Santa Barbara: Tri-tip Sandwiches at Cold Spring Tavern

onion rings


I recently took a day trip up to Santa Barbara and we headed straight to Cold Spring Tavern.

On my last trip to Santa Barbara over Labor Day Weekend last year, there was a freak rainstorm that uprooted trees and created general havoc. We were at the Fess Parker winery when it hit and decided it wasn’t a good time to try to navigate a side of a mountain for BBQ. Instead, we headed back to downtown Santa Barbara which seemed to be in a daze over the mini-tornado.

This time over Memorial Day weekend, the weather was perfect which meant we only had to deal with the crowd of people who were also seeking the famous tri-tip. It can be a bit stressful looking for parking. I envy the RV drivers with guts of steel to park the haphazard way they did on the side of the road. But we made it and the line went very quickly for the tri-tip. It did take longer for food to come out of the kitchen but it was such a beautiful day, it was just nice to be outside with everyone.




For your $10 buckeroos, you get a good roll with some nice tri-tip. There are three sauces you can slather on. We found the BBQ sauce went well with the horseradish cream. But I like the pico de gallo addition with a bit of veg. It really didn’t need the sauces for moistness however. The beef was so tender and flavorful. I almost wished I had gotten my own sandwich but I shared with a friend. Next time.

chili sampler


I did want to try the chili sampler so that took a bit to get. The spicy green one was my favorite. We also got the fries but after having the onion rings, we just wanted more onion rings.



Next time though I’m sticking with just the tri-tip which is only available on weekends and the fabulous beer battered onion rings. We washed everything down with micheladas.

As mentioned, sitting outside under the trees with our fellow hungry bbq seekers was quite the experience. I’d like to hike around next time and immerse myself in the history the place. It was a stop during the stage coach era. And it was originally built by the Chinese. It’s a fascinating spot and an important piece of Santa Barbara history.


Cold Spring Tavern

5995 Stagecoach Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105  —  805-967-0066


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