Blackbird

4.3
148 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.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Contemporary American, Mediterranean
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Hours of operation
Dinner
Daily 5:00 pm–10:00 pm
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Phone number
(805) 882-0135
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
Alexander La Motte
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Mason St
Additional
Beer, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 148 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.4
service
4.3
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
76% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
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F
Las Vegas
5 reviews
Dined on December 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The noise level isn't "energetic", it's TOO LOUD. I have heard that they are going to do something about the acoustics. Once they do the Blackbird will be....PERFECT. The list above didn't include much about the food. It is wonderful: the octopus, the branzino, the SOUPS, and on and on. It's just the best. Yes, you have to bring some real money to eat here, but unlike a lot of places in town, it's actually worth it.

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OT
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on November 24, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 4ambience 3

Our reserved table was not ready at the appointed time. We were asked if we could sit on the patio with heaters. It was windy and very chilly. Once we were seated outside we knew that would not be a pleasant dining experience and we asked to be moved inside. We were finally seated inside. The manager provided a round of drinks and was very apologetic for the wait. The food was exceptional and we enjoyed every bite. Our waiter was knowledgeable and helpful and service was good, however, he must have ended his shift and gone home as we never got the bill for the longest time and eventually my husband had to go ask for it. It would have been nice to have known what happened to him, or for him to explain that his shift was over, if that was the case. We were celebrating a birthday in our party and the birthday girl really liked the food and the special dessert she was given. We would go there again, but probably avoid a weekend night as it is very crowded and noisy there. I appreciate quieter dining experiences and was disappointed in the frenetic feel of the dining room, which, by the way, is not very large to begin with. For a hotel of that size and grandeur, one would think the main restaurant would be larger and the bar would be separate from the dining area. People crowded along the bar made the dining room seem even more claustrophobic, in my opinion.

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W
New York Area
74 reviews
Dined on November 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Fabulous meal. We had a great new waiter who looked like a Yogi and wrote philosophical thoughts on our doggie box. My big complaint about Blackbird has always been the desserts. They sound great as described in the menu but when they arrive they're art projects that don't taste good. But our waiter recommended the cookies and milk one and it was great. Can't wait to go back.

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OT
Denver
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Amazing food. The hospitality was a little off. The host seemed frazzled. We received the impression they were over booked but the dining room had open tables all night.

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RJ
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Kampachi crudo was delicious but that was the only thing we really enjoyed! The other food was good but nothing out of the ordinary and a bit over priced. We ordered 4 food items and a glass of wine as well as a cocktail. The cocktail was also very good! I believe the check was around 100 plus tip. We left hungry and went around the corner to Bluewater Grill and ate again food was excellent!

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J
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful experience!
All dishes were very creative in presentation...delicious textures
Dishes ordered:
Grilled flat bread
Kampachi Crudo
Whole Roasted Branzino
Prime Brandt Farm Rib Eye
Chocolate mouse cake w/fresh raspberries (compliments of Blackbird- birthday surprise)
Service by Kelly...friendly, professional, very knowledgable, able to answer questions in detail re: each plate, wine
YES, we would love to return to Blackbird when returning to Santa Barbara

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H
Seattle
1 review
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 5

The appetizers were delicious and the drinks were pretty good but the beet salad was terrible. It was endives, some flavorless creamy dressing and about 4 small pieces of beets. We also got the spaghetti and clams and that was AWFUL. The clams were chewy and tasted like they came out of a can and there were half a dozen of them mixed in with spaghetti that had some heavy cream or just melted cheese as the "sauce" but it was super dry. I thought it would be more traditional like spaghetti with clams in the shell with a light bouillabaisse. It was gross and we didn't finish either of it but paid over $100 for two drinks, two appetizers and then these terrible two dishes. Such a waste of money. The neighboring tables looked like the dessert was good though.
The waiter didn't come back or even look in our direction after delivering food so one of us had to finally get up to ask for the check as well.

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RS
1 review
Dined on October 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a wonderful time celebrating an intimate birthday. The service was wonderful very attentive and gave great suggestions.

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b
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on October 27, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 2

Strange and limited menu. Kept trying things hoping to find something that we liked but honestly, never did.

