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Apr 15, 2014 05:22 PM

Santa Barbara: Public Market near Arlington Theater now open

Santa Barbara Public Market finally opens - West Victoria, one block off State Street next to the back of Arlington Theater and right in the center of restaurant ground zero for Santa Barbara. I suspect the surrounding restaurants may become good customers as well.

This is a new concept for Santa Barbara, though successful in the SF Bay area - Ferry Bldg and Rockridge Market come to mind. A food court of sorts with an array of groceries, prepared food items for eating in and solo food items for take away. There was a large wine selection in the center in an enclosed area that allowed for wine tasting at tables. Did not check this out, but saw others inside this area enjoying it.

Offers a product variety line similar to our local Tri-Counties Produce or Cantwells - on the premium end, but similar to some of the exotica appeal of Trader Joes off beat products. They also carry a stock brand I had not heard of before - Calida (?) which looks like it is one that is found in shopping set ups like this.

Once could do their primary grocery shopping here, and also pick up artisan breads, cheeses, meats, ice cream, cup cakes, and olive oil from the select purveyors. Good one stop shopping. I came away a believer this was indeed a market for real food, for real meals and realistic budgets.

Not just imported frou frou, but ingredients from which to actually cook or prepare simple and delicious meals.But mainly I came away a believer that it offered really good items for reasonable pricing, considering the quality.

Yes, Rori's is good ice cream - the dense, sticky gelato one finds more typically in Europe.

Yes, the croissants were right up there with the best one finds elsewhere in SB. The olive oil tasting bar proved there is vibrant choice available that really does make a difference depending on the intent of your use.

The very pleasing and welcoming buzz to the place did not let up as we went mid-morning and came back later in the afternoon. May have some kinks to work out in managing the numbers of shoppers without getting lines that would be too long. It was a steady stream of both lookers and shoppers with everyone looking quite pleased.

So good place to drop by for special ingredients, picnic staples, easy snacks and meals with counter service for solo dining, as well as stocking up on premium staples.

I think we have a hit on our hands here and happy to recommend it. Welcome to Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara Public Market.

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  1. We went to new wine/beer bar yesterday evening, had some wine on tap (a very good dry rose) and then had some really good Thai food at Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar (names a mouthful). Had chicken larb tacos using lettuce as shells, a spicy Thai beef salad that needed a touch more dressing and a delicious chicken curry bowl. It's all counter seating and there was a line to grab seats. They ran out of food around 7:30. The seafood counter and the butcher who serves hamburgers are next on my list. Welcome addition to SB and excited they are redoing Sama Sama Kitchen inside space. It needed it!

    1. I stopped by today- I was impressed by the selections and the obviously "still a work in progress" smiles on everyone- it is a few weeks away from finished completely.....but KUDOS are in order!
      I though it was expensive, but there wasn't a single person walking around without a bag or a product in hand- everyone offering samples, kind words, information & smiles galore- I liked watching the meat butcher peeling silver skin and fat off large cuts of beef- the fish market had plentiful offerings and the cheese store was over flowing with beautiful offerings- so nicely layed out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: OldJalamaMama

        You can even buy fresh pork lard there -- which is hard to find. Now if they can also carry duck fat, one would be in culinary heaven.

      2. interesting - I think the place is great - with some kinks to work out - and some product to fill in - I think the weak link is the little market - I would expect much higher end products for a place like that - almost of all the products can be found at all four of the more upscale markets in SB - was hoping for more interesting and unique packaged goods and perhaps produce.

        Also - have been reading about the cheeseburger at Belcampo on the LA board - its' supposed to be really good!

        1 Reply
        1. re: harryharry

          Think they were trying to shoot for somewhere between basic needs shopping and a boutique deli, but with the food court activity thrown in as an entertainment destination as well.

          They are similar to Cantwells and/or Tri Counties for their general groceries line, but with more product variety depth.

          It is new concept for our town to combine the two -- particularly downtown with an intent to pick up street traffic. Will they become the grocery shopping choices for the growing numbers of downtown dwellers?

          Time will tell. I hope it works for all concerned. They are filling a food source need for the downtown condo dwellers who only had the humongous and relatively inconvenient Ralphs, once the Victoria Von's was lost.

          Meanwhile, looking forward to working my way through the menu at Empty Bowls. And yes, the BelCampo Burger is on the short list.

          An aside to downtown SB dining changes -

          The Hamburger Habit on State Street has managed to clear out the intimidating loiterers with few small and necessary changes that have dispersed this population: notices of surveillance cameras, scrounge-proof garbage cans to stop misuse of "free sodas" and blocking the former sitting benches that led to a unsanitary misuse of public property. One can breathe again walking past this block on State Street and get another good downtown burger. They earned the gratitude of us all.