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Downey's
Downey's

Downey's Details

  • 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: Californian, French
  • 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 (805) 966-5006

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
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Ambiance
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
Diner Reviews
  • "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."
    Dined on 8/13/2014
  • "Downey's is so predictable..... a peaceful, pretty room, friendly welcoming staff and on-site owner, great menu expertly executed, and, ultimately, a dessert trolley that defies moderation. Time and time again Downey's delivers"
    Dined on 8/9/2014
  • "Downey's is my 1st choice for a perfect meal from beginning to the desserts, which are spectacular. Appetizers & entrees are perfectly prepared of fresh ingredients, for the most part locally sourced, and the presentation is creative & lovely. We were 5, 3 of whom had not been to Downey's two of whom were from out of state, with much international dining experience. We were ages 19 to 85 - all raved about the meal and our evening together."
    Dined on 8/8/2014
  • "My dinner at Downey's was the finest meal I have ever had. The delectable artichoke heart salad offered wonderful contrasts between mild and bitter flavors, and soft and crisp textures. My main course was local fish, with potatoes and greens, and a creamy sauce made from tomatoes and two kinds of basil. The fish was perfect, as were the potatoes and the greens. But the sauce went way beyond perfect -- it was sublime! It carried each of the otherwise perfect dishes to a level I could never have imagined possible. For dessert, we had chocolate torte and the signature raspberry torte. Everything was creamy or crisp or flaky just exactly where it should be, and marvelously light and bursting with flavor. The local Sauvignon Blanc was exquisite."
    Dined on 8/8/2014
  • "This was my second time to Downey's and I wish I lived closer to come once a week! I was on a yearly business trip last year and discovered this hidden gem on "State" street. The food is terrific and so is the dining experience! You will not go away disappointed. The service is excellent. A little on the mid range for cost but well worth it."
    Dined on 8/2/2014
  • "I had the lamb and it was delicious, all food was good. Liz knows her wine. We will return."
    Dined on 8/2/2014
  • "This restaurant was recommended by friends who visit the area frequently. This was the best recommendation ever - Downey's is on our short list for the best meals ever. The absence was nice, we were seated at a perfect, romantic alcove near the back. The service, the ambience were excellent. The food - OMG, over the top good! All the courses were excellent, but the standouts were the lobster and angel hair salad and the lamb. Absolutely, a special dining experience. Among my favorite meals ever!"
    Dined on 8/1/2014
  • "Whenever there is a special occasion, I choose to go to this restaurant. It is consistently wonderful in every way."
    Dined on 7/31/2014
  • "A great meal!!! Great wine!!! Great hospitality!!! Overall perfect dinig experience for our one night in Santa Barbara!"
    Dined on 7/27/2014
  • "By far our favorite special occasion restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA. The food is always excellent, as well as the service. This time a family with four young children came in and the room was noisier than usual (Downey's is not a restaurant where one would usually bring children.) We love the dining experience at Downey's because it is usually quiet, which is very unusual for the restaurant scene today. It's still our "ten" in the ratings."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "My wife and I had a very enjoyable evening at Downeys. The signature dishes which we ordered were of a very high standard. We ordered a good wine and were fortunate that the the owner of the winery happened to be dining as well so we were able to have a chat. We will certainly return next time we are in Santa Barbara."
    Dined on 7/24/2014
  • "John Downey continually amazes with his wonderful and innovative menu, which includes locally-sourced ingredients. The white sea bass and the black cod (in a Meyer-lemon sauce) were great."
    Dined on 7/24/2014
  • "We thoroughly enjoyed this small gem of a restaurant. We were a party of six and every dish ordered by our group was really outstanding. The service was attentive without being overbearing and we'll definitely be taking friends and family here in the future."
    Dined on 7/23/2014
  • "Downey's is really special; one of my favorite 2 or 3 restaurants in Santa Barbara. Food is excellent and the staff is attentive without being obtrusive. The little alcove is perfect for a romantic evening."
    Dined on 7/20/2014
  • "Downeys is truely a fine dining experience. Try the Taste of Santa Barbara for local ingredients at their best."
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "We anxiously waited for our return dining experience. Came up from Los Angeles just for dinner. The food was VERY good, and the service was excellent as always. The tasting menu was very delicious, local's tomato soup (YUM!) and crab/papaya salad was excellent. Hubby's lamb loin was done a bit too much for his liking; he regrets not sending it back. Sorry to see Black Cod not on the menu, maybe next time. Dessert, chocolate flourless cake, was taken to go, and VERY much enjoyed the next morning."
    Dined on 7/16/2014
  • "For over thirty years, this fine dining establishment has provided high quality, delicious food. I first came here 28 years ago and just returned. It is all that I remember. Pretty remarkable for a restaurant and its chef to remain so relentlessly committed to quality.. Another remarkable experience at one of my all time favorite and best restaurants. Thank you--"
    Dined on 7/16/2014
  • "This is my favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara. The food is amazing! Every dish shows what a great chef the owner is!"
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "We just got back from a weekend in Santa Barbara, and the best meal we had was at Downey's. Although I previously lived in Santa Barbara for 4 years I had never eaten there - and I was missing out! We had a wonderful meal from start to finish. The food was fresh and delicious, with generous portions - you feel like you had a meal at a friend's house who just happens to be a gourmet chef. We also love restaurants where the owners take time to great their guests, and Downey's owners do that. They welcomed our (very well behaved) 6 month old baby, and were warm and friendly to us throughout the night - checking in to make sure we were happy (and we definitely were). We plan on making Downey's a regular stop when we are back in town."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "The food and service were once again superb. For starters, the prosciutto and melon was very delicate and the SB smoked salmon plate absolutely wonderful. My wife and I try not to order the same entrée almost anywhere, but the veal dish called out to both of us and we were quite happy having the same dish. Desserts were wonderful and the timing of the desserts with the Westside Santa Barbara power outage could not have been more romantic. Honestly, the service staff lit some extra candles and those parties left in the restaurant at almost 10PM still had a wonderful time finishing dinner and dessert in virtual darkness. Kudos to the staff."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "I gave Downey's high marks in everything but foo. The menu and the food could also have gotten a high score except for one thing. Their meats are overmarinated. My lamb dish should have been wonderful except that whatever the meat was marinated in (or left too long in) left it with little texture and little of the distinctive lamb flavor I sought. Sauces, everything else, was terrific. Initially I wanted the duck but I'm gluten-free and the waiter found out from the chef that the duck was marinated in soy sauce so I switched to the lamb. My son ordered the duck and he said that he was disappointed because all he could taste was the soy sauce--and he is a lover of soy sauce. Fix that and this place would be near perfect."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "We ordered the tasting menu, which was excellent: appetizer, salad, entre, dessert. The items were creative - certainly not in any way ordinary; and artfully plated. We were told that the same items were available on the menu but there the portions were larger. We both found that the tasting menu portions were ample -- in fact, just right. The service was attentive but not overbearing. The wine list was good -- a bit pricey, but a nice range of prices and varietals. We got there about seven on a Friday evening, and the place was about half full -- but about eight it filled up. We would certainly dine here frequently if we lived in the area. A good choice for interesting and different menu items nicely prepared and presented."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "This was the best dining experience in Santa Barbara . The small restaurant was decorated so sweetly with art for sale, white fresh cloths and fresh flowers on the table.The host knew all about wine pairings and described all the dishes. We had the famous duck and a sea bass. Prior, we had a smoked salmon salad with fresh limes. It was unbelievable. We will definitely go back while we stay in SB."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "We have eaten at Downeys many times and each meal is beautiful to behold and delicious. It is far and away the best restaurant in Santa Barbara, and among the top in any city."
    Dined on 7/8/2014
  • "Amazing food over the years and the service is the best in town. You can actually have a conversation with your table. Great place for special romantic occasions."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "Service was very attentive; duck, salmon and halibut were all outstanding, as were the corn soup and desserts. We will definitely return here on our next visit to Santa Barbara."
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "Once again a fabulous experience. Excellent, beautifully prepared and presented food. Exceptional service. We asked for a modification of a dish -- it was no problem for them. And the dessert trolley: all prepared at the restaurant from seasonal and fresh ingredients. Whenever I have business guests from out of town, I think of Downey's first."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "Impeccable service, delicious food. The green salad with blue cheese dressing is one of the best I have ever had. Chef Downey made rounds in the dining room...."
    Dined on 6/20/2014
  • "We celebrated our wedding anniversary here as we regularly do. The service, ambiance, wine and, of course, food are the best. We will continue to come here for the special occasions in our life - love it!"
    Dined on 6/19/2014
  • "Everything about Downey's was superb - divine food; friendly, knowledgeable and attentive service; very pleasant atmosphere. We'll be sure to go there again next time we're in the area."
    Dined on 6/18/2014
  • "We did really like our experience. The service was top notch and wine list extensive, but even though my filet was expertly cooked and my wife's sea bass was cooked properly, we expected somewhat more in flavor."
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "We've been here twice and both times it was excellent. Veal and salmon done to perfection. The signature dessert, mille-feuille, is the best I've ever had."
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "On a Saturday night in Santa Barbara.....what a find. Food and service were fantastic! True gem!"
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "Several years ago, we dined at Downey's, and had a wonderful experience. We returned recently, and found that the food, service, and ambience continue to be exceptional. The two dishes we chose -- the duck and veal -- were amazingly tasty, and the wine recommended by the hostess was the best chardonnay I have had. It went perfectly with the meal. I would highly recommend Downey's for a memorable dinner."
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "If you are looking for the very best meal in Santa Barbara look no further, go to Downey's. We have never been disappointed in either the service and most notable the food."
    Dined on 6/6/2014
  • "It was our first time. Chef Downey came to visit our table before and after our meal. We've never had that happen. Food was excellent as was the service. I will eat there again to try other menu options."
    Dined on 6/6/2014
  • "Visiting Santa Barbara, we had heard of Downeys and decided to have dinner there after reading mixed reviews. Unfortunately, it was very disappointing. The black tuna dish did not have much flavor even though it tried with a mix of mango and chopped cucumbers as a base. We should have headed the warnings on the negative reviews. They really need a new chef to spice up the menu. "
    Dined on 6/4/2014
  • "Many choices in Santa Barbara. This place is a gem."
    Dined on 5/31/2014
  • "It was a very quiet evening, with only 3 tables seated. We were greeted warmly, like old friends, even though it was a first time for us. Everything was really well prepared and delicious, though my vegetarian plate was far too heaped with beautifully presented good. I wish I wasn't traveling the next day or I would have taken half home. The 3 of us enjoyed each bite, especially the papaya/crab appetizer, the artchoke appetizer, halibut, salmon, and small white potatoes cooked to perfection! Don't miss the homemade strawberry ice cream, served alone, as a sandwich, or as a topping. My only suggestion is more rhubarb in the tart. It was dry and somewhat bland. Otherwise, everything about our experience was perfect."
    Dined on 5/27/2014
  • "Santa Barbara is well known for a large selection of restaurants of all types, but they frequently come and go. In contrast, Downey's has been providing a wonderful dining experience for more than 30 years, so you know it has to be good. Every course is created from only the freshest, finest ingredients and the flavors are incredible. The service is impeccable; not too familiar, not too formal, but always available and helpful. "
    Dined on 5/22/2014