Seven Days of Santa Barbara Burger Week

15 Restaurants Are Serving $10 Burgers from March 2-8

Seven Days of
Santa Barbara Burger Week

Fifteen Restaurants Are Serving $10 Burgers
from March 2-8

By Indy Staff | March 2, 2023

Credit: Matt Kettmann

Though the burger’s reign atop the pantheon of American cuisine began more than a century ago, this simple sandwich formula is celebrated more now than ever, from fast food’s strip-mall saturation to the gussied up and gourmet versions served at top-tier establishments. And in this era of openness to all appetites, “burger” no longer just means ground beef, which is welcoming even more people to the patty party.

While we can’t exactly claim that the modern zeitgeist began with the Santa Barbara Independent’s inaugural Burger Week in 2017, we can certainly say that our annual promotion didn’t hurt the humble meal’s rise to recent stardom. 

We proudly continue the tradition for the sixth time this week (2020 didn’t happen…) and present these 16 distinct burgers from 15 establishments as Santa Barbara Burger Week 2023.  

This year, as we’ve upped the price to $10 to handle inflating costs, the offerings are increasingly complex and diverse. While 12 of the burgers are beef-focused (with a few veggie alternatives available), three are not, and one is even dessert. 

For the first time ever, we’re happy to present M. Special Brewing Company as the “Official Beer of Burger Week,” and we encourage you to pair one of their brews with your burger, where possible. We’re also launching “Burger Week Bingo” as an interactive way to play along throughout the week. Check out the bingo card at for how to participate and win prizes. 

To help you understand what’s on the menu, we sent out our hungry staffers to sample each burger and report back on their findings, which are listed below. Keep in mind that there are stipulations for some of the orders, which have been listed with each of the descriptions. If nothing special is noted, that means the burger is available for both dine-in and to-go during normal hours.  

Remember to post your patty pictures to Instagram by tagging @sbindependent and #SBIndyBurgerWeek for this week of indulgence.Matt Kettmann

First Up: Download Your Own
Burger Week Bingo Card!

Here’s how it works:

1. Download the Burger Week Bingo card or find it on page 22 of the March 2 print issue of the Independent.

2. Post a photo on Instagram showing that you completed a prompt (i.e. A photo of you and a friend eating a burger, a photo of your burger from Hook & Press, etc.)

3. Include the prompt somewhere in the caption of your photo, then tag us @sbindependent and use #SBIndyBurgerWeek.

4. Get five in a row for a chance to win a growler and a $25 gift card to M.Special or to other participating restaurants.

Andersen’s Danish Bakery

The Dessert Burger

Credit: Tyler Hayden

If Willy Wonka made pastries instead of gobstoppers, and maybe if he teamed up with the Mad Hatter for a nothing-is-what-it-seems tea party treat, they’d invent something like the Dessert Burger. Lucky for us, when it comes to kitchen creativity, Charlotte Andersen — owner of Andersen’s Danish Bakery & Restaurant — possesses just as much fun and whimsy as those two (but without all the psychosis) and developed this showpiece herself. 

Let’s start with the “buns”: a flaky fastelavnsboller pastry with sesame seeds and cardamom. The patty, complete with dark-chocolate grill marks, is a protein-enriched chocolate mousse. Glazed peaches stand in for cheese while fresh, juicy strawberries act as tomatoes. Rounding out the smile-inducing effect is green marzipan for the lettuce and custard-whipped-cream mousse for the mayo. 

In short, it works, and it works amazingly well. The softness of the mousse patty is fortified by the crunch of the fruit and the marzipan’s chew. The very slight savoriness of the fastelavnsboller tempers all the sugar in between. And most satisfyingly, you can use the piece of tinfoil the Dessert Burger sits on to grab the whole thing and take a big ol’ bite.

Just remember to bring your sweet tooth — you’re gonna need it. —Tyler Hayden 

Noon-6 p.m. or until sold out. La Arcada Court; (805) 962-5085;

Bluewater Grill

Bar Burger

Bar Burger (left) and Veggie Bar Burger | Credit: Jackson Friedman

Sitting a stone’s throw from lower State Street, Stearns Wharf, and Santa Barbara’s typically sun-soaked beaches, Bluewater Grill and its signature lighthouse-themed building on Cabrillo Boulevard serve as a beacon to patty purists seeking a back-to-basics burger that simply delivers without rocking the boat. The restaurant’s Bar Burger is a classic cheeseburger consisting of a melted-cheese-topped Angus patty served on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. 

