Downey's
Downey's

Downey's

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.downeyssb.com/
  • Phone: (805) 966-5006
  • Hours of Operation:
    Dinner: Sunday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm, Tuesday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 9:30pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Seafood, Contemporary French / American, Californian
  • Executive Chef: John Downey
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Beer, Farm to Table, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Catering: Classical intimate dinner parties in your home with Chef John Downey for 6-20 guests.
  • Private Party Facilities: Downey's restaurant is yours for the evening. Subject to availability, you may reserve our entire dining room for your dinner party. Chef John will plan a special menu for your party of 20-48 people. No room charges, but minimum expenditure is required. Amount will depend upon day of the week and season.
  • Private Party Contact: John Downey 8059665006x

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Victoria
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Parking Details: On street parking or two public lots available nearby.
A word from Downey's
Fresh produce from the Santa Barbara Farmers' Market is skilfully prepared with sustainable seafood and naturally-raised meats by acclaimed Chef John Downey. We invite you to join us for dinner and taste why Downey's has been Zagat Survey's top-rated Santa Barbara restaurant for 26 consecutive years.
The Downey family take great pride in their small, intimate restaurant. John heads the experienced kitchen staff aided by Liz who also handles the wine list and manages the dining room.
You will be served by experienced and knowledgeable professionals who know when to be present and when to leave you to enjoy your dinner.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Ambiance
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
Downey's reviews from OpenTable diners
98 reviews since July 31, 2014
Overall Rating4.8
  • Food4.8
    Service4.9
  • Ambiance4.5
    Noise LevelQuiet
96% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (78)special occasion (75)romantic (66)neighborhood gem (41)notable wine list (35)good for groups (6)hot spot (3)great for outdoor dining (1)late-night find (1)great for brunch (1)Show More
  • catnet4
    Dined on 11/25/2014
    One of the best restaurants in SB - and for 30+years! Always a great meal. There is a fixed price menu that is really a deal! It's where we always go for special occasions. The raspberry & white chocolate mille-feuille dessert is fantastic. And the art on the walls by Liz Downey is beautiful to look at.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food..BUT
    WombatVIP
    Dined on 11/19/2014
    Food is wonderful ...the waitress and greeter/owner were wonderful and very knowledgeable about the menu.. But...and this is a big but..the restaurant had been there for over 25 years...it has never been a good looking spot..but it is so dated..get rid of the columns...get rid of the fake plants..take the old fashioned pictures off the wall...chairs are uncomfortable...it needs a complete makeover... So it is hard to recommend it for anything but the food and the people...it could be a great little bistro restaurant
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Quiet elegance
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009VIP
    Dined on 11/18/2014
    This is the restaurant you invite guests to impress. The menu is excellent, and the wines ALL LOCAL. The service could not have been better. Whether for a group, or a romantic dinner, at Downey's you will be able to have conversations without shouting, A+ service and food.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Treat yourself to Downey's, it is amazing.
    MikeyV
    Dined on 11/16/2014
    Downey's is my favorite restaurant in the whole world. I have been dining here for over 30 years and I am dazzled everytime I eat here. Every aspect of the dining experience is executed with attention to detail and with a master's love of his craft. I hope everybody who loves great food has a chance to experience Downey's.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Consistently excellant!
    Nancy
    Dined on 11/15/2014
    When we visit Santa Barbara (at least once a year for the last 26 years) our favorite place to dine is Downey's! It is the perfect- amazing food, warm and professional service, lovely local landscapes painted by Mrs. Downey, the maitre d', adorning the walls. Quintessential California dining with the Downey's unique interpretation!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • wonderful meal. desserts are delicious
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 11/15/2014
    I would like a second helping of every dish! It was a wonderful evening with local fresh ingredients
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful gem
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    We love this little restaurant. Great service and outstanding food. I will go back again the next time we are in Santa Barbara.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    This was a wonderful restaurant at every level; food, ambience, great attention to detail on both presentation and service to patrons. We were visiting Santa Barbara and found this resraurant on tripadviser. We couldn't agree more.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yum!!
