Downey's
Downey's

Downey's

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.downeyssb.com/
  • Phone: 8059665006
  • 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 8059665006

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.
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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
94 reviews since May 26, 2014
Overall Rating4.8
  • Food4.8
    Service4.8
  • Ambiance4.5
    Noise LevelQuiet
98% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
special occasion (74)fit for foodies (72)romantic (61)neighborhood gem (40)notable wine list (31)good for groups (3)kid-friendly (2)scenic view (1)late-night find (1)great for outdoor dining (1)hot spot (1)Show More
  • 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.
  • perfect perfected
    larryVIP
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    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
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Best in Santa Barbara
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 8/8/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Stellar Dining at Downey's
    Justabeth
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • You will not be disappointed
    mothersdaybrunch
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food
    RichVIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    I had the lamb and it was delicious, all food was good. Liz knows her wine. We will return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Fantastic find!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2004
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Special Place
    Flossie17
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    Whenever there is a special occasion, I choose to go to this restaurant. It is consistently wonderful in every way.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Magnolia0220
    Magnolia0220VIP
    Dined on 7/27/2014
    A great meal!!! Great wine!!! Great hospitality!!! Overall perfect dinig experience for our one night in Santa Barbara!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Santa Barbara's best of the best!
    CACoastlady
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fine dining
    Coverpoint
    Dined on 7/24/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • My favorite restaurant in SB
    katemVIP
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful experience
    YumYumVIP
    Dined on 7/23/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 7/20/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    Downeys is truely a fine dining experience. Try the Taste of Santa Barbara for local ingredients at their best.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Anticipating Gastro-Excellence
    Luv2Dine
    Dined on 7/16/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • boopkaVIP
    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--
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Gem of a restaurant!
    BonVivantVIP
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    This is my favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara. The food is amazing! Every dish shows what a great chef the owner is!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful meal, welcoming owners
    WeLove2EatVIP
    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.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Again, excellent
    Cambria1VIP
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • DZIRVIP
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • creative menu, excellent service
    K4epicure
    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.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nashville
    NashvilleVIP
    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.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Always a pleasure
    Chipper
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A gem
    GeraldoVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.