Great news, Santa Barbara (and people planning a trip to Santa Barbara)! There's a new specialty market in town that's both convenient and affordable. Meet The Fresh Market, a gourmet grocery store located on Milpas Street, along the primary business corridor of Santa Barbara's east side and not too far from the beach.
Opened in the winter of 2014, The Fresh Market in Santa Barbara brings crisp produce, fresh meat and gourmet dry goods to the long-vacant former home of a discount grocer.
Started in North Carolina in 1982, The Fresh Market now has over 100 stores in 20 states across the US. Their vision? To create "a smaller store that focused on the customer and the shopping experience."
The Fresh Market opens at 222 N. Milpas — Photo courtesy of The Fresh Market
In an effort to create an open-air, old-world market atmosphere, grocery shelves are low and the ceiling is high. Risk of losing your dependents - who may be more curious about cookies than quinoa - is minimized by an improved line of sight. Soft classical music is played throughout the store. The lighting is intentionally soft and warm.
But enough about the shopping environment! How is the food?
We're glad you asked. Although they do offer local, organic produce, that's not that big of a shock in a town that boasts seven different farmers markets every week. What sets The Fresh Market apart, at least in Santa Barbara, is their meat counter. Instead of piles of prepackaged beef and chicken, this store has a proper butcher counter that's staffed full time, allowing you to choose exactly the cuts you desire.
Shoppers choose from piles of fresh produce at The Fresh Market — Photo courtesy of The Fresh Market
In addition to their delicious deli options, The Fresh Market also has an extensive and reasonably priced salad bar. House-made soups are kept piping hot, ready to be ladled into any size container. And their buckets of fried chicken are - according to some - the best in town. There's also a wide selection of whole coffee beans and a grind-your-own peanut butter station that is too fun to pass up.
Visit The Fresh Market's website for shopping ideas and tips, as well as recipes that will put all of your new groceries to good use.
Ample free parking is available in front of the store. The Fresh Market is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
The Fresh Market is just a short drive (or long walk) away from Santa Barbara's beloved East Beach volleyball courts, oceanfront hotels and the Santa Barbara Zoo. An assortment of restaurants and shops are located nearby, too. It's the perfect place to pop in and pick up ingredients for a picnic or a few luxe essentials for your hotel room.