Santa Barbara > Restaurants > El Paseo Restaurant
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El Paseo Restaurant
813 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 962-6050

Reviews by the General Public

Excellent in every way.
Reviewer: Wally from Santa Barbara, CA
A group of eight of us ate here the evening after Thanksgiving. We all agreed that the food was wonderful, and the service couldn't have been better.

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner
Reviewer: Art from Foster City, CA
On Saturday, November 9th we held a wedding rehearsal dinner for our son and his bride to be at the El Paseo Restaurant. It could not have been better. The festive atmosphere of the restaurant and the entrees that we had picked out to be served (Enchiladas de Mariscos, Burrito Mojado and Sizzling Fajitas) were delicious and enjoyed by all of our guests. The kids present enjoyed the dishes from the Children’s Menu that they and their parents selected. The amount of food provided our guests was extremely generous. The Guacamole and Margaritas were great, and the fresh, homemade Churros were to die for; they literally melted in your mouth. Everyone was served very quickly and ably by Nathan and his fellow colleagues. Most important, every one of our guests greatly enjoyed the meal and the evening. We greatly appreciated the involvement of each of the managers (Paul, Tyr and Victor) for making this wedding rehearsal dinner so enjoyable. Santa Barbara has a real Mexican restaurant treasure - El Paseo. We recommend it highly to anyone interested in fine Mexican food. I wish we had a comparable Mexican restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area where my wife and I live.

great food, great service
Reviewer: MQ from Santa Barbara, CA
Amazing experience! Awesome appetizers, drinks, dinner, and dessert. The fajitas are really delicious. The homeade tortillas are to die for, especially the flour tortillas! Yesenia was an amazing server and we will come back for both the food and the service. Refreshing margaritas and fun ambience.

Food was okay but the service was lacking.
Reviewer: Eugene from Chula Vista, CA
Six of us visited Santa Barbara and El Paseo yesterday. The restaurant came highly rated (4-5 stars). We entered and were seated immediately. The restaurant was less than half full of customers. From there it was downhill. We had to ask for water and tortilla chips. After being there one hour we still didn't have our meals. Then all but one was served, we had to ask for that last order. Meals were okay except for one, it was returned and refunded. Too bad the manager doesn't train his help better. If there is going to be a delay, let the customer know and explain why. It goes without saying that a group wants to eat at the same time. When I complained all that I got was "I'm sorry." El Paseo has a nice atmosphere, pretty good Mexican food but needs to improve it's service.

Wedding Reception at the Historic El Paseo Restaurant
Reviewer: Candice from Santa Barbara, CA
My husband and I really wanted a venue for our wedding reception that was unique to Santa Barbara. When he thought of the historic El Paseo Restaurant, I was really excited to explore the possibility of having our wedding reception there. The space is already so beautiful we really didn’t feel the need to spend a lot on décor. We envisioned chiffon draped along the high beamed ceiling, candle light and deep red roses adorning the space. Paul, the manager, was very helpful in assisting with our reception details and logistics. We also got to sit down with executive chef, Alex Castillo to talk about menu options. This was one of my favorite meetings since it was about food! Keeping our budget in mind, Paul and Alex walked us through some options. When the big day came, Paul took on the roll of coordinator for the evening. We couldn’t have asked for anything more! Great ambiance, friendly and attentive service, yummy food & drinks and happy guests. We have such fond memories of our wedding reception, and a huge part of that was the team at El Paseo! We would definitely recommend this venue!

Wedding Reception
Reviewer: Dean Carr from Santa Barbara, CA
We held my daughter's wedding reception at El Paseo on Sept 24th. It was a fantastic experience! From the pre-planning to the culmination of the reception at midnight we can't say enough about the service from the staff, chefs, and bar tenders. General Manager, Paul has the experience to help us throw a party that will be talked about for a long time. Our guests from Denmark, Alaska, Texas, Ohio, Arizona and locals said this was the best reception that they've been too. Dinner was a special buffet chosen by my daughter with Paul's recommendations and it was great. It's nice to be able to have a customized menu. I can't wait till my son gets married so I can come here again!

El Paseo Rehearsal Dinner 2011
Reviewer: Gail and Richard Beiley from Hollywood, Florida
On July 15, 2011, my husband and I hosted our son's and future daughter in law's rehearsal dinner at the El Paseo. It was magical and more than we had hoped for. Paul ( General Manager)was the best to work with. Being from Florida, we made 2 trips to Santa Barbara to find the perfect setting. We hosted the event for 120 people so finding a place large enough was an issue but this restaurant was perfect. Paul showed me decorations done with sunflowers and I decided to use that theme. White tableclothes and black wrought iron furniture with 300 sumflowers plus the natural ambiance of the restaurant made the setting gorgeous. Everytime I had a question and called Paul, he reassured me that he would take care of everything and he did. Alex (the chef) put out a buffet that was so delicious everyone was raving about it. The appetizers were free flowing and there was so much food we were all stuffed. I had one relative who came up to me and told me this was the best rehearsal dinner she had ever attended. There is amble room to dance and move about. We had children at the event and they had a ball running around the food tables especially the dessert bar. We had AV equipment brought in to show a DVD and there was plenty of room to accomodate this without being in the way of anything or anyone. I also had photographers come in and I am thrilled at the pxs. The beauty and great time everyone had is now recorded. Many of the guests were in their 30's and attended the University of Florida ( Go Gators.) They do know how to party and the bar area was perfect for everyone to congregate in and toast the bridal couple and throw back shots of Tequila. A more magical evening, we could not have had. The staff and bartenders were great with everyone and could not do enough for the guests. I hope someday we get to host another event there. It was the best!!!

