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Downey's

4.6
986 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Californian
Top Tags:
  • Special Occasion
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Romantic

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About

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.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Californian, Seafood, Contemporary French / American
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Hours of operation
Dinner: Sunday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm, Tuesday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 9:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 9:30pm
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Phone number
(805) 966-5006
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
John Downey
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Catering
Classical intimate dinner parties in your home with Chef John Downey for 6-20 guests.
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Victoria
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Parking details
On street parking or two public lots available nearby.
Additional
Beer, Farm to Table, Non-Smoking, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 986 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.6based on all time ratings
4.7
food
4.7
service
4.3
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Quiet
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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5.0Dined on August 30, 2017

We love Downey's!! John and Liz are terrific!!!! We are going to miss them So much!!! They were an institution in Santa Barbara ❤ Gary and I wish them the very best in whatever lies in store for their next chapter of their lives!!!! Thank you for all of our superior meals weather for a special occasion or just a surprise splurge!!!! Love you both. XOXO Jill and Gary 🌹

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5.0Dined on August 29, 2017

Wonderful dinner. So sorry to see them closing. I was a very special evening.

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5.0Dined on August 26, 2017

Outstanding service and the best meal I've ever had! Very sad they will be closing.

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5.0Dined on August 26, 2017

We have been enjoying Downeys since they first opened 30-35 years ago. John is a fabulous chef and Liz is a charming hostess! He uses the finest ingredients! Its a delightful place for a special occasion.

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5.0Dined on August 25, 2017

Great meal, too bad they are closing up shop... this was 'the last supper' for us. We'll miss it.

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5.0Dined on August 25, 2017

Has been our favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara for years! Sorry to see them closing but wish owners the best as they retire!

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4.0Dined on August 24, 2017

Downey's is closing at the end of this month (August 2017). The wine list appeared abbreviated, so we took glasses, rather than a bottle. Also, a lot of people were having one last dinner there so it was packed and noisy. Otherwise Kate and John were perfect hosts and the food (Hawaiian Swordfish and Noisette of Veal) were prepared and presented perfectly. It was our 59th wedding anniversary and a good send off.

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5.0Dined on August 24, 2017

So sorry to see Downey's close - great place for great dinner

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5.0Dined on August 24, 2017

Downey's is and always has been 5 stars. We will miss Liz and John but wish them well in their retirement!

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5.0Dined on August 23, 2017

We have loved John Downey and his restaurant for all the years it was open - 35! John was an early and generous supporter of our wine (Whitcraft Winery) and we held many winemaker dinners there, celebrated anniversaries and birthdays, and just couldn't say more about what a legacy John is leaving as one of the premier chefs in Santa Barbara. Favorites: duck, angel hair lobster, vegetarian plate and everything else!

He will be missed.

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5.0Dined on August 23, 2017

They are closing at the end of the month. I have been going there since 1982 and wanted one last top meal!

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5.0Dined on August 19, 2017

IMO, this was THE BEST restaurant in Santa Barbara. But if you've never been, you're out of luck because they are closing after 35 years (owners retiring). It was never cutting edge, or cool, or happening. Just a friendly, sophisticated, family owned restaurant that cooked with the best ingredients, offered the best local wines, had great service, and was consistent year in and year out. HUGE LOSS to the local dining scene.

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5.0Dined on August 19, 2017

Had dinner at this gem right before it closed, will certainly miss dining at Downey's.

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5.0Dined on August 19, 2017

Downey's has been our favorite for over 30 years!
There is no other restaurant in Santa Barbara to compare.

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5.0Dined on August 17, 2017

August is the last month with john as cook and owner. 35 years!! Downey's will be missed

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5.0Dined on August 17, 2017

Excellent ambiance, quality and creativity of meals. Best dessert I ever had...the fresh peach/ice cream dessert.

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5.0Dined on August 15, 2017

Delicious fresh food prepared by one of the true master chefs in our region. Sea bass and duck were both fabulous.

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5.0Dined on August 13, 2017

Ist time dining there. It was a wonderful experience all round...Liz is so friendly and relaxed. So sad it's closing at the end of August after 35 years.

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5.0Dined on August 13, 2017

Downey 's has great food, lovely setting, lovely presentation, and great location near theatres. Sadly, they are retiring soon. (End of August 2017). No idea if the new tenant plans to keep any aspects of the original.

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5.0Dined on August 12, 2017

In our opinion, John and Liz Downey have created the best restaurant between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They have achieved this status over 35 years of continuous restaurant operation. That is no mean feat in Santa Barbara, where the average restaurant goes out of business in 3 or 4 years. John and Liz shop the local farmers markets, connect with local fishermen, and get the freshest food available. Then John puts his creative mind to work and voila, out comes the most amazing food you will ever eat.

Example: last Saturday night I ordered the "Tasting Menu," a prix fixe dinner. The second course was a cold tomato soup. I'm not a fan of cold soup, but I have to say this course was the highlight of my evening at Downeys, which is saying a lot, considering I'm a chocolaholic and their chocolate mousse cake is to die for. The soup was extremely fresh, rich, and rife with umame, if you know the term. It has inspired me to try to duplicate it at home with our fresh garden-grown tomatos.

