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Cafe Shell
[closed, no longer in business]

1112 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 965-5742

  • Category: American
  • Hours: Mon-Tue 9am-4pm, Wed-Sun 9am-9:30pm
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
  • Reservations: No
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Reviews by the General Public

New Owners - Great FUN!
Reviewer: Denise from Santa Barbara, CA
Cafe Shell has a great location and now, with being "family" owned, has the opportunity to be a local favorite. We went on a Friday evening and enjoyed Irish singing along with our dinner. The Shepards pie was quite tasty, made with lamb -- the salad greens were fresh and they had a decent wine menu. Look forward to being able to order an Irish Coffee in the future! The service was especially attentive -- with both the husband and wife making sure the customers needs were being met. We will go back -- worth going just to hear their beautiful daughters sing! Makes for a very enjoyable evening!


Great location but needs work...
Reviewer: Norma from Santa Barbara, CA
My friend and I went there for lunch today and although the staff was very friendly, the service was very slow. There were only about five tables with parties of 2-4, and it took half hour to get our food which was only half sandwich and cup of soup. Not to mention, the soup was lukewarm and watered down, my sandwich had a big glob of mayonnaise and was nothing special. The location is great but the place needs work. Definitely not a good place to go during your lunch break.


a cool place with great food and service.
Reviewer: vincent cullinan from playa del rey california
the owner will sing for you if you ask him.the food was a big surprise for a cafe,i would rate it very good and will recommend to my friends.


We loved it so much, we went back the next day!
Reviewer: Owens Family from Visalia, CA
This place is perfect! We sat outside, it was a mildly warm day and we were looking for shade, when we happened upon Cafe Shell. We had a wonderful lunch. The prime rib sandwich on a french roll was delicious. We couldn't wait to go back, the next morning, for breakfast. The service was exceptional. Dining here made our trip to Santa Barbara a very pleasant experience.


Crazy-Good Breakfast!
Reviewer: Ginger from Santa Barbara, CA
I had skipped breakfast and was roaming on State Street. I wanted bacon and eggs. What I got was soooooooo much more. The bacon was great, eggs perfect, potatoes far above what I have gotten elsewhere. The salsa is a wonderful fit along with the baguette slices! The servers and all staff were consummate hosts. It's so nice to have smiles in the morning - and something to smile about! Can't wait to go back.


Fantastic Food @ Reasonable Rates
Reviewer: Bernie & Connie from Bemus Point, NY
Drive the extra half mile up State Street it will be well worth your time. Food was excellent and the host was extremely helpful in letting us know the happy hour specials. Actually met the owners as well and found them to be very outgoing and welcoming. We are from western NY and we will definately go back in January when we visit again!


Great new owners!
Reviewer: Jane from Santa Barbara, CA
Very generous Happy Hour times. Great live Irish music on Friday and Saturday. Charming owners.


Excellent French Dip, pleasant suprise
Reviewer: Bart from Santa Barbara, CA
Picked it because it was near and my legs hurt, pleasantly suprised at how good the food was. Excellent meat in the sandwich, nice mixed greens in the salad. Attentive service. Would go again


Very pleasant lunch
Reviewer: Cheryl from Los Angeles, CA
We had a wonderful lunch here (05/14/11). The crab quesadillas were yummy. My simple veggie sandwich was very tasty. Even the bread and jam at the beginning was good. The service was competent and friendly. Highly recommend for a nice casual lunch downtown.


Great food, OK service, great outdoor dining but pricey
Reviewer: Tommy from Santa Barbara, CA
Ate here for breakfast for the first time and it was great overall. Omelette was gourmet with fresh ingredients and over-sized. Fresh toast with what seemed like homemade jam. Excellent fresh brewed coffee. Definately not a cheap place to eat breakfast but the ambience and outdoor seating on state st. is worth it. If you want a cheap breakfast and don't appreciate quality food, then don't go here.


How is this place making it?
Reviewer: Jeff from Santa Barbara, CA
Myself and 2 friends came through last weekend...Bland food, slow service and a rotten attitudes. Makes us not come back EVER!


