Where: 1130 State Street, 805-884-6487
What: An art-inspired, fresh and natural lunchspot in the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
How much? Starters $4-$7, sandwiches $11, entrees $11-$14.
The dish: Proprietors Emily Stuart and Chef Brenda Simon have taken over the Museum Cafe and made it a must-stop for lunch. It helps that they derive inspiration from the museum, so you can enjoy a toasted Manchego cheese and roasted garlic bread that they assume Picasso might love, and he probably would for its bold flavors. The menu also offers items that aim to surprise like raw zucchini “spaghetti” and tofu salad–you can guess how the squash is cut–with fresh spinach, vegetable strings, and a raw walnut/tahini puree. Simon is also offering a take on her dish that won her the Albertson’s Chef Cook-Off earlier this year, a green coconut curry shrimp and soba noodle salad that is as delicious as it is colorful. The cafe is hidden behind the Museum’s gift shop, so it’s a bit out of the way but also quiet. Even tucked away it’s bright and airy, with colorfully striped banquets and attractive glass flowers (you can buy at the gift shop). The menu will also change seasonally, so that white nectarine bruschetta from summer is now fig balsamic and as tasty as fall gets.