Santa Barbara Restaurant Spotlight: Cold Spring Tavern

We love highlighting some of our favorite Santa Barbara restaurants! This week we’re featuring Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara. This restaurant is recognized by Santa Barbara as a historical site, which means that in addition to great food and a great atmosphere, they have a great story to tell!

The history

Cold Spring Tavern first opened in 1868 as a stagecoach stop. The original structure for the Tavern was built in 1860 and featured only three rooms. Since then, the ownership changed several times. Eventually Adelaide Ovington purchased the Tavern.

When Adelaide purchased Cold Spring Tavern in 1941, she ran the Tavern alongside her daughter, Audrey. Adelaide ran the Cold Spring until her death in 1972. After that, Audrey took over and ran the Tavern until her death in 2005. Now, Wayne and Joy Ovington-Wilson run Cold Spring Tavern and take great pride in making sure it keeps its historical status. Make sure to ask about some stories and fun facts about the tavern–its history means there are plenty!

The atmosphere

The Tavern got electricity in 1954, but the dining room is still lit by gas lanterns. It’s this attention to detail and preservation of history that makes Cold Spring Tavern special. When you dine here, you’ll be transported to the elegance and cozy comfort of the stagecoach era. The Tavern also has three warm stone fireplaces that will add to the glow of this restaurant. When you dine here, you’ll be surrounded by rustic charm and the reminder of days gone by.

On weekends, you can enjoy a special Cold Spring tradition. Friday evenings you’ll find entertainment in the Log Cabin Bar. Saturday and Sunday you can enjoy a hearty breakfast, and return later in the day for more fun. On Saturday and Sunday nights you can enjoy the outdoor atmosphere as you dine on their famous tri-tip barbecue sandwiches and onion rings. You’ll also be able to enjoy the live music of local bands while you’re outside in the fresh mountain air.

The menu

At Cold Spring Tavern, you’ll find lots of traditional American fare. All of their dishes are made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. You can find their full menu here, but these are some of our favorite items:

  • Bar-B-Q Baby Back Pork Ribs
    • With chef’s western style bar-b-q sauce
  • Buffalo burger
    • 100% pure ground buffalo with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and cheddar cheese
  • Charbroiled New Zealand rack of lamb
    • With champagne-mint demi-glace
  • Our famous tri-tip sandwich
    • Served with our house made salsa, apple horseradish, and bar-b-q sauce on the side
  • The Cold Spring Chicken
    • Baked with our famous almond-raisin stuffing and smothered with sherry, sour cream, and mushroom sauce
  • “Firestone” beer batter onion rings
    • Served with ranch dressing
  • Our Famous Cold Spring Chili
    • The original, created by the late Kenny Sockwell in 1950, has been a tradition here for half a century. Tomato, chilies, ground beef, and pinto beans with cheese and onions
  • Charbroiled venison steak sandwich
    • On a French roll with mayo, sautéed red onion, and our homemade bar-b-q sauce on the side
  • Bratwurst sandwich
    • Beer simmered brat with a bacon jalapeño jam, grilled onion, and sauerkraut
  • Granny Smith apple cobbler
    • Deep dish apple pie with a brown sugar crumb topping
  • Rum walnut chocolate chip
    • Rich chocolate brownie pie

The location

Cold Spring Tavern is located between Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez. You can find them in the beautiful mountains on the San Marcos Pass. They’re right off Highway 154 so you can easily get to the Tavern.

5995 Stagecoach Rd.

Santa Barbara, CA 93015

The hours

Cold Spring Tavern’s hours are:

Monday – Friday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

Have you ever been to Cold Spring Tavern?

We’d love to hear about your experience! You can follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up with the latest at Santa Barbara and Marina Beach!