For its second year as a Burger Week participant, Bluewater is also offering up a brand-new veggie burger option, a subtly spiced vegetarian twist on its Bar Burger that features a tender, Southwestern-seasoned black-bean-and-corn veggie patty served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and red onion but sans the mayo and cheese of its beefy brethren. 

Accompanied by a side of fries and a pickle spear, both burgers are simple, no-frills affairs that let each ingredient shine without distracting from the well-situated restaurant’s seaside views and vibes. —Jackson Friedman

Dine-in only. 15 E. Cabrillo Blvd.; (805) 845-5121; 

Foxtail Kitchen

Fala Burger

Credit: Falah Maayah

Foxtail’s Fala Burger has the appeal of a traditional stuffed-and-stacked burger, but without the beef. The vegan sandwich comes with the classics — lettuce, tomato, pickles, avocado, a side of fries — but its fluffy falafel patty and other Mediterranean-inspired touches set it apart.

The amount of stuff between the two thyme-sprinkled brioche buns makes every bite a mouthful, but the ingredients are well-balanced. The flavorful tahini spread gives the sandwich a nice hint of spice (which can be swapped for a different sauce if preferred), and the Jordanian pickles give a tang and a crunch to every bite of the otherwise soft and fluffy burger. Everything works in harmony, right down to the seasoned fries made with spices that owner Falah Maayah gets from back home, which pair nicely with the tzatziki dipping sauce on the side.

Visitors can enjoy their burgers against the backdrop of the charming, candlelit atmosphere of the restaurant, grab a cocktail at the bar, and even play a game of chess or Connect 4 at their table. And on April 12, Foxtail will celebrate six years of serving Santa Barbara. —Callie Fausey

Dine-in only; Tue-Sun., 5-11 p.m. 14 E. Cota St.; (805) 845-6226;

Home Plate Grill

Spicy Cajun Burger & Wagyu Bacon Cheeseburger

Credit: Courtesy

It would not be accurate to say the Home Plate’s Spicy Cajun Burger is the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten, but extra napkins were definitely needed to stem the flow emanating from my tear ducts and nostrils. On the Richter scale of heat, the Cajun Burger — topped with spicy sausage, grilled habaneros, red onions, lettuce, tomato, habanero jelly, special sauce, and Pepper Jack cheese — qualifies as maybe a three-honker. 

Owner Ken Johnson, who has created a genuine home away from home for outer Goleta regulars in the parking lot behind the 7-Eleven on outer Calle Real, warned me in advance what I may be getting into — or, in this case, the other way around. Adding dimension and complexity to this package was the not-so-subliminal sweetness, caused either by that habanero jelly or Johnson’s secret sauce. Or maybe both.  

For the less adventurous, Home Plate — located right next door to the storied sports bar, Rounding Third — offers a more traditional Wagyu Bacon Cheeseburger. This has everything on top: bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onions, American cheese, and, yes, that secret sauce again. What’s missing is the once-ubiquitous fried egg embellishment, which is harder to come by in this egg-shortage era. 

Of the two burgers, I thought the underlying meat used for the Cajun Burger had the better flavor and texture. The buns are brioche, of course — everything is now. Either way, you can’t go wrong. 

Home Plate transformed its backyard parking lot into an unpretentious and inviting living room/watering hole long before parklets were ever invented or the world had heard a peep about COVID. As such, it’s one of the lesser-known reasons why the Goodland’s still good. —Nick Welsh

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

Hook’d Bar and Grill

Cachuma Burger

Credit: Rocio Garcia

The Hook’d team can’t really include “nostalgia” on the ingredient list for their Cachuma Burger. But heartwarming feelings of lakeside summer days from long ago burst forth from each bite of this classic rendition — even when the mountains surrounding Lake Cachuma are coated in snow.  

The burger is familiar in all the right ways: a soft sesame-seed bun, third-pound patty, grilled onions, cold lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. Yet it’s the peppercorn aioli that weaves each component together into a hearty bite. The same occurs on the vegetarian version, whose Impossible patty is expertly charred, truly challenging the beef experience. Add in shatter-crispy onion rings or crunchy fries, plus a freshly drafted ale to wash it down. 

Hook’d opened on the shore of Cachuma back in the fall of 2019. The pandemic didn’t pan out as horrible for the young establishment, given that so many took to camping and the great outdoors to escape. 

The casual walk-up eatery and fully stocked bar is quite the scene on sunny days, which is why Burger Week (or just weekend, in this case) makes a perfect excuse to take the half-hour drive up to check it out, when the crowds are light.

