Most everyone enjoys a hearty barbequed meal, whether it comes from a restaurant or an attempt to achieve greatness on the George Foreman Grill. The bold flavors of dishes fresh off the barbeque, as well as a bit of Cajun flair, make for an all-around satisfying experience. So, jump on the bandwagon and discover what the South has to offer us here in Santa Barbara.

Cajun Cookin’

Cajun Kitchen Cafe, located just down the road at 6831 Hollister Ave., aims to serve locals only the best Cajun cuisine. Conveniently enough, this chain has six other locations in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria and Lompoc in order to spread the wealth.

“This is a local’s place. Those who know about us or find out about us consistently come back,” restaurant manager Nate Yco said.

As you walk in to this quaint eatery, you’ll find that it’s perfect for those who want to relax, read the morning paper and enjoy a great meal in the cozy breakfast nook.

“For starters, we have won ‘Best Breakfast’ in the Independent every year. A customer favorite is the Crazie Shirley Scramble, which is two scrambled eggs, mushrooms, spinach and feta cheese, toast and potatoes for a mere $6.70,” Yco said.

For a nickel more and a different spin on Southern comforts, you can enjoy the Cajun Veggie Omelet. This vegetarian option encases broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms and cheese within fluffy eggs.

The friendly staff here is more than enthusiastic when it comes to variety in the kitchen. When it comes to food or their customers, they embody the eatery’s motto: “If you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for the best, try somewhere else and settle for less.”

“We offer a wide range of items on our menu, and it’s important to us that our customers can order their meal in a way that suits their lifestyle.” Yco said. “So we have no problem making substitutions for our customers.”

If you venture over to Cajun Kitchen Cafe for lunch, be sure to indulge in the Creole Jambalaya. A melting pot of ingredients makes for a great meal: Shrimp, hot sausage, ham and chicken are all included in this rice dish. At only $6.75, no Santa Barbara resident can afford to miss this delicacy.

“Price-wise, there isn’t anything over $8 on our menu,” Yco said. “The customers can rest assured that they will be eating great food at great prices.”

This local spot is a hit, offering up the best bang for your buck. Venture to the Cajun Kitchen Cafe Monday through Sunday from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. to find out what cookin’ with jazz really means.

Louisiana Saturday Night

As you walk through the heart of downtown, you’ll most likely stumble upon the Palace Grill, located at 8 East Cota St. This upscale, New Orleans-themed restaurant serves traditional Cajun food seven nights a week.

“This loud raucous party place is always very busy,” Palace Grill manager Anne Weisman said. “We offer our Santa Barbara customers so many wonderful dishes straight from New Orleans.”

One taste of the restaurant’s food and you’ll know Weisman isn’t exaggerating. Each year the staff at the Palace Grill travels to New Orleans to perfect their cooking skills and to try new recipes for the restaurant with Louisiana-based Cajun guru Paul Prudhomme. It’s evident that the enthusiasm of the proprietors that keeps people coming back.

“We work as a team here, so everyone waits on you. There is nothing we won’t do for our customers, so don’t hesitate to ask,” Weisman said.

Open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. for lunch and 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. for dinner, Weisman recommends making reservations on Friday and Saturday if you’re a diner who might enjoy eating one of the Palace’s delicious meals alongside their live entertainment.

“On Friday nights, we have a house magician named Mark Collier to entertain our customers while they delve into the Palace Grill’s amazing cuisine,” Weisman said.

Aside from its happening nightlife scene, the Palace Grill also offers a wonderful lunch cuisine as well. For starters, begin with old-fashioned Gumbo Ya Ya. This traditional soup is slow-simmered with fresh ingredients, such as okra, chicken breast, smoked house recipe andouille sausage, as well as a large serving of rice on the side. Main courses include a full range of items from steak to seafood – including the truly divine crawfish ŽtoufŽe. With blasts of flavor rivaled only by Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, you are sure to enjoy any dish.

The more creative you get with your large-portioned meal, the more satisfied you will be. In fact, Mardi Gras – or Fat Tuesday – is fast approaching, and the Palace Grill is offering a special menu with various courses fit to your liking for $35 to $43 per person.

I Want My Baby Back…Ribs

A short detour off State Street will land you at Cities Barbeque at 901 North Milpas St. Claiming to serve Santa’s Barbara’s finest barbeque, the restaurant serves just about anything you could need to quell that hunger for barbeque sauce.

“We have two kinds of ribs: the Memphis and the Kansas. … We also have baby back and beef ribs on Wednesdays,” owner Pedro Quito said.

For lunch, you should venture to try the BBQ Pulled Chicken sandwich with jack cheese and smoked pickled jalape-os for only $7. This tasty sandwich is a complete meal, always served with kettle chips or a side dish, such as their hearty mac ‘n’ cheese.

Cities Barbeque offers up a tasty finger-lickin’ good dinner as well as lunch.

“Our prices for lunch and dinner vary slightly, but, for the most part, the menu is the same, just with bigger portions and two sides for dinner meals,” Quito said. “In fact, something to look forward to is the expansion of Cities Barbeque cuisine to soon include breakfast.”

Cities Barbeque also offers “Cities Deals.” For groups up to 24 people, you can go home with plenty of food for you and your roommates – just make sure to call ahead.

You can enjoy the Santa Barbara weather and fresh-cut daisies on the outdoor patio at Cities Barbeque Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 until 9 p.m.

Hot Off the Grill

If you’d like to experience Southern food closer to campus, you can – just check out the “Bodacious Barbecue” at Woody’s in Goleta at 5112 Hollister Ave. Voted Santa Barbara’s favorite BBQ 19 years in a row, there’s not a Gaucho in town that can deny its appealing menu and great prices.

“You really can’t beat our prices for lunch and dinner,” Brian Ervin, a Woody’s cashier said. “Our customers are primarily college students.”

Burgers, sandwiches, chicken, ribs, prime rib, tri-tip and salads – the menu at Woody’s barely fits on one piece of paper. If you are looking for a hearty dinner, you should definitely try a full slab of baby back ribs, which are priced at the market rate. All rib dinners are served with a choice of fresh cut French fries or a baked potato and a choice of a trip to the salad bar.

The atmosphere at Woody’s has true BBQ flair, with sawdust on the floor and red-and-white checked tablecloths on the tables and the benches. If you’d rather eat in the comfort of your own home, the restaurant offers both delivery and takeout.

“Our customers are 50 percent in-house and 50 percent delivery,” Ervin said. “We are extremely busy for takeout during the lunch hour.”

Or, if you’re in a hurry, don’t hesitate to grab a Bullwhacker sandwich from Woody’s – it’s an oat-smoked tri-tip on a steak roll with Jack cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce and a big pile of “onion un-rings.” Barbecue never tasted so good. Woody’s is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Most college students resort to the traditional barbeque in their backyards for a burger or a box of readymade jambalaya for that Creole flavor. Whether you get it by making a quick trip down Hollister or by taking the 101 to downtown Santa Barbara, don’t wait any longer to get your white shirt dirty with tangy barbeque sauce – just be sure to use a bib when prying open fresh crawfish.