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GU
Los Angeles
10 reviews
Dined on October 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great restaurant in a wonderful location , very near the waterfront and the pier. Will be back soon !

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D
Hawaii
28 reviews
Dined on October 22, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

The serving staff was pleasant. It took a long time to get our initial cocktail, and all the dishes took a long time. The first cocktail delivered was incorrectly made. On the second try the bartender got it correct. The beet salad had you beats in it. It was a lettuce salad. Over all, we were very disappointed by the restaurant

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A
Central Coast
3 reviews
Dined on October 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a fantastic meal at Blackbird with exceptional service and will look forward to going back again soon.

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LS
Central Coast
2 reviews
Dined on October 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Really good and creative food choices.

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ND
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 5ambience 3

Excellent service, but portions were small and prices were very high. Sitting on the patio was very noisy with State St right there..

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p
Seattle
12 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My wife and I ate dinner here on Wed night the 3rd. The food was 5 stars and our waiter mitch was top notch and very nice and help full with my wife's dairy allergy. We live in Seattle and we would fly back down here just to dine and request mitch to be our waiter.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on October 2, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 5ambience 5

The service and ambience were there. Unfortunately, the food was confused and not very good. Too much on all the plates and dishes without rhyme or reason. Scallops, eggs and potatoes? Blegh.

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EP
Orange County
4 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

We went for dinner and sat inside. It was quite loud inside next to the bar. If noise bothers you, I suggest you request to be seated outside. We waited for a while for our waiter but once he introduced himself he was very attentive. Overall the food, service and location were very good. The cocktail we had was delicious. Wish we could hace tried the others, they all looked great!
Would definetly go back and try the other cocktails.

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EJ
San Francisco
39 reviews
Dined on September 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We started with the flatbread with uni butter which was so delicious. Our server was super knowledgeable and friendly. Entrees were very good as well. Very interesting menu. Definitely worth the price.

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EK
1 review
Dined on September 22, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Mediocre experience all around. They were out of the cocktail I ordered, then the wine I wanted. Food was salty.

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L
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 3

The service was terrible. I’d understand if it were busy, but it was not. We had to walk over to our server who was chatting with the bartender to get his attention. Service went downhill from there. The manager came over after a while saying our server had to leave and he’d be filling in. We never saw him again.
Food was great once we got it. The Branzino was stellar! I would put up with the horrible service just to have that again! The report on the burger was stellar as well.

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SR
Los Angeles
11 reviews
Dined on September 16, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 3

Service was good. Restaurant is good scene. Food was not very good.

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TW
Orange County
1 review
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always have an outstanding meal and experience at Blackbird!!!

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LA
1 review
Dined on September 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Came here for my gf's birthday and they definitely did not disappoint. One of the best rib-eyes I've ever tasted! We would definitely come back.

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k
Orange County
8 reviews
Dined on September 7, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 3

The flavors were very good. I had heard the chicken was outstanding, although flavorful it was pretty dry. My husband had the Branzino and was not overly impressed, but he liked it.
It may be that our expectations were too high....we were especially excited to try this restaurant knowing the chef had worked preciouly at the French Laundry.
I wouldn't say not to go, jut know you will be paying a higher than average price for slightly higher than average food.

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s
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 5

This was a big disappointment. We loved the decor and ambiance, and the service was excellent -- unfortunately the food is overpriced and lacking in flavor.

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R
Central Coast
16 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 2

Good and interesting food and solicitous service. Our waiter and the sommelier were very generous in providing information and expertise. The noise level was very high - lots of hard surfaces reflecting sound (from a very noisy large group at one table) which is apparently going to be addressed by some internal additions and modifications.
Definitely a place to re-visit and a fine addition to Santa Barbara's restaurant scene.

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BK
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on August 28, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 2

Underwhelming and under seasoned food, though plating was pretty. Decor trying too hard on inside, and completely absent on patio. No cables, floral arrangements on table. Tables too deep to be intimate. A spill stayed on table throughout the meal. Brought out complementary desert that my wife with allergy could not share.

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LK
Central Coast
3 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food, great cocktails. Tim was our server - made the experience all the more enjoyable.

