Cheap Eats

The Art of Feeding Yourself without Going Broke in Santa Barbara

Farmer's Market

We all must eat, but many of us don’t always have the cash to feast like a king and queen in Santa Babylon’s spendy culinary scene. Fear not, hungry readers, for a decade and a half of living paycheck to paycheck with a 9310-something zip code has taught me tricks to fill up your stomach without emptying your wallet. Here are five I’m willing to share.

Taco Time: From La Colmena on Milpas to Lilly’s downtown and the new Taquería El Pastorcito on De la Vina, Santa Barbara’s heaps of prime taco spots serve up finger-licking good eats for anywhere from $1.25 to $2.50 a taco.

Soj’s Low Rent Special: A longtime staple on the Sojourner menu, the Low-Rent’s $10 of hearty healthiness includes a big bowl of soup, meal-sized salad, and chunk of fresh baked bread.

Happy Hour with View: Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to forgo catching a mild buzz on the beach. The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach runs happy hour Sunday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-close, with $4 drafts of Firestone and Figueroa Mountain, Blood Orange Margaritas for $5.50, and super snacks (seared ahi, a Kobe beef cheeseburger, shrimp macaroni and cheese, etc.) for $8.50.

Produce Priced to Sell: There’s a fabled metal rack near the cash registers at Tri-County Produce on Milpas Street that sells blemished or soon-to-expire fresh-food items for at least 60 percent off — and often 80 percent or more off — every single day. So stock up on a few meals’ worth of fruits and veggies for under $5.

Farmers Markets: We’re blessed to have these outdoor produce bazaars just a short drive or walk away nearly every day of the week. To eat healthy and cheap, just learn some basic cooking chops, and go see what’s in season.


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