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5404 Carpinteria Ave, Carpinteria
Phone: (805) 684-8893

Reviews by the General Public

The best in Carp, 8/17/2013
Reviewer: Mattie from Carpinteria, CA
I can't believe people will complain about excellent food being "expensive." We eat at Zookers at least once a week and don't have any problem justifying the price of the amazing food we get there. As a life-long Carp resident, I can say it's easily the best place to order REAL food in Carp. And it's often a place that I'd rather come home and eat at than any of the other great choices in SB and Montecito. If you are used to eating fast food and think that $50 for two, with drinks is pricey for homemade, fresh and inventive food, then maybe you're not going to "get" why Zookers is so great. The food is fresh, we see it change on the menu seasonally to match what local produce and meat is available and freshest and we also are happy eating old favorites (meatloaf is amazing, always.) The service is great and attentive with very friendly wait staff who don't hover, but are knowledgeable about food and wine if you need to ask a question. Bottom line - Certainly the best place to eat in Carp and among one of the consistently best restaurants in our area.

Good food - way over priced
Reviewer: Karen from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I have dined at Zookers several times. Each time the experience has been pleasant - good food (not "wow"), good service. We happened to be on our way back into Santa Barbara the other night and decided to stop for dinner. Again the food was "good" but overpriced. It seems as though the prices went up at least $5 per entree since the last time we had been there (and you might want to change the price range which is currently listed at $10 - $20). Again, good food, but not for that price. We will probably write Zookers off our list of places to go for a reasonably priced dinner. By the way this was a Saturday night and there were plenty of tables available at 7:00 p.m. Not a good sign for any restaurant.

Service Always great, excellent food
Reviewer: Ari from Carpinteria, CA
I think sometimes people don't realize how difficult it can be to run a restaurant. For example, if someone goes with a large group on a regular basis and orders eight or ten dinners or lunch entrees at a place where there are only so many tables, it makes sense that they would have to call in an order to make sure there is enough food for everyone for that whole day. And did people ever think that eight credit cards is just eight credit card fees racking up when it could be just put on one card? I don't have any affiliation with this restaurant, I'm just a loyal, happy fan of the place and it gets me down that people don't think outside their own world and then accuse others of being rude to them. I've personally never had a bad experience here. The food is always excellent (you may end up leaving smelling a bit garlicky, just a warning, but that's ok by me!) and the service is always great. If you're not sure what to order, try the sea bass when it's on their specials board. A great standby is the turkey meatloaf, also excellent. Rock on, Zookers!

Avoid if you have a larger group
Reviewer: Leana from Santa Barbara, CA
I work near Zookers, and we usually have our monthly work birthday lunches here. Well, we used to have our work birthday lunches at Zookers, but we will probably never go back given our experience today and other times we have all gone. One, they ask that our office manager gather orders for food and drinks a few days before we go for lunch so they can have the food ready beforehand. I understand that they think it will cut down on time, but the staff is really rude when passing out the food and stand at the end of the table screaming the name/order. They then gets frustrated if you don't answer them in a given amount of time. Today, someone in our party asked for mustard for her burger, and the waitress said "I'll get to that when I can. I'm going to get the entire order out first." Rude. Also, they added 20% gratuity. I wouldn't have thought anything of it except someone in our party is a waitress somewhere else and said that it was bad practice to automatically add 20%. She brought it up to the owner, and she said "Oh my gosh, the waitress put 20%? She is only supposed to put 15%." To top it all off, we had about 8 credit cards for our party of 20. Our waitress told us that we should have "gone to the ATM beforehand to get a $20" as if she was put out by us using credit cards. And the finale to lunch was how we asked to charge $18.20 on each of the 8 credit cards only to get back our receipts saying she charged an even $19. HORRIBLE SERVICE.

Always, always good.
Reviewer: Minnie from Santa Barbara, CA
This place has been consistently good since they opened. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and even when they have new wait staff they must make them taste the food becuase they are familiar with everything like they should be. The decor is simple and its lovely to look at the beautiful orchids and ever-changing local art or to sit on the front or back patios and enjoy the great weather we have in California. The food is always just really good. No matter what we order, it's GOOD. Not overly done or too fussed with, just simple, great clean and fresh tastes. It's honest home-made food that processed stuff doesn't hold a candle to. (The smells that come from this place in the morning before opening are enough to make your mouth water!) Wine list is great, haven't gotten a dud yet. One thing I have a slight issue with is that the menu is often pork and red meat heavy. At one point, even some of their fish dishes were inclusive of pork, which is hard for someone like me who doesn't eat that. I'd also love to see them go back to a simpler salmon dish. The one they have now is EXCELLENT with a light curry sauce and spinach risotto, but it's nice to have a milder salmon dish once in a while. I would recommend they have two choices. I'm not sure what these complaints about bad service are all about. Everyone has bad day, but we've only ever had friendly, happy servers. We've never left after ordering though...

Completely agree
Reviewer: Erin from Santa Barbara, CA
with the last posting... we love this place for lunch, super yummy salads and sandwiches. We were in Carp one evening and decided to try dinner, thinking it would be the same casual place and we walk in and there are white linens on the tables and candles lit, but almost the same menu just WAY overpriced. We were so turned off by the prices, and the food was nothing great, very uninspired! It was like the restaurant was trying to be something it's not. Stick with the fresh, upbeat, atmosphere like at lunch, ditch the white linens, and your lunch followers will come for a casual dinner.

