For a Middle Eastern feast in Santa Barbara, go to Zaytoon (209 E. Canon Perdido St., 805/963-1293, www.cafezaytoon.com, Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 4–9 p.m., $10–30). This restaurant and hookah bar appeals to a crowd that wants to enjoy an evening out with a group of friends, to share a hookah around the table, and to ogle talented belly dancers shimmying amongst the tables.
While the interior dining room is attractive, with potted palms and gauzy fabric draped from the ceiling, it’s not the best place to sit at Zaytoon. Instead, try to get a table out on the garden patio, a large, softly lit space almost completely enveloped by a living green jungle. It is out here that you can order up your own hookah.
The menu has most standard Middle Eastern favorites, such as baba ghannouj, hummus, falafel, Greek salad, shawarma, and kebabs of many kinds.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition