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Spiritland Bistro
[closed, no longer in business]

230 E. Victoria St, Santa Barbara
Phone: (805) 966-7759

  • Category: Vegetarian
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sun 11:30am-2pm, Dinner: Sun-Thu 5:30pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm
  • Price: $10 - $20
  • Serving: Lunch & Dinner
  • Reservations: Yes, recommended
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Reviews by the General Public

The duck was fantastic!
Reviewer: Leslie from Ventura, CA
I don't know what the reviewer below is talking about. I had the smoked duck two weeks ago & it was terrific. A very generous portion of tasty duck (a whole duck breast I understand). On a bed of wild rice (yes, even this organically is very expensive), along with (in my case) broccolini. Okay, $37 is not inexpensive, but this dish was filling, delicious, & worth it.


hugely expensive for what it is
Reviewer: Nora from Santa Barbara, CA
I get that organic food costs more and I am willing to pay more for organic food. That said, there is no way that duck with green beans (sans truffles or any other prized ingredient) should be $37. That is thirty-seven dollars, more than you will pay for entrees at many if not most restaurants in town. I just bought organic green beans at the FM for $5/pound; was the duck itself that expensive? I'm not buying at all the idea that this is fair or accurate pricing but it's not just the duck special: in general I think the whole bill for any meal is going to be high for what it is, which is to say a set of dishes with ordinary, albeit organic, ingredients.


Only place around!
Reviewer: Jordan from Santa Barbara, CA
This place is amazing! They truly look to create healthy and delicious food accommodating all eats of life. You can find one of their managers at the Farmers Market every week buying up the best of the local produce. Their prices are competitive with anyone else in town, who do not even offer organic and local. It is NOT McDonald's and they don't have a microwave in the restaurant, so be patient and enjoy appetizers, beer and wine. Someone else also commented but I reiterate, come early or later instead of arriving with everybody else at 7-730. It is a small place, and when everyone shows up at the same time....


Go early avoid the crowd
Reviewer: Bill from Goleta, CA
I have been here several times for dinner and find the menu simple and food wonderful. Getting there early has rewards that excede my late arrival previously. The service was most accomodating all the times but the presentation on the plate was super when I went early. A very peaceful and stimulating meal. The small but efficient front staff always make you feel wonderful. It appears to be a family run restaurant with one of the healtyist menus in Santa Barbara. I hope others continue to enjoy as I have.


This is my new favorite place!
Reviewer: Liz from Santa Barbara, CA
I've often wanted to check this place out but had it filed away in "too pricey/special occasion". Reading in the Daily Sound that they had a killer lunch deal Bento box I decided to give it a try. Oh my god: so good! I'm someone who can be schizo between liking healthy options and liking my butter and cream. So to find something healthy and affordable that is pleasurable to eat is a real find. I had the salmon with wild rice with the ginger cream sauce, which I was a touch scared of because cream sauces can even put my hedonistic self off. This was light and just added a fun essence and moisture to my lunch.I can't wait to try the other sauce combinations. The meal was ready in 10 minutes from my phone call (as promised) and check out was lickety split. I'm sorry I waited so long to try this place. Don't make my mistake!


Our favorite Restaurant in Santa Barbara
Reviewer: Warren Elliott from Santa Barbara, CA
It has become our favorite place to eat, at least when we're paying the bill. We & our adult children have eaten here often and have never had a bad meal. The creative and unusual menu is always tasty, well prepared and nicely presented. The staff are first rate, friendly, and well informed about the food and the wines Warren Elliott, Polly Griscom, David & Katrina Kujan


fantastic food- nice people
Reviewer: william boyle from wrightwood ca
Had a vegan meal here, very special, went back the next night and it was just as good even though they were extremely busy. The two people serving were very very good, and I think the Chef's name was Norbert, and he was XLNT as well. Highly recommended.


Happy Customer!
Reviewer: Anita from Santa Barbara, CA
I am so surprised to see a couple bad reviews on here... My husband & I went to Spiritland about 3 years ago for the first time & it has become our favorite restaurant in SB. Each time the service is way above par and the food is just perfect. To the person that said it does not have flavor and is bland...maybe you should give it another try?? I am known to like bold flavors & saltier foods, but I am so pleased with the food here. It is not a steakhouse nor is it a vegan, flavorless restaurant. It is carefully prepared food with fresh, local ingredients.


The flavors just aren't there...
Reviewer: Wendy from Santa Barbara, CA
I went to Spiritland Bistro with a friend. Our waiter was very sweet and treated us well. I was disappointed to discover that the food did not match the ambiance of the restaurant or the attentiveness of the waiter. The salmon was dry and bland, veggies tasted like the ones I make that had been frozen and steamed. I even ordered a wine and it tasted old. All this place needs is a chef who can create FLAVOR, and it will sweep the restaurant scene.


Effort doesn't add up
Reviewer: Barry from Santa Barbara, CA
Spiritland clearly has its heart in the right place but after a few visits, the food simply hasn't been that great. Even after putting in a new menu, the choices aren't very exciting. I've tried a couple of different fish entrees and they have been overcooked, lacking in flavor and, in my opinion, overpriced. The service and wine selection are definitely the high points.


New young Chef starting
Reviewer: Richard Olson from Santa Barbara, CA
I plan on visiting real soon. A new young chef will assist the existing master chef. This new young chef prepared meals for our corporate functions and will be missed. I look forward to visiting soon.


EXCELLENT!
Reviewer: Gabriela Ponce from Santa Barbara, CA
I work in the restaurant industry and there is nothing better than being attended well. The service was exceptional. I was recommended by our waitress the Polenta with goat cheese with was amazing. For our entree my friend and I ordered the raw lasagna with mushrooms, which too was so good. there was nothing left. we finished off with the raw lime mousse. very good I will be back for sure


Will go back AGAIN and AGAIN!
Reviewer: Mary from Chicago, IL
Our UCSB student follows a gluten and dairy free diet. We visited last week and enjoyed every bite of our appetizer, entree and deserts. The three of us each ordered a different dish and they were equally delicious. Our daughter had now eaten there three times and raved about the food. The service was attentive and very polite. We will certainly stop in for dinner each time we are in SB. Oh, just to mention the wine pairings they have made for the entrees on the menu were spot on! Thank you Spiritland Bistro for offering such a creative menu for those who care to eat organic, vegan, gluten or dairy free.


nice idea, poor execution
Reviewer: Mike Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA
Have been to this restaurant many times. Will not return. The service is often slow and almost certainly combined with an unpleasant attitude. When you have two people in your party order the same dish - don't expect it to come out of the kitchen looking or tasting the same - or expect the waitstaff to deal with the inconsistancy in a professional and polite manner. Have talked to many people about their experience with this restaurant - all have come to the same conclusion - great idea, poor execution - will not return.

Spiritland Bistro writes: Mike, We are sorry you did not have an enjoyable dinning experience. We strive to provide delicious food with a high quality of service and we are always looking to improve. We would be grateful if you could provide us with specific details as to where you feel we did not meet your expectations regarding the service as well as the food so we can fully address the situation. You can contact us any time at info@spiritlandbistro.com. Please provide your preferred contact information so we provide you with something for you trouble. We look forward to providing you with an experience that surpasses your expectations.
Excellent!!
Reviewer: JS from Santa Barbara, CA
Absolutely flawless. Loved every bit of my dining experience and I can't wait to go back!


I Love This Cute Litttle Restaurant!!!
Reviewer: Mich from Santa Barbara, CA
Our vegan daughter wanted to have her birthday dinner here, it was the 2nd time for all of us to try this restaurant. My husband and I are not vegan. We all had a fabulous meal. Everything was beautifully presented and delicious. The desserts were wonderful. The service was top notch, a definite improvement from the first time we were there a few months ago, I think they are really making an effort to improve the service and it showed. They also have a good wine list. We will definitely return soon.


Great Experience!
Reviewer: Mary from Santa Barbara, CA
We walked in for dinner on a Wednesday night. Everything was wonderful! We were seated right away, asked what kind of water we wanted -- nothing was pushed on us at all, and we drank the free filtered. I ordered a glass of wine and my fiance just drank water all night. A basket of bread came next -- yummy warm bread with olive oil and vinegar dipping plate. I ordered the beat and butternut squash salad to start, and fiance ordered the caesar salad. So delish! I ordered the mussaka and he ordered the stuffed salmon. Everything was excellent. WE decided against dessert (even though the choices looked amazing), but they did bring small pieces of candied ginger with the bill, and let me taste one of their tonics for free. Will definately be back again. Thanks!


First and Last Visit
Reviewer: Christina from San Francisco
When I saw an ad for this restaurant I was very excited to try it out. My husband and I dined there once and were disappointed. The restaurant seems pretty run down for "fine dining" and the food and service were terrible. When we were seated by the someone who identified himself as the manager, he only gave us a wine list and no menus. Neither of us were drinking, so we sat there for 5 minutes until the manager came back to take our wine order, which I thought was odd, because wine is supposed to compliment food, and if you don't know what type of food you're ordering, then what's the point of ordering wine? The manager seemed irked we were not ordering wine, and did not have the best bedside manner. He wasn't exactly rude, just lacking in customer service/people skills. The appetizer was just OK. I had a salmon special that was way overcooked and dry. The vegetables were supposed to be cooked but were still almost raw. My husband also had overcooked fish and runny mashed potatoes that seemed like they were made from a box. We could not eat our food. Needless to say, we skipped dessert.

Spiritland Bistro writes: Christina, we are sorry you had an unpleasant experience at Spiritland Bistro. We strive to provide the best in local organic food and helpful, knowledgeable service. We would like to get additional feed-back from you regarding the short-comings you perceived in our food and service. Please contact us at info@spiritlandbistro.com so we can look into addressing matters and hopefully convincing you to give us another try.
DO NOT go here unless you have all day to wait...
Reviewer: Jennifer from Santa Barbara
After waiting an hour for two sandwiches we finally had to let them know we needed our lunches to go, after waiting another 20 minutes for them to pack it up for us we got back to our office and realized they messed up our order and the portions were miniscule. The service was unbelievably slow, they didn't seem to care and didn't even appologize!


Best Vegan Dessert Ever! Best Milkshake! So-So Entree
Reviewer: A Teague from Los Angeles, CA
Based on other reviews, we tried the Spiritland Bistro on our recent getaway to Santa Barbara and had a pleasant experience. Entrees were $16-$25. They offer a more organic upscale dining experience than the usual hippie Vegan/Organic casual places. The food presentation is artistic. The restaurant is small but sweet in the decor. Our waitress was very accomodating and friendly. The Asian stir fry entree I had was very average (as a Vegan I don't consider cutting up tofu and putting it with vegetables and rice Vegan cooking as there is so much more to being Vegan than baked tofu), however, I will say that I had the best Vegan chocolate cake of my life there! And my boyfriend thought the milkshake he had was the best ever - so this romantic little hideaway gets an A+ for sweets. Pros: Best Vegan Dessert Ever! Best Milkshake! Charming atmosphere. Friendly & Very Attentive Waitstaff Cons: Vegan Entree was very average


Excellent food - AWFUL service
Reviewer: Chris from Santa Barbara
Reading previous reviews I must assume that my experience was not an exception. I have eaten at Spiritland a few times and have always loved the food. The service however got worse with each visit. The last dinner was just the icing on the cake. I came with a group of my friends and experienced the most pompous service ever. It was utterly ridiculous. From what I read the "bottled water" push is one of the themes at Spiritland. All menu items have wine recommendations yet the server asked us immediately what wine we would like. When my friend answered that she would like to take a few minutes to look at the menu first she was told in the most rude tone that "wine is usually ordered before the dinner". Then why have wine recommendations underneath the dinner items, I ask? Especially if you give your guests no chance to actually look at the menu, including the wine menu. The server then proceeded to rattle of the specials including a desert item that he described as "amazing" only to conclude that this desert was reserved for those who ordered the special three course dinner. My friends and I all decided that this was definitely the last time we would eat at Spiritland, even though we love the food. But given the incredibly bad service we feel we are not valued customers, not to mention how overpriced the menu can look after our experience.

Spiritland Bistro writes: We are sorry to read about your unpleasant experience at SpiritLand Bistro. We are passionately devoted to serve our community with the highest quality & health conscious organic food. We try very hard to educate our servers to understand we are not here to push sales, but to provide as wide a range of selections as possible to meet our customer's different needs. One example of this is water; we provide everything from free filtered water to sparkling water and high quality artesian water imported from Norway. We are probably the smallest fine dining specialty restaurant in town, striving to include as may unique dining needs as possible for the community. Our philosophy is to take criticism as direction to continuously improve our performance here. We are grateful that you took the time to write this review, as customer feedback is the only means we have to understand our server's performance. We would deeply appreciate if you were willing to provide us the date you were in, so we can look into this matter and re-educate our server's inefficiency. We hope that you will check us out again and if you do, please make a reservation with our floor manager Margaret or nighttime Maitre d' Ken.
excellent food, attentive service
Reviewer: Patricia from Ontario Canada via Santa Barbara, CA
The menu is extensive and innovative, with careful attention to options for both vegans and vegetarians. The wine list is also very good. On our server's recommendation we tried a new wine the restaurant was featuring that is really remarkable. We were pleased with all the recommendations from our servers as well as with their taking notice of when to appear, ie to try to avoid interrupting us in conversation. The only minor criticism is that they ran out of the feature prix-fixe menu almost immediately after having convinced my husband to order it, so a bit of planning/coordination is needed for that. I am somewhat nonplussed at the previous review from Al. They open at 5:30 and you were "finally" seated at 5:34?? Four minutes is "finally"? Goodness me you do live life to the fullest I daresay if you haven't four minutes to spare for anyone.


Terrible Service
Reviewer: Al from Santa Barbara, CA
We were regulars when Joel and Gary owned the restaurant and were always happy with the food and service. Apparently they are under new ownership. We arrived 15 minutes before their 5:30 opening on 11/28. Another party arrived a few minutes after us, took a table and were waited on. At 5:30 we asked if we could go in and they told us to wait a few more minutes. When we were finally allowed in at 5:34 we sat and waited for them to acknowledge our presence by bringing us a menu and water. After waiting 15 minutes we decided to leave. So we can't comment if the food is still as good as it used to be. The service is nothing like it used to be.


Raw lunch is quite good.
Reviewer: Jeff from Santa Barbara
I've tried most of the raw lunch menu and everything is good. Nothing insane, but quite tasty and reasonable priced for raw organic grub.


Bread and Booths
Reviewer: Katie from Santa Barbara, CA
I echo the review of "not receiving bread without buying bottled water". My boyfriend and I had the same experience! We had heard such wonderful things about this restaurant, but we left quite disappointed. The waiter would not allow us to sit in a booth since they were "reserved for larger parties" yet by the end of my meal in 3 of the booths sat couples. Hmmm ... Overall: tasty food, overpriced, small portions. And strange rules regarding bread and booths ;)

Spiritland Bistro writes: Katie, we strive for providing excellent service and we sincerely apologize that the service you received was not up to our usual standards. We will speak with the staff regarding the issue you had with bread and I assure that it is our policy to provide all customers with excellent service including, promptly receive regardless of what they do or do not order. We would love to speak with you further regarding your experience so we can ensure better service. Please contact us at info@spiritlandbistro.com or call the Bistro at (805) 966-7759 and ask for Ken.
Excellent!!!
Reviewer: Mike from sb, ca
This place is a little gem in town. The menu is a vegetarian/vegan's dream and they have weekly regional themed specials. The flavors are wonderful, the ingredients fresh, the service was five stars all the way. I felt like we had butlers taking care of our every need. One of my new favorites for sure. I agree about the bottled water. Big whoop, customers expect bottled water. I ordered a bottle for the table. "TOTALLY" unacceptable in all caps makes me TOTALLY LOL @ JB's review!!!


"Robin Food" is confused or just another troll...
Reviewer: JB from Goleta, CA
First off, "Robin Food," if you read my past reviews I bet at least 95% or more are positive praise for the restaurants I dine at. This being a review site it is important to include the negative side of a dining experience and the reasons for it. Thankfully most often I have great meals in Santa Barbara and it's great to see restaurant owners listening and responding to reviews on here. As far as the bottled water goes. Serving bottled water in a fine dining restaurant, bistro, etc is one thing; serving bottled water at a restaurant who's themes revolves around their "GREEN" image that they promote highly is TOTALLY unacceptable.


JB Strikes Again!
Reviewer: Robin Food from Santa Barbara
JB, always complaining. Never taking into consideration that a restaurant is a BUSINESS and that bottled water or no bottled water, if a business doesn't have what customer's request, they will be in existence no more. Gavin Newsom can't be everywhere! Bottled water is the fastest moving item in the industry right now. Put yourself in someone else's shoes once in awhile. A change in perspective would give your reviews more credibilty.


Eco-concious Restrautant serving bottled Water!!??
Reviewer: JB from Goleta, Ca
Is anyone else a bit shocked a "Green Award" winning Eco-Conscious restaurant is pushing, let alone even serving bottled water? Bottled water is one of the most wasteful things on the planet and totally unnecessary in a restaurant environment. You think a place like this would be endorsing one of the water filtrations systems available today and even note something like that on their menu as they are supposedly "conscious of the environment." It seems the profit margin on bottled water beats out their interest in being "eco-friendly.". I guess their concern may be more focused on making money off those that are or like to think they are conscious about the environment.


Bad service and over priced O.K. food
Reviewer: Phillip from Santa Barbara, Ca.
This was my first and last time to "spirit land". There was nothing spiritually moving about my food. It took them a while to come over and ask if we wanted any water. When we did not order the over priced "voss" water, it was some sort of sign to give us more bad service. I had to ask for some bread when others who had sat and ordered "Voss", did not have to ask. After sitting there for about 10 min. a guy came to take our order. After taking our order, we never saw him again. There was not even a "how was everything", during the meal. After we were done, another guy came to clear the plates and asked if we were ready for the ticket. I immediately said yes. Wait till you hear this, the waiter came out after us and stopped us outside the restaurant and wanted to know why on this over 100.00 bill, we did not leave him 15%. He said, he did his job of taking our order and he deserved to know why I only gave him 10%. Is this not the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard....??? I was shocked he did this and would never come to this restaurant again and would NEVER recommend it to anyone. I have eaten at almost every restaurant in S.B. and it's surrounding areas and have never LAUGHED SO HARD on how desperate this restaurant is.

Spiritland Bistro writes: Phillip, we are truly sorry that you did not have an excellent dinning experience with us. We value you feed back, and would like to speak with you more regarding you experience. If you remember, can you provide us with the servers name involved in the incident above, as we find this behavior TOTALLY unacceptable and would like to address the situation. Please contact us at info@spiritlandbistro.com so we can ensure better service in the future.
Best dining experience of my life
Reviewer: Denise from Santa Barbara
Do you ever have one of those dining experiences where everything converges into perfection? That was my dinner tonight. I loved it so much I wanted to come home and write this review right away! First of all, I am a very healthy/organic food type who craves more organic restaurants. With that said, I was expecting Spiritland to be healthy but not delicious. How wrong I was! Every single thing my husband and I ordered was perfection. I would eat there if I wasn't into healthy food at all. The flavors were rich and complex and the textures and colors were so beautiful. Our waiter was delightful, the hostess adorably kind, the bus boy charming, the decor elegant and European looking. It may sound corny, but the place has GREAT VIBES! It's a good thing we have lots of money because we'll be eating here constantly!


Tasty, fancy, relaxing times
Reviewer: Candice from Santa Barbara, CA
my boyfriend and I went here for our anniversary dinner. the waiter was super nice to us and had a silly and cute personality. we had arabic artichoke puree, and it was very delicate and sooo tasty. for dinner I had yellow thai curry which was in a pretty presentation and extremely flavorful with a good variety of vegetables, and the tempeh substitution (as suggested by our waiter) made it extra tasty. I tried my boyfriend's italian risotto and it was SO SPICY but also good. he loved his wine pairing. then we had vegan flan for dessert and it was pretty good, considering it was VEGAN flan (outrageous!) but I would get one of the mainstays next time because I bet they are better. what I loved- the ambience was nice and relaxed and slow-paced for an anniversary dinner with a nice staff, an extremely talented chef, and reasonable prices for the fanciness of the cuisine. and of course the fact that they are healthy vegan environmentally sensitive options is what drew us there in the first place. there was only one thing I didn't like: our waiter sold us water, and we unsuspectingly bought it because we are gullible, and he didn't say there was another option. we are poor and cannot afford to buy water. just give us the water for free please! the water was refreshing and from a glacier but I do not need to spend $7. I agree that the portions are very small and delicate, but I think this is to be expected at such a shmancy restaurant, and it makes it more fun-seeming, in an odd way. I left satisfied, my b/f was still hungry because he's a total boy. I can understand this, and for this reason, I think they should give you lots more bread. all that aside, I would FOR SURE go back for my next special date. it would even have been under $80 if we hadn't paid for the stupid water :)


Good but expensive food, attentive service, small portions
Reviewer: David from Santa Barbara
We'd been meaning to try this place for awhile and finally did this weekend. I have nothing against presentation but, in my humble opinion, the emphasis when it comes to food preparation and restaurant management should be making sure your customers don't go away hungry. My wife and I very much enjoyed our artfully-presented entries (she had a curry dish; I tried the Asian crusted chicken). The problem was that there just wasn't a lot of either. Even with the appetizer we split (Greek sampler, very tasty) and the bread that was served (delicious, fresh, but again, not much of it). I was still hungry--and I'm not a particularly big guy.


this is the place to be
Reviewer: Noelani Moeller from HI
Everything went great. Everyone working was very polite and helpful. No complaints. The food was good, but there wasn't enough of it for the price we paid.


