State Street is where all the action happens in Santa Barbara with a plethora of options from breweries to nightclubs to restaurants. One of our top picks for this charming historic Santa Barbara district is Cadiz, an Italian Spanish restaurant known for its fresh Mediterranean seafood cuisine.
If you are lucky enough, you might meet the owners of the restaurant – siblings Dante & Messina Rose who both grew up in Santa Barbara and Italy. They were able to bring effortless Italian style to Cadiz and it all shows form the food to the decor.
The restaurant was completely renovated by Dante & Messina’s father, Michael DeRose who is known for designing classic Mediterranean mega mansions for the elite of Santa Barbara and Montecito.
We got to the restaurant at night and noticed a dim candlelit environment. The crowd was good-looking and of all ages. Though the crowd was dressed casually (in typical Santa Barbara fashion), you could tell that it was sophisticated.
Dante curates downtempo lounge music with an ethnic flare. The music is similar to what would be played at Parisian hotspots Buddha Bar & Hotel Costes (my favorite type of music for restaurants). It’s typically the music played for international jetset audiences.
You enter the restaurant beneath two classic pillars and will notice high vaulted ceilings and Moroccan lamps that cast gorgeous shadows throughout the space. Green plants sit in the corner of the restaurant to bring an organic balance to this architectural space.
Messina told us that when the restaurant opened five years ago, the entire space was completely gutted and the only thing they kept was the exposed brick walls.
The rest of the space is divided into 3 sections–The main dining room, bar and large lounge seating in the back of the restaurant.
We started our evening at the bar with some specialty cocktails. The San Sebastien was my favorite which consisted of strawberry infused tequila, house made chile-syrup, lemon juice and mint leaf. It’s a strong concoction with a light punch that will have you wanting more.
The Cocchi de Cadiz was also one of my favorites with vodka, Cocchi Americano, lemon juice, honey, grapefruit bitters, spanish cava and grapefruit peel.
The food is fresh, simple and delightful. If you are looking for harbor-fresh seafood, Cadiz is the place to go. The cuisine is influenced by the coastal regions of Italy and space with a mixture of small bites, salads, flatbreads and sensational pasta.
We started our meal with a variety of tapas. The house marinated olives are a dish to start with to get your taste buds whirling. The diver scallops were topped with basil pesto, tomato prune chutney and pine nuts. The texture of the scallops was the perfect texture, seared to bring out the sweet taste.
Our favorite dish from the tapas menu was the California Bruschetta – grilled country bread, homemade ricota, avocado and pistachio gremolata. The soft texture of the avocado goes so well with the crunch of the pistachio, paired with the savory bread.
No meal would be complete without the 1/2 dozen oysters on a half shell, paired with cucumber apple mignonette.
The house-made gnocchi topped our meal off. The tender gnocchi is cooked with braised oxtails, san marzano tomato sauce.