Blackbird

4.4
198 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Contemporary American
Classic meets contemporary at Hotel Californian’s Signature Restaurant, featuring exquisite Mediterranean-influenced cuisine with an emphasis on Santa Barbara-sourced, hyper-seasonal ingredients. With the Pacific Ocean and the Funk Zone as a backdrop, the Blackbird offers a sleek, yet approachable and wholly unpretentious atmosphere with a pulse on contemporary Santa Barbara.
What 198 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.4based on recent ratings
4.4
food
4.5
service
4.4
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
71% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
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SL
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 4

Arrived about 1/2 hour early and we were graciously accommodated. Atmosphere was lively but got noisier. We were promptly greeted by a friendly attentive server -Mitch. He was able to offer some suggestions for local beer and menu items.

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OT
Calgary
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding

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TP
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was one of the best dining experiences I can remember. Absolutely fantastic restaurant. And Mitch our waiter was incredible.

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AP
Central Coast
4 reviews
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Great place for small group. The bar is superb. Food was good but slow to come out. We came on a Wednesday night and there were only a few tables being served food took awhile to come out. Overall nice place. They have outdoor tables too.

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MG
1 review
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Excellent, interesting,fantastic combination of flavors. Great service. Highly recommended.

Blackbird
Responded on April 1, 2019

We are happy to hear that you truly enjoyed your dining experience MarkG! I will share your wonderful feedback with our culinary and service team.

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JL
Las Vegas
6 reviews
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food & service. Bobby was a tremendous asset as our server. We ate at Blackbird in May 2018 and Bobby took care of us then, we were very glad to see him and have him guide us through our meal. Not to mention Bobby knew we were there for a special occasion and Bobby made our experience exceptional. Highly recommend Blackbird and Bobby!

James Lewis

Blackbird
Responded on April 1, 2019

Welcome back JamesL! We agree that Bobby is a true asset to our team. We look forward to seeing you back at Blackbird again soon!

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N
Baltimore
3 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 3ambience 2

Thought this was Moroccan/Mediterranean. Not even close!
The menu was pretentious and fussy. Food was mediocre at best.
Asked for more blankets, as it was freezing outside, and was told they were out. No one was outside but us. We insisted they get some from the hotel (they are part of Hotel Californian), and finally they did.
The wine list was ridiculously pricey. Glasses of wine started at $21! Their corkage fee was $35 per bottle!!!! INSANE!!!
I will NEVER return and would advise anyone not to dine with them!

Blackbird
Responded on March 31, 2019

Dear shareeN, Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. We strive to create a memorable dining experience with not only our cuisine but with excellent customer service and we regret that your dining experience was not an enjoyable one. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak to you directly to better address your concerns.

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MB
Charleston
7 reviews
Dined on March 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding in all respects. Best meal we had on our trip!

Blackbird
Responded on March 31, 2019

We are happy we were a highlight of your trip MichaelB! We hope you have the opportunity to come visit us again soon!

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EE
1 review
Dined on March 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Beautiful interior with plenty of room between tables. Chic interior a la Boston, New York or London.
Staff was courteous and attentive.
Menu is inventive and portion sizes are very fair. Outstanding bar with Mixologists who deliver. Noise level can be somewhat high, but a good table conversation can still be had.

Blackbird
Responded on March 31, 2019

Thank you for your kind words EdgarE! I will share your experience with our staff and we look forward to having you join us again soon. Be on the lookout for some new craft cocktails being added to our line up soon too!

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FD
Central Coast
31 reviews
Dined on March 16, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

I've been to Blackbird about 10 times since they opened. The new chef has taken the food to a higher level of pleasure. Bravo!

Blackbird
Responded on March 31, 2019

I will be sure to pass along your comments to our Culinary team FineDiningVisitor. We appreciate your loyal patronage! Be on the lookout for some new seasonal dishes.

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OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on March 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing! Food and staff where both great! And ambiance was great. Heart of downtown SB

Blackbird
Responded on March 31, 2019

I hope Blackbird has become one of your favorite SB dining locations! The staff appreciates the kind words for their hard work.

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PL
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Mitch and his team were welcoming, helpful and efficient at serving our party of four. We enjoyed the food, especially the octopus and the robust red wine. We all thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Blackbird.
The only downside is the lack of parking but this is true for many restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara.

Blackbird
Responded on March 31, 2019

I am so happy you enjoyed your experience at Blackbird PeggyL! Mitch and the team delight in creating memories for our guests and it sounds like their food and beverage pairings were spot on for your party. Please know that although parking can be a challenge in downtown there is both Valet and Self parking options at the Hotel Californian. We look forward to you joining us again soon!

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LK
Central Coast
2 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was my first time there and it was fabulous. We were greeted nicely and shown to a lovely table. The waiter Bobby explained the menu very well and helped us order as well as recommended excellent wines. The food was presented beautifully and was delicious. The espresso dessert was out of this world. I will be back again soon.