Amazing Food...Really Creative!
Reviewer: Monica from Santa Barbara
We saw this place on your website and it sounded good. We went on a Thursday with no reservation and were LUCKY to get a table for 2. It was so popular! The food was all very interesting and so beautifully presented. Everything tasted amazing. Really good food and fair prices. Even the organic wine was on the menu for $23 a bottle. Very fair!


Wonderful Surprise
Reviewer: JoAnna W from Solvang
My son treated me to a birthday dinner at this lovely place and I was totally thrilled with the experience. It is a pleasure to find food prepared and served in such a splendid manner. It was also a thrill to find a menu that didn't serve the "usual suspects", but rather an eclectic and creative mix of cuisines and tastes. I thought the service was excellent, although the food did come out quite slowly, pushing us a bit to get to the show we were attending later. The only recommendation I would make is to put a little more bread in the bread basket. Four small pieces seemed a bit skimpy and we were surprised when we opened the napkin and found them. I look forward to visiting the restaurant again and will share my fine experience with friends.


Great Food, Great Service, Lovely Overall Experience
Reviewer: Holly from Santa Barbara
My fiance and I ate at the Spiritland Bistro today as we are considering it for our wedding reception in the summer. We had never eaten here before, but we found the entire experience to be really lovely. The restaurant is tucked away in a sweet residential part of downtown Santa Barbara, and the atmosphere is intimate, yet elegant. Our server was friendly, and took time to tell us about the specials in detail. Our meals were really great, the presentation was beautiful, and the dessert we shared (Italian Chocolate Mousse with berries) was heavenly. My only complaint is that, as a young couple, this is not the kind of place that we would be able to afford once a week; it's more suited for a special occassion or romantic night out.


pushy service, short wine pour, mouth watering food
Reviewer: holly from Santa Barbara
Went here on my birthday, and loved the food! Our waiter however was to pushy. I got an $11 glass of wine which was actually only about half a glass. I will defiantly eat here again but will bring my own wine and ignore any pushy waiters

Spiritland Bistro writes: We are glad you enjoyed the flavors of our cuisine. We also take pride in providing great team service. Thank you for your feed back and we can assure you that this is a rare occurance in our laid back casual fine dining bistro. Please give me a call at the bistro so we may address the lead server on your table and implement some additional training. As for the wine-We feel our wines are very reasonably priced for the quality of the wine. Our prices range from $7.25-$10.25 per glass and bottles are $23-$54 per bottle. These are all premium wines with the majority of the wines made from organically grown grapes. The pour is in a 12 Ounce bourdeaux glass properly poured to 8 ounces to allow the wine to properly breath before drinking the wine. This actually is a generous pour and the perceptual value to pour to the rim of a wine glass is inappropriate and does not follow ediquette of wine drinking or the style of our bistro. If this seems unreasonable to you, you are always welcome to bring your own bottle of wine for a very reasonable corkage of only $15. Thank you for your feed back and we will see you soon. General Manager Gary Grenus and Chef Joel Koch
Snobby service and good food, priced high
Reviewer: Jennifer from Santa Barbara
The hostess was not concerned that my party was waiting in the small entry area and our table was all ready. We were told to wait. Service was interesting, the server tried to remove my bread plate as I had a piece in my hand and obviously still eating. He also took my wine glass before I was finished. Just not the kind of attention to detail that I expect at such a fancy establishment. It was also cold in there! The creme brulee was excellent so we may be back for dessert and wine in the future.


Best in Santa Barbara
Reviewer: Jill from Santa Barbara
This restaurant is amazing, by far my favorite restaurant in all of Santa Barbara. The service is way above any expectation you may have. The food is amazing as well as the selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. This restaurant is a must try!


A+++ A Wonderful Dining Experience
Reviewer: Linda from Santa Barbara
We had no first hand knowledge about this restaurant but thought it sounded 'interesting'. What we found was one of the best dining experiences that my husband and I have had in SB. Warm decor, excellent service from the front desk to the bus boy. Food was beautiful and delicious. Service was attentive without being overbearing. This restaurant is obviously very well managed and offers a happy dining event .. even on a very busy Friday night!


Excellent service
Reviewer: Meghan from Santa Barbara, CA
Really wonderful service, almost to the point of it being too much! We had our waters refilled a good 6 times. They checked on us frequently and were incredibly friendly. If you're looking for a quiet place to just be alone together, this might not be the place for you because they are so attentive.. I believe we had about 6 people serve us. The food was nice. Fine dining, but in a cozy environment.


Back on Track
Reviewer: Kelly from Santa Barbara, CA
Great staff, great food, beautiful presentation. After avoiding this restaurant for a few months because I, too, had the Valentine's Day experience that the reviewer below complained about (see Undisclosed Price Gouging below), I went back recently and found the place to be better than ever! Their desserts are GREAT, too!


A Rare Treasure in Santa Barbara
Reviewer: Paul Weymouth from Santa Barbara, CA
I have eaten at this place three times in the last year and my last experience was the best. The food is delicious and the service was fantastic. Gary, the manager came over to our table and discussed the food in detail and helped us make some choices that we were very pleased with. Gary, I came with my wife, and if you recall we were taking a needed break (date night) from the four girls. Thanks again.


