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An overhead shot of a seafood feast with paella and other raw items.
Bar Le Côte.
Bonjwing Lee

Where to Eat Around Solvang and Santa Ynez in Central Coast Wine Country

For vineyard views, Danish delights, and more, here’s where to eat in and around Solvang’s rolling wine country

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Bar Le Côte.
| Bonjwing Lee

Cooler temperatures and a slower pace of life before the holidays mean more time to get up to historic Danish town Solvang and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley for a weekend of wine tasting, seafood eating, and all-around enjoyment. This Central Coast wine enclave has been buzzing with new activity over the past year-plus, including a slew of new restaurants, tasting rooms, and upscale lodging options opening around Los Olivos, Ballard, and the like. For steaks, oysters, Danish breakfast, and everything in between, it’s all about heading up north, right now.

For a more general guide to road trip dining along the Central Coast, head here. Eater LA also has maps on restaurants and cocktails in Santa Barbara specifically.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Industrial Eats

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Eight years in an Industrial Eats, the Buellton butcher, make-what-we-want lunchtime destination, and all-around food staple is still going strong. Dueling wood-fired ovens turn out personal-sized pizzas as local fishmongers bring in the day’s catch through the front door and travelers peruse the takeaway section; it’s just another day at Industrial Eats.

A worker pivots between two ovens in a pared-down industrial kitchen.
Wood ovens at Industrial Eats.
Industrial Eats

Firestone Walker Brewing Company

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Firestone Walker is famous around these parts. The craft beer giant still has its headquarters further north in Paso Robles, but the Buellton location has for years been home to a standalone restaurant, taproom, and brewery space with a focus on barrel aging and other more out-there styles.

Hitching Post II

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Find history, Sideways conversations, and the Central Coast’s best grilled meats at the Hitching Post II in Buellton. This staple Solvang-area eatery is a must-stop for first-time visitors, thanks to its offbeat culture and quality chops and Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Paula's Pancake House

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It’s all about brunch and baked goods when in Solvang (at least for the first few trips), so head over to the timeless Paula’s Pancake House. This main-drag restaurant has been turning out Danish-style breakfasts, pancakes, and other diner staples for more than three decades.

Peasants Feast

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Comfort food doesn’t get much more comforting than burgers, tacos, and what may be the best fried chicken sandwich in a 100 mile radius. Thankfully at Peasants Feast owners Michael and Sarah Cherney approach each dish with care, a connection to local farms and producers, and an eye towards feeding regulars and travelers alike. Their small-ish cozy corner of Solvang buzzes on weekends, thanks in no small part to the love the Cherneys put into the room.

A close up of a hand holding a fried chicken sandwich with orange breading.
Peasants Feast.
Farley Elliott

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

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For the full ranch experience while up in wine country, book a weekend at Alisal, just outside of Solvang proper. The sprawling guest ranch, restaurant compound, and pop-up location for barbecue greats is in good hands with chef Anthony Endy, who oversees the menus across the property including the steak and produce-focused Ranch Room for dinner.

A chef kneels over a bush in a garden while wearing an apron.
Chef Anthony Endy at work.
Alisal

First & Oak

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For prix-fixe-possible white tablecloth dining with a Central Coast lens, get to First & Oak inside Solvang’s Mirabelle Inn. The upscale dining room feels of a different time and place, with a nightly menu that offers dishes like duck, lobster bisque, truffle-roasted cauliflower, and more.

Coast Range

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The grill is hot, the steakhouse-style booths are ready, and the attached vaquero bar and patio are lit up for another night at Coast Range, Solvang’s hottest opening in years. This chef-studded pandemic arrival has become the spot to catch a drink and dinner in town, with options from Snake River ribeyes and Creekstone NY strips to crab cakes, caviar add-ons, and some seriously decadent dessert.

The dim dining room and leather banquettes of a steakhouse restaurant at night.
Coast Range.
Coast Range

Bar Le Côte

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If there was any wonder about the energy in the greater Santa Ynez Valley dining scene right now, let Bar Le Côte put those fears to rest. This is inarguably the hottest new restaurant to land in wine country in a while, thanks in no small part to the place’s sister project (and newly minted Michelin star winner) Bell’s in Los Alamos. At the busy new Bar Le Côte it’s all about seafood, wine, and great times.

An overhead shot of a seafood feast with paella and other raw items.
Bar Le Côte
Bonjwing Lee

The Chef’s Touch BBQ

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For a faster, less expensive, and still creative dining option while wandering around in Los Olivos, track down the streetside pop-up Chef’s Touch BBQ. This roving rig smokes meats in a mostly Texas tradition, but isn’t afraid to branch out with loaded tots and much, much more. Find them most weekends in front of various tasting rooms.

Bob's Well Bread at the Ballard Store

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Pastries, sandwiches, and other bready delights are the order of the day at Bob Oswaks’ newest outpost of Bob’s Well Bread. This Ballard standalone has proven to be a hit with local wine country visitors already, so don’t be surprised to find some weekend lines — and Bob himself working the counter.

Nella Kitchen & Bar

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It’s a gorgeous mix of coastal California-Italian flavors at Nella in Los Olivos. The hotel restaurant has a sturdy bar for wine sipping and chatting; a patio for catching those last sunny rays; and a robust menu of pinsas (small pizza-ish flatbreads), seafood snacks, and mains like steak, lamb chops, and duck.

