Santa Barbara’s Burger Week Is Back

7 Days of $7 Burgers

March 11 – March 17

Santa Barbara’s Burger Week Is Back

Try These 12 Burgers to Celebrate the
Return of Our Annual Eating Extravaganza

By Indy Staff | Published March 11, 2021

Get those chompers ready, because Burger Week is back.

An annual eating tradition that the Independent started in 2017, Burger Week took a pandemic hiatus in 2020, when going outside of the house didn’t feel right. This year, as vaccinations progress, cases stabilize, and our collective comfort level with outdoor dining and takeout rises, we’re bringing back our seven days of $7 burgers, from March 11 to 17.

As usual, while beef certainly dominates the menus of our 11 participants, these aren’t just standard burgers — there’s a vegan option, of course, plus seafood, chicken, and, yes, even dessert. And one is even serving two burgers! So read on, then dig in.

And don’t forget to post your Burger Week photos on social media, #SBIndyBurgerWeek!

SNAP, SHARE, WIN! Enter our Burger Week Instagram Contest presented by BCycle Santa Barbara. Click here for the juicy details. 

Credit: Saehee Jong

The Andersen’s Danish Bakery: Dessert Burger

If you have a raging sweet tooth, The Andersen’s Danish Bakery and Restaurant’s Dessert Burger is made for you. The elegantly waving mint seductively calls to us fellow sweet-toothers, but mark my words, you will not look graceful while scarfing down this wonderful confection. Underneath the flaky pastry bread — technically, a fastelavnsbolle with sesame seeds and cardamom — lies a layer of glazed peaches mimicking cheese, fresh strawberries mocking tomatoes, delightful marzipan imitating lettuce, fluffy chocolate mousse replicating a patty, and creamy custard resembling mayonnaise. Charlotte Anderson, the bakery owner and mastermind behind the genius treat, wanted to stand out and deviate from the traditional burger’s savory reputation, so she whipped up this uniquely sweet version to entice a whole new food audience. You must add this nectarous dessert to your list after walking on State Street. It will certainly brighten your day, Danish style. —Saehee Jong

1106 State St.; (805) 962-5085;

The Brewhouse: Jalapeño Popper Burger

Credit: Courtesy

What’s better than a hamburger with a side of jalapeño poppers? An all-in-one bite of the two favorite pub foods, of course. 

The Brewhouse achieves this savory and spicy amalgamation with its appropriately named Jalapeño Popper Burger, a quarter-pound patty slathered with a three-cheese (goat, cheddar, and cream), bacon-laced spread and topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo on a brioche bun. The spread is the obvious star of the show, with good-sized pepper chunks mixed in with all that cheesy goodness. 

Always one of Santa Barbara’s best outdoor dining spots, The Brewhouse now even has more open-air options due to COVID rules, with a dozen or so tables placed around its sunny back parking lot, perfect for enjoying a pint or three of its popular beers. But manager Jamie Jacobson is still anxiously looking forward to the day the place can simply go back to the way it was. 

“We can’t wait to just have our restaurant back!” she said. “With people walking around happy, eating, drinking, and socializing, seeing family and friends enjoying our food and drinks together.” Jacobson made sure to thank all the “very loyal local regulars” who’ve kept the place going, even as the hits kept coming. “We wouldn’t be here without them!” —Tyler Hayden

229 W Montecito St.; (805) 884-4664;

Creekside: Creek Burger

Burger available until 5 p.m.

Credit: Courtesy

I’m a beef guy. Always have been. My mom, who’s from Texas, swears it’s from all the steaks she ate while she was pregnant.

So I was more than a little excited to try the Creek Burger, a half-pound holy trinity blend of brisket, sirloin, and chuck with the standard but infallible fixin’s of provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. Oh, and, of course, their special Creek Sauce composed of (be patient here, it’s worth it) sweet onion, dill pickle, horseradish, sriracha, mayo, salt, cracked black pepper, Worcestershire, and ketchup.

Now, the burger itself is more than worth the price of admission. It’s tender and juicy with just the right amount of salt and heat. But what really kicked my lunch into the “I’ll definitely be back” category was the fact that my patty was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, difficult for a lot of restaurants to do, for some reason. Its blend of flavors was front and center. Also, the fries that came with it (only offered as part of the 1/3-pounder Burger Week promotion) were that beautiful thick-crisp kind. The Island Blonde on tap was the cherry on top.