WONDERFUL Dining Experience
Reviewer: Rasha Wyndsong from Grover Beach, CA
This was the first time I have dined here. Two of my friends and I just had dinner at SpiritLand Bistro on Sunday night. I had won a $50.00 gift certificate several months ago and have been waiting for a time I could drive down there (from Grover Beach, near San Luis Obispo) to use it. The certificate was only for certain days, so had to wait until it was convenient....I am so glad I didn't just blow it off and not get a chance to use it! I would have suffered a great loss not learning about this restaurant and getting to eat here! The atmosphere was really nice...although we wished they would dim the lights a bit more. Rachel was our server.....and KUDOS to her, she was awesome! Always right on top of things with us, very pleasant to talk to and really well informed about the dishes. We could tell that she likes eating there! Would asked to be seated at her tables again. :) The young man that was serving water, bussing tables and such was really nice and always right there at the ready...but I did not get his name. All of our meals were WONDERFUL.....The food was fabuous! We had the Arabic Artichoke Puree and Caribbean Sweet Potato Balls as appetizers and they were definately a great choice for the evening and our first time there. I would HIGHLY recommend them. We had the Indian Vegetable Curry, the Thai Coconut Yellow Curry with Chicken and the Italian Vegetable Risotto as entrees. The dishes were presented in a very classic manner and all were a divine mixture of spices. The sauce on the Italian Vegetable Risotto was especially good. We also had the Apple Berry Crisp, the Hawaiian Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bananas, and the Lavendar and Wildflower Honey Creme Brulee which was TOO DIE FOR! Could have gone to heaven and been happy with the first spoonful of Brulee! *Smiles* Keep that as a regular menu item! We would all drive the 90 minutes south again just for that alone! Our entire meal for the three of us was about $127.00, which may seem high...but we had two appetizers, three main courses, three desserts and a nice bottle of wine. Our quality of service and food presentation was well worth the cost of the meal. I was disspointed though to discover that salad or soup was an extra cost and not part of the main meal...Would have loved to try some of the soups! Would love to see something like Butternut Ravioli with Gorgonzola sauce, something to consider? I am sure that Joel would make an awesome presentation of it, just like with all the food we sampled! Gary and Joel, and Rachel and other staff, thank you for a wonderful dining experience! We are definately going to be recommending your restaurant to others! Sincerely, and with great joy, Rasha Wyndsong


Precisely the kind of restaurant one wants there to be in SB
Reviewer: Nora from santa barbara, ca
Why had I never thought to go to Spiritland before this visit? It's a mystery of marketing and I am convinced it has to do with the logo, which is somehow off-putting (I think it's the '3' - what is it?). At any rate, I have long wished for this kind of restaurant in SB: high-end organic veg without pretensions. The space is comfortable and the wait staff quite friendly. Loved my dinner and will return.

Spiritland Bistro writes: Our Logo or the "3" is actually the symbol of "om" or universal sound or a representation of universal conscience (In our case Universal Cuisine). The circle with three quadrants is the world triad symbol that represents the ever changing world (In our case the ever changing specials of the week representing different cultures and their cuisine). In total the Spiritland Bistro logo and name stands for the representation of respecting the Spirit of the Land with a universal conscience intent to provide ever changing cultural cuisine with the purest organic ingredients in every dish while celebrating the cultural cuisine with the intent to respectfully bring out the best traditional flavors while encompassing a unique and untraditional presentation.
Precisely the restaurant I wanted there to be in SB
Reviewer: Nora from Santa Barbara, CA
Why did I not discover this place sooner? That is a mystery of marketing. It has everything I want in a restaurant: organic food, real vegetarian options, nice design, intimate setting, good wine list. So pleased I finally went. If you are thinking Sojourner is bland and boring beyond belief, this is the place for you.


first class. awesome!
Reviewer: Burney from SantaBarbaraLand
had dinner at Spiritland the other night with my fiance. food was tasty and the menu is unlike anything else available in SB. service was outstanding. how great to have them in SB!


Bland overpriced food, terrible service
Reviewer: Bill Johnson from Ventura, CA
While being a vegetarian and environmentally conscious I have been drawn to the idea of this place for awhile now. The hype and the "green" accomlades aside the reality of this place left me very disappointed. The food was marginal at best with some dishes cold and most poorly prepared. Vegetarian cuisine can be dynamic and wonderful, but this place misses it entirely. Even worse and more inexcusable was the service which was arrogant, unattentive and slow. I'd suggest trying to create great food and hiring some authentic and helpful staff now.