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LB
San Diego
1 review
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic unique food and impeccable personalized service. I will absolutely be back!

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OT
Brisbane / QLD
1 review
Dined on March 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I came in with my wife for a birthday dinner celebration and everything was perfect. The service was outstanding, I believe Kenny was looking after us, and food was on point. They have a gorgeous bar to sit at also if someone is looking for a more casual dining experience.

Would definitely come back again!!

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TB
1 review
Dined on March 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Bobby was our server. He was the most incredible server we had on our trip by far. Would recommend to anyone.

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N
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 2

The food and service were spectacular. The noise level, however made sitting in the restaurant quite unpleasant. They absolutely need to do some sound mitigation work. I would go back for the food in a heartbeat - but I’ll wait until it’s warmer so I can eat outside rather than face the cacophony of room. I opted to go outside on a very cool evening and even the heaters and shawls provided were not enough to warm me. But it was worth it to enjoy our Branzino and Rib-eye without going deaf in the process

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OT
1 review
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

Over hyped and disappointing. Food was just not tasty or what we prefer. We typically like the places we go. This was expensive and not for us.

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VS
Montreal
1 review
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of the best restaurants ever. Service superior. Food eclectic and superior. We had three dishes to share.

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E
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Ok, it was restaurant week, and maybe this challenges a place like this. As my friend and I had a lot to talk about, we didn't mind, but the wait before every course was very long. They ended up serving us some bruschetta (soaky) in between, and nicely offered to take our glasses of wine off the bill (after the waiter dropped the desert on the floor when it finally came). We took the 3-course menu for $40 and it was good value for money. However, each dish was a bit odd: the red beet salad had only a few dry chips of red beet, together with lots of other ingredients. No interesting taste emerged from it, also due to the small amount of dressing buried under the many ingredients. The salmon was unremarkable, a little on the dry side. The grilled apple (for desert) was hard and dry again. Possibly a bad night for the kitchen, I will give it another try in a few months. But it is rare that I am disappointed by every course of a dinner.

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DP
1 review
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went to Blackbird for the last day of SB Restaurant week. Upon entry, Bobby, our main waiter, greeted us and gave some of the best service I personally have ever received in this town. The rest of the wait staff were also very pleasant and attentive. Never-ending glasses of sparkling water! If you thought something, they intuitively responded! Like stepping back in time, when people were conscious of being conscientious! Now for the food. The food was exquisite! Beet salad was refreshing! The salmon was satiating! Lastly, the MILK & COOKIES was Glorious! That desert Truly embodies Everything that SWEET & CREAMY has to offer! The question always ends with... Would I go back here? Answer is obviously a big YES! Thank you Blackbird for the top notch service in all areas! It was a wHoly experience! I'll definitely be back again!

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IM
Central Coast
4 reviews
Dined on March 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great service and good food.The price was a little too high.Would definitely go back again.

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DP
1 review
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food and service were fantastic. The wait staf is friendly and helpful but not overbearing. I had the butternut squash soup as a starter. I had to restrain myself from licking the bowl. For the main course I had the roasted chicken breast with shelling bean ragout. The seasonings were subtle and wonderful and the meat was tender and juicy. For dessert I had the baked apple with walnut ice cream. It was so flavorful and delicious and a perfect finish. I had a purple haze cocktail that was perfect as well. We went during restaurant week so it was specially priced but I will definitely go back and pay full price for any of the offerings.

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OT
Central Coast
3 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Dinner with friends - Service was friendly but aloof, details often missed. Food was fine but nothing to rave about other than the Uni & Avocado Toast. Definitely not Santa Barbara’s best fine dining experience.

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KW
Central Coast
18 reviews
Dined on February 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Four of us went to Blackbird for SB Restaurant week. When I arrived, I was told that we would be seated outside, on an exceptionally cold night! And, although they had lots of heaters burning, it was still cold on the patio. I asked if we could not be inside, as four ladies were not apt to give a good rating to the restaurant if our food was cold, and we were too!

The manager, Drew Schaffer, took matters into hand and managed to move around some tables and seated us inside. This gesture was truly appreciated.

We were then waited on by Mike at the bar and Mitch, as our waiter. Both were ever so delightful and made us feel welcome at the Blackbird. The food on the restaurant week menu was delightful. We all selected different options, and no one was disappointed.

I highly recommend the Blackbird to local Santa Barbara residents as a lovely place to go in our fantastic town!

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NK
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

I loved everything but the salmon/cous cous dish. That was not good at all. Sour.

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RL
New England
32 reviews
Dined on February 18, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We thought the food was tasty. Our waiter was fabulous. Unfortunately we waited a very long time at the end of our meal for dessert and a cup of coffee, but the coffee never came - their machine was broken so they sent out for a cup, but by the time it got to the restaurant it was too cold to serve us. I would have expected to have been comped dessert after such a long wait, but no - just not charged for coffee that never came. Ended our evening on a disappointing note.