What is going on here?
Reviewer: Ben from Santa Barbara, CA
Went here for a lunch meeting with four co workers. We ordered the club which had no flavor and the bread was as hard as a rock. The soup tasted like it was from a can and the side salads only contained lettuce. The place is a nice building but the food needs serious work. The server who might have been the owner should also watch how she dresses because her boob was hanging out while she served us. It would have been sexy if she was in her 20s but not in her 60s. I hope they get it together and hire some good staff to make this great location great.


Overpriced!!!!!!!
Reviewer: Taylor from Santa Barbara, CA
Great place for patio sitting on State St but the prices are outragious! $18 for a salad come on!!!


horrid!
Reviewer: ryan from Santa Barbara, CA
The food was overcooked and cold we sent it back only to get our $18 eggs benidict with raw eggs! Absloutly terrible. The 2 bites of potatoes I ate were unflavorfull, cold and disgusting. I think for an $18 plate of eggs benicict the food would at least be good if not excellent. This was down right bad..bad enough that we left without eating. Will never return!


Disappointed
Reviewer: Jeanette Carpenter from Santa Barbara, CA
Much to my surprise, my chicken sandwich was so bland that I poured my salad dressing on it. The chicken was a grilled breast which was totally without taste. Very over-priced. Side salad was only a pile of greens. Service was just fine.


Wow so good...
Reviewer: Amanda from Santa Barbara, CA
We tried Cafe Shell last Sunday and were really impressed. It is without a doubt our new Sunday breakfast/lunch spot. The bread they serve before the meal was perfect. I had the pasilla quesadilla for lunch with a lemon bar for dessert, they were both amazing. Shelley is doing a really good job, I don't know how people could not enjoy eating there, in fact we heard other patrons sitting near us also saying their food was delicious and that they wanted to come back as well. I would definitely recommend Cafe Shell to others; they have a large diverse menu full of delicious options.


Shell Cafe, makes me want to come back to Santa Barbara!
Reviewer: Aja Talbot from Charleston, South Carolina
My three girlfriends and I were on a road trip up the coast and decided to stop in Santa Barbara for some shopping and lunch. We happen to find Shell Cafe by walking by. We were greated by the owner, which at the time we were unaware she was the owner. She sat us outside with a heater, as we had requested. She and the staff were very accommodating. We ordered drinks and brunch. The food was excellent and the drinks hit the spot! The owner came up and talked to us a few times and by the end of the meal, we felt like we were good old friends with her! Before the end of the meal we had all agreed that we were wanting to come back the next time we made it out to Santa Barbara. Everything was great about the whole experience...not one single complaint! I totally recommend Shell Cafe to anyone that's looking for a relaxed place to have a great meal with friends!!!!!


Tried it three times but struck out
Reviewer: annelyn callahan from Santa Barbara, CA
After having to listen to the owner tell us about her "background", we were expecting a superb meal. The tuna sand was dull and just plain tuna without the pizazz. Service was slow and the servers seemed confused...not trained well. No introduction, not sure about the soup choices and please get some real potato chips...kettle chips rather than cheep ones we got in a bag. I would love to buy this place and restore what has been lost. The owner disappeared in the office and when we asked to speak to her "She was in a meeting!" What has happened to customer service. We tried 3 times but were disappointed each time. I now to to 3 Pickles....that's a sandwich.


Needs to step it up a notch
Reviewer: Smith from Santa Barbara, CA
The crab sandwich wasn't anything special, nothing an average Joe with basic sandwich assembly skills couldn't put together. The bagged/"Ruffles" style potato chips were a bland and uncreative side, and the bread on the table was blah. The service was decent and good. They need to get more creative and put some love into their food. Good, not great.


Baby-friendly Service and Delicious Food
Reviewer: Pamela Hoyem from Pasadena, CA
Food is great - light meals consist of hearty soups or tastey salads. The amazing thing about this place is the way they cater to families. Sweet waitresses, babyfood and snacks on the menu, and diapers & wipes in a clean bathroom that housed a proper changing table. This was our favorite place to stop in Santa Barbara when we were a young couple stopping at Barcliff & Bair, now that we're a young family it's going to be a long time family favorite.


basic fare and shaky service
Reviewer: chee from Santa Barbara, CA
me and my friends went to Cafe Shell for brunch, and we ordered the pancakes, two egg breakfast, and ricotta scramble. though our drink orders were provided pretty quickly, it took a LONG time for the waitstaff to come back to take our orders. seems like they are a bit understaffed. everything tasted fine, but we were underwhelmed by the offerings (e.g., small details like their use of sandwich meat for breakfast ham, not providing enough cheese in the scramble, and chewy pancakes). the thing that made the meal "worth it" was the discount card deal for breakfast--buy 1, get 1 free, but still, 2 brunches and 3 drinks came out to $40.