Spiritland Bistro writes: Thank you Bill for your candid response to your recent dining experience. We pride ourselves in great team service (no one person serves each table) and delicious multi-cultural cuisine. We obviously failed you on this occasion. I am aware of your reservation date and time and I will research the lead server on your table, your food choices, and review the situation so that the entire staff may learn from your unacceptable experience. I am not sure what exactly happen during your experience, but I would like to discuss this with you so that we may better understand the situation so it does not happen again. Please call General Manager Gary Grenus at 805-966-7759. I can assure you that this is a rare occurrence and in the future please call on management during your meal so we may make your experience the best it can be at the time of the situation. We like all our customers leaving with a joyous smile on their face-not a frown-This is very important us and the home town Santa Barbara way…We are a neighborhood bistro that takes pride in taking care of our customers. Call us so we can learn from this experience. Sincerely: Chef/Proprietor Joel Koch and General Manager Gary Grenus
Undisclosed Price Gouging, Uninspiring Food
Reviewer: Mike from Santa Barbara
I chose this restaurant for our Valentines Day dinner based on the reviews here and the menu posted on their website. When I arrived for dinner they gave me a “special Valentines Day menu” but the only thing special about it was that it had less than half the selection and double the prices. No one mentioned this special menu to me when I made my reservation and I NEVER would have come if I knew they would be doing this sort of price gouging. Unfortunately, my reservation was at 9:30pm so there was no way we could walk out and go somewhere else so we at least figured that the food must be really good for these prices. We were wrong. The food wasn’t bad but it was just boring and lacked flavor. I started with the mushroom bisque which was average. My entrée was seared ahi on top of some flavorless pasta. The sauce was a little bit sweet and a little bit creamy and nothing else and the two small pieces of ahi sitting on top left much to be desired. Dinner for 2 cost me $180 which could have gotten us a FAR better dinner at many of the other good Santa Barbara restaurants we have been to such as Citronelle, Elements, The Wine Cask, Epiphany, and probably every nice Japanese place. Friends of ours had their Valentines dinner at Rocks and they said it was excellent and there was no “special V-Day menu”. So if you want to spend $100+ on a good meal you would be wise to choose any of the other restaurants I mentioned before going to this place. Heck, just last weekend I had a far better seared ahi entrée at The Brewhouse for half the price. I truly feel cheated by Spiritland Bistro. On a positive note our waiter was excellent. He was attentive, timely, and friendly but not imposing. I only gave a low score to service because I was not told about the “special Valentines Day menu” when making my reservation.

Spiritland Bistro writes: First we would like to apologize for any mis-communication on any Valentine menu representation at Spiritland Bistro. We take full responsibility for any unclear communication because this is our obligation as a bistro. We will do our best in the future to make sure this is as clear as possible. We had over 100 phone calls and requests for reservations for Valentines day in a 48 hour period of time due to the popularity of our amazing food prepared by Chef Joel Koch. We are sorry you were not informed of the special menu but we do our best to communicate to all who inquire by phone or by our web site. Chef Joel Koch creates a special Pre Fixe menu on New Years Eve and Valentines Day each year so that our customers can enjoy an enhanced dining experience two times per year. The prices range from $45-$55 per person plus wine & beverages. We find this pricing extremely reasonable for a special holiday multi-course meal made with high quality organic ingredients. We also post our special valentines menu in bright red for all to see on the website with full price disclosure. There are many menu links on our web site and you may have mistakenly viewed our regular menu which is priced a la carte for all the other days of the year. We again apologize for this mis-understanding and hope you give us another chance by coming in on a less formal evening to enjoy some of our tried and true regular menu entrees priced $13-24 that we are sure you will enjoy. As for the Wasabi dusted Ahi dish-you just didn't like it. It was a very popular dish and enjoyed by many on Valentines Day, but we just didn't make the grade with you on that dish. This is unfortunate for us, but it will sometimes happen. We do our best to please everyone’s palate. Please call the general manager Gary Grenus at 805-966-7759 so we may invite you back as our guest to enjoy a meal from our regular menu.
Fantabulous!!
Reviewer: AJ from Goleta, CA
It is a great place .. the food is exotic and delicious. their staff makes you feel really special, they know their food and wines really well. the chef is just super talented. it is kinda expensive, but it is worth the money. Perfect for a nice date! Being a vegetarian, this is one of very few restaurants I can really make a choice without requiring modfications to original recipes. Their deserts top it all off!!


Delicious!
Reviewer: Jackie from Goleta, CA
My husband and I ate here for the first time last week, I was very impressed! The food was great- I highly recommend the Thai Curry and my husband enjoyed his stuffed salmon. The wine selection was great, it was nice to see so many organic wines. The service was attentive but not overbearing and the atmosphere was cozy. We will definitely be coming back.


Good food but limited menu
Reviewer: M. Skibitsky from Culver City, CA
We were traveling to Santa Barbara for the weekend and were glad to find a restaurant with vegan options. I had the Seitan Risotto; my husband had the Risotto/Moussaka combo. The food was good but was not bursting with flavor. I thought that the veggies on the risotto were cooked slightly too much. They do have several vegan options. However, the option number is slightly inflated because of the combindation of dishes: you can order the Risotto, the Moussaka, or a combination of the two. Rather than the combo option, I'd have preferred another menu choice. The wine selection was good, the service excellent, and the ambience peaceful. It would be nice if they took one or two tables out because the space is a bit crowded. All in all, good food and a pleasant experience.


Bland and Pushy
Reviewer: Jason from Santa Barbara, CA
I've eaten here three times and I won't be coming back. The wait for food was too long, the owner was too forward and interupted a dinner date with my wife several times, but the worst was the bland food.

Spiritland Bistro writes: Nothing we can say can change your rare, but unfortunate experience at the bistro. Nothing met with your expectations and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that it may have caused you and your wife. We pride ourselves with gourmet food, intimate dining and exceptional service and we obviously failed on this occasion. We would have been happy to replace any meal that did not meet with your expectations. Sincerely, Gary General Manager
Thoroughly enjoyable
Reviewer: Neil and Bernadette from Santa Barbara
Excellent quality food with great presentation and service. The appetizers were a good value, and creative. The entrees were unique, beautiful, healthy, and filling. The wine and coffee were excellent compliments. The lavender creme brulee was very special and delicious. Good service topped it off.


Excellent, elegant vegetarian cuisine

In one visit this has become one of favorite restaurant. Elegant food with plenty of vegetarian options. The food was delicious and the service was very friendly and helpful. I have to recommend especially the lavender creme brullee. Not like anything I´ve had before.