    SKReviews
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    My husband and I had a romantic weekend away in SB and added Downey's to our "must do" list . . . We were not disappointed!! Great food and service . . . will definitely return!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always enjoyable
    ChristyBVIP
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    We are never disappointed with Downey's and always make time to enjoy dinner there when we visit from out of town. One is immediately made to feel welcome; the service staff is efficient, friendly and well-trained. The food is always perfect. They know how to run a restaurant!!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great evening
    Myrtle
    Dined on 10/23/2014
    Agree with others that the dining room is old style pretentious - however the pleasant service and great flavors of each course on the Chef's Tasting menu made that fade to the background. Probably the fifth time I'ved dined here since it opened and I should think of it for a wonderful evening more often!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • John still has his "chops"
    BigCatVIP
    Dined on 10/16/2014
    John Downey still has his "chops", i.e. the man can cook! The dining room is a bit dated and it wasn't busy when we had dinner there. But the food, service and wine list were very good, which more than made up for things.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • low key and elegant
    GloriaVIP
    Dined on 10/16/2014
    While we shared the dining room with only a few people, it felt like we were all enjoying almost being by ourselves! The night we were there was quiet, yet that's what made this place special for us! A locally grown pea soup was just terrific and the perfect appetizer size as a start to a filet from a local farm(which I "rarely" order)and which I ordered slightly rarer than the chef's suggestion, and it was done just as I had asked; we had a wine from their highlighted list and it went perfectly with my meal and another with my husband's fish;we were visiting Santa Barbara for a week, and are jealous that locals have this gem to themselves!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • A civilized outstanding meal
    jkugelmass
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    This restaurant is to be treasured. 30 years and counting is itself remarkable longevity. Every course (we had the price fix) was wonderful. A lobster butter sauce treated the perfectly cooked bass fish very well and was good enough to soak up in some bread, besides. The desert was bountiful and perfectly done with a James Beard tube of crust and a huge medley of fruit and cream. Oh my. Chatted with co-owner and well known Santa Barbara painter Liz Downey whose paintings decorate the walls. Not inexpensive, dinner with three glasses of wine and a well deserved tip was about $185 for two. The next time we're in Santa Barbara, we'll be back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Perfect for the Occassion
    DaleF
    Dined on 10/12/2014
    We went to Downey's for a Quiet and intimate dinner and got exactly what we wanted. Everyone was nice, the food was Great and the Ambiance was what we were looking for.. We were left to ourselves like we wanted, as other people were entertained by the staff as they wanted. I would recommend Downey's for that special night or quiet evening for Great food (we had the Duck and Filet Mignon both tender and tasty and very well prepared.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Anniversary Dinner
    somethingnew
    Dined on 10/11/2014
    We had an amazing time. The food was DELICIOUS and the waiters were very knowledgeable about the food and gave excellent recommendations. We had a very romantic evening, and it was definitely a hidden gem on State Street in Santa Barbara. We will be visiting again, and would recommend this restaurant absolutely to anyone looking for a quiet evening out.
    Special Features:
    late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • 2nd visit in 9 years
    Jefe
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    We live in Southern California so visits infrequent. That said, wonderful then, and has maintained it's superb quality of service and food through out all these years - an amazing feat....or should I say "feast."
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Finest Dining in Santa Barbara
    AndreVIP
    Dined on 10/7/2014
    Excellent all around Duck and veal were both terrific Wine recommendation was right on the nose (sorry) We have visited SB several times in the last few years and my only regret is that i wish we had found Downey's sooner.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Overpriced
    SBFoodieVIP
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    We had a nice dinner at Downey's, and the food was good. However, other than the desserts, which were delicious and creative, the menu is overpriced for what it is. The salads are the usual culprits, and the main courses are nothing new. I appreciate that it's a quiet, intimate place, but again, the decor is nothing to write about. The staff is professional and well-versed, but a little cold. There are other places which have more zing in the menu and less sting in the wallet.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Lived up to their reputation!!!
    LiveAlegria
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    Downey's is the only restaurant of note in Santa Barbara that I had never been to. Cant actually say why...their reputation is legendary and they certainly lived up to it...just never made it over. It is now in my permanent rotation. Food was delicious, innovative and beautiful, wine list was stellar and service an delightful experience. Finally a fine dinning experience in Santa Barbara without the snarky attitude from the poorly trained wait staff!!! At Downey's just well trained servers confident in their abilities and committed to offering an unforgettable, never rushed, elegant night. Thank you, thank you for just getting it and doing it right. I feel silly actually for feeling like I've discover something new...just glad I did.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent food
    Traveller01
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    As we discovered if you appreciate fine food then this is the place to go in Santa Barbara. The mussels and the duck both excellent. The rhubarb pie we shared - outstanding.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/24/2014
    My husband and I were in Santa Barbara on the last leg of our Highway 1 driving trip. We had dinner at Downey's our first night in town. We ordered the chef's tasting menu and it was the best meal of the trip. The crab salad, the porcini mushroom soup, the Hawaiian swordfish were all outstanding. The friendliness of the staff was something we really appreciated. We could not decide on a wine for dinner and the staff took the time to have us taste a couple of open bottles and help us make our decision. The next day we took a wine tour, and recommended the restaurant to people on the tour.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Downey's Restaurant Review
    ElMorro
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    We started with the lobster, angel hair pasta, and asparagus salad, then had the porcine mushroom soup. I had the roasted duck and my wife had the veal. All dishes were prepared to perfection and the flavors were divine. The restaurant decor is very tired and could use a makeover, but we are into good quality food so we can overlook that. The service and the friendly staff were as good as it gets. This is a very nice little gem in Santa Barbara for a quiet, romantic evening with high quality food.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Wow - Loved Downeys!
