Best of Santa Barbara® 2021
By Charles Donelan
Richie’s Barber Shop
For Richie Ramirez, owner and chief barber of the two Richie’s locations in Montecito and Isla Vista, the strategy has always been to create lasting relationships with his customers. His shops offer clients the opportunity to “take a break from the digital world and get back to the human interactions of great conversations, community talk about current events, and even at times a therapy session for both the client and the barber.” Richie cites new neighbors like Juice Ranch, Ca’Dario, and Renaud’s as helping to make Coast Village Road a better place and a one-stop destination for Montecito residents.
Runner-Up: Arturo’s BarberShop and Hair Salon
At Salon Patine, the stylists understand that their work lays the foundation for their clients to feel good about themselves. Danica Meek, a stylist who has been at Salon Patine since 2011, says her favorite part of the job is how “hair can give someone so much confidence. It’s really cool to be a part of someone’s transformation and to be able to see his or her confidence skyrocket.” At Salon Patine, the team prides itself on covering the full spectrum of clients, from those who want the ultimate cut and color combination to those who prefer a low-maintenance style. It’s this flexibility that keeps all kinds of clients coming back.
Runner-Up: The Color Room
3623 State St.; (805) 687-0449
Admit it: More than once you’ve been distracted from some important conversation by the sight of an exquisite set of manicured nails. According to our super-selective, nail-conscious readers, that’s more than likely because you are observing the work of Modern Nails on upper State Street. In addition to keeping the shop ultra-clean and COVID-compliant, Modern Nails’ staff specializes in executing whatever crazy, special design you come up with and doing so with prices low enough that you can change your look as often as you like.
Runner-Up: Ocean Nails & Spa
Honeys gets rave reviews from customers for its non-streaky, golden spray tans along with other essential services such as waxing, sugaring, and eyebrow shaping. A favorite among brides to be, the cozy salon on West Canon Perdido has everything you need to look your best for a big occasion or just to feel pampered. They can even tint your eyelashes to go with your tan and match your newly tinted and shaped eyebrows.
Runner-Up: Sweet Cheeks
With a roster of eight of the best tattoo artists anywhere on the Central Coast, having 805 Ink here on State Street means that there’s no reason to go anywhere else, no matter what style or type of ink you are looking for. They have specialists in American traditional, Japanese, fine line black and gray, and more, all waiting to consult with you on the perfect match for your personal style. Whether it’s for your first time or the second full sleeve, 805 Ink will take care of you, and that means expert advice on aftercare so that your new tattoo looks great forever.
Runner-Up: Golden Eagle Tattoo
Spa Ojai at Ojai Valley Inn
In a region that offers an abundance of five-star hotel properties, all with their own spa services, the Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn stands out. Whether it’s the fact that, at 31,000 square feet, the facility earns its title as a “Spa Village” within the magnificent overall design of the Ojai Valley Inn resort or the unusual, one-of-a-kind experiences available that lend it that “only in Ojai” vibe, either way, you will never forget your visit to this healing, restorative oasis. For a true taste of Ojai magic, get a small group together (two to four people), and order the Kuyam, a desert-clay-and-essential-oils sauna and inhalation experience that’s guided by a meditative traditional Chumash narrative.
Runner-Up: The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara
Day Spa • Place to Get a Facial
Float Luxury Spa
Santa Barbara day spa and facial customers agree — there’s no better place to get your glow-up than Float Luxury Spa. Owner Natalie Rowe cites the upwelling of community support for small businesses during the pandemic as one more reason why she loves doing what she does and doing it here. “The past year has taught us more than ever that self-care is vital to health and wellness, and to be able to offer that to people and see them leave us glowing and relaxed is simply the best!”
Runner-Up (Day Spa): Evolutions Medical & Day Spa
Runner-Up (Place to Get a Facial): Evolutions Medical & Day Spa
Evolutions Medical & Day Spa
At Evolutions Medical & Day Spa, the staff made the best of a difficult situation during the pandemic, and, despite all the additional safety precautions they had to put in place, they managed to grow the business. Spa Director Carrie Vuich attributes their success to teamwork and the loyalty of their clients, along with the decision to bring Dr. Terry Perkins’s cosmetic surgery into a newly remodeled facility onsite.
