: Todd from Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I went there on a Thurs night ~8:30pm. The drinks were good. The duck special was very tasty. The pork quesadilla was a little oily but good. The three tacos were also tasty. The service was good (they brought a blanket out for my wife because she was cold) but the bill was really annoying. First on the bill, they listed the calculated tip for you, but the options were 18%, 20%, 25%, and 30%...really. No 15%, but you do have a 30%! Second, they calculated the tip on the cost of the meal + the tax. You can argue the merit of tipping on the meal or the meal + tax, but I think restaurants should do the former. Especially if they are listing options up to 30%.

Wow, please make Pork Nacho's Permanent
Reviewer: Rose from Santa Barbara, CA
We had this during Fiesta here. Wow, best Nacho's of our whole lives. Went back later for more, and told they almost never do Pork Nacho's. Whaaaa? Please show this to the managers, and make sure THEY for sure taste this! Then just try it on the menu for a while and see what people say. Then it will be available to us weekly, forever, also! Heavenly, memorable, will make loads of new customers for you! Please put this on the menu permanent, it was so heavenly to everyone in our party. Balanced with the wonderful margaritas!!-But realize,once people have this,and return for it, there may be riots if it is not available! Love what you are doing. Just input from the faithful. A local.

Ceviche, Not!
Reviewer: Steven from Santa Barbara, CA
We went back to Cielito yesterday just for the ceviche. They were serving only one of their trio of signature ceviches, and we ordered this, along with tacos al pastor and guacamole. While the tacos were excellent, if a little overpriced for 2 small tacoitos, I must report that the guac was salty, and the ceviche was an almost inedible slurry of - in descending order - salt, lime, macerated avocados, and little chucks of white seafood. What a disappointment. Indeed, we both comments that THIS is not ceviche! Until further notice, the shift manager should taste this concoction every day before the restaurant opens to ensure a proper blend of citrus and spice enhancements to large chunks of fresh seafood.

Reviewer: Sally Spork from Santa Barbara, CA
Atmosphere: I'm from here and remember wayyyy back when this restaurant was a Mexican one. Boy have they did an AMAZING job transforming it to what it is now. It is a gorgeous in architecture complete with areas that are both comfortable and elegant.5 stars for atmosphere. Service: Servers were present and accommodating, we were a large group from meetup but we did call and make a RSVP. We sat outside, and it did get chilly. There are heaters near the smaller tables. Food/drink: Our group ordered a mix of appetizers and dinner. Everyone seemed satisfied. I had the pastor pork tacos. Tasty. As of this writing they do not accept the AXXESS card... BOO. Summary: Cielito is a GORGEOUS restaurant and yes I'd go back. There are different entrees I want to try as well as their unique desserts.

Chaotic Service Ruins Good Food
Reviewer: Steven from Santa Barbara, CA
On several lunchtime visits, we have enjoyed fresh salads, warm chips and a chicken torta. On each trip, however, we have found the service to be lacking in a number of ways. The "waiter" who takes the order rarely makes another appearance at the table. Instead, they send food out with an "expeditor" who must ask each person what they are having before serving the plates. On the last visit, the requested appetizer did not come out before the main course, and when it did, it came with aioli, which we had asked to be held. Getting the check, and getting the checked paid, can add another 20 minutes or so to your visit, so plan accordingly.

Amazing evening
Reviewer: Meridith from Santa Barbara, CA
Went to Cielito with 2 new friends and had one of the best meals I've had in Santa Barbara. We shared 3 courses and dessert, each one visually beautiful and delicious. The raw bar offering was as good as it gets. I highly recommend having dinner there!

Reviewer: Michel from Santa Barbara, CA
We just attended a 6-course Foxen wine-maker dinner at Cielito. It was fabulous: perhaps the best dinner we have ever eaten in Santa Barbara in any category, perfect down to the last detail! Every course was delicate, delicious and surprising, cuisine and service of the highest order. What a jewel! We plan to return soon to sample the standard menu.

Wonderful space, very good food
Reviewer: Bob from Santa Barbara, CA
Eaten here three times now, wanted to get some meals in before I wrote a review. Cielito is certainly a fabulous looking place, no doubt. Having spent so much money on the décor I was concerned that they’re all show and no substance. They’re definitely very top-heavy on the “show”. Examples: the signature margarita is advertised on the menu as being made with the tequila “made famous on the show Entourage”. Are you kidding me? What kind of a wanking comment is that? Management: show a little class and delete that from the menu, it's embarrassing. Plus, they’ve trained the waitstaff to administer the ‘full court press’, which is fairly annoying. But the food is consistently quite good, nicely presented, and while a tad on the expensive side, I’d say worth it. The Tacos de Pescado Pibil, made with local seabass is really outstanding. I could've eaten plate after plate. Kobe beef skewers were excellent as well. We also had the crab/shrimp enchiladas, which was ok, unfortunately the crab got lost through the strength of the cheese, but the rice (creamy and delicious almost like a risotto) and salad that accompanied it were delicious. Really makes me want to try one of the salads next time. I wouldn’t call Cielito a ‘rare gem’ by any stretch. Los Agaves is better, has generally a more interesting specials menu, and is a lot cheaper, but at Cielito you’re getting a lot more ambiance. It is really a very pleasant space to sit and dine.

A rare gem
Reviewer: Heather from Santa Barbara, CA
This restaurant is absolutely amazing! The food is reminiscent of Rick Bayless style Mexican, with thoughfully sourced ingredients. The farms where they source their meat are listed on the menu...all free-range organic. They incorporate delicious and creative vegetarian options, as well as layers of flavor in their meat sauces (i.e. tinga-style, adobo, etc.). The waiter was also very attentive. We will be back again soon!

Nice outside seating/kind of pricey
Reviewer: Leana from Santa Barbara, CA
Been to Cielito a few times to order from their taqueria area during lunch or enjoy their happy hour in the early evening. The outdoor seating is the best part of the restaurant. It's beautiful to sit around the fountain and the atmosphere is nice. The food is also good, but it is pricey. For example, three very small tacos for happy hour is going to run you about $10. Chips and a small thing of guacamole is $6.

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