Co-owner Dave Burkholder said the Creekside — a longtime Santa Barbara staple popular with families as well as the country-music crowd — couldn’t have survived without the support of its landlords, Don and June Mattias. “They shared the financial burden with rent assistance,” he explained. “The locals also helped us with our journey through COVID.” As the weather gets better, Burkholder said, he and the staff “look forward to having events and large groups on our giant open-air patio.”  —Tyler Hayden

4444 Hollister Ave.; (805) 770-3200;

Home Plate: Mango Habanero Burger & Bubba Gump Shrimp Burger

Credit:  Kenneth Johnston

If you head out to Home Plate, an invitingly down-home pizza and burger joint located in the outer limits of Goleta, be sure to ask for extra napkins. Or perhaps bring your own. The burgers are that kind of good. 

Manning the grill is Ken Johnston, a Goleta native who was serving the Bubba Gump and a more traditional Mango Habanero burger. Both came on brioche buns — made by Elsa’s Bakery in San Luis Obispo — and both were generously splattered with sauces that made the burgers dance the tango in your mouth. 

My favorite turned out to be the Bubba Gump, made with panko-encrusted shrimp topped with just the right amount of coleslaw, pickles, and tomato, and just enough chipotle-cilantro-aioli sauce to take the creak out of your neighbor’s front gate. I had no gripe with Mango Habanero burger — the sauce inflicted just the right mix of tang and heat — but the one-third-pound patty plus bacon, onion ring, and Pepper Jack cheese offered more than I wanted to eat. Still, I ate the whole thing. 

I left with a contented bloat, happy to have stumbled onto a place I didn’t know about and looking forward to returning. —Nick Welsh

7398 Calle Real, Ste. C, Goleta; (805) 845-3323;

Kyle’s Kitchen: Spicy Krispy Chicken Sandwich

Credit: Elio Cruz

With all the hype around chicken sandwiches nowadays, it’s nice that a hometown contender is stepping into the ring. Kyle’s Kitchen delivers everything you could ask for in a fried chicken sandwich with their new Krispy Chicken Sandwich. They give you a thick, tender piece of succulent chicken — marinated for 24 hours in herbed buttermilk — covered in a crispy, hand-breaded batter that flakes and crunches with every bite. This sits atop slices of tangy dill pickles and between pillowy, freshly baked brioche buns that have been slathered in a creamy garlic aioli. I’ve personally never been fond of pickles in my sandwiches, but I decided that Kyle’s Kitchen had never led me astray before. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed their presence on my sandwich, and next time I order one, I won’t think twice about leaving them on. Pair it with a side of Kyle’s Kitchen’s classic fries, and you’ve got a ticket straight to satisfaction. —Ricky Barajas

Multiple locations;

Little Kitchen: The LK Burger

Credit: Bob Stout

While everyone knows somebody with a sweet tooth, I have what I call a “burger tooth.” Delighted to try a different restaurant outside of my usual favorites, I will now be adding Little Kitchen to my rotation. This side-street gem located on Ortega Street is now home to the GlitterBox, a new outdoor patio behind the Wildcat Lounge. (When your favorite song is playing right as you enter the establishment, you know you are in good hands!) The LK Burger won me over with its juicy cluster of caramelized onions; warm, gooey cheddar; Thousand Island dressing made from scratch (rosemary aioli also an option); and a most generous serving of crispy butter lettuce atop the one-third-pound patty. Not to mention I love a good brioche bun (from Ethnic Breads) toasted to perfection and with the right amount of softness and a satisfying crunch with every bite. What really sealed the deal for me was that Little Kitchen serves my favorite kind of French fry! Thick crust, not shy on salt, mashed potato-y in the middle, and paired with a blended margarita. —Celina Garcia

17 W. Ortega St.; (805) 770-2299;

Live Oak Café: Banh Mi Burger

Credit: Matt Kettmann

In Burger Weeks of yesteryear, Live Oak Café lured lovers of Hawaiian cuisine and gut-sticking food by serving the Loco Moco Burger — a sushi-rice-propped quarter-pounder that was covered in gravy, grilled pineapple, fried Spam, and sunny-side-up egg. For 2021, Chef Mark De la Cruz is aiming lighter with the Banh Mi Burger, a fresh-feeling third-pounder of Santa Carota beef topped with cucumber, jalapeños, red cabbage, pickled carrots and daikon, mint, cilantro, sriracha mayo, and a secret dressing, all on a brioche bun. The secret sauce comes from drippings of pork belly (from Live Oak’s usual banh mi sandwich), which are mixed with tamari, ginger, garlic, mirin, and then more mayo. 