Plus, the county park day-use fees are waived for two hours when eating at the restaurant, so hike, bike, or cast some lines to work off those patties. —Matt Kettmann

Lunch and dinner. 116 Lakeview Dr., Cachuma Lake County Park; (805) 350-8351; 

Hook & Press

Pretzel Pub Breakfast Burger

Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

Like everything that comes out of Hook & Press’s kitchen, their Burger Week offering is something familiar and beloved with a clever twist or, ahem, “hook” that elevates it into gourmet comfort food of the highest order. 

In this case, their Pretzel Pub Breakfast Burger is a riff on the popular smash burger, with their house-made patty topped with a variety of toppings and textures: perfectly sliced pickled red onions; a thick, juicy, heritage-style tomato slice; arugula; tangy beer-cheddar sauce; a little grain mustard; and an ooey gooey fried egg — all on a soft, chewy, salty pretzel bun! 

This is a burger that’s impossible to eat in an elegant way. Plus, if you cut it in half like I did, you’ll want to sop up all that yolky eggy goodness that explodes on your plate (the pretzel roll works nicely for this). No matter your approach, I recommend extra napkins. I actually ended up using a knife and fork at the end, so I could capture every last bite. —Leslie Dinaberg

Dine-in price is $10, takeaway price is $15. Tue.-Sun., 8 a.m.-1 p.m. La Arcada Plaza; (805) 869-6635;

Kyle’s Kitchen

California Club

Credit: Jeremy Peterson

Chicken is the most popular protein source in the country, and when grilled and paired with smoked bacon and crushed avocado, it’s easy to taste why it might be edging out the beef burger, even during our tummy-satisfying Burger Week. At Kyle’s Kitchen, they also add roasted garlic aioli, tomatoes, and a layer of crunchy lettuce to their delicious California Club, made with all-fresh ingredients, right down to the baked-that-day whole-wheat bun. We sampled the sandwich — which comes solo; fries or salad is a few bucks more — while sitting with Joe Bresler, who runs the operation and filled us in on the backstory behind Kyle’s Kitchen.

“You know how a lot of business people become philanthropists later in life?” Bresler said of founders Jay and Deena Ferro’s initiative to start Kyle’s Kitchen, which is named for their son who was born with special needs. “Well, Kyle’s decided to be part of the community along the way.” 

Since opening in 2015, the small restaurant chain has donated more than $250,000 to support special-needs families and groups, including feeding those in need during the pandemic years. They also work with PathPoint to place people with disabilities on the Kyle’s team, which expands their life experience and adds to their résumé.

As the kitchen crew says, “Giving back is our favorite ingredient,” and the yummy California Club is a very tasty reason they’re so successful. —Jean Yamamura

Delivery available. Multiple locations;

Mesa Burger

Surf & Turf II

Credit: Tyler Hayden

In the signature of Chef Tommy Mingori’s emails is a quote by the 18th-century English writer Samuel Johnson. It reads: “He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”

I’m not ashamed to say I went full beast mode on Mingori’s Surf & Turf II at Mesa Burger, chewing too loudly and letting my hands drip, devouring the whole thing quickly and entirely. (It was cold out, and I was alone on the patio.) And just as Johnson promised, I lost all sense of pain. What was left was a beautiful, burgery bliss.

The Surf & Turf II is a twist on Mesa Burger’s 2022 installment with the same super-stacked effect. The small chain’s custom-blended beef patty makes up the base, and on top of that are thick slices of bacon alongside plump shrimp sautéed with Old Bay seasoning. Melted Monterey Jack cheese holds these main elements together with butter lettuce and fresh tomato rounding out a classic effect.

But what really made the burger special was the homemade chimichurri slathered on its top bun and a sun-dried-tomato romesco spread on the bottom. Romesco, Mingori explained, was created some centuries ago by Catalonian fishermen. They would cook their catch right on the boat and dip it liberally in the thick red pepper sauce. I bet they felt no pain either. —Tyler Hayden

Multiple locations;

Padaro Beach Grill

Get Smashed Burger

Credit: Ryan P. Cruz 

Of all the participants in this year’s Burger Week, the Get Smashed Burger at Padaro Beach Grill hands-down wins the best “burger with a view.” Just a few exits south on the 101 on Santa Claus Lane, Padaro’s outdoor patio is just steps away from the beach.

Owner Will Ransone’s deep menu features a range of burger options throughout the year: the Prime Burger, with caramelized bourbon onions; the California Burger, with roasted peppers and avocado; the Padaro Burger, with BBQ sauce and an onion ring; and the Maui Burger, with grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce, just to name a few.

