Where: 508 State Street, (805) 962-9494; thenaturalcafe.com
What: Healthy, tasty food made with fresh, regional ingredients. Great for lunch.
How Much: Appetizers $3-$5.79, salads $6.99-$9.29 (salads are also available in halves), sandwiches $5.79-$7.29, burgers & dogs $4.79-$6.99, pizzas $7.99-$8.79, pasta $8.49-$8.99, vegetarian entrees $7.99-$9.99, chicken & fish entrees $7.59-$9.99. Also serving shakes, smoothies, and delicious desserts.
The Dish: After 18 years, the original Natural Café on 508 State Street is still one of Santa Barbara’s most coveted lunch spots. With an extensive menu and daily specials, the Natural Café has something for everyone. The café has become known for being a vegetarian eatery, most likely because of their tasty salads and many vegetarian meals, but they also offer flavorsome fish and poultry entrees. In fact, people mostly tend to order the protein dishes, especially the turkey burger, which is a very popular item on the menu, according to Carlos Villa, the manager at the original State Street location.
Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I always appreciate a tasty vegetarian meal. Many veggie-focused eateries have popped up all over the world in the past decade, but oftentimes the food can be somewhat bland. The Natural Café, however, truly excels in making mouthwatering vegetarian meals as well as delicious shakes and desserts. I can highly recommend the Good Karma Burger or Veggie Quesadilla and chocolate shake. Still, it doesn’t matter whether you’re an avowed vegetarian or vegan or if you love your meats, the Natural Café will fully satisfy your palate.
Over the years, eight more Natural Cafés have been born, so one can enjoy the pleasant restaurant from San Luis Obispo to Westlake Village. According to Villa, the Natural Café is highly frequented by out-of-town diners, especially those from Los Angeles and San Francisco.