Rude.
Reviewer: Patrick from Santa Barbara, CA
We chose this place ONLY because Andersen's was closed. The food was fine, although a bit overpriced. I pretty much got a Root N Tooty French n Fruity minus the fruit for $10 and TEA for $3.99 (Did the teabag really cost them $4?) Anyways, the food was fine (note my 3.5 rating) but the service was abysmal. We had four different servers, none of them introduced themselves. None of them came to the table other than to bring or take a plate. One of the servers asked my friend if he was finished, he said "no im still eating" and he still tried to take the plate. Our brunch took two hours because we didn't get our orders in until 20 minutes into the debacle. The owner found it "hard" to split a check and tried to have us go outside and wait 10 minutes because of the "difficulty". The owner was rude and immature and tried to give us the red bulls that the Red Bull Girls (who were walking down the street giving free soft drinks) to appease us. Rude rude rude


Very nice outside seating- good food- good service
Reviewer: Willi Welton from Eureka Ca
We have eaten here several times- and it looks a little stuffy when you first come up the the business- but the food sounds so good it drags you. The nice thing is you won't be disapointed- it is as good as it sounds! We love to sit and watch the people walk by on state street and the staff never hurries us on. Coffee is excellent as are the choices. The only time I was uncomfortable was when we sat inside.


Thank You!!!!
Reviewer: Ian Thomson from Goleta, CA
I had brunch here with my neighbor's mother on the morning of the Solstice Parade...Busy.....BUT.....Great, PERSONAL service. A1!!! Had lunch on my own on the street side on 7/2/08 and had a chicken cassidea, service was SB OK (Take your time and enjoy the view!). Should have spriters (white wine with soda) available. If you want faster service...Tell the server. If you're not happy with anything tell whoever appears to be in charge in a polite constructive manner there and then. If still not happy, politely go somewhere else...I know you'll come back!!! I have no involvement with this establishment other than as a satisfied client. Thanks!!!


cobb salad
Reviewer: sbrown from santa barbara, ca
I can't speak about the other items b/c ever since I tried the cobb salad that is all I order. Now I try to eat healthy and get my vegtables in but it is not often tastey however, but this salad is so good I could eat it every day. The meat and cheese portions are just the right amount, not cheap nor skimpy but not gobbed on and unappetizing and the bacon pieces are all meaty, not fatty - that's impressive! And, I didn't have to ask for another type of lettuce (it is NOT the non-nutricious iceburg lettuce that I hate and most cheap businesses like to use). The ranch dressing is good too, homemade - the way restaurants should make everything b/c the rest of us know how to open a can or bottle. If that's what we wanted we would eat at home for that. It is not the cheapest restaurant but in this case, you get what you pay for. I wanted to praise a restaurant that makes good dished. I normally would not comment but I have been so frustrated w/ restaurants lately. It is obvious when a restaurant is trying to pinch every penny possible and give you loads of the cheapest ingredients in your dish - the bread, rice or whatever, and especially, w/ miniscule portions of meat (obviously the most expensive part of the dish). For other restaurants: JUST MAKE THE DISH GOOD and charge what you need to for it. Anyways, I just wanted people to read this and if this dish sounds good, go for it. I know I appreciate other people's comments b/c eating for me is usually just a nuisance and since I have to pay for it, I can get quite irritated paying for something that I would never even have keept the recipe for. To B & B - please keep the cobb salad forever and never change it a bit. My requests and hopefully many others - please put a menu online and stay open till later on in the day. Thanks


When will this place be up for sale
Reviewer: James from Santa Barbara, Ca
Had a business lunch the other day and was very dissapointed. Service was lacking and slow. The server was not informed and had trouble answering questions as easy as "what's the soup today", his reply was "not really sure". Had a bottle of Brander SB....was corked! The sandwiches were ok except for the tuna sandwich, was all bread and no tuna salad. This spot has much potential, as a restaurant owner is SB, I would love to take it over and revamp it. Let me know if you are ready to sell. (Mean that in a good way).


