Where: 1305 State Street, 966-5006, downeyssb.com.
What: Santa Barbara’s highest Zagat-rated restaurant that takes advantage of the treasure trove of locally produced foods and wines.
How Much: “Taste of Santa Barbara” tasting menu, four courses, $50, entrees $28-$39.
The Dish: The warm embrace of this fine dining institution is as comforting in its ambience as it is elegant in its service and culinary presentation. Garnering impressive accolades from the foodie bible—The Zagat Guide—Downey’s is known for top scores in both food and service. Cal-French cuisine is prepared in a stunningly inspired fashion by chef/owner John Downey, down to the placement of each and every spring pea. John and Liz Downey opened the restaurant in its quaint State Street location in 1982. John mans the kitchen, while Liz oversees staff and service, also putting together a wine list with a bias toward local producers. A seasonally inspired tasting menu (four courses, $50) showcases the best of the harvest, currently featuring such delights as sweet corn soup with opal basil and Shelton Farms duck with cabernet sauce and baby white turnips. The regular menu changes daily, and right now you may be so lucky as to find Carlsbad mussels with watercress, sweet corn, and chile vinaigrette, or veal loin noisette with oyster mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and fettuccini.