Where: 7 E. Anapamu Street, 730-1463, artsandletterscafe.com.
What: Arts & Letters Café serves lunch and dinner with a global influence on flavor and a California fresh attitude on ingredients
How Much: Lunch sandwiches $12-$16, dinner entrées $21-$24
The Dish: What better place than the quaint Arts & Letters Café to soak in the Santa Barbara museum scene? The whimsical grounds of the café are adjacent to the Sullivan Goss Gallery and across the street from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The main dining area is set outside in the walled gardens of their courtyard amid a backdrop of a flowing fountain. A newly appointed chef, Cosmo Goss, ushered in a fresh take on the menu, focusing on organic whenever possible, Farmers Market fresh ingredients, and local, sustainably raised seafood. The café has been a favorite for nearly 20 years (try the New York Times-praised roasted-pumpkin soup), with a lunch menu featuring such items as a Vietnamese-style Niman Ranch pork sandwich on grilled ciabatta, house-made noodles with fresh pea, pea tendril, roasted scallion and bottarga, and the Cosmo salad (roasted free-range turkey, romaine, blue cheese, toasted pecans, avocado, and Tabasco vinaigrette). Dinner follows a similar mold, with a few repeat dishes. House-made charcuterie served with toasted ciabatta and mustards is a popular starter and the halibut bouillabaisse shines with a hint of Sommner Farm blood orange. As summertime approaches, the restaurant is finalizing details on their Opera under the Stars series, held every Thursday evening (two seatings at 6 and 8:15 p.m.) with live opera on the patio and a three-course prix fixe menu.