Runner-Up: Jessica Barker Medical Aesthetics
Lovebird Boutique and Jewelry
Lovebird is on a five-year streak as Best Clothing Boutique, and owner Nancy Burgner could not be more proud of her store and her staff. She acknowledges that COVID has made style decisions more complicated than ever, and that’s why she strives for a chill vibe at her De la Guerra store. One thing to know that might not be obvious from the chic garments on display is that Lovebird loves dogs, so feel free to bring along your puppy when you next go looking for something new to wear.
Alpha Thrift Stores
With two thriving outlets, one on Milpas Street and the other on Hollister at Kellogg in Goleta, you are sure to find something useful every time you shop at either Alpha Thrift location. Thrifting has become chic, especially among young people, and thanks to the Alpha Resource Center, every dollar spent on vintage clothing and furniture goes to support and empower individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Alpha Thrift also offers those who wish to follow the way of Kondo (Marie, that is) and declutter their homes a great way to offload things that they no longer need. Just make sure to check the website in order to know what they will and won’t accept as a donation.
Runner-Up: Destined for Grace
Vintage Store • Antique Store
The Blue Door
What a pleasure it is to browse among the eclectic stock of antiques and sustainable vintage pieces that fill all three floors of The Blue Door on Yanonali Street. Just remember that while it’s a perfect stop on a walking tour of the Funk Zone, their excellent, frequently updated website allows you to experience The Blue Door from home as well. Owners Brian Garwood and Carolyn Petersen cite the “unbelievable support from local customers during this pandemic and meeting so many new people moving to town from other places and buying sustainable vintage pieces” as major reasons why they are “very excited for the many continued years to come in this location!”
Runner-Up (Vintage Store): Punch Vintage
Runner-Up (Antique Store): Antique Alley
Crossroads Trading Company
With locations all over the nation, Crossroads Trading Company is a powerhouse when it comes to consignment. Their easy-to-use website and sellers app make consigning clothing with them convenient and reliable. You can even browse the store’s “What We’re Looking For” page to discover which of the items hanging in your closet could be turned into cash. The State Street location attracts plenty of walk-ins, and the knowledgeable staff can help you whether you’re looking for a statement vintage tee shirt or ready to part with that classic varsity jacket you’ve had since high school.
Runner-Up: The Closet Trading Co.
Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers
Sasha Ablitt of Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers knows and appreciates what it means to be a Santa Barbara institution. As a third-generation business owner, she’s seen the city change, but thanks to her constant contact with her customers, she insists that to her, Santa Barbara is still a “town,” even if it’s not exactly small. She loves her 40 employees for doing their best every day, and she loves seeing her customers, not only in the shop but out and about looking great thanks to fine dry cleaning.
Runner-Up: Eco Friendly Cleaners
Whether you’re looking for an alteration on a bridesmaid’s dress in time for an upcoming wedding or need to repair a ripped wetsuit before heading into the waves at Rincon, Lee has got your back, and your zipper. This old-school operation in Suite E4 of the El Mercado shopping mall delivers custom service and prompt appraisals on all your tailoring needs.
Runner-Up: Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers
Eyewear Selection • Sunglasses Selection
For 34 years, Irwin and Salli Eve have operated what Irwin modestly refers to as a “neighborhood shop,” offering the finest unique and artisan-produced eyewear in the world to loyal customers who keep coming back for the extraordinary service and the expert optometric care. In a market where both eyewear and sunglasses are essential everyday personal fashion statements for so many people, Occhiali provides the ultimate in distinctive, individualized options in both categories.
Runner-Up (Eyewear Selection): Goleta Valley Optical
Runner-Up (Sunglasses Selection): Eye & Vision Care
People all over the world love the stylish, fashion-forward footwear manufactured by Deckers. Whether it’s Sanuks, UGGs, HOKAs, or Tevas you are looking for, they can all be found under one roof in this dazzling brand showcase built adjacent to the company’s corporate headquarters in Goleta. Originally only open to employees and clients of Deckers, the showcase store now provides exceptional service and a wide range of styles to the general public.
Runner-Up: Santa Barbara Running
Bryant & Sons
With 56 years of experience offering fine jewelry on State Street, Bryant & Sons has to be counted as one of the city’s grandest retail institutions. Best of Santa Barbara® voters certainly agree, as owner Mike Bryant says that he has so many plaques now that he’s running out of room on the wall. One thing Bryant & Sons will never run out of is community goodwill as a place where so many happy memories have been made.
Runner-Up: Patco Jewelers