Unfortunately for the gourmand, but very fortunate (and smart) for John and Liz, they are retiring on August 31, after those 35 years of hard work and dedication to the finest food in Santa Barbara. We wish them a long and fulfilling retirement.

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5.0Dined on August 12, 2017

The food was excellent as was the service. We had a leisure dining experience without being rushed. Hate to see them close, but wish them well in their retirement.

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4.0Dined on August 11, 2017

As we say goodby to a great Santa Barbara restaurant we are so thankful for the experience. The owners are a treasure and we wish them well. They will be missed.

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5.0Dined on August 11, 2017

Had planned to come here but hadn't yet done so when we heard Downey's was closing after 35 years! We immediately made our reservation and are sorry to not have been here before. The prix fixe $58 4 course menu was outstanding. Four of us ordered that, the other 2 ordered a la carte and we were all content. The wine was well-priced and very good. Not an inexpensive evening, but so well worth the cost. We loved the atmosphere and to find a restaurant that wasn't so noisy was a special treat. We are going to try to come back one more time before the Downey's leave us to travel. They will be missed. Here's hoping their replacement won't change much!! Thank you so much for a memorable experience.

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5.0Dined on August 10, 2017

Thanks for the great meal! We are going to miss you guys!!

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5.0Dined on August 9, 2017

They are closing at the end of August for good Too bad.

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5.0Dined on August 8, 2017

Fabulous, as always. Selfishly, I am so sad to see the doors close. I wish the Downeys all the best.

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5.0Dined on August 8, 2017

Downey's provided another spectacular meal, excellent service and wine list worthy of all it's extraordinary ratings for so many years. We wish John and Liz Downey a funfilled and enjoyable retirement beginning later this month along with our appreciation for the scrumptious and delightful cuisine and ambiance we have experienced on every visit to their special treasure of a restaurant.

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5.0Dined on July 30, 2017

Downey's is still the best in Santa Barbara for really great food. A pity they are leaving.
It is unlike any other restaurant in the area and well worth the trip.

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5.0Dined on July 30, 2017

Best food in town! I'm so sad Downey's is retiring (but understandable too). I ordered the lobster salad, chilled cantaloupe soup, sea bass. Every dish was delicious and I savored every bite. Last but not least, the freshly made peach dessert.....yum! It was worth the calories.

The wait staff was knowledgeable, friendly and courteous. I need to return before Downey's last day.

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5.0Dined on July 30, 2017

35 years of dining here and never disappointed! John and Liz are fabulous and the food is absolutely divine!

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2017

They are closing the end of August so if you are going, go soon. This is one of the best places I have ever eaten. I'm sad they are closing (retiring) after 35 years.

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2017

This terrific restaurant is closing at the end of August 2017. The owners are retiring. Go before it closes!

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2017

The food and service were outstanding. I started wit the Lobster and Angelhair Salad with Aspargus, Sundried tomatoes, Olives & Basil which was outstanding and followed with the fabulous Grilled Duck. The leg and thigh had a crispy skin, and the breast was a perfect med rare. My wife had the Taste of Santa Barbara Menu which started with the Downey's Prosciutto and figs, followed by the sublime cold Cantaloupe soup with ginger, the Wild King Salmon entrée that was moist and delicious. We finished with a small cheese plate that was terrific.

The beautiful local paintings were created by Liz. I loved the luscious and vibrant green painting of the Hidden Valley/Veronica Springs area.

I'm very happy for John and Liz and wish them well in their upcoming retirement. Hopefully, John will create a cookbook.

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5.0Dined on July 27, 2017

The only thing I can say about my favorite restaurant in SB is that the owners are retiring (after 35 years). I am going back at least one more time before they do. Amazing food (white seabass so wonderful) and a prix fixe menu that is well worth the very small price.

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5.0Dined on July 22, 2017

Delightful evening with personal and professional service, excellent food well presented.

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5.0Dined on July 15, 2017

Great as usual!

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5.0Dined on July 15, 2017

Lovely place - we dropped in before a night at the Santa Barbara Bowl and found everything to be to our liking. The Owner/Host was very kind and thoughtful, a good conversationalist. The food was meticulously prepared and all tasted divine. Lovely wine selections as well.

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5.0Dined on July 15, 2017

WE HAVE BEEN EATING AT DOWNEY'S FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND THE FOOD IS STILL EXPERTLY PREPARED FOOD. THIS IS A RARE RESTAURANT WHERE YOU CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A CONVERSATION BACUSE THE NOISE LEVEL IS SO HUSHED. THE MENU DOESN'T CHANGE MUCH BUT EVERYTHING IS SO WELL PREPARED. LIZ ALWAYS REMEMBERS YOU. IT WAS FUN TO SEE PHILIP, LIZ AND JOHN'S SON ALL GROWN UP HELPING OUT.

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5.0Dined on July 11, 2017

Great food. Great service.

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5.0Dined on July 11, 2017

It is very nice and pleasant place for a special occasion. We like it.

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