    Taralara44
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    From the minute we walked in the staff were wonderful, so attentive & helpful, they were also very passionate and knowledgeable about the food. It was easy to select from the menu because the staff could describe all the flavours and ingredients. The food was gorgeous and beautifully presented ( we had the duck & the lamb for mains both were absolutely yummy) . The restaurant was lit nicely & very romantic. We really enjoyed the evening - we would definitely recommend Downeys
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good experience.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Very quiet and refined. Appreciated the use of local sources for the excellent meal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    Excellent dining experience. We headed it was very nice, and it lived up to our expectations.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • TallyVIP
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    We have dined at most of the top restaurants in S.B since moving here 3 mo ago from san francisco. We were very impressed with the hight level of cooking and plating skills. The service was smooth,friendly and unobtrusive. We look forward to making this a regular dining destination.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great experience
    Garebear
    Dined on 9/11/2014
    We were in SB for our 38th Wedding Anniversary- checked out the previous reviews and Downey's lived up to them. Service was impeccable and food was outstanding- I'd come back!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • PWs Feedback
    PGW1961VIP
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    Very good menu and portions are just right. good atmosphere. Really enjoyed the restaurant and will come again
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • An Incredible Experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    I took my girlfriend to Downey's for our anniversary and absolutely could not have had a more enjoyable experience on all fronts. The service was spectacular, everybody knew EVERYTHING there is to know about each dish, and the food, well, I'm not sure I have ever had a meal on quite the same level. A lot of people may claim the best restaurant in town is somewhere else, but if you're looking for the best food in town, you must go to Downey's. the muscles were incredible, the tomato soup is mind blowing, and the lamb was off the chart incredible. My girlfriend had the halibut that was cooked perfectly in an incredible sauce, and the lobster angel hair appetizer was ridiculously good. reasonable price too for the quality.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • BJ45
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    Small, intimate setting. Both the food and service was outstanding. Could not turn down the dessert selection! Would highly recommend.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A Special Treat
    DiningDee
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    We went to Downeys for our 42nd wedding anniversary. We were seated in a small alcove at the back of the restaurant which made us feel very special. We had the tasting menu paired with wines. Every plate was beautifully prepared and tasty. The wines were wonderful. The wait staff were attentive. It was a beautiful and romantic evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • looking4goodfoodVIP
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    We enjoyed a delicious meal at Downey's and will definitely return when we are in Santa Barbara. The food was beautifully presented and was so tasty. Our servers were helpful, informative, and friendly.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Gourmet experience
    HuashanLuLynn2014
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    A real fine dining find in Santa Barbara with an eclectic menu. Service was excellent and we were delighted that Chef John came and spoke with us ...
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Wonderful
    larryVIP
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    imagine going to a good friend's home for dinner except that your good friend is an outstanding professional chef who knows how to choose fresh local ingredients and incorporate them into outstanding dishes. You walk into Downey's and feel at home in a relaxed, friendly environment. The room is clean and uncluttered featuring local paintings by one of the owners. And then there's the prominently displayed dessert trolley mid-room. Downey's is consistently excellent. It remains our favorite Santa Barbara restaurant for an exceptional meal served perfectly
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • HappyCustomer
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    Incredible! Best restaurant in Santa Barbara. We can't wait to return. John, Liz and the staff are the best. The food is unbelievably good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Simply special
    KAS1VIP
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Downey's is truly special. Chef owned smaller restaurant where the service and food are the best.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent!!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    Over the years Downey’s has been a choice while visiting in Santa Barbara. This summer’s visit continued the list of great dining experiences. Service was outstanding. The veal was the best of any restaurant visited in the last year. Excellent dining experience! Highly Recommended.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Quality
    Elle
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    This is our second visit to Downey's and we were not disappointed. The restaurant has a very elegant yet homey feel. The staff seem invested and caring. The owner/chef has a small menu with a good selection of wonderfully prepared food. The wine list is a good selection of some the local wineries. What more is there to ask for. We had another lovely evening.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • As Great as we Expected
    John
    Dined on 8/13/2014
    Excellent food and elegantly presented! Farm fresh ingredients make it even better. The service was superb and all our menu selections were superb. Downey's has definitely earned their reputation as one of the top couple of restaurants in Santa Barbara.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.