2618 De La Vina St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
A Summer Standby
The Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch is unassuming from the outside, honestly not all that noticeable when driving down De La Vina Street. Thankfully for one’s stomach, GPS knows exactly where it is.
And while many families deal with extra mouths to feed at lunch due to kids being on summer vacation, most are looking for an affordable place to eat without going the fast-food route.
The Chicken Ranch is a great solution, as the food is downright good, the service is fast (but not rushed) and there are three different venues to choose from (Santa Barbara, Goleta and Ventura).
Here are a trio of options that the Fork’s palette found to be intriguing:
While it might not be considered traditional “service,” one perk of eating at the Chicken Ranch is that you can choose the type of chicken meat you want. There is no predetermined set of pieces, or extra charges to get all dark meat. That made the four-piece, chicken only a very tasty treat, with the legs and thighs falling off the bone and quite juicy. The marinade adds a nice flavor, but not too overpowering.
You get a bit of everything with this without having to order extra sides, as the chicken is again your choice, and then it comes with beans, rice and a delicious, foil-wrapped tortilla. Sometimes just having two pieces of chicken on your plate looks like you might need to go order more, but the mix of options is plenty filling.
Yes, a bit of carb-loading here, with a heavy dose of not only the large tortilla, but also the abundance of seasoned rice. And, you best come with an appetite if you’re taking this burrito on, as the chefs pack the tortilla with tri-tip, beans and rice until it is spilling out of every hole. It’s hefty, but quite tasty. It doesn’t have much of a kick, but the salsa bar is only steps away and we suggest adding a little pico de gallo for a nice, fresh addition, also a great sidekick to the chips that come with the meal.
An affordable, perfect-for-summer spot that cooks their food fresh and is amenable to whatever combination you are looking for that day. While the menu is a bit limited, what they offer is tasty and will keep you coming back for multiple visits.
While Santa Barbara is known for its tight quarters, the seating arrangement inside is quite cramped and guests are on top of each other, hitting chairs constantly. While friendly when approached, there is very little interaction with employees after you order — definitely could use a little more personal touch to make sure people have what they need, even upon delivery of the food to the table.