The historical flavor of the Santa Ynez Valley has more to do with ranches and cowboys, steak and potatoes, than with upscale wine country cuisine. But the former tradition and the latter trend are surprisingly compatible, and a handful of chefs are proving it.
Their approach ― local ingredients in season, often married to wine with a simple sauce ― has created a cuisine with a distinctly Santa Ynez style, in effect doing with foods what the area's winemakers are doing with grapes.
They're simply "making this a great place for food and wine," as Jeff Nichols, of the former exciting Brothers Restaurant, puts it. (He and his brother, Matt, have a new restaurant in the works.) Here are dishes from three other talented valley chefs.