Great vegetarian and vegan food

Spiritland is a welcome addition to the vegetarian and vegan-friendly eateries in Santa Barbara. While the prices are a bit steep, those committed to being organic consumers are used to paying a pit more. The food is creative, flavorful and conscious. While they do serve fish and "organic free range chicken" (and organic and free-range does not mean cruelty-free), us Santa Barbara vegetarians can still hope for a local all-veg restaurant. In the meantime, Spiritland has plenty for vegetarians and vegans, and not just the baked-potato-and-veggies entree that seems to count as a vegan option at some places. You can find more local vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants and reviews here: http://www.vegsantabarbara.com


Healthy, delicious food.
Reviewer: Olivia from Santa Barbara, CA
I´ve been eating there once a week for at least 6 months.. No complains.. delicious foods, excellent service.


Fantastic

Great food- Raw dishes rock! Made me flying high after I ate there- Yummy wines, So happy there is a place like this in SB...


Awsome
Reviewer: Christina Marie
I love this restaurant...nice bathrooms and rqually nice food. Servers were sooo lovely. Perfect for vegans


Sporadically Excellent

I have eaten many meals at Spiritland Bistro. The food has been sometimes outstanding, sometimes fair, once terrible. The people there are very sweet but the service is consistantly slow, as if nobody has ever waited tables before. I think everyone should eat there because you very well may have the best meal of your life. Don´t bring anybody you are trying to impress, in case it´s an off night. Don´t come too hungry, in case you have to wait 45 minutes for bread.


Top quality

This is my second visit to this relatively new restaurant located off the beaten path in downtown Santa Barbara. Every part of the meal was outstanding, from the avocado bruschetta to the tiramisu. The menu offers many vegetarian and vegan items, but this place is not just for vegetarians (I am not but my wife is). Adventurous dishes with very nice presentation. The service was attentive without being intrusive, and the prices were reasonable with one exception: the corkage fee of $19 may not matter to most people but since I usually bring my own wine, I consider it high, especially considering that is more than most entrees cost.


Quality food, great service, ambient dining
Reviewer: Elizabeth from Santa Barbara
I love this place. I bring all my friends to eat here. The food is so pure and it taste so good and you leave feeling good. I have eaten here at least a half a dozen times and it seems to get better every time. Locals know & prefer high quality food so you will see mostly locals and other restaurant employees eat here. The focus on organic ingredients is commendable and it shows in its wonderful international flavors. I really appreciate the healthy aspects of this restaurant without losing flavor. It is amazing and what is more amazing is the great prices considering all the organic ingredients. I really like the chicken and fish dishes but they also have some great vegan, raw and vegitarian options that I have tried that are equally good. If you do not try this restaurant you are truly missing out. Ask about ethnic specials of the week because they are always fabulous. It is a small quant restaurant and it is usually busy so arrive before 6:30 or make a reservation. During the peak times of 6:45-8:00 it will take a little longer to get your entree which is to be expected when all the entrees are made from scratch and not thrown together but presented with a french gourmet presentation. THis is not fast food folks. Sit back relax and enjoy one of their fabulous appetizers(definitely a highlight) and a glass of organic wine and enjoy your dining experience.


Needs Work
Reviewer: Andrew from SB
Good atmosphere, foods OK, served lukewarm,waited for 45 min in between appetizer and entree.


great vegetarian gourmet eating!
Reviewer: Janet O from Santa Ynez, Ca USA
My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at such a wonderful vegetarian bistro! We had the the delicious hummus, tazini and eggplant appetizer, musaka and a wonderful soy based chocolate mousse. We are anxiously awaiting our next trip to Santa Barbara to enjoy it again. We are just so sorry it took us all this time to find it. We are long time Soujourner customers, we feel that the change was a step up.


An true experience!
Reviewer: Jen from Santa Barbara, CA USA
I was highly impressed with this restaurant! The food was simply decadent, the service was impeccable, and the ambiance was very imtimate, a perfect place for a romantic dinner for two. The food was rich and flavorful, with many vegan and vegetarian items, and the portions were anything but skimpy! I would eat here everyday if I could, but I´m afraid my pocketbook, as well as my waistline, would suffer! Just make sure you save room for dessert!!


Organic Service

I have dined at Spiritland 3 times... Each time the plates came out at different intervals, making for lukewarm food and awkward interaction between guests. The mullagatawny soup was rather good, but the curry was bland (and again, lukewarm). I appreciate the intent to serve gourmet organic food, and applaud their use of many unique organic ingredients and spirits. But a "small kitchen" doesn´t excuse serving lukewarm dishes while other guests wait for their own. I have typically been happier with the food and service at Sojourner, for less price and more casual/fun atmosphere.


a nice alternative to the Sojourner
Reviewer: Rob from Santa Barbara, CA
If you are into vegetarian or international gourmet food and have already eaten at the Sojourner dozens of times like I have, this little restaurant will be a nice change of pace. Spiritland plays itself up to be a very fancy, high-class place but in fact the food isn’t any better than the Sojourner (but then again, how could it be?). They do have a better selection of beers, wines, and teas however. Make sure you DON’T end up in the booth in the back, which is right next to the cash register. For our entire meal servers were standing there, closer to my dining partner across the table and me than we were to each other.


Divine.
Reviewer: Allison from Santa Barbara
Great selection of gourmet vegetatian dishes. The two dinner entrees we ordered, Greek Moussaka and Pad-Thai, were delicious. The food was beautifully presented in a pleasant atmosphere. We will definitely return to try more dishes.


Excellent vegan options

Small but not crowded, nice artwork, fantastic food! There were several vegan choices for us to select from. A must-eat-at!


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