Santa Barbara This Weekend - Farmers Markets, The Palace and Other Qs...
Going to be staying the weekend in Santa Barbara this weekend and was wondering had a few questions that I know the hounds can help me out on...
1) Which Farmer's Market is the best? Saturday or Sunday?
2)A friend of mine RAVES about the Palace in downtown, is it still as good as he remembers?
3)We'll be staying near the mission in a house, any interesting Gourmet Markets in the area, I saw the Whole Foods post below, but was hoping that ther might be little local places, we'll be renting a house with a kitchen and want to make at least one meal...
You do know it is Solstice, right? You are in for one heck of a suprise, if not!! I bet the market will still be on- but it will be crazy trying to get there- go early! The parade starts at noon!!
Farmers Market is Saturday, the corner of Cota and Santa Barbara streets. Santa Barbara st is 3 blocks E of State street. Music, cheese, mussels- sometime the tamale man is there- the balloon man is ALWAYS there! Saturday ams at the Harbor is fish Farmers Market- 7:30 am- 8am starting time.
Gelsons is closest to you- but Lazy Acres on the Mesa is a fun place to check out- just like a Whole Foods but different- if that makes sense. Beautiful produce, awesome meat selection- outstanding fish selections, all very high priced.
I think the Palace is good, but others will have to chime in on if it is still as good as you want it to be. I do know they serve martinis in mason jars- YUM!
Have you tried Tupelo Junction Cafe? They have some really interesting food- next to the Granada on State street. They also serve some mean martinis. Try this for breakfast.
What is your itinerary? It is going to be a smoker!!
I second Tupelo Junction for breakfast. Everything is good but the crab hash or either of the scrambles are terrific. Perfectly brewed, strong, Peet's Major Dick's coffee. Unique, interesting, nicely prepared food. Although it's 195 miles from my house, I plan my driving trips north around breakfast here.
I second Lazy Acres as the nicest small grocery in town. It is off Cliff drive on the Mesa. They also have a nice wine department.
TriCounty Produce is good for local produce if you don't make it to the farmers market. It is on Milpas drive close the the beach.
As others have said, don't miss the summer parade.
C'est cheese is a nice cheese market.
Maybe I should try the lamb - I am not that fond of the food at The Palace, but it is not bad pseudo-cajun and it is a lot of fun.
Ate at the Palace about 2 weeks ago and it was as good as ever. My son and his friend shared the lamb which came with mashed potatoes and veggies, I believe zuccini and carrots. They really liked the carrots. I tried it and it was delicious. We had oysters for appetizers, actually 3 separate orders of oysters cooked a different way with some yummy sauces that begged to be sopped up with asked for french bread. I had a cajun dirty martini which was good but next time I will make certain that they spice it up a bit more. I also had the scallops but I think that I would order the lamb next visit. I live near the Mission and you will definitely enjoy the area and make it to the Solstice Parade...the best parade ever to see.
The Saturday Farmers Market is the largest and probably the best, but I long ago left going to it in preference to Tri-Counties Produce on Milpas Street near Calle Ceasar Chavez (goes next to the old Fess Parker Hotel - can't remember what company now manages this large hotel by the beach now).
Tri Counties Produce has lots of unique items of good quality - I find it great for most of my daily comsumable items, plus they have a lot of good bulk products as well. I am always amazed how little I spend on high quality fruits and vegetables there compared to any Farmer's Market.
But there is a lot to see and there is a sense of fun at the Saturday Farmer's Market and one sees just about "everyone" there so it is a good way to get a nice feel about Santa Barbara and this segment of its population. But as you have been alerted, the Summer Solstice parade may interfere with the market this Saturday.
Since you are up by the Mission, you may want to try one of the local favorite's here on "Upper State Street - called "Jade" - formerly "Aja". I haven't been there since it changed its name so I don't know what other changes have been made - hope no one tampered with their very nice menu, preparation and low key approached to gentile dining. This is a local "secret", but it is low key.
The Palace Cafe has its fans and it is very busy, very much in the heart of the lively bar scene Lower State Street action area. It came to fame among the news people coming to cover Ronald Reagan when he was President and the activity has not slowed down since. Good for what it is - often long lines and a very happy place - loud, busy, drinking and some semblance of "cajun" food which can cover a lot of culinary sins.
If you want more refined dining, try going around the corner a bit on State Street to what I found to be a far more inspired dining scene (though much quieter than the Palace) to "Sage and Onion" - which I think is one of the best in Santa Barbara -with prices to match.
Jade is more modest in its prices and more modest in its offerings, but does some many things just right.
They call the dense morning fog "June Gloom" here and promise it will burn off by noon - and some times it does .Like today - lovely afternoon, but drippy, damp morning. Don't get discouraged if you are greeted by the sound of a fog horn early in the morning - just be prepared.
Have a wonderful time - the spirit feels good in this town for Summer Soltice.
Jade- has kept alot of the fun items from AJAs menu- and in fact- they have a great special running- though it may be only M-F, but you can come in between 5 and 6 pm, and have a 3 course meal for $15.00!!!!
I biasly recommend this restaurant- as my friends from culinary school are the new owner/operators- Dustin worked along with the old owners (Sandy and Tim) for years as their sous-chef.
Thanks so much again everyone! As it always seems to be my case... the best laid plans... :/... Sadly we didn't get a chance to see the Parade or hit all the great spots (SO was unimpressed with the menu of the Palace and we went to Brophy Brother's instead). But we did have a WONDERFUL time shopping at TriCounty Produce and Cest Cheese!! We had a wonderfull dinner at home the first night with salad, great wine and a cheese plate and finally capped off with McConnals Ice Cream... YUM!!! :)
So thanks again, I'm sure we'll be head up North again soon! :)
Glad you liked Tri-Counties Produce. Here is a link for more history and information about the place - good for more than just produce - wine and fresh food too. It is my most regular shopping stop in Santa Barbara:
(I have no commercial interest in this place - just information)