One of the oldest, most elegant resorts in Santa Barbara is the Belmond El Encanto Hotel. The romantic retreat’s 92 suites and rooms in cottages and bungalows are perched on seven lush acres high above town. Some were built as early as 1912 in Craftsman style, while others have a Spanish Colonial flair, and all are housed among waterfalls, arbors, a Japanese garden, an infinity pool, and tropical foliage, with views of the ocean. Many of the cottages have French doors, fireplaces, marble soaking tubs, private porches, and extra-large bathrooms.
The El Encanto dining room provides al fresco meals on the patio with panoramic city and ocean views and inside seating in a cozy setting. The menu is seafood-focused but also includes steak, lamb, chicken, pork, and pasta dishes.
Dishes incorporate herbs from the on-site chef’s garden and cheese made from the milk of the resort’s own cow. Breakfast and brunch standouts including crab cake Benedict, pulled pork huevos rancheros, fried chicken and waffles, and black quinoa risotto. Dinner appetizer highlights include halibut sashimi, grilled octopus with lamb sausage, and organic kale salad with burrata cheese and local strawberries. Main course favorites include wild king salmon with roasted sunchokes and organic broccolini, halibut with a potato fennel mash, king crab legs with a lobster chili broth, garganelli pasta with artichokes, Australian rack of lamb, and New York steak. The perfect end to a meal at El Encanto is the decadent chocolate soufflé.
The resort is a stunning place to stay, but it’s worth a visit to the restaurant, even if you’re not staying, for the fabulous views and the excellent breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.