Santa Barbara > Restaurants > Carlitos Cafe & Cantina
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Carlitos Cafe & Cantina
1324 State St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 962-7117

  • Category: Mexican
  • Hours: Summer: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 9am-10:30pm, Winter: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 9am-10:30pm
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
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Reviews by the General Public

Pleasant outdoor atmosphere and good food
Reviewer: Richard from Modesto, CA
Our daughter is attending UCSB, so we have been frequent visitors to SB. We have enjoyed going to Carlitos on every visit, and all of our previous experiences with the restaurant's food and service have always been positive. On our last visit in February, we arrived on rented Ebikes and asked for a table close to where we had parked them. The staff was very accomodating to our needs; the food, as always, was delicious and the drinks were well made. We have friends who will be visiting in April, and we will highly recommend Carlitos as one restaurant they do not want to miss!

Busy place
Reviewer: Mike F. from Santa Barbara, CA
I haven't eaten at Carlitos in many years. The reason is because they are always very busy on weekends. This last weekend we were walking by and noticed some tables available and we were seated immediately. The service was great, drinks good, guacamole very good. The entrée was just OK considering that I can get the same thing at my favorite Mexican restaurant for $6.00 less.

Excellent Food and Great Service!
Reviewer: Michelle Flower from Santa Barbara, CA
We love Carlitos! They have delicious food and great service and very clean. I can't understand why some people give bad reviews about Carlitos Restaurant, Just because they got more ice in their drink they are not happy... Well then they should of send it back and have them pour more liquor as simple as that. I'm sure it wouldn't have been a problem. Our experience with their drinks have been Excellent! they make them pretty strong. We have nothing negative to say about Carlitos Restaurant . Glad that they are still in town. Because it's the best BEST! Mexican food Restaurant downtown State street Santa Barbara Ca.

Reviewer: Carol from Santa Barbara, CA
I took one of my best friends to this restaurant for lunch because it was a favorite of his although not visited lately. The meal and service was miserable. He asked for a Margarita with very little ice. It came with a lot of ice. And in a water glass! His chicken quesadilla was way too spicey and all of it inedible. I didn't know spicey was an option. My coke was flat. We has to ask for water which came eventually.The guacamole arrived much, much later than the tortilla chips. I paid the waitress and when she asked if we enjoyed our meal, I said no. She told the manager. He asked us for details and then offered to take $10 off our $55.00 (without tip) bill. Never again.

SB Local Who Knows (they used to be) Better!
Reviewer: Micah from Santa Barbara, CA
We had a sad experience the other night. This place used to rock. Cool ethnic music. Nice, comfortable outside seating. Great rock shrimp tacos, steak, fish, guac, salsa. Great everything. The staff were professional and efficient and nice. I'm not sure when this happened, but the cuisine has been gutted, or dumbed down. Is there a Cordon Blue on Mars? It's as if Aliens who had been watching the kitchen for years from afar are now doing the cooking. All the dishes are the same, and yet they are different. Read: They are now tasteless and bland. And the presentation was sloppy and lacked the details, such as flavors, garnishes, perfect preparation, etc of yore. Even the simple chicken and rice on my daughter's kids meal was inedible. The chicken was so dry it was difficult to chew. We had to send it back and just get some black beans. They were also very basic, but tolerable. I'm not sure what's going on. The ambience is still awesome. The staff are pretty nice, and helpful. They are clearly all about business, but this is a business so that's ok. A little more heart and soul would be nice of course. Interestingly, to their credit, the place was packed. There was a scene like quality. Some people have no taste of course. Is this one of those places that has a following of loyal people who just don't notice the details like lousy food? Ok, that was a bit mean. Maybe it was just an off night, but I wish I had given them the night off! Everything is priced to perfection - please deliver it! I'd have to heard some good things first hand from people I know in order to return.

Great Santa Barbara Staple
Reviewer: Melony from Santa Barbara, CA
Really fun local place, always take friends and visitors here. The food portions are huge and tasty and always come out so fast! This last time I got the chicken mole and my husband got the coconut shrimp, both were super yummy and we had tons of left overs. Our server Juan was great, very personable and knowledgeable about the menu and even though it was a busy night thanks to him we had everything we needed in a timely manner. Great atmosphere & friendly service keeps us coming back.

Great Food...Great Service
Reviewer: Kelly and Mike from Santa Barbara, CA
The atmosphere is inviting with indoor and outdoor dining, live music, appetizing food. We have been coming to this restaurant for 7 years now, and we eat here weekly. This is a great place to bring out of town guests to experience the flavor of Santa Barbara. This place is really popular so there can be a wait during peak times, like most great restaurants. The staff is always friendly and accommodating. As a frequent customer I have not experienced or seen any of the negative experiences that some of the other commenters have. I would and do recommend Carlitos to anyone looking for pleasant, Santa Barbara dining experience .

Great Food. Horrible Service.
Reviewer: Mark from Santa Barbara, CA
As a local, I've dined (and picked up the check) at Carlito's with from one to ten guests dozens of times each year for at least seven years. The food was, and is, great. The service, though, over the past 9 or so months, has become atrocious. On my past five or so visits (my last) I, and my guests, have had to ask multiple times for more water (that never comes) or more salsa (that never comes) or even for the check (that eventually comes). Sometimes these requests are met with a "right away" which becomes a "never." Just as frequently, they're met with blank stares or even smirks, but no service. I'm not sure who, if anyone, is managing the restaurant, but my suggestion to the owner is that everyone -- other than the cooks -- should be fired. They're putting the place out of business anyway, so it's only a matter of time until they're looking for new jobs.

Awesome food, be prepared to wait, but it is worth it
Reviewer: CaliGirlForever from Santa Barbara, CA
Love this place. Inside and outside is fun but inside gets cramped expecially if it is loud and don't sit near restroom hallway because lots of people pass by and wait for restrooms. Outdoors is the best. Love everything here and never know if should try something new or stick to a favorite. The grilled chicken with peppers is to die for and is my new fave. The quesadilla, seafood burrito, and shrimp Caesar salad are also delicious. Try the veggie quesadilla with added chicken. To die for! Staff is very friendly and smiling. Just a great spot.

Love this place
Reviewer: Diane from Camarillo ca.
We drive from Camarillo because we love their steak nachos and their food. love the outside tables and parking is great. We have always had great service and I always recommend it to my co workers and friends in Camarillo. We always take our out of state visitors to enjoy a meal at Carlitos in Santa Barbara Will go back often. :)

Excellent - Highly Recommend
Reviewer: Tina from Los Angeles, CA
I had dinner at Carlitos Cafe & Cantina this past weekend and loved everything about this restaurant. The service was excellent and the food was flavorful and delicious. We had several different appetizers and the chicken mole. We even had a simple, but delicious strawberry dessert that was an excellent ending to an amazing meal. We had a wonderful tequila called Tequila Chamucos that was so good, I want to buy a whole bottle (currently looking for it). Between the ambiance, the food, the service, the tequila and my dining companion, it was a perfect night. I will definitely go back again and will highly recommend to friends & family.

fantastic. food love the ceviche it was a meal in itself
Reviewer: mickie from ontario, ca
Was on a mini vacation and found this on goggle and they were write the food was great. They dont put heavy. Sauces on things and the meals are huge. The drinks were great not lite on the liquor.

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