5995 Stagecoach Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
NileGuide Expert tip:
Sundays at Cold Spring Tavern promise tri-tip sandwiches, cold beers, and live music. Roll your windows down as you approach the restaurant—you'll know you're close when you smell the barbecue.
Built in the 1860s, Cold Spring Tavern
was once a way station for stagecoach passengers traveling over the San Marcos Pass—at the time, known for dangerous highwayman and rough roads. Since 1941, the tavern has been a local favorite for food and libations. Hidden along a creek in the shade oaks and sycamores, the restaurant is frozen in time. Historic buildings—including a road gang house and a jail house built in 1873—sit near the tavern, begging to be investigated (peek through the boarded windows if you dare). Once you explore the dusty surroundings, step into the stone restaurant for a cozy meal by the always crackling fire. Breakfast and lunch offer moderately priced omelettes, flapjacks, salads, and burgers. Dinner can be pricey, but you get what you pay for—think filet mignon, breast of duck, and rack of lamb. The bar is in a separate building a few steps from the restaurant, and serves up less costly eats (from the same kitchen), stiff drinks, and live music. The Old West atmosphere is romantic for just about anyone—it's the perfect spot to grab beers with buddies or nestle into a corner table on a first date.