Cristal's Blog


March 6, 2023

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Enjoy dining al fresco? Let yourself be romanced by the sidewalk sounds of the Promenade on State Street or pampered by the peacefulness of dining on the patio of one of our award-winning restaurants. Flock to the terrace, deck, or boulevard table and share a bite under the sun, an oversized patio umbrella, or the stars. Or stay home and fire up the grill for an outdoor feast. Whatever you choose, the conditions are ideal for outdoor dining in Santa Barbara and fun in the springtime when the air is crisp and the weather beckons everyone outside.

Rustic outdoor dining table on the grass set with wine glasses, place settings and flowers
Photo by Marc Babin on Unsplash

The Many Benefits of Dining Outdoors in Santa Barbara

Let's face it; food is a vital part of life. And enjoying a meal outside does more than just appease one’s hunger. Outdoor dining illuminates all your senses. Some say it makes food taste fresher and, therefore, better. Others enjoy the view and the fun of eating outside with friends and family. Whatever your reason, we who are fortunate enough to call Santa Barbara home can dine alfresco year-round, thanks to our Mediterranean weather. But a meal under the sun or stars can be downright euphoric during the spring.

Whether you plan to visit your favorite outdoor restaurant or grill something delicious in your backyard, outdoor eating also has many incredible health benefits. Besides boosting your vitamin D level, a vital hormone that may protect against a range of diseases, such as osteoporosis, depression, heart attacks, and stroke, nature has a way of soothing you naturally. Studies show that eating outdoors can decrease stress hormones inside your mind and ease muscle tension. In addition, artificial light is linked with several harmful diseases, from obesity to diabetes, which is not the case when you dine in natural light. Enjoying a meal outdoors can help you improve your sleep quality, too.

Outdoor Dining Options in Santa Barbara

Some of my favorite local establishments that offer outside dining include:

The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach
With panoramic ocean views and a heated outdoor patio, this upscale seafood and brunch spot on the beach is one of Santa Barbara’s go-to spots for seafood. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

An outdoor restaurant patio with a tree and the street in view
Photo Credit: Benchmark Eatery

Benchmark Eatery
This neighborhood kitchen and bar is centrally located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, across from the Museum and Granada Theater. Enjoy the Crispy Brussel Sprouts (my fave), the homemade soups, salads, burgers, and sandwiches.

The front of the Lark restaurant in Santa Barbara with it's outdoor patio in front of large windows
Photo Credit: Collin Dewell

The Lark
Named for an overnight Pullman train, The Lark sits squarely in Santa Barbara’s trendy Funk Zone. There are booths and tables (including a communal one), and the interior hints at rustic train car elements. The menus here are filled with locally sourced and responsibly grown delights, using the highest quality seasonal ingredients based on the abundant bounty of the Central Coast.

If you're in the mood for Italian, this is a great place to dine! Mizza makes its pizza dough and pasta fresh daily and topped with the freshest, locally sourced produce. The restaurant smokes chicken and salmon and only uses free-range chicken, sustainably farmed fish, and USDA Choice Harris Ranch beef. All their sauces and dressings are made from scratch. Yum!

A huge outdoor patio where a street used to be with fake grass, tables, chairs and outdoor umbrellas and lights
Photo Credit: Satellite Santa Barbara

Satellite Santa Barbara
This breezy farmers-market restaurant, natural wine bar, and bottle shop is in the middle of Santa Barbara's Arts District. The delicious farmers market menu features Santa Barbara's best farmers, with a seasonal selection of farm-fresh vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options for lunch, dinner, and everything in between. You'll also find a global selection of wine featuring small winegrowers from Santa Barbara and beyond.

Longboard’s Grill
From its prime perch on the second floor of Stearns Wharf, this family-friendly eatery offers unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, the Channel Islands, and one of California's most picturesque coastlines, with the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background.

Tables, chairs, umbrellas on a restaurant's outdoor patio with a red bicycle in front
Photo Credit: SB Public Market

SB Public Market
This wondrous place is known as Santa Barbara’s premiere food hall, featuring the best in local food and drink. So, grab a seat on the outside patio, and dine on your favorites from any of the amazing restaurants in the Public Market.

Wicker chairs surround an outdoor table on a beach house terrace overlooking foliage with the beach in the background

Outdoor Dining in Your Own Backyard

Every Tuesday, the 600 and 700 blocks of State Street are transformed into the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market. There you'll find approximately 50 regional farmers and artisanal purveyors encouraging residents to bring home the freshest of the fresh for a feast in their backyard. Beautiful outside space is one of the things homebuyers are looking for today, especially in our sunny communities. So if you are thinking of remodeling the outdoor area of your home, here are some things you'll want to keep in mind:

  1. The Grill
    What size grill do you need? Just think about how often you entertain and how many guests attend outside soirées at your home. For most people, a 30″-36″ grill is a perfect size, accommodating anywhere between 2 to 20 guests. I just read an article in Forbes Magazine about the Rolls Royce of BBQ Grills, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet grills with a unique Hybrid Fire Grilling System featuring traditional gas, wood, or coal grill choices.
  2. The Materials
    I recommend you stick to natural stone because that look is durable and will last the longest. Think bluestone, limestone, or granite for your countertops—definitely, seal countertops using a silicon-based impregnating sealer.
  3. The access doors
    Since gas shut-off valves are typically placed below the grill, you'll need to build access doors. You can also hook the grill up to the gas service on your house.
  4. What else do you want to add?
    Side burners, sinks, refrigerators, storage doors, lights, a strategically placed GCFI (outdoor power outlet), and perhaps a rotisserie. Just think of everything you need inside, and make sure the same items are found outside!
  5. Where to build your outdoor kitchen
    Make sure you build your outdoor kitchen close to your indoor kitchen. That way, you can efficiently utilize your indoor space for food prep.

Outdoor dining options are plentiful in my portfolio of fine homes in the area, where fantastic outdoor dining options are already built in. See one you like? I’ll happily arrange a tour for you. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Meanwhile, enjoy the great outdoors!

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch