It’s true there’s no shortage of wine available to us Santa Barbarians. As many tasting rooms as there are around town, there are a decent number of wine bars in Santa Barbara, too. From those pouring regional wine (and beer) to Old World offerings, here’s my guide to a few of Santa Barbara’s best wine bars, starting from closest to the beach and moving up State Street:
Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant
With its eclectic yet elegant atmosphere and wide selection of fine wines from all over the world, Les Marchands is a popular destination for wine aficionados to sip and mingle or grab a bottle to go. A knowledgeable staff, delectable menu (think house-marinated olives, charcuterie and pasta Bolognese) and its location in the heart of the Funk Zone add to the hip, urban vibe. Don’t miss their Thursday night Porchetta dinners and fantastic brunches this Spring and Summer. // Les Marchands – 131 Anacapa St., Suite B
Villa Wine Bar & Kitchen
This cozy downtown wine bar is owned by Sean and Gabi Larkins, the same people who have owned and operated local wine shop, Vino Divino, for over a decade. Here, they serve mostly regional wines by the glass, along with several hard-to-find craft beers on tap and a small menu of charcuterie, salads and panini. The atmosphere is relaxed yet inviting — think Santa Barbara-esque Spanish tile, an indoor fountain and surf movies streaming on the TV, all adding to the welcoming vibe. // Villa Wine Bar – 618 Anacapa St.
Five & ¼
Five & ¼ (pronounced ‘five and a quarter’) is one of Santa Barbara’s newer places for wine, operating in the space that is Pacific Crepes by day. The idea came from couple Jeremy Bohrer and Sayward Rebhal, two Old World wine-lovers who believe that interesting Old World wines shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag. Together, they serve red and white wines from their list alongside vegan snacks like spiced popcorn and dolmas. A vegan wine bar? That’s right. It’s a casual spot for those looking to try something new, especially if you have a more adventurous palate. Be sure to check out their ‘reverse happy hour’ from 8-close on Saturdays. Read more here. // 705 Anacapa St.
Armada Wine & Beer Merchant
Owned and operated by Tucker Huget and Jamie Heer, two friends who met while working at a local winery, Armada has been a neighborhood favorite for the past couple of years for its artisanal wine and beer selections and down-to-earth vibes. Tucked away in the San Marcos Courtyard, the name Armada is not only a play on the ‘exploration’ of wine and beer, but also pays tribute to the Spanish Conquistadors carved into the courtyard’s facade. Here, you can enjoy a great selection of regional and international wine and beer from their rotating list in the beautiful, airy space. Happy hour is offered daily, and don’t miss the monthly wine/beer events. Read more here. // 1129 State St.
Wine + Beer
Located in the back of the SB Public Market in a glass-enclosed space, Wine + Beer caters to both wine and beer lovers (as the name implies!) looking for a casual place to sip. A wide selection of beer and wine is available by the bottle, by the glass and to go, but one of the best things about Wine + Beer is that you can order food from anywhere inside the Public Market to be delivered while you enjoy your drink of choice. Long tables add to the communal atmosphere, making it a great place to meet up with friends after work. // 38 W Victoria St.
There you have it: My guide to Santa Barbara’s best wine bars — whether you want to geek out or just casually sip, there’s truly something for every taste and budget. Cheers!