Is everybody happy! That could be the theme for the Palace Grill, a honest to goodness cajun-creole with a little Italian thrown in for good measure restaurant. The fun begins by ordering a "Dean Martini", Pint Jar size. Oh yeah, this gin, dry vermouth, with an olive is not just stirred but shaken as well. A great starter to go with the drink is Cajun Crawfish Popcorn. Louisana Crawfish straight from the waters of Southern Louisiana Bayous. "Dat gooood".
The kicker is a folded menu sheet given to you to hold on and not open until the music starts. Here we go, it's sing along with Dean time. Everyone, and I mean everyone belts out the words and toasts with the entire staff, and that is one by one, no wonder you need a pint jar of drink. From that point on, it is fun food, and great service from the entire staff. Well done.
Favorite Dish: A great Sampler Platter lets you enjoy the goodies of the Bayou. Chicken Tchoupitoulas, Caribbean Coconut Shrimp with tangy dipping sauce, Blackened Catfish, Blackened New York Steak with CajunHollandaise, and Louisiana Bread Pudding Souffle with Whiskey Cream Sauce. Oh man, I'm going to have to go back to try the Bananas Foster. Yummm.
Paradise Cafe has been around a long time, and it's been one of my favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara since I was wee small.
The food is fantastic. Most of the dishes on the menu involve being grilled fresh in the kitchen, and there's plenty to choose from. Delicious breakfasts are available on Sundays, and lunch and dinner are served everyday. The desserts are also spectacular, and there's a nice wine list as well as a well-stocked bar inside.
People can eat either outside on the patio or inside the restaurant, and both are cozy and very beautiful. The patio is surrounded by flowers, trees, and hedges filled with white Christmas lights that the staff turn on at night. Inside there are hardwood floors and local art hanging on the walls.
Staff is normally very friendly and service is usually quick.
Favorite Dish: The gazpacho is one of my favorite dishes here. All the ingredients taste fresh and crisp, and it's absolutely perfect for a warm Santa Barbara day.
The Paradise Burger is a classic and gets rave reviews, and for good reason. Also recommended are the mussels or trout during dinner hours. During breakfast, try the Huevos Valenzuela or the orange juice waffles with fresh fruit and whip cream. Both are spectacularly good.
We first tried this restaurant on a visit in 2005, after it had been open already for 20 years. We should have come sooner. The Palace Grill has a lot of positive points:
Really good quality food with a creative, original menu with a New Orleans flair. Not pretentious or overly trendy, with portions that won't leave you still hungry or like you've overeaten a lot of bulky food.
A great bar, with plenty of good martinis and wines.
Cool atmosphere in a classy yet somewhat informal setting. Jazzy feel.
Convenient location just steps off State Street. A good place to walk to if you are in the center of town.
Being a La. native but Ca. transplant, I was excited to try this place to see if it really was like a good trip back home. It was not. There is a lot of fried stuff on the menu, but you've got to know how to really fry stuff or it tastes funky, like here. They've got the N.O. theme down, by offering Mardi Gras beads and some zydeco music, but for people who don't know the culture of N.O., that stuff is wasted on tourists. Don't order anything in Ca. that says it's "cajun" because it pretty much will never be like the real thing. Nothing we ordered really rang true, and we did order a lot of things.