Restaurant News & Reviews

Fresh from San Luis Obispo County's farmers markets

Inspired Soups' coconut carrot ginger soup at Baywood's farmers market.
Inspired Soups' coconut carrot ginger soup at Baywood's farmers market. Tribune

With everything from ribs to crepes to tacos, it’s easy to plan dinner around the Thursday night Farmers Market in San Luis Obispo. However, other county markets — in Cambria, Baywood Park and Templeton, for example — are offering not only snackables such as tamales and hummus, but also an increasing lineup of meal options from local restaurants and food vendors.

Linn’s Fruit Bin has been firing up the Santa Maria-style barbecue every Friday afternoon at the Cambria market for about eight years, grilling chicken, tri-tip, pork ribs, country-style barbecued pork, Mexican-style shredded pork and various sandwiches.

Get just the meats a la carte or with various dinner options (beans, salad, bread, etc.), and the famous Linn’s pies are available as well.

“We’ll fix up whatever they need and package it however they want it,” said Michael Shanley, who teams up at the busy Linn’s booth with grillmaster Brian Tanner. “It’s become a tradition for people, and we pretty much know everybody in line,” said Shanley. “The afternoon is really as much of a social experience as a food experience,” said market co-manager Mike Broadhurst, “and Linn’s is a foundation of this market.”

Recently, more choices were added to the Friday menu when local restaurants Indigo Moon and Robin’s joined the Cambria market “at least through September and then we’ll play it by ear,” said Broadhurst. Indigo Moon is offering dry-rubbed wild salmon tacos with chile lime sauce and jicama, indicating “a sample of our specials at lunch time,” said chef/owner Dena Walston.

Robin’s will be serving up something different each week as “we try to incorporate as much of the farmers’ ingredients as possible,” said executive chef Shaun Behrens. “It will always be something that represents Robin’s,” like a Thai Green Curry with brown basmati rice, or a red potato and dill salad, or the various housemade chow chows and relishes that Behrens has added to the restaurant’s deli case lineup.

At both the Cambria and Baywood markets, Stephanie Burchiel serves up her from-scratch, aptly-named Farmers Market Inspired Soups such as the bright Coconut Carrot Ginger or the hearty Mung Bean and Wild Rice.

Formerly the owner of Shine Café in Morro Bay, Burchiel sources fresh produce from her fellow market vendors for the “vegetarian and mostly vegan soups.” Enjoy a cup at the market, get some fresh or frozen to take home, and you’re welcome to bring your own sealable 32-ounce to-go jars.

Also at the Baywood market, as well as Templeton’s, is the “international vegetarian cuisine” of Chef Palaka Das’s Govinda’s Garden.

A Brazilian native and devotee of Hinduism, Palaka cooks according to a vegan “Ayurvedic” style that “combines spices to promote physical and mental health” and shuns dairy, meat, garlic and onion. Expect to find a wide variety of flavorful global fare at Govinda’s market booth each week, including Indian samosas, Italian focaccia pizza, spinach quiche and Brazilian black bean soup.

In addition, the Templeton market features a weekly offering from Pure & Simple Bakery. During winter months, chef/baker Mike Dimond crafts seasonal soups from the farmers’ produce, but during the summer, he’s more likely to create a meatless sandwich on one of the bakery’s artisan breads, like the recent garden vegetable muffaletta on fresh rosemary garlic focaccia.

These are just a few of the options available at local farmers’ markets if you don’t want to do your own cooking. In coming weeks look for an article about what you might find at South County markets.