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T
New York Area
47 reviews
Dined on February 17, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

The staff works hard to provide an exceptional experience. The kitchen mostly delivers on providing very good food. Given that some oddities prevail; bar is a significant part of the dining room. Although the food was well prepared it was not on par with what the pricing is. For the same price there are better ways to dine in Santa Barbara. Ultimately if your in the hotel or nearby its a fair meal. Thumbs up to the waitstaff however they really did work to ensure your experience was very good.

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D
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was outstanding. The octopus was the best we have ever had and the sauces were wonderful. We thoroughly enjoyed the dinner and Bobby was attentive and knowledgeable. Highly recommend this restaurant.

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DD
New England
1 review
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

The space is lovely and the service was quite good overall (if a little too familiar for my taste), but the food was mostly unremarkable (given the prices). Flavors were generally muddy and rarely did the many elements on any given plate come together. The meal also seemed strangely heavy, given the restaurant's access to such good local produce. Also, why serve so much so much seafood that isn't local? The meal wasn't terrible, but I could easily list faults in each of 5 or 6 things we had.

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OT
Denver
6 reviews
Dined on February 8, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Amazing experience. This is my third visit and officially am a fan

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DR
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful experience. One of our new Santa Barbara favorites!

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J
Los Angeles
33 reviews
Dined on January 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The Californian Hotel is a beautiful new venue in Santa Barbara, and the Blackbird is no exception. The ambiance is lovely and the food is fantastic, I especially recommend the oysters! Service was impeccable, highly recommend.

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DS
Baltimore
4 reviews
Dined on January 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our first visit to Blackbird. We were early at 6pm on a Tuesday and had the place virtually to ourselves. Kelly, our server, could not have been more personable and professional. He described each dish we inquired about as if he were the chef and creator himself. He gave us the right balance of attention and service that complimented the delicious and creative dishes. We recommend the chickpea fries for an app, the diver scallops as the entree, and the most unusual Milk & Cookies for dessert. Blackbird is a great new addition to the Hotel Californian complex on State Street.

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R
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

Food was good. Ribeye wasn’t worth it for the price, although cooked at the right temperature requested.

Service was not very attentive and slow. We were a table of 6 on a Saturday evening. The restaurant did not seem busy with about 20 covers at the time and so we figured service would be on point.

To start, we all ordered cocktails. All but one of us received their cocktail. The server stated that he would rush order the drink and bring it over ASAP and brought us a “complimentary” order of grilled flatbread to compensate. By the time the drink was delivered, the rest of the table had already finished their drinks as well as the apps we had ordered that came after the round of drinks. We had asked for more bread for our charcuterie board that was ordered but it never came.

Three of us had ordered burgers but one without pork belly. Two ordered rib eyes and one branzino. When the burgers arrived we had asked which of the burgers had pork belly. The server had checked the plates individually and none of the burgers came pork belly in them. We declined the offer for them to bring out the pork belly since we were all hungry and could not wait any longer. Two guests had ordered the rib eye—both stated that their steaks cooked perfectly but had a significant amount of fat not inclusive of bone marrow that obviously was inedible and definitely not worth the $54 price tag. Can’t complain about the Brazino, it was good. Our server never came to check up on us after that.

Check arrives and what we thought was complimentary grilled flatbread ended up being on our bill. I requested that the server take it off, and he did.

The restaurant needs to up their service game. Would have made it a much more enjoyable dining experience.

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S
Central Coast
14 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Creative, delicious, perfectly cooked but some quirks and deficits. Flatbread starters are not flatbread. These are hot, poofy, chewy, mini pita pockets or naan with nothing on them however a dip is provided. Cinnamon chicken had no sides, just chicken. Desert menu is sparse and uninspiring. For example, the "Milk and Cookies" was deconstructed style with a tiny dollop of cookie dough, chocolate chip ice cream, and a frozen puck of dulce d leche. The latter was impossible to penetrate. The server acknowledged this was not right. Nevertheless, what we could scrape was not sweet at all and tasted like pure fat.
I would go back again for another try since my salmon with risotto dish was excellent. Incidentally, it was broiled and not pan seared as the server has said. I actually preferred it broiled.
BTW. the red wine by the glass offerings were stellar. They know their wines.

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HD
New York Area
1 review
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic experience from start to finish. Excellent waitstaff, exceptionally attuned to providing great customer service and facilitating a special experience for us and our guests on our anniversary. A cut above. Delicious inventive cuisine and wonderful ambiance. Fabulous-would go back and highly recommend.

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JR
1 review
Dined on January 2, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 3

Very disappointed!! We were staying at The Hotel Californian and the staff raved about it.Hmmm! The dinner menu was very limited and pricey.Best item on the menu was the $18 burger!! We will return to Santa Barbara someday but WILL NOT go back to this restaurant!! Just being honest!!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service was so great, food was amazing though we didn’t go too deep in the menu. Cocktails took a little bit to show up, but they were really good.
Thanks!

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DP
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Creative cooking indeed. Servers friendly and knowledgeable -- we loved them! Dessert delicious but not as large as hoped.

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