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China Pavilion - Montecito
[closed, no longer in business]

1070 Coast Village Rd, Montecito
Phone: (805) 565-9380

  • Category: Chinese
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm, Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm, no lunch on Sunday
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
  • Reservations: Yes, but usually not needed
  • Map
  • Web Site
  • Menu
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Reviews by the General Public

New owners, new name
Reviewer: John Dickson from Santa Barbara, CA
China Pavilion in Montecito is under new ownership and is now listed in the guide at "China Palace."


A really nice place for Chinese
Reviewer: matt shanaberger from Santa Barbara, CA
OK, first the bad news. Santa Barbara has a lot of nice restaurants, but we really don't have a top-flight Chinese restaurant that will satisfy the real foodies in town. This aside, China Pavilion puts forth a great effort, and we tend to keep returning. The dishes are nicely spiced, never too salty, and has never been over-prepared. The produce tastes fresh, and fish dishes have always been excellent. The sauces preparations tend to be basic, nothing that will necessarily cause you to harass the chef for a recipe, but nicely done.


Horrible Food - Decent Service
Reviewer: Jim from Santa Barbara, CA
I do not get how the food can be so bad. I am from New York and have lived in Shanghai and Singapore. I know decent chinese food. The owner of this place also owns the China Pavillion on Chapala which has decent food. The food here is dreadful. It reminds you of that bad suburban chinese you ate when you were growing up and did not know better. I have spoken to them and they blame the food on the small kitchen, yet I have eaten in dives in asia where with a single Wok and they can turn out stunningly flavored fresh food. You do not want to eat here it is that simple. Drive to his other place or try one of the places on upper state. How is it possible that the wealthiest part of Santa Barbara has the worst food?


Don't be misled by other reviews just like we did
Reviewer: Can from Santa Barbara, CA
We eat frequently at the Chapala location and absolutely love it. "Misled" by the previous reviews, we wanted to make a change this time and had our dinner at the Montecito branch. I’m not going to comment much about the meager ambience and slow service but the food (stuffed Peking duck, Mongolian beef, Szechuan prawn) was as bad as it could be for this price range. We sent the shrimp dish, my favorite, back immediately since it was extremely sour instead of hot and lacked the vivid colors and dense texture that the Chapala version had. To be honest, it did not smell right either. We could only eat half of our Mongolian beef, which was prepared from very poor quality chunk meat and uncut scallions. Rice was cold and sticky. Even our sake was cold. We called our waiter and openly complained about our food, but he did not seem very interested in our criticism and instead asked whether we needed a box. Of course, we didn't. What else could I say? We were so frustrated by the food –and it was supposed to be a celebration- that we immediately drove back home to get our toothbrushes. So, if you live close by, drive 5 more minutes and go to Chapala location. If not, do not bother drive to Montecito to waste your money.


Too delicious for just two
Reviewer: Liza and Mark from Santa Barbara, CA
Chinese food tonight! We take out more often then dine in because the dishes are so tasty we need to order more than two. The six or seven dishes don't fit on the table for two. And take-out leaves room for a lot of great tasting leftovers. And normally we hate leftovers but the food is as good as the night we purchased it. The service is exceptional also. I order and my husband picks up - ten minutes later it is ready.


Best in SB!
Reviewer: john from Santa Barbara, CA
my family has been dining at the China Pavilion for about eight years and it is by far the best Chinese food in all of Santa Barbara. The service is always great. The restaurant can be a little noisy at times, but there is outdoor seating that is quite pleasant.


Great Lunch at Great Price
Reviewer: Mike from Santa Barbara, CA
We went to China Pavilion last Wednesday and sat out on the patio. Service was quick and friendly. I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken and my son ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken... immediately after placing the order, we received wontons and sauces, waters, iced teas. Several minutes after that we received our soups and salads (all part of the lunch special including fried rice!: Kung Pao Chicken: only $8.50!).. The food was fantastic and plenty for anybody with a huge appetite... It is obvious that the owners and operators of this facility take great pride in their food and providing great value and service! EXCELLENT PLACE FOR CHINESE!


P.F. Changs of Santa Barbara
Reviewer: Jason Streatfeild from Montecito
I'm glad I don't have to drive Beverly Hills to P.F. Changs for a great Chinese Restaurant. The food, service and location is much better without the Hollywood Glitz. I love China Pavillion in Montecito, and their downtown location for great parties.


Great lunch specials
Reviewer: Marie from Santa Barbara, CA
I had lunch and found the lunch specials to be reasonably priced and comes with a lot of food. I was stuffed!


Excellent food and service
Reviewer: Joni from out-of-town from Barrington, RI
We had some incredible vegetable dumplings.. very very light and tasty.. The chicken mushi was also very very good. Better than the Golden Buddha in Carmel, which used to be my favorite.. And the vegetable fried rice was also very very light and delicious.. Wish I could eat here every night!!


Delicious!
Reviewer: Kristy from Santa Barbara, CA
This was a very pleasant experience. Help was nice and food was great. We over ordered of course and were pleased to have left overs!


much improved
Reviewer: Debra Wheels from Santa Barbara, CA
The food used to be inconsistent, but has improved so much. The dishes are fresh, service is great, and remodel of interior is pretty.


disappointing...again...
Reviewer: j. nicholas from Santa Barbara, ca.
Tried it once, a year ago..N.G. They closed to remodel, added a pretty garden ...we figured , good gardeners are good cooks. WRONG. Food still dull, disappointing.Do wish they would read a good Chinese cookbook, use a bit of (example) fresh ginger,hoisin sauce, etc.. Serve free tea, w dinner,if wanted.Since this is the only Chinese restaurant in Montecito, we would be thrilled with less quantity=but-better quality food. Raise prices if necessary. We would be regulars at a good chinese restaurant nearby. Suggestion, send chef to PF Chang to eat, and Think.


Good most of the time
Reviewer: Eurasian chick from Ojai, CA
We've been here several times, and would agree with the last reviewer than this place can be inconsistent. However, most of the time we enjoy the food very much. Sometimes it's a little less flavorful than other times, and sometimes the service is a little spotty. The ambience is nothing special, so lately we've been going to the new China Pavilion on Chapala. The food there has been consistenly good--veggie dishes cooked to perfection--the mark of a good Chinese restaurant--and the service has been good so far. They've also done a great job of remodeling the space. I'm a little surprised that the last reviewer's semi-racist comment about "takee-outee" was allowed to stay in the the review; I find it offensive, not humorous, and am guessing that others will be offended as well. Since that remark was allowed to remain, I hope my reaction will be as well.


Hit or Miss
Reviewer: D.L. Parsons from Santa Barbara, CA
First time it was VERY good (especially by SB standards ;[ Next time it was bad, real bad... gave it another try and it was awful AND the wait for a table was RIDICULOUS!! Because the one girl trying to run the cash register, take names for seating and coordinate takee-outee... was all of about 16 years old and not very sharp. The restaurant needs quality control...


Very Good
Reviewer: Tony from SB
Ah, finally a decent chinese restaurant in SB. This is by far my favorite one. The food is very tasty, service is great, and its never too crowded (at least when I´ve been there). The price is reasonable for a sit down restaurant. Highly recommended!!!


At least it was warm
Reviewer: Brian O´Shea from Montecito, CA
Giving this restaurant one star was the least I could do...the wait staff was pleasant, the food was warm...but barely edible. I ordered the Sesame Chicken dish, a mainstay at most Chinese restaurants. The entree was dry, the chicken was crunchy, and the sauce was non-existant(see Szechuan Kitchen in Los Angeles or any P.F. Changs for a better example). I also ordered Egg Drop (Flower) soup, which was equally as horrendous. The soup contained everything, a veritable hodge-podge of broccoli, mushrooms, tofu, peapods, onion, and something that resembled egg. This was definately not the typical egg drop soup you find in China town...it was tasteless and smelled like boiled cabbage. If you hold your nose when you eat it...you just might like it. Final thought: one would think that the discriminating palates of most Montecito restaurants would have forced this restaurant to close it´s doors by now. Walk down to Cava, Stella Mare, or Lucky´s...it will be worth the wait!


Chinese Food to Die For

there are tons of chinese food places to go to in santa barbara, but all pale in comparison to china pavilion . . . its the best . . . i STRONGLY recomend the sesame chicken and mango ice tea !!!!


For Mom´s birthday

We chose China Pavillion as the dinner of choice for my mom´s birthday. We ordered take out and it was perfect. The food was hot & delicious and they even remembered the plumb sauce for my mooshoo chicken! Kind of steep but enjoyable!


Great stuff!

Always good, always hot, always the same, clean, nice owners, typical staff, but that kinda makes it real!


Good stuff!
Reviewer: Eric from Montecito
It helps that its just down the street from home but they have better than average food, good service (including remembering their frequent flyers) and you can almost always count on a table without waiting (bad for them but good for me)


The Best Chinese Food In the Western US.
Reviewer: Sarah Lubeck from Carpinteria, CA
I cannot say enough good about this restaurants Chinese food. My mouth is watering as I write. The food is absolutely fantastic EVERY time. It´s a beautiful joint as well. Great service. Have tried several menu items and loved every single one. Highlights: Spicy Basil Beef, Kung Pow Chicken, Walnut Shrimp (almost like dessert), Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Homemade Style Tofu…I could go on and on. Their eggrolls are too greasy, but everything else is insane good. Prices have gone up, but hey—it´s Montecito. A great place to bring a large group, order several entrees and pass around. Their food puts all other SB area Chinese Restaurants to shame.


ammonia smell

Fantastic chinese food, great service, and elegant decor. But recently, completely masking the aromas of crispy duck or garlic pepperribs, the establishment is unmistakably suffused with bleach or ammonia fumes Whatever the cleaning agent, it´s a powerful turnoff . . .


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