“The fresh jalapeños give it a little spice and crunch,” said De la Cruz, but the clean beef plays a surprising role in keeping the experience uplifting rather than nap-inducing. That’s because, due to the pandemic, De la Cruz and his partner, Molly Holveck, examined their whole process and decided to source patties from Santa Carota, a ranch east of Bakersfield that finishes their cattle on carrots. “It’s a phenomenal product,” said De la Cruz. 

And just for old time’s sake, there’s a good chance that De la Cruz may just throw that Loco Moco back on the menu this week as well. —Matt Kettmann

2220 Bath St.; (805) 845-5193;

Mesa Burger: The Di Mase

Credit: Elio Cruz

Eating a burger is always satisfying, but there’s something about the way a burger is prepared that can make it an experience. Mesa Burger’s Di Mase — named after the small burger chain’s late Chef Aimee Di Mase — is a perfect example of that: a moist, beautifully cooked patty sits in between one brioche bun, which is covered in a creamy spread of garlic-spiked, crushed avocados, the other bun slathered with an incredible sweet, sour, and salty bacon jam. Some classic lettuce and tomato and a heap of delicate and crispy onion strings make up the rest of this burger. 

What takes this burger from good to a must-try is that bacon jam. A red wine and balsamic reduction is filled with tiny bits of freshly cooked and crumbled bacon. The tangy flavor of the jam contrasts the creamy avocado but complements the savory patty, and the crunch of the bacon mixed with the crisp of the onion strings makes it a fun auditory experience too. I would have eaten another immediately after if I could have.  —Ricky Barajas

Multiple locations;

Natural Café: Hungry Planet Burger

Credit: Kelly Brown

I live on a cattle ranch, and my whole family is involved, one way or another, in the beef business — so vegan foods have never been part of our Sunday dinners. But I was very curious and happily surprised to try the Hungry Planet Burger at the Natural Café on Hitchcock. The burger, which is 50 percent plant-based and 50 percent soy, is served on an organic wheat bun with a soy cheese that melts perfectly, topped with a special vegan spread, which has a mayonnaise-like texture but a unique flavor of its own. All this blends well together and is topped with lettuce, tomato, and delicious caramelized onions. You get a generous side of organic blue corn chips and a great spicy salsa.

It was especially lovely to eat outside on the patio, where I saw several of the lunchtime crowd ordering the same Hungry Planet Burger. It’s one of the Natural Café’s most popular dishes, with lots of customers adding extra toppings, from avocados to jalapeños. That would probably have been fun, but I had mine straight. Next time, I think I will try the jalapeños. —Marianne Poett

Multiple locations;

Padaro Beach Grill: Max Burger

Credit: Charles Donelan

The Padaro Beach Grill on Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria delivers an outstanding entry this Burger Week with the Max, a riff on the recipe for a McDonald’s Big Mac. The Max is a double beef patty with American cheese melted on top, and sliced tomato, Bermuda onion, leaf lettuce (not shreds), and a dollop of special island sauce tucked between the burgers and the bottom bun. Pickles are on the side.

While the Max eats true to its chain burger inspiration, it’s bigger and brighter tasting than anything you’ve ever fished out of a cardboard clamshell. Dispensing with the Big Mac’s superfluous middle bun, the Max pumps up the flavor with prime beef and fresh produce. The upside-down build with the toppings on the bottom works well with the double patties. As for the Padaro Beach Grill’s gorgeous, green outdoor picnic area, it’s perfect for families. —Charles Donelan

3765 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria; (805) 566-9800;

Third Window: Smashburger

Burger available Thu. evening-Sun.

Credit: Matt Kettmann

When COVID came a-knockin’, Kris and Michelline Parker started rockin’ smashburgers out of the tiny kitchen at Third Window Brewing Co., which Kris founded five years ago and now owns with his extended Fess Parker family. Though they came up with the concept within two days of being forced to serve more food due to health rules, these aren’t just any smashburgers, which are already savory superstars in today’s culinary world, prepared on a cast-iron griddle and squeezed down to make a deliciously charred crunch in just 90 seconds. These come from the coveted Wagyu breed of Japanese beef, which sister Katie Parker raises on the family’s Santa Ynez Valley ranch. That means extra umami kick. 

The usual Parker Ranch Smashed-Burger is a double, but there will only be one patty for Burger Week, which is really all you need. Topped with grilled onions, a special sauce, silky American cheese, and a side of spicy pickles, the expertly squashed burger — often cooked by Kris or Michelline themselves — pairs the highest-quality meat with the most everyday of American cuisine. 

“It’s the high-low thing,” said Kris. “It’s a funny thing to do to Katie’s Wagyu. I’m amused every time I put it on.” —Matt Kettmann

406 E. Haley St.; (805) 979-5090;


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.