A close-up shot of a flatbread pizza with cheese and onions.
Cheesy pinsa at Nella.
Nella

S.Y. Kitchen

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For salads, pastas, truffle pizzas, and some of the best patio seating anywhere in Santa Ynez, get to stalwart option SY Kitchen — and be sure to leave time for wine and dessert.

Maverick Saloon

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For a barstool away from the wine crowds, get over to Maverick Saloon. The dusty wooden semi-dive is popular with the locals and features dollar bills on the ceiling, live music and events most weekends, and a full slate of cocktails and pub fare.

Industrial Eats

Eight years in an Industrial Eats, the Buellton butcher, make-what-we-want lunchtime destination, and all-around food staple is still going strong. Dueling wood-fired ovens turn out personal-sized pizzas as local fishmongers bring in the day’s catch through the front door and travelers peruse the takeaway section; it’s just another day at Industrial Eats.

A worker pivots between two ovens in a pared-down industrial kitchen.
Wood ovens at Industrial Eats.
Industrial Eats

Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Firestone Walker is famous around these parts. The craft beer giant still has its headquarters further north in Paso Robles, but the Buellton location has for years been home to a standalone restaurant, taproom, and brewery space with a focus on barrel aging and other more out-there styles.

Hitching Post II

Find history, Sideways conversations, and the Central Coast’s best grilled meats at the Hitching Post II in Buellton. This staple Solvang-area eatery is a must-stop for first-time visitors, thanks to its offbeat culture and quality chops and Santa Maria-style barbecue.

Paula's Pancake House

It’s all about brunch and baked goods when in Solvang (at least for the first few trips), so head over to the timeless Paula’s Pancake House. This main-drag restaurant has been turning out Danish-style breakfasts, pancakes, and other diner staples for more than three decades.

Peasants Feast

Comfort food doesn’t get much more comforting than burgers, tacos, and what may be the best fried chicken sandwich in a 100 mile radius. Thankfully at Peasants Feast owners Michael and Sarah Cherney approach each dish with care, a connection to local farms and producers, and an eye towards feeding regulars and travelers alike. Their small-ish cozy corner of Solvang buzzes on weekends, thanks in no small part to the love the Cherneys put into the room.

A close up of a hand holding a fried chicken sandwich with orange breading.
Peasants Feast.
Farley Elliott

Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort

For the full ranch experience while up in wine country, book a weekend at Alisal, just outside of Solvang proper. The sprawling guest ranch, restaurant compound, and pop-up location for barbecue greats is in good hands with chef Anthony Endy, who oversees the menus across the property including the steak and produce-focused Ranch Room for dinner.

A chef kneels over a bush in a garden while wearing an apron.
Chef Anthony Endy at work.
Alisal

First & Oak

For prix-fixe-possible white tablecloth dining with a Central Coast lens, get to First & Oak inside Solvang’s Mirabelle Inn. The upscale dining room feels of a different time and place, with a nightly menu that offers dishes like duck, lobster bisque, truffle-roasted cauliflower, and more.

Coast Range

The grill is hot, the steakhouse-style booths are ready, and the attached vaquero bar and patio are lit up for another night at Coast Range, Solvang’s hottest opening in years. This chef-studded pandemic arrival has become the spot to catch a drink and dinner in town, with options from Snake River ribeyes and Creekstone NY strips to crab cakes, caviar add-ons, and some seriously decadent dessert.

The dim dining room and leather banquettes of a steakhouse restaurant at night.
Coast Range.
Coast Range

Bar Le Côte

If there was any wonder about the energy in the greater Santa Ynez Valley dining scene right now, let Bar Le Côte put those fears to rest. This is inarguably the hottest new restaurant to land in wine country in a while, thanks in no small part to the place’s sister project (and newly minted Michelin star winner) Bell’s in Los Alamos. At the busy new Bar Le Côte it’s all about seafood, wine, and great times.

An overhead shot of a seafood feast with paella and other raw items.
Bar Le Côte
Bonjwing Lee

The Chef’s Touch BBQ

For a faster, less expensive, and still creative dining option while wandering around in Los Olivos, track down the streetside pop-up Chef’s Touch BBQ. This roving rig smokes meats in a mostly Texas tradition, but isn’t afraid to branch out with loaded tots and much, much more. Find them most weekends in front of various tasting rooms.

Bob's Well Bread at the Ballard Store

Pastries, sandwiches, and other bready delights are the order of the day at Bob Oswaks’ newest outpost of Bob’s Well Bread. This Ballard standalone has proven to be a hit with local wine country visitors already, so don’t be surprised to find some weekend lines — and Bob himself working the counter.

Nella Kitchen & Bar

It’s a gorgeous mix of coastal California-Italian flavors at Nella in Los Olivos. The hotel restaurant has a sturdy bar for wine sipping and chatting; a patio for catching those last sunny rays; and a robust menu of pinsas (small pizza-ish flatbreads), seafood snacks, and mains like steak, lamb chops, and duck.

A close-up shot of a flatbread pizza with cheese and onions.
Cheesy pinsa at Nella.
Nella

S.Y. Kitchen

For salads, pastas, truffle pizzas, and some of the best patio seating anywhere in Santa Ynez, get to stalwart option SY Kitchen — and be sure to leave time for wine and dessert.

Maverick Saloon

For a barstool away from the wine crowds, get over to Maverick Saloon. The dusty wooden semi-dive is popular with the locals and features dollar bills on the ceiling, live music and events most weekends, and a full slate of cocktails and pub fare.

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