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The Palace Grill Santa Barbara

written by Julie Cohn

When people travel, one of the last things they think about is where to eat at their destination.  Most have the hotel picked out, activities booked, but what about dinner?  Finding a good place to eat in an unknown area can be difficult, but not in Santa Barbara!  When my family travels up the California coast (at least once a year), we always stop to have dinner at this fun little Cajun restaurant, the Palace Grill Santa Barbara.

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The Palace Grill Santa Barbara

Tucked away on a little side street just off State St., the Palace Grill is hands down one of the best restaurants in Santa Barbara.  Every time we go, we have food food, great service, and a lot of fun!

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When people first walk into The Palace Grill, they first notice the bold decor–the dark wood-lined walls,  colorful neon signs, Mardi Gras beads, playing cards on the ceiling, and art deco/big easy style artwork.  The decor certainly creates a festive atmosphere for diners, but most people are not there for the decor…they come to Palace Grill for the food and the fun.

The Food

Palace Grill features fresh steaks, seafood, and pasta dishes with an emphasis on spicy cajun/creole cuisine.  Appetizers include oysters rockefeller, crayfish crabcakes, and Caribbean coconut shrimp.  My son, not a fan of tomato-based dishes, goes crazy over the Gumbo Ya-Ya.

Main dishes include Blackened Red Fish, Stuffed Filet Mignon, and Pecan Chicken Piccata, but their two specialty dishes are the Chicken Tchoupitoulas and the Jambalaya Pasta.  I’ve tried to recreate the Tchoupitoulas at home and much to my family’s disappointment, have been unsuccessful.  The food is always great, every time we visit.

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The famous Chicken Tchoupitoulas

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Palace Grill is also known for it’s desserts, especially their bread pudding souffles, both the Grand Marniér and the dark chocolate.  Be sure to order the souffles just before your entree arrives, as it takes about 25-30 minutes to prepare.

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The Fun

The best part of Palace Grill Santa Barbara (other than the food) is the nightly tradition of staff and guests coming together to sing Louie Armstrong’s “It’s A Wonderful World“.  Nothing celebrates the “laissez les bon temps rouler” spirit of New Orleans more than this wonderful Palace Grill tradition.   Wait staff, hostesses, chefs, and bartenders set aside their work for a few minutes to roam the restaurant, meeting guests and clinking a glass in cheer with them while singing the song.  We’ve been coming to the Palace Grill for over ten years and it is a nightly tradition.


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  • Don’t pass on the bread basket at The Palace Grill.  They have homemade muffins that are scrumptious.
  • Let your waitstaff know if you are celebrating a special event-they will bring you a little treat at the end of the meal.
  • They have a variety of New Orleans style cocktails but watch out, they are strong!
  • Service is always impeccable.  The staff work together for all tables, so you can ask anyone for help or suggestions.
  • The restaurant sings “It’s A Wonderful World” during dinner, usually around 6-7 p.m.  Join in on the fun!
  • The Palace Grill does not take reservations, so make sure you arrive at the restaurant early or prepare to wait.
  • This is Cajun food so things tend to be spicy.  Ask if you are not sure of a dish.
  • Dress code is casual and the restaurant is kid-friendly.
  • Dinner entrées range from $22 – $35
  • Check their website for hours and menu options.
  • For great overnight lodging, stay at the AutoCamp Santa Barbara.

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{Note:  This is not sponsored content.  All dining was paid by reviewer}

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