Taco Tuesday!
Reviewer: Devon from Santa Barbara, CA
I have lived in the Santa Barbara area now for over 18 years and up until this evening I had avoided El Paseo's pricey menu and mediocre service. Finding a restaurant that my entire family can agree on is very tricky! A friend of mine suggested El Paseo's Taco Tuesday so I decided to check it out. After browsing through the farmers market on State St., my daughters and I decided to give it a go. No matter what anyone says, you can't beat El Paseo's beautiful design and historical architecture. The hostess was very polite as she sat us down and handed us a couple of menus. Not only was there a full blown taco bar set up consisting of awesome home made tortillas (soft and hard shell), chicken, pork, beef, rice, beans, and a whole bunch of other yummy toppings, there were a couple minutes left of happy hour! We decided on the taco bar and ordered some guacamole and taquitos as well. Super cheap! Not to mention the taco bar is just under 7 bucks! The food was amazing, the waitress was very sweet and extremely accommodating! All of the staff were very friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves, which made us feel warm and welcomed! I may have gained a few pounds after all those endless flour tortillas, but that won't be stopping me from bringing the rest of the family for a Taco Tuesday dinner. It's unfortunate El Paseo is so hidden! People walk right passed this lovely spot because it is so discrete! My only suggestions... open more than one of the ceiling rafters and possibly some more advertising!

Once in a Lifetime Experience
Reviewer: Josh from Santa Barbara, CA
We received our bill with many mistakes, to the tune about about $75 dollars too high. The waitress was gracious to remove the food item that was wrong, but had to speak with her manager to remove the drink items (the quantity had been doubled). Long story short, the manager, Paul, argued with us about the price of the drinks and questioned whether or not we order 8 drinks or 4. I was beside myself that this conversation even occurred; totally inappropriate. He then came back and said the bartender poured us "doubles" (even though we didn't ask for doubles, and charging double price for a double drink is not industry standard). Mind you we were 4 people in a group of 20, and the manager was rude, unprofessional, and condescending when we tried to have an adult conversation about an obvious mistake on the bill. We still left a 20% tip for the waitress, because it wasn't her fault, but I will never eat there again because of the manager's pathetic behavior. To top it off, when we went to talk to the manager a third time he told us that since we obviously weren't happy, we should just leave. It's a shame that for such a gorgeous setting, the restaurant chooses to cut corners. In the 10 years I've lived in SB, I've seen a lot of restaurants close doors; and most were better than El Paseo is now. I hope they turn their act around and take poor reviews seriously. I debated on whether or not to post negatively; I guess I'm hoping they'll learn their lesson. The food is average, the service is rarely pleasing, and now I know the drinks are expensive. If you're a tourist, try Carlitos across from the Arlington, or my favorite: Los Arroyos on Figueroa. Don't let this restaurant leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Five Stars for Worst Service and "Mexican Food"
Reviewer: Lizet Burruel from Santa Barbara, CA
El Paseo has the look of a great restaurant but please read the following before you decide to pay a visit. My boyfriend and I decide we wanted Mexican food for dinner, as a result we visit one of the two highly advertised Mexican restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara. From the moment we stepped into the restaurant, the host was not posted aside the podium greeting the two couples waiting for a table. As we waited for the host to show us to our table, I inquired about restroom with the bartender who was passively rude and indirect. Eventually (10 minutes) later, we get acknowledged by the waitress and receive some of the worst service. This none attentive female didn't bother to provide us with water glasses as I observed all other customers had provided to them. In attempt to ignore the biased vibe we experience, we observed the missing silverware. We dismissed bringing up the missing utensils to their attention, since we were distracted by thd drinks we'd ordered, we both overlooked that she brought a canned beer without a glass. Upon requesting the glass, she inmediatly returned with a noticably filthy glass with some type of depris vidable in the center of the glass next to finger prints and all other dirty remains. Again, we chose to ignore the obvious negligence of so called customer service, she lays my boyfriends set of utensils bare on the table rather than on top of the cloth napkin. This resulted in our decision to leave this horrible ambiance before anything worse could occur. I've never witnessed such an unsanitary restaurant which raises the question, are these standard restaurant policy to practice minimal work ethic or was this a matter of discrimination toward a Hispanic couple dinning in a Mexican restaurant managed by caucasion environment. Whatever the reason behind it, it destroyed the historic landmark creating a distasteful restaurant experience.

The El Paseo gets 5 stars
Reviewer: Ritchie from Santa Barbara, CA
El Paseo Restaurant has been a landmark in Santa Barbara for years. Now the food & service lives up to the reputation it once had. I had the Bistec con Championes and my wife had the Chile Relleo. Each dish was amazing and each dish were under $20. The service was great as they kept on top of our needs. They still are the best tequila bar in town and even have tequila tasting each month with great live guitar music. I will recommend The El Paseo restaurant to everyone I know.

Very good. Could be great.
Reviewer: Alan G from Santa Barbara, CA
My wife and I split a four selection combo: Chile Relleno, chicken taco, cheese enchilada taco, and tamale. It came with rice and black beans. Everything was tasty without being overly processed (like Mexican fast food) or overly primitive (like faux authentic). All the chicken was well-prepared white breast. We visited early evening on New Year's Day. The restaurant was about 1/4 full, but with such a large seating area, it seemed fairly empty. On one side of the room, throughout our dinner, the staff was setting up tables for the next day's brunch buffet. It was not unnecessarily loud or anything, but it's a detail that made the meal slightly less enjoyable. The service otherwise was just right.

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