Santa Ynez Valley has six distinct communities–Solvang, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Ballard, Los Alamos, and Los Olivos. Here’s our guide to Santa Ynez Valley’s best restaurants.

The terrain in the Santa Ynez Valley has a variety of green pastures, horse ranches, and vineyards. The landscape is dotted with oak trees, a sign that one has arrived in Chumash County. This agricultural area is surrounded by the San Raphael Mountains to the north and the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south. Santa Ynez River flows east and west in the valley. Santa Ynez Valley restaurants are as diverse as the landscape.

Many people are drawn to the valley by their love of wine. The combination of outstanding food and wine is what motivates restaurant owners and chefs to settle in this valley. The farm-to table concept is popular in many restaurants due to the fertile land and agriculture of the region. Most restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with local produce.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Scene Communities

Santa Ynez Valley has six distinct communities–Solvang, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Ballard, Los Alamos, and Los Olivos.

  • Solvang was known for its Danish pastries including Aebleskiver and timber buildings. Today, Solvang has a very eclectic dining scene.
  • Santa Ynez’ western theme can be seen in the food and décor of the town.
  • Los Olivos has many wine tasting rooms and galleries.
  • Buellton, the gateway to the Santa Ynez Valley.
  • Ballard Canyon AVA is located in the Ballard district, the smallest of all the districts.
  • Los Alamos was named after the cottonwoods that grow in the area. The town also reflects the old west heritage of the region.

Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Scene is made up of six communities. Visit these restaurants from January 17 – 31 during 2023 Santa Ynez Restaurant Week. There are curated chef-driven menus available for $30, $50, and $60 plus tax and tip.

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We’ve selected the top Santa Ynez Valley Restaurants.

Bob’s Well Bread in Ballard offers Breakfast and Lunch

One of Santa Ynez Valley’s best restaurants, Bob’s Well Bread is a must-visit to start the day. Bob Oswaks’ first Los Alamos location opened in 2014. The following year, I visited his bakery for the first time. The gluten-free Centennial Bread by Bob was my first discovery. The bread is dense, but delicious. The bread is dense and heavy. It contains oats and flax seeds as well as sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds, chia seed, almonds and salt.

Lexi at Bob’s Well Bread, 2015. Corby Solomon, Photo

Bob’s Well Bread’s concept is to make artisan breads and baked goods using local ingredients, following old-world European tradition. Well-Bread is about doing good, supporting your community and donating any leftovers to the local food bank.

Bread Scene Expanded

Bob opened his second Ballard location several years ago to serve the locals of Solvang and Santa Ynez. The artisan baker is located at Baseline and Alma Pinta within 10 minutes from the nearby cities. The bakery is situated at a major intersection. It was once a gas station, country store and restaurant called the Ballard Store and Dining Room. If you’re staying at the Ballard Inn, you should walk across the road to Bob’s Well Bread and try their cuisine.

Bob Oswaks is the owner of Bob’s Well Bread. Corby Solomon.

Must try: Raisin Challah French Toast or Avocado Toast Tartine. I went with the Avocado Toast Tartine made with Centennial Bread, topped with an egg poached.

Raisin Challah French toast with Bacon Lardons Photo by Cori Solas

Bob’s Well Bread’s signature sandwich is the Bob’s Well Bread meatloaf. Pork and beef are the secret ingredients in this meatloaf.

The Baker’s Table Santa Ynez offers Breakfast and Lunch.

The Baker’s Table was my first discovery in 2013. Santa Ynez is home to this artisan cafe and bakery. The restaurant, which has been in business for over ten years, is a favorite among locals as well as tourists who frequent the area. You will return again and again to enjoy the French twist on bread at The Baker’s Table. The new location of the restaurant is in downtown Santa Ynez.

Amy Dixon, the owner of California Culinary Academy, is a San Francisco-based chef who has trained at this academy. She is a master baker and pastry chef. Amy’s Pain au Levain is well-known throughout the valley.

Amy Dixon is the owner of The Baker’s Table. Photo by Corby Solomon

Menu consists of local fresh food. Lunch is served with a variety of sandwiches and salads.

Croissant Sandwiches are a popular breakfast dish. They consist of scrambled egg, sharp cheddar cheese and applewood smoked ham. If you are visiting, make sure to leave room for dessert.

Amy donates leftovers to local charities

Lunch at Peasants’ Feast Solvang

In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Chef Michael Cherney opened a Solvang restaurant called Peasants’ Feast with his wife Sarah. Their survival is a testimony to their culinary skills and knowledge. The Peasants Deli is now open across the street. Peasants’ Feast received a “Bib Gourmand”, in the 2022 Michelin Guide.

Chef Michael Cherney from Peasants Feast. Corby Solomon.

The restaurant is welcoming whether you choose to eat indoors or outdoors. Both times I visited, I chose to eat on the patio. This is one of Solvang’s most beautiful outdoor dining areas. The restaurant is located in an old greenhouse, which adds to its indoor-outdoor atmosphere.

The food is made from scratch and is beautifully presented. I had a Baby Gem Salad made with local baby gems lettuce, radishes carrots beets, peasants’ bacon, toasted almonds and shallot-thyme vinaigrette. This salad is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The artisan bread used in this dish comes from Baker’s Table, or Bob’s Well Bread.

Peasants’ Feast Baby Gem Salad Photo by Corby Solomon

If you’re looking for a sandwich or picnic fixings, I recommend stopping by Peasants Deli. You will be immediately taken by the sight when you enter the deli of the leg Jamon Iberico. It is considered to be one of the best cured hams from Spain. Customers suggest the Godfather Sandwich, which includes salami, prosciutto and other meats. Michael created this sandwich as a tribute to his experiences at the deli with his father. Another popular sandwich is the tuna sandwich. Think of it as a Salad Nicoise sandwich.

Roblar Kitchen & Vineyards – Lunch with Wine Tasting

Santa Ynez Valley offers a great place to taste wine. Finding a winery with food and wine pairings will enhance the experience. Roblar Winery and Vineyards is one Winery that excels in this concept. They offer a culinary experience that is second to none. Roblar Winery and Vineyards offers a unique farm-to fork and vine to glass experience. The Roblar Estate includes a farm which produces the majority of ingredients for its menu. The Roblar Farm produces seasonal organic vegetables and eggs for the menu.

Roblar is just one of the three wineries that belong to Gleason family. Other two wineries are Refugio Ranch and Buttonwood Farm and Winery, which was recently acquired. Buttonwood supplies some produce to the Roblar restaurant, including peaches in season.

Peaches and tomato salad. Photo by Cory Solomon

The restaurant is located in the middle vineyards. The outside area is beautiful, and enhances your wine tasting and dining experience.

Delicious Dishes

The winery is led by Executive Chef Peter Cham. I visited at the end summer, when peaches were in season. I was served a salad with peaches, heirloom tomato jam and Parmesan Sherry Vinaigrette.

Chef Peter Cham, Roblar Winery. Photo by Corby Solomon

The Harissa Spiced Shrimp, with cucumber tzatziki and roasted summer squash and mint, is another interesting dish.

Roblar spiced shrimp with cucumber tzatziki and roasted summer squash. Photo by Corby Solomon

On Fridays and on Saturdays, you can enjoy wood-fired pizza. Red oak is used to fire the pizza. The restaurant serves brunch on Sundays. Enjoy a Roblar flight or a single glass of wine while dining. My favorites were the fume blanc with its citrus, apple and pear flavors and cabernet sauvignon with its slightly jammy quality that exhibits some minerality and a hint of herbaceousness.

Nella Kitchen & Bar Los Olivos: Lunch or Dinner

Nella Kitchen and Bar is located in the charming town of Los Olivos. The restaurant is located adjacent to the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn. Nella kitchen is a sister restaurant of S.Y. Kitchen Cucina Rustica is another of the many delicious Santa Ynez Valley Restaurants. As I sat at the Nella Kitchen front porch for lunch and watched the activity on Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, I was enchanted by the atmosphere.

Each space has its own personality and purpose. The bar is unique and offers many mocktails and cocktails. Try the refreshing Green Mile. This house specialty is made with cucumber, lime and ginger beer.

Chef and partner Luca Crestanelli

Chef/partner Luca Crestanelli gave Chef de Cuisine Marco Longinotti full reign in this restaurant. Longinotti did a fantastic job. Pinsa is a speciality at Nella’s. Chef Marco uses a special dough to make his version of pinsa.

Chef de cuisine Marco Longinotti at Nella Kitchen and Bar, Los Olivos. Corby Solomon.

What is the difference between pizza and pinsa? Pinsa dough is healthier because it contains soy, wheat, and rice flour. Chef Marco’s dough is light, fragrant and highlights the toppings in a way that you won’t forget. Some customers say that it’s like eating a croissant. Chef Marco has it right when he says you’ll never forget. The Black Truffle Pinsa is still in my mind. Nella Kitchen always has five pinsas available.

Nella Kitchen’s Black Truffle Pinsa. Photo by Cory Solomon

The Blue Prawn Skewers, with artichokes and pea purée, was my other favorite. It was a delicious combination.

Dinner at Coast Range & Vaquero Bar Solvang

You know that you’re in for a real treat when three Los Angeles chefs join forces to open Coast Range and Vaquero bar. Anthony Carron is one of the three chefs. Lincoln Carson and Steven Fritz are also part of this trio. The three chefs left Los Angeles in search of a new lifestyle to raise their kids. All three moved to Santa Ynez Valley. Their concept, created in collaboration with Sommelier Rajat Parr creates an all-day dining place. They brought Coast Range, Vaquero, and Church Key to Solvang with their combined talent from restaurants such as 800 Degrees and Top Round.

Note : The restaurant was mentioned in the Michelin Guide 2022.

Coast Range and Vaquero, a Santa Ynez Valley restaurant in Solvang. Photo by Cori Solon

Solvang Local Regulations

Solvang’s timber-styled building designs are subject to strict rules. During the pandemic the chefs rebuilt what used to be a Chinese Restaurant from the ground up. The restaurant has a lovely patio where you can dine outside, a snack bar, and a main restaurant. Coast Range serves brunch on Sundays.

Menu is varied, but it is basically a classic steakhouse menu with more. Coast Range takes special care of those with dietary requirements. All sauces are made in-house. There is also a meat market in the restaurant if you want to take meat home.

Coast Range California Artichokes. Corby Solomon’s Photo

California Artichokes in butter with Espelette pepper and Pecorino Sauce Shellfish Plateau with shrimp and other seafood is served on a platter that you’ll wish you had at your home. The steak and scallops were both excellent. You must try the Brioche Donuts with brown butter glaze. They are both sweet and savory.

Shellfish Plateau at Coast Range Solvang. Corby Solomon

Compo Del Sol is a new Mexican restaurant that was opened by the owners of Coast Range in Solvang. I can’t wait to try the food, especially if it is similar to what Coast Range serves.

Enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at the Hitching Post II Buellton

The Santa Ynez Valley is not complete without dining at Hitch Post 2. The restaurant has been in Buellton, California since 1986. It became more popular after the release of Sideways. The restaurant is famous for its open fire grilling on red oak wood. This style of grilling is indigenous to the region and dates back to Spanish Rancheros. Frank Ostini, owner/chef/winemaker, is at the helm of this casual dining establishment.

Frank Ostini is the owner of Hitching Post 2 Buellton. Photo by Cory Solomon

The Hitching Post opened in 2018 a tasting area adjacent to its restaurant, where they serve their Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post wine. In the tasting room, lunch is served. The hamburger is the main focus of lunch. The Hitching Post Burgers are cooked on an open flame with oak wood, and served in brioche buns. The burger was originally served on Monday nights, but soon became a popular special. Due to its popularity, the burger is now served more frequently.

The Hitching Post is known for its most popular appetizer, the Grilled Artichoke. On my last visit, I had the Smoked Pork Chop. The wine list is extensive, but I would recommend the Hartley-Ostini hitching post wine, particularly pinot noir.

Dinner at Sears Solvang

Growing up in a farming family, Nathan Peitso’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the agricultural industry. He looks for the best fruits and vegetables. Sears Steakhouse is popular for adding local farm-to table ingredients to the traditional steakhouse menu.

Nathan, along with several other chefs in Solvang moved from Los Angeles. He jumped at the chance to purchase an existing restaurant in Solvang. He wanted to create a steakhouse in an adobe-style building where locals and tourists could enjoy local seafood, vegetarian dishes and steak. The extended and elevated menu of the steakhouse is not a typical steakhouse, but rather a foodie-friendly experience that allows you to enjoy a unique dining experience.


Kenter Canyon Farms, a family-owned farm in Santa Ynez Valley provides some of the produce. When he can’t get bread from Roan mills, a family business, he makes his own version of slow-rise loaf using flour. Nathan discovered an Italian deglutinated grain that makes his restaurant the perfect choice for gluten-free customers. He uses this flour to make his focaccia. Being gluten-free I was able to enjoy freshly baked bread without it tasting gluten-free.

Blueberry Shortcake served at Sears Steakhouse. Corby Solomon’s Photo

Nathan says that scallops are a seafood you should taste and not one covered with sauces. The scallops tasted great and were served with a pea purée made from peas and ginger, along with parsley, tarragon and lemon juice.

Sears Steakhouse serves scallops. Photo By Cori Solomon

A single portion of Beef Wellington is featured on the menu, something you don’t see very often in restaurants. The Crab Cakes were delicious and the Blueberry Shortcake made with wheat flour deglutinated was also tasty.

The wine list is a local one, with 75% of the wines coming from between San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Ynez Restaurant Scene

In the last ten year, I’ve seen a remarkable improvement in the Santa Ynez Valley restaurant scene. More chefs are moving away from big cities because of the fresh local ingredients and laid-back lifestyle. They are creating new dining experiences and establishing roots for visitors and wine lovers. Wander with Wonder can be your guide for planning an exciting trip to California, or any other fabulous wine or food destination.