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An upscale approach to Mexican food in Santa Barbara’s La Arcada Courtyard.
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Local Deals: 120 * 90

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Open
Lunch & Dinner Tues.-Sun.
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Dining room at Cielito, Santa Barbara, CA

Cielito Restaurant Review

: There is no shortage of Mexican eateries in Santa Barbara, but Cielito offers a different take. Twinkling lights festoon a contemporary dining room. Well-heeled patrons eschew street food simplicity in favor of complex offerings like grilled octopus with chickpea purée, olive relish, olive vinaigrette and grilled fennel. To be sure, the restaurant is worlds removed from the town’s ubiquitous taquerias and roving taco trucks. Chef Ramon Velazquez created sushi at Arigato before taking the helm here, and artful presentation imbues many of his dishes with a bit of panache. A tuna salad, for example, arrives as a colorful medley of seared fish, pink grapefruit, bright mango and mixed greens. A raw bar includes several versions of ceviche utilizing sashimi-grade fish and sustainable shellfish. Premium tequilas and fresh-squeezed juices are used in a variety of handcrafted cocktails, and the setting --- interior and exterior (outside tables surround a gurgling fountain in the Spanish-style La Arcada Courtyard) --- is ideal for happy hour. There’s even a tequila flight, offering tastes of blanco, reposado and anejo. For dessert, don’t miss the delicate vanilla bean flan.

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