Great Lunches - Over Priced Dinners
Reviewer: Robin S. from Santa Barbara, CA
I've dined dozens of times at Zookers for lunch over the last couple years and have always had a great experience - their Turkey Meatloaf, Turkey Burger, Chicken Kabobs, and Oriental Salad are among my favorites - the tasty pita chips are a nice compliment! However the 2 times I have dined there for dinner were both unpleasant experiences for several reasons 1) the dinner menu is much different and VERY over priced!!! The EXACT same entrees on the lunch menu were priced $3-4+ more on the dinner menu i.e. Oriental Salad, Turkey Burger, Ahi Tuna Salad! 2)The Oriental Salad was smaller, and was not served with bread or pita chips like the lunch serving. 3) And we were seated outside despite being only 1 of 4-5 parties in the restaurant on a Wednesday at 6:30; when asked to be seated inside we were told most of the tables were reserved. Granted we were in active wear just coming from a walk on the beach, we felt the waitress acted rudely and not just at this issue. On a positive note, the bus boy was great and made sure our drinks were always full and empty plates were cleared immediately! OWNERS please be advised you have a huge lunch following that would love to also make Zookers a regular dinner spot but you need to realize we are looking for the same, good quality, tasty, and reasonably priced meals for dinner as lunch - don't gouge us like the tourist focused spots!

Excellent Food - One of our All Time Favorite Places
Reviewer: Cathie Hand from Ojai, CA
Zooker's is one of our all-time favorite restaurants for lunch and for dinner. The food is always fresh and prepared to perfection. Congralations to the Chief and Owner!!

We were very impressed by this restaurant
Reviewer: Kate Faulkner from Ventura, CA
I am writing because I am surprised by the extremely negative reviews below (sounds like they have/had a waitperson who deserves to get the boot). I've been to Zookers twice (based on the highly favorable recommendation of friends) and enjoyed it. Nice atmosphere, good service, and a nice selection of options on the menu.

Good Food and Great Service
Reviewer: Glenn from Buellton
I'll have to disagree with below and say this place has good stuff from what I can see. Food out quick, they have interesting specials and really top notch waiters. Only negative is Curry chicken sandwich needs bigger bread(not as good as Panino) and tended to fall apart. The waiters are really good and professional and my drink got refilled more times than I can remember. It seems pretty popular too in Carp and they are willing to change orders for people. A little but not too pricey for the service, I did not see any waitresses just waiters.

Zooker for the first and last time
Reviewer: Rex Vandivieso from Santa Barbara, CA
The waitress seated us outside the restaurant (even there's seat available inside the restaurant), we're the only customer she seated outside. After about 5 min, she came out and asked the order. We ordered and waited again about 40min, waitress still not show up so we decide to walk away (we didn't get any food or drink). Suddenly she came out and yelled "HEY! HEY!!"…. Even though we only few feet away from her. We turned our back and ask if our food ready, still with enrage mood she said "It's not cool to walk away from your food like that!". We replied "Uh? Is it cool to wait more than 40 min outside in cold weather? Is our food ready?", she said "I could report this as unpaid bill", she suddenly said with high tone "You need to talk with my manager!" (repeated twice). I just don't get it.. We don't eat anything and she yelled at us plus threaten to report to her manager? We did ignored her and continued to walk. But, aren't we the one who should report her? I should have agreed to talk to the manager but I was so hungry and don’t want to deal with anything else…

Awful Dining Experience
Reviewer: Casey B from Santa Barbara, CA
"I have never had a worse dining/customer service experience in my life. After being seated i decided that I would order one of the specials, Alaskan Halibut. As we completed the appetizers our food arrived, The halibut was a large piece on a bed of greens (as I had had a hamburger only 10 days earlier that was ordered medium and served to me seared I was a little concerned given the thickness of the piece) as soon as I put my fork into the halibut i became concerned. The fish was not undercooked but raw and quite cold throughout, I brought this to the attention of the waitress after cutting the piece into several pieces to confirm that it was indeed raw and she asked if I wanted them to put it back onto the grill. Given that the pieces were now no bigger then half dollars I was a little surprised by the offer to "put it back on the grill" and declined the offer. The waitress said ok and removed the plate without offering me the opportunity to order anything else. The Manager eventually made her way to my table to say she was sorry that the fish was so undercooked and they they had seen that it was completely undercooked, I decided that she should be aware that on two consecutive occasions in the last 10 days that my food was undercooked, she proceeded to explain to me that they "tend to under cook their food" and after some more explanation about how they prepare there food stated that "we under cook our food so now you know" She made no offer of ordering another item from the menu or any sincere apology. I was so taken back by her statement that they under cook their food on purpose and by her tone I had nothing else to say. Given the awful service and complete lack of courtesy from the staff the table decided that a standard tip was not appropriate. We paid with cash and while still finishing our wine were asked if we needed change which we did not. The waitress then returned to the table with our check and informed me that our "four dollars change" was in it. She proceeded to return to the main floor of the dining room stand with the manager shake her head and look (glare) over at us sever times still shaking her head. Needless to say I took my four dollars change and will NEVER return to Zookers again."

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