A hidden gem for adventurous eaters

Scarlett Begonia’s audacious menu pairs the best of Santa Barbara’s bounty with creative cocktails.

Relish Rating: ★★   Type: New American
Food: ★★
Prices: $$$
Why should you go? Adventurous Menu, Cocktails
Service: ★★ Website: scarlettbegonia.net
Ambience: ★★ Map it: 1 W Victoria St #10, Santa Barbara




When asked Where should we go for brunch in Santa Barbara? our answer is always the same: Scarlett Begonia. Here are a few reasons why. The sunny, secluded, dog-friendly courtyard is delightful with it’s sparkling fountain. Cocktails are creative and employ artisanal spirits and fresh-squeezed juices. The short wine list favors local winemakers and pairs beautifully with the fare. The adventurous menus are seasonal, and ingredients are local, sustainable and organic when possible. House-made breads and pastries seal the deal.

We recently revisited the patio for a weekend brunch. For starters, we traded up the traditional bloody mary and bottomless mimosa for our liquid appetizer: Tap 357 maple rye whiskey with organic orange juice and garnished with crispy bacon. After sipping ourselves into a slightly buzzed bliss, we satisfied our appetites with the usual: shrimp and grits (with sautéed prawns, two soft poached eggs, paprika sausage, caramelized onions, and roasted red pepper); and the breakfast sandwich (with avocado, arugula, tomato, bacon, cheddar, over-medium egg, house made bun, and fingerling potatoes).

But don’t stop at brunch! Mid-morning is not the only time to indulge in this Victoria Court jewel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are equally delectable. Executive Chef Avery Harding has put his mark on the dinner menu with inspired dishes like squid stew (with house made fennel sausage, scarlet runner beans, sofrito, and braised kale) and maple farms duck breast (with roasted grapes, pine nuts, celery root purée, and verjus). Of course, if you prefer a cheeseburger (with Niman ranch beef, heirloom tomato, caramelized onion jam, arugula, bacon, vermont cheddar cheese, begonia sauce, on a house-made bun) you won’t be disappointed.

Scarlett Begonia is, in our opinion, one of the best kept secrets in Santa Barbara. The only reason we don’t give it a Relish Rating of 5 stars is because the service, though always pleasant, is not always attentive. Hopefully, that will be corrected before our next visit, because we are definitely coming back for more.

Scarlett Begonia Shrimp and Grits

Scarlett Begonia Shrimp and Grits

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