La Cocina in Santa Barbara: a unique menu inspired by indigenous foods of the Central Coast, emphasizing Santa Barbara’s Meso-American, Spanish, and Mexican-Californian cuisine

It is rare to find a Mexican restaurant that combines high quality cooking and fine attention to design. Happily, we found both, however, in Santa Barbara at La Cocina just around the corner from the Granada Theatre.

From a culinary standpoint, La Cocina focuses on the Central Coast and Baja California. The kitchen emphasizes the rich history of Santa Barbara’s Meso-American, Spanish and Mexican-Californian cuisine. Chef Mario Alberto keeps things flavorful, clean and light, riffing on favorite Mexican dishes with an unexpected twist. Meats are slowly stewed in large pots with simmering spices.

We reveled in the tasty Santa Barbara local cod with grilled corn, shishito peppers, asparagus, tomatoes, parsnip strips, cilantro beurre blanc, one of many creative and flavorful dishes at La Cocina.

Top dishes include classics such as tacos and enchiladas, as well as unique takes on favorites such as squash enchiladas. All of the chips and tortillas are made fresh in house each day. The beautiful outdoor patio landscaped with ancient olive trees lends itself to a rustic, casual and communal atmosphere, where the menu offers shared plates and is inspired by backyard cooking. Service is friendly and attentive. A busy bar scene keeps things lovely.

La Cocina, 7 E Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: (805) 277-7730.

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