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OT
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Our waiter was fantastic

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C
St. Louis
23 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was fresh and just delicious. The ceviche with soft shell crab was wonderful, i’d Go back just for that alone. Service was smooth, waiter was really nice. Do not have any complaints.

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DL
San Diego
1 review
Dined on August 21, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Really fantastic food. Seemed woefully understaffed and the wait for service was disappointingly long.

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P
Central Coast
43 reviews
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was creatively prepared with a beautiful presentation. Truely a gourmet dining experience. Everything we ate was excellent and our server, Katie, was quite friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and food preparation. We had the mushroom appetizer and the scallop entree and the whole fish branzino with chorizo and the peach dessert with rosemary. Delicious food and reasonably priced. Blackbird is now our favorite local restaurant in Santa Barbara.

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CD
New York Area
1 review
Dined on August 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our waiter, Tim, was outstanding and very attentive. The food was great, my wife enjoyed the large Rose menu and the Strawberry Fields dessert was very different and delicious. It was also our anniversary so they gave us each a complimentary glass of champagne. A class act restaurant.

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RW
New York Area
32 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

Though creative, the dishes had some odd pairings and not necessarily enjoyable. Did not like the charcuterie... most of it was flavorless, as was my yellow tail appetizer. Overall, expensive and not so amazing.

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A
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined on August 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The pork chop and the calamari were killer. They also treated us to a glass of champagne as we had recently been married.

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CS
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 4ambience 2

We went for a Saturday night dinner at 8:00 PM. The decor is cold and unimpressive. Although the restaurant was half full (and we had reservations), we were told they could only seat us outside in somewhat uncomfortable chairs (plus it is very loud with street noise). We later learned that the inside is reserved primarily for hotel guests, which on that night didn't choose to dine there. The bartender was questionable as our expensive Martini's were watered down. The menu is very limited and expensive if you wish to order a salad, etc. We used their valet because the Public Parking Garage across the street was full except for their valet traffic. After spending a couple hundred dollars on food and drink, you have to pay the valet $10.00 not including tip. With so many good restaurants in Santa Barbara, I would not recommend this restaurant to anyone.

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OT
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on August 11, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 5ambience 3

Nice place, great staff, very good food and nice wines by the glass but the noise level was extremely high. We could not here the food descriptions when the server brought plates to our table. We could barely hear each other and the whole experience was affected and greatly diminished the quality. It was also too cold to be comfortable. Too bad, as a Santa Barbara local I had high hopes for a new place to add to my list ...

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TM
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

Although we had reservations for 8:00 and showed up on time, we were told that our table would be another 15-20 minutes. After a 20 minutes stroll we were invite to have a drink on the house. I very much appreciated this gesture, although when the check came the drinks were included, which I had to point out to our server). While this wasn't the way I had planned to start the evening, the adage "good things come to those who wait" proved to be true after we were seated.

The theme of the meal was beautifully arranged, quality ingredients prepared in traditional Mediterranean styles. But if that was all that Blackbird offered, frankly there wouldn't be anything particularly special about this meal. Where Blackbird set itself apart was their tendency to add a playful twist on the classics by including an ingredient or two that seizes diners' attention with a delicious 'one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others' approach. A common issue with grilled octopus is the monotony in preparation, whereby if blindfolded it'd be a gamble to try to guess which kitchen cooked up your cephalopod. Not so at Blackbird! The inclusion of apricot and tomatillo immediately made this dish distinct with a local sweet and spicy combination. The 6-minute egg rounded out the umaminess and depth of the scallop, and again the addition of feta to the dish played well. The branzino was expertly deboned, and the chorizo pleasantly served its role of complimenting rather than overpowering the fish. The Strawberry Field could have easily fallen victim to putting form before function, but instead was a light, yet fulfilling dessert that featured both hay, and nettles.

My experience at Blackbird was unique in that the food far surpassed both the service and the ambience (both of which were 'fine/good' but nothing exceptional). Come with friends who like to discuss their dishes, and be prepared for being served classic Mediterranean staples, with a few innovative, well-placed twists.

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WE
Columbus
5 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing. Kelly is one of the best servers ever and the food is outstanding.

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JG
San Diego
23 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service was first rate. The food was excellent and innovative. Outstanding overall experience.

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