Blackbird

4.3
171 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 171 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
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
74% of people would recommend it to a friend
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T
New York Area
44 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
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 5 days ago
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 10, 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 9, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

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

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DR
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful experience. One of our new Santa Barbara favorites!

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J
Los Angeles
31 reviews
Dined on January 25, 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
2 reviews
Dined on January 23, 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 20, 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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SW
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on January 20, 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
1 review
Dined on January 13, 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 3, 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 29, 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 29, 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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LW
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2018
Overall 1food 4service 1ambience 1

We made a reservation the day prior to our holiday meal, and the restaurant called to confirm a few hours before seating, but I was in a movie, and called back to confirm about 1.5 hours before seating. When we arrived, we were told there were no tables available inside, and we could eat outside. The hostess acknowledged our reservation, but said the people inside had specified they wanted a table inside. In what world, for a very expensive prix fixe meal, on a cold Christmas night, would you have to SPECIFY that you wanted to eat indoors? The hostess said she tried to confirm earlier, and I countered that we did confirm at first opportunity, and the young man we spoke to said nothing about being relegated to the patio! Nothing on OpenTable's reservation system prompted us to specify that we would like to eat indoors! We pretty much had to eat there - OUTSIDE - as getting another table elsewhere on Christmas would have been difficult, if not impossible.
I never write poor reviews, and the food was quite good, but having to spend $300 to sit outside on Christmas, bundled up in scarves, street-side, uncomfortable...I fiercely resented this.

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EK
Central Coast
3 reviews
Dined on December 26, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 5

I was really looking forward to dinner at BlackBird, the Christmas dinner prefix looked fabulous. The grilled bread was raw in the middle, so they recooked it, but gave us half as much? The timing between courses took forever. The grilled Octopus was fantastic, tender and not chewy. Our waiter, was inconsistent. The restaurant was not crowded, so I would have expected great service from the kitchen. For the price, I would have expected a great meal.

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SC
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

Very small portions, we left hungry even after appetizer, main course and dessert.
Some food was burned, some was luke warm

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j
New England
7 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great martini, interesting menu. Delicious food. Dessert was a disappointment. But I’d go back here.

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P
Los Angeles
64 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Really great overall. Exceptional food. I had salmon, cooked to perfection. My husband had the cinnamon chicken- Wow! We’re going back later this week for that cinnamon chicken. Wonderful flavor and moist. The Purple rain cocktail with vodka, blackberry and basil as was the rooibos ginger tea. They clearly take the time to do things right here.

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P
Atlanta
1 review
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

5x service - every dish was delicious

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OT
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

Awesome food! Okay service

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CH
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Came for a birthday celebration and to try the grilled octopus. Enjoyed our cocktails and each course of our dinner. The wait staff was attentive and everyone knew how to describe our dishes. Mitch took excellent care of us. Great experience overall.

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W
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on December 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Unique, high quality, well-thought-out food. We asked our waiter for suggestions and his response was exactly what I like to hear: he made two solid recommendations for appetizers, mains and cocktails. I didn't give it any thought and said yes to everything - and it was all top notch. I will definitely go again.

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MB
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on December 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Beautiful restaurant, charming staff, edgy menu. Fun evening.

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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
76 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
3 reviews
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
12 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
4 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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