The Natural Cafe - State St

  • Veg-options Veg-options
    ( 13 reviews )

508 State St, Santa Barbara, California, USA, 93101

Serves meat, vegan options available. Several locations in California. Extensive menu includes many vegetarian dishes: sandwiches, salads, pasta, smoothies, a veggie soup of the day (sometimes vegan). You can ask to veganize a dish using veganaise, etc. Open for lunch and dinner.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, American, Fast food, Juice bar, Non-veg

13 Reviews

First Review by irlandaise

Delicious organic food and great place - Edit

Most of the food is vegetarian and there are some vegan options (you can easily veganize things). Food is great, fresh and delicious and portions are more than okay. There are a lot of choices, we ate here twice for lunch and once for dinner. I loved everything I ate here: the Zen Burger, the Natural burger and the 'local favorite sandwich'. My boyfriend who isn't vegetarian loved the food as well. Juices and smoothies are tasty. Staff is friendly and helpful. Prices are reasonable. I'm really sad that we don't have places like this one in The Netherlands... I think this one should come to Europe!

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Okay. - Edit

I was happy to find this place as I was with a sailing group at the beach right there. I stuck with veggie filled potatoes and was grateful enough. Not highest quality but at least I got a veg meal.

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Yummy! - Edit

Natural Cafe is Super Yummy and a great place for both Vegan and non-veg eaters. Highly Recommended for visitors.

The state street location is a wonderful place to eat downtown during/after a day of shopping on State Street or around the beach.

Pros: yummy , good value , location

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Great vegan milkshakes, mediocre food - Edit

Their carrot vegan milkshake is amazing! Their food, however, is boring, bland, and uncreative. It's too bad because there is such potential for this kind of place.

Pros: milkshakes, Good vibe, Nice to sit outside in the sun

Cons: Boring food

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not a buddha's belly - Edit

Not natural enough for me!

It's a relatively affordable place on the main drag State St with a nice atmosphere and an interesting menu, numerous vegetarian and vegan options and modification possibilities. But the false marketing is super annoying! If you really care to have a belly like their smiling Buddha statues, don't eat here.

I've frequented this place and I really care about how my food gets made, so I've asked a lot of questions. I've also known employees. My opinion is that the people at the top of Natural Cafe really capitalize on the "green-washing" trend. The owner also owns other regional franchises and the purpose of this place is to churn it out as cheaply as possible while keeping with the theme. Check out all the styrofoam and plastic used when bulk biodegradable stuff is super accessible.

The roasted turkey comes from Butterball Farms- eek! They serve a ground turkey patty, fish, and chicken too, all from factory farms.

The "ice-milk" in the shakes is Thrifty's brand ice cream.

No local produce here, and none of the fruits, veggies, spices, etc. are organic.

Vegetarians and vegans, beware. Animal by-products lurk in products, including the feta (calf-lisage?). The daily dairy soups often contain chicken stock.

Also lurking in a lot of the basic ingredients is corn syrup, though it seems a small amount that reaches the finished plate compared to many other restaurants.

If you're really curious about the food, I would recommend asking to see the package or the recipe yourself. In my experience, the employees have different info depending on the day and individual. But who could blame them, at basically minimum wage. They don't treat the employees particularly well, the business aspect is more important to the men at the top.

If only these successful entrepreneurs could have some integrity and not take advantage of the desire to eat well.

Pros: California cuisine, friendly staff

Cons: not eco-friendly, not too healthy, long wait during busy hours

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So-so: acceptably tasty, marginally healthful - Edit

All the Natural Café locations serve the same middle-of-the-road fare: nothing stellar, but plenty of OK options.

Our main complaint about the Natural Café, besides the fact that it serves meat and doesn't always get special orders right (e.g. vegan special orders are sometimes served with dairy and must be sent back, etc.), is that the food is neither remarkably flavorful nor remarkably healthful. It's perfectly acceptable and better than a restaurant that makes no effort to use healthful, natural ingredients, but that's about all we can say in praise of the food. They do not make a point of using organic produce, and a lot of the food is fattening, so though "natural" is in the name, that doesn't strongly equate with genuinely healthful food.

Put less delicately: the Natural Cafe serves food that tastes like "health food" but isn't in fact especially healthful.