This year, Ransone decided to do a classic take on the popular smash burger, but bigger, with its Get Smashed Burger. General manager Javier Orta describes it as a “double” style, with two half-pound prime-beef patties smashed on the grill, each with a slice of melty American cheese, stacked high on a toasted brioche bun with mayo, fresh tomato, green leaf lettuce, slices of red onion, and a pair of thick crinkle-cut pickle chips.

When I grab my burger, I take my spot at one of the picnic tables spread throughout the grassy courtyard among palm trees and umbrellas. I opt for a spot out in the sun, where I can catch a few minutes of sunshine and enjoy the ocean breeze while I scarf down my burger.

The classic burger is delicious, accentuated by the ocean vibes and the view of the Channel Islands. If you’re looking for a burger by the beach, Padaro is the place to go. —Ryan P. Cruz

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

S.B. Food Connection

SBFC Burger

Credit: Emily Lee

Santa Barbara Food Connection is not messing around with this lofty burger, which features a pressed-to-order beef patty topped with melted cheddar cheese, grilled onions, crispy bacon, sliced tomato, fresh guacamole, crispy lettuce, chile aioli, and a whole grilled jalapeño. The entire creation sits between a soft brioche bun that understands the assignment. 

This is a messy burger but in the best way possible: Once you pick it up, you aren’t putting it back down. Let the juices run down your fingers. Let that guac sit on your face. And whatever you do, don’t let the jalapeño scare you. The seeds offer up just the right amount of spice which, when paired with the sweet grilled flesh of the pepper and the cool guac, strikes the perfect balance. 

As if the burger isn’t enough, there’s a side of hot fries sprinkled with onion salt and served with the dipping sauce of your choice. I went with their house-made ranch, which did not disappoint.

Santa Barbara Food Connection is run by a husband-and-wife team, Joe and Liz Silva, who opened in August 2022. Though I live nearby, this was my first time at their spot, and I’ll definitely be back. —Emily Lee

1-6 p.m.; 900 N. Milpas St.; (805) 869-2007; 

The Nugget

Bob’s Burger

Credit: Courtesy

Perhaps the most intriguing selection on this year’s Burger Week menu is Bob’s Burger, a peanut-butter-and-jelly special from The Nugget. I couldn’t resist trying it, and from the very first bite, the experience was extraordinary. 

The hamburger is grilled perfectly, juicy and flavorful. Skippy’s crunchy peanut butter — the very best, in my opinion — is spread in just the right amount over a toasted brioche bun. The grape jelly blends nicely, adding an oozy delicacy. Kaila Cattaneo, the manager of The Nugget’s Goleta branch, told me that the staff tried a number of different jellies, but grape was the winner. I think they made the right choice. 

I have tried all kinds of combinations on my burgers over the years, but this was truthfully one of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever eaten. The whole creation is topped with loads of crispy onions and bacon, adding just the right textural touch. A dish of pickles is served on the side.  

The Nugget’s long-time owner Bob Montgomery has wanted to offer this burger for years and decided Burger Week was the right moment, explained Cattaneo, who is also Montgomery’s granddaughter. I only hope that Montgomery keeps such a delicious wonder on the menu. 

Bob’s Burger will be offered in both the Goleta and Summerland locations, two restaurants already famous for their down-home ambience and friendly staff. Now they have the peanut-butter-and-jelly special too. Get it while you can. —Marianne Partridge

Multiple locations;

Tyger Tyger

Fried Yuba Sandwich

Credit: Don Brubaker

Like me, you may be asking yourself, “What the [insert expletive of choice] is yuba?” The TL;DR on yuba: It’s dried tofu skin. Great! We’re all up to speed. 

Now fry that tofu skin and throw some shaved cabbage, Fresno chilis, and pickles coated in yuzu ranch dressing on top, stick it all between two brioche buns, and prepare to sink your teeth into my New. Favorite. Sandwich. Errr, Burger? Either way, the Fried Yuba Sandwich at the Funk Zone’s recently relaunched Tyger Tyger is absolutely not to be missed. 

Did I like Tyger² before the pandemic shuttered it for a hot minute? Yes. Do I love the reboot? Abso-damn-lutely, and the attraction is a no-brainer. With a revamped, vegan/vegetarian-focused menu (including gluten-free options for those who partake), and an inimitably darling atmosphere (paper lanterns, hexagonally tiled backsplashes, artsy restroom wallpaper worth taking a selfie in front of … which I did), Tyger Tyger has roared back to life, better than ever. 

For proof, look/taste no further than your first bite into the aforementioned Fried Yuba Sandwich. The spice of chilis and sweetness of pickles are amplified by the aromatic tang of the yuzu, all atop the satisfying crunch of the eponymous yuba. 

What does fried yuba taste like? Imagine the taste and texture of a more-savory churro … then get down to Tyger Tyger and find out for yourself. You’ll be excitedly licking the chili-maple glaze from your fingertips after every bite … oops, did I forget to mention the chili-maple glaze?? —Don Brubaker

121 E. Yanonali St.; (805) 880-4227; 

Validation Ale

Validated Smash Burger

Credit: Matt Kettmann

There are plenty of chef-y tricks layered into this double-smashburger, like the bacon, onion, and jalapeño that add texture to the three-ounce patties, the dueling American-Swiss cheese slices, and the sweet-and-spicy combination of house-made BBQ sauce and chipotle aioli, all squeezed between a soft brioche bun. But the star of the show remains the beef itself, so juicy and savory and meaty that the accouterments simply serve as a harmonious choir in support of a delicious diva. 

Thank the Wagyu beef. “It’s the best we’re able to find, and you can taste that,” said Kaity Dean, who owns the kitchen component of Validation Ale with her partner, Chef Matt Marsit. (They are also offering a plant-based option in the form of a grilled Impossible patty with lettuce, tomato, cheddar, spicy barbecue sauce, and poblano aioli.)

Much like the brewery’s unique format — in which two types of each style of beer are served simultaneously, with customers constantly voting with their wallets on which should stay put — the kitchen makes two types of each sandwich. The other Validated Burger is the “Classic,” in which all six ounces of meat are made into one thicker patty, and topped with cheese, lettuce, and tomato. But they really wanted to highlight the “Smashed,” said Dean, explaining, “This is our favorite.” 

So if you’re seeking an authentic experience that’s super-satisfying — and comes with potato chips and pickles — Validated is now vetted. I enjoyed mine with the Convalida, a refreshing Italian pilsner that’s giving a German lager, the longtime leader of the brewery’s “Light” style, a serious run for its money.  —Matt Kettmann

Dine-in only. 102 E. Yanonali St.; (805) 500-3111;  

Yellow Belly Tap

Le French Onion Burger

Credit: Andrew Holmes

As I walked into Yellow Belly on a brisk Wednesday evening, the bright chatter within enveloped me with the warmth of a quintessential locals’ joint. Regular patrons at the bar and friendly staff confirmed that first impression and set a welcome tone for my experience ahead. 

Le French Onion Burger features a third of a pound of grass-fed, California-raised Angus beef cooked to order and smothered in savory caramelized onion, smoked gouda cheese, and baby arugula, which provides a peppery touch. This mélange is nestled on a brioche bun that is made fresh daily, graced with a house-made garlic aioli spread. Chef Andrew Holmes joined me at the bar to share the delicious details of his culinary creation, like the combination of beer and beef stock that caramelize the onions and the house-made dill pickles that come with. 

For your own dining pleasure, choose a seat on the front deck, back patio, or in the cozy dining room, and pair your burger with one of the many rotating regional beers on tap. If you have enough room, enjoy their crispy brussels sprouts or chicken wings. Or just save those for your next trip  — you’re likely to become a Yellow Belly local, too. —Sarah Sinclair

Dine-in only. 2611 De La Vina St.; (805) 770-5694;

Yona Redz

Birria Burger

Credit: Rebecca Horrigan

Jonathan “Yona” Estrada immediately amassed a loyal following for his signature birria quesotacos by opening Yona Redz on State Street in November 2020. He won’t divulge the secrets to this beloved family recipe, so I was only able to deduce that the birria, or beef stew, is simmered to perfection with chiles and served with a steamy, dreamy, flavorful consommé, or broth, on the side. 

“We specialize in it every day,” Estrada said proudly. For Burger Week, he’s loading that perfectly cooked birria into a toasty, cheesy bun, and topping the meat with more melted cheese, cilantro, red onion, and a drizzle of a creamy chimichurri. One bite of this comforting creation hit all the right notes, but a dip into that steamy consommé served on the side took things to another level of harmonious flavor. Don’t forget to grab a cool, creamy house-made horchata to elevate the experience. —Rebecca Horrigan

Lunch hours until sold out (which happens fast). 532 State St.; (805) 324-4039; 


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