Over the weekend, I felt like I deserved a study break and decided to head over to the Santa Barbara Public Market with my boyfriend to relieve my stress and find some new food to try. The public market is in downtown Santa Barbara, only one stop after the Transit Center for those of you who take the bus. The market has a subtle-looking exterior, but when I opened the door, I was greeted by the lively sounds of people chatting and the savory smells from all the different restaurants. The public market reminded me of the Anaheim Packing District, an upscale food court with local vendors and bars, but it was half the size.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

I did a quick walk-through of the entire market to decide what to eat. The first thing that caught my eye was the Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar, located right in the middle of the market. However, the line looked way too long and I was already pretty hungry. I walked a little further into the market and I immediately caught a scent of smokey meat and barbeque sauce.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

The smell was coming from Soul Cal Smokehouse, and after scanning the menu, I decided that this was the spot. My boyfriend and I opted for the BBQ sampler platter, which came with a chicken drumstick, a quarter rack of baby back ribs, four ounces of brisket and pulled pork, some slices of pickles and two slices of toast. We also got potato salad, coleslaw and BBQ beans as our sides to complement our meal. The meat had that signature smokey barbeque flavor and nothing was too dry, but the chicken was just mediocre in flavor. Everything else was delicious and it was even better with their barbeque sauces: coffee BBQ, mustard BBQ and beer BBQ. All of them were amazing and paired perfectly with the meat. As for the sides, they were okay but nothing too special. The only gripe I have with this place is their portion sizes. The BBQ Sampler Platter we ordered says that it feeds two to four people, but if my boyfriend and I hadn’t ordered the sides, we wouldn’t even have been full. Other than that, the food was delicious.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

After eating that, we stopped by the ice cream place I had been eyeing since we came into the public market: Rori’s Artisanal Creamery. They have a lot of unique and fun flavors and all of their ice cream is organic, which is a plus! We got “The Works” which is two scoops of ice cream with any toppings. We chose honey lavender and malted milk ball as our flavors and we went crazy with the toppings, as we requested whipped cream, cereal, pecans, toasted coconut flakes and more. I loved that the honey lavender ice cream had a refreshing flavor while the malted milk ball was more creamy. It was reasonably priced and I would definitely come back to try other flavors.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

We were about to head out, but my boyfriend insisted on trying Enjoy Cupcakes. It was right next to the ice cream and it was super cute, so why not? We got the “Stop Flirting with Me” cookie and a cookie dough ball. The cookie dough ball tasted just as you’d expect it to taste, but the cookie was a complete surprise. I unwrapped it from the bag expecting just one cookie, but it was two huge cookies sandwiching a vanilla, mousse-like filling. The whole cookie sandwich was half-dipped in chocolate. I definitely bit more than I could chew off with this one, as it was good, but extremely sweet and we had to save the rest of the cookie for later.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

Overall, I enjoyed everything I tried at the public market and I’d love to come back to try all the other food places, as some of them weren’t open. I’d definitely recommend this for those who are tired of I.V. food or have guests visiting — it’s a super cute and trendy spot with a bunch of different options for anyone who visits.

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