That said, we still prefer it to most other restaurants in Santa Barbara because at least they do have some OK vegan options and at least they do make a minimal effort to use fresh and "natural" (though not organic) ingredients.

Recommended (though not very enthusiastically) are the tempeh tacos (order without cheese) and the "natural tamale" (order without sour cream).

In the end, if flavor is more important to you than the minimal attempt at "natural" cuisine, you might be happier with one of Santa Barbara's several veg*n-friendly Asian and Italian restaurants (e.g. Shanghai on Milpas or Galanga just down State Street).

Pros: Several vegan options, Minimally healthful

Cons: Serves meat, Not dependable in catering to vegans, Not organic

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  Contributions +185

so-so - Edit

The food is okay, but nothing exciting. The prices are okay.

The menu does not point out which dishes are vegan. You have to ask when you get to the counter.

Staff is friendly

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If Chuck Norris were any tougher, he'd be vegan. - Edit

I sat in the Natural Cafe for several hours while waiting for a friend. How pleased I was to find coffee refills are free! The atmosphere is quite pleasant and I even had some people join my table. :) The guacamole is amazing, so I suggest getting at least a side of it. My salad was beyond delicious and had a hefty amount of tofu (yay, protein!). I intend to go back and try as many other things on the menu as veganly possible. Just looking at the dishes being eaten around me caused me to salivate (even after consuming my own feast).

Pros: delicious, wholesome, relaxed

Cons: busy

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ideal location on State Street - Edit

Enjoy the large outdoor seating and soak in the sun and watch the tourists idling by. The bread isn't vegan (honey) so the sandwiches have to be done in pita's. You order at the register in back and then they bring you the food via a # they give you. The girl at the register was pretty knowledgeable on what was and wasn't vegan, but I think they accidentally put the wrong non vegan sauce on my sandwich, which they did put in the pita...

Pros: location, outdoor seating

Cons: could be more vegan

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Natural Goodness! - Edit

I go to the Natural Cafe every time I am in Santa Barbara. It has a great location on State Street with plenty of outdoor seating so you can enjoy the weather and vibe of the bustling street.

They have a huge menu and a juice bar.

My boyfriend loves to get the chili cheese dog (the Zog Dog) which he gets with no cheese because it is one of the few places he can get that dish that he loved when he was younger. It is like comfort food.

I've had the tempeh tacos, falafel pita pocket, natural salads with tahini dressing, stuffed potatoes, and veggies over tofu and rice. They also have veggie burgers, veggie chili and many other options...burritos, etc! So much to choose from.

They are not 100% veggie but they let you sub and modify orders. The staff is friendly and the cafe is nice and open and comfortable.

Pros: great location, healthy cuisine, good value

Cons: not 100% vegetarian

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good healthy casual place - Edit

Very casual, almost fast food style, so very quick and inexpensive. Right in the heart of State St. where all the fun shops are. Had the Super-Natural platter which is cornbread topped with veggies, beans, cheese, etc. which was very good. Tried the pesto pasta and it was good too.

Pros: fast, inexpensive

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Tasty Vegan Dishes, Knowledgable & Friendly Staff - Edit

Based on reviews, we tried the Natural Cafe on our recent getaway to Santa Barbara and had a pleasant experience. It was a relaxed cafe with friendly and knowledgable staff who knew my dietary restrictions as a Vegan without me having to explain. The Vegan burritio was very good and there is a nice outdoor seating area to enjoy State St.

Pros: Vegan Dishes, Good Food, Friendly & Knowledgable Staff, Outdoor Patio

Pros: Vegan Dishes, Knowledgable Staff, Outdoor Patio

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Good in a pinch - Edit

When my husband and I first started eating at "Nat-Caf" it seemed like there were many many more veg dishes, and only a few dead animal options on the menu. They have been moving more and more into the chicken-and-fish realm and a couple of times I have actually found bits of dead bird in my sauteed tofu (though not recently). If you're in a hurry, on your lunch break, or just passing through town looking for a bite to eat, the Natural Cafe will work in a pinch. The staff are pretty friendly but a lot of them don't really seem to get the "vegans don't eat sour cream" concept. Oh well! You could do worse! (If you are vegan, be wary of the soy cheese, not caisin free!)

Pros: Fast, Casual, Reasonably Priced

Cons: Less and less VEG options, More and more meat being served

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