I much preferred the old management
Reviewer: stacey from santa barbara
I have been eating at Barcliff & Bair for over 10 years, since I work within a couple of blocks of the place. As far as I am concerned, the quality of both food and service have suffered significantly since the new owner took over. I don't care about her "qualifications"; I do care about the dining experience. The brownies used to be the best in town. In truth I'm glad they are dry and substandard now, because eating them as often as I used to was an indulgence in which I probably should not have partaken. That being said, I admit that I still occasionally eat at B&B, but never enjoy the food or the experience as much as I did in the past. I have found the service to be slow and less polished, and my old favorites are not prepared with the same care as they had been. As far as the wine list goes, I'm happy to hear it has expanded, however since I always go at lunch on work days, I am not able to benefit from what another reviewer feels is an improvement at this restaurant.

Cafe Shell writes: Thank you so much for this feedback. I have taken new measures to continue to uphold our best brownie in town title. I have trained more staff to make them consistently since your review and we are making them more often, rotating them properly, and covering them at night to ensure freshness. I do hope you will try them again. We now offer them in $1.00 bite-sizes, as well and introduced Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies , too. Thank You, Barcliff & Bair
Big changes with new ownership
Reviewer: Adrienne Matt from New York, NY
If you haven't been to B&B in the past year, head back now. With new management by a veteran in the hospitality industry (the new owner grew up in the hotel/restaurant biz and is a former pastry chef at the Ritz Carlton and Opal), the menu has changed for the better and (thank goodness) so has the service. Fresh food, seasonal menu and -- gasp -- a wine list! Yes, there are more tables but there are actually more waiters, too. Anyone else experience a difference in the past year?


Very Mediocre
Reviewer: Drew from Goleta, CA
I went there for lunch today and the everyone was very nice but the service was slow. We waited for our salads for 35-45 minutes, and by that time I had to leave. My caesar salad was bland and the chicken was extremely dry. I can't see why all the other reviews have been so stellar.


Delicious food and outstanding service!!
Reviewer: Nicole Michaels from Santa Monica, CA
On a recent visit to Santa Barbara, my family and I decided to stop by this adorable restaurant for Sunday brunch. I had the crabcake benedict, which was magnificent and my husband ordered the pancake breakfast special which was equally delicious. The prices were affordable, and the quality of the food was well worth it. To top it off, the mimosas were some of the best I've had, and were poured right at our table by a very friendly waiter. The staff as a whole was very attentive and truly added to the experience. We can't wait for our next trip to the area!


Best Breakfast/Lunch in Town
Reviewer: Sharyn Vasser from Santa Barbara, CA
After just moving to Santa Barbara a little over a year ago I am so excited to have finally found such a cute restaurant that I am now a regular of. The breakfast is amazing, especially the potatoes and fresh fruit and coffee. The sandwiches are to die for as well as their crab cake salad- best crab cakes in town. What makes me love this place even more is the fun and friendly atmoshpere, I have always had great service and am always welcomed with a smile.I will definately be returning again and again.


slow service, pretty good food
Reviewer: chee from sb, ca
me and my friend got the ricotta scramble and the belgian waffle...my friend liked her eggs and said that they were quite tasty. my waffle had fresh fruit on it (though only a small scattering of strawberries, blueberries, and bananas), and it was more of a traditional flat american waffle versus the yeast batter waffle with the big nooks and crannies in it. the coffee was good, but the service was a tad slow. the discount card made the brunch definitely worthwhile though...I dunno if I'd go to brunch here without some sort of discount.


A Very Nice Lunch
Reviewer: Kathy from Calabasas, CA
We had a very nice lunch here. Good sandwiches and a hearty soup. The side salad was perfect: a nice mix of greens with a light dressing and a sprinkle of parmesan. No iceberg lettuce. No overwhelming glob of dressing. Service was attentive but not overbearing. We would definitely return.


Pleasurable Breakfast Experience
Reviewer: Carmen Raymond from Santa Barbara
My sister and I along with our three children are always looking for good restaurants to do our traditional Saturday morning breakfast....Barcliff and Bair was an excellent idea. We were able to sit outside and even though we had two strollers there was plenty of room for us all. The service was GREAT...our kids had entertainment and my sister and I were able to visit at ease. Highly recommend it for mommies wanting to enjoy Santa Barbara with their kids. We will go back again and again! ~Carmen Raymond~


Great!
Reviewer: manny P from santa barbara
My wife and I went out for breakfast there. When we arrived we were notified that we were a little late for breakfast, regardless the waitress had the cook make my wife that waffle she wanted. The waffle was delicious! We had sandwhiches. It was really good. service was a ok. We were very satisfied!


Eww for so many reasons
Reviewer: Leana from Santa Barbara, CA
I went to breakfast with my boyfriend to Barcliff & Bair on Saturday, October 28 and had one of the worst breakfast experiences ever. Not only was the service slow for a not-so-busy morning, but the food was awful and the dishes were dirty. Let me start with the food. My boyfriend ordered the two eggs and hash browns for $7. Worst $7 he ever spent. The hash browns were small in portion, mushy, and not seasoned. McDonalds has better hash browns for a fourth of the price. My poached eggs were definitely not patted dry because they arrived in a pool of water that had a hint of a lemon taste. The sausage was the cheap frozen type and the pancakes were thick and not light and fluffy. Moving onto the dishes. My water cup smelled like the dirty water you wash dishes with. My coffee cut arrived with crusty coffee on the rim from the previous user of the mug. The silverware also had that dirty water smell. The service was slow and the place wasnít even full. My pancakes came without syrup, and after waiting for quite sometime I had to go to the counter to ask the cashier for syrup since our waiter had forgotten about us again. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant place to attend for breakfast for many reasons. With the plethora of breakfast establishments in Santa Barbara, Iím not worried about finding a different breakfast place since I will not be returning to Barcliff & Bair.

Cafe Shell writes: We apologize for your experience. We are proud of our product; food, service and atmosphere. And while we do it great 99% of the time, we do sometimes goof...and forget to bring syrup...or don't pat-dry your poached eggs to your satisfaction. That said, we don't serve hash browns. We do serve pan-fried cut-potatoes with a unique seasoning, for which we receive a consistent stream of compliments. Our sausage is sourced from the premier meat distribution company in Santa Barbara...as is our bacon. We purchase high-quality ingredients; fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads and prepare them fresh daily. Thanks for your comments...feedback always makes us better. Best to you, and hope we see you soon. David & Shelley
no tourist trap!
Reviewer: Kathi from San Juan Capistrano
we enjoyed lunch this visit...on a previous trip, had enjoyed a wonderful breakfast...very good service and the food was excellent....this is definitely NOT a tourist trip!


Superb food!
Reviewer: Joan Barnett from Goleta, CA
I love this restaurant! My daughter and I went there, enjoyed a delightful table with a view up State Street and La Arcada court. We got grilled chicken & pesto on focaccia, and a grilled eggplant sandwiches -- I also had the best lentil soup I've ever eaten. Delivery of our food was a bit slow, but the server was delightful and attentive. Not a place to go if you are on a really limited lunch break. But if you have the time, go and enjoy! I can't wait to go again.


Sincere, but lacking.
Reviewer: John Stanley from Miami, FL
Awesome atmosphere, average food, poor service. Despite a very sincere effort, the staff is improperly trained or skilled to handle the clientele that the establishment is marketed towards.


one of the best finds in sb
Reviewer: Patricia from Santa Barbara,CA
The atmosphere and the food are both fantastic...tasted homemade and very fresh...service is lovely and will miss dearly when i move out of state...why can't there be more restraurants like this??


Great breakfast at a great price.
Reviewer: Christian Martinez from Santa Barbara
I have been eating breakfast here for years, the food is excellent, the service is always great, the staff is friendly and helpful, great background music, the atmosphere feels a little bit like a european cafe. What's not to like.


Great All Around!
Reviewer: Lilly Bair from Santa Barbara, CA
Barcliff and Bair is the greatest Cafe in SB! I have eating there for fifteen years, and I´m lovin every minute of it! I really enjoy the ambiance of the cafe, and of course the wonderful and creative dishes they serve! It´s great all around!


great spot!
Reviewer: steve Mooshagian from Sacramento, Ca
great atmosphere and service, nice menu variety. Top notch stop for me when i am in Santa Barbara!


AWESOME
Reviewer: Ron Mooshagian from Orange County, CA
AWESOME


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