Blackbird

4.5
114 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Contemporary American
Top Tags:
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Creative Cuisine
  • Good for a Date
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 114 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.6
service
4.4
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
78% of people would recommend it to a friend
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4.0Dined 2 days ago

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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1.0Dined 4 days ago

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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3.0Dined 5 days ago

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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4.0Dined on August 8, 2018

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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5.0Dined on August 8, 2018

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

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5.0Dined on August 4, 2018

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

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5.0Dined on July 29, 2018

Incredible evening!!! Our Somm, Andrew, was attentive without being intrusive, intelligent and knowledgeable without being pretentious, and overall really helped take our dining experience to the next level. Our waiter, Tim, was absolutely wonderful! I made a note in our reservation that we were here for a birthday and Tim went above and beyond to make the birthday girl feel special and well catered to. We all agreed that this was the best meal we’d had in a recent memory and I can’t say enough positive things about all the wonderful people who work here. Thanks for a truly special experience, Blackbird!

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5.0Dined on July 28, 2018

Other than not having a sign out front, they are great !

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5.0Dined on July 28, 2018

Lovely. Food great! Would simplify the food slightly ( so many ingredience) however very good. Loved the pork chops and calamari.

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4.0Dined on July 8, 2018

Branzino dish the best I’ve ever had. Big tuna appetizer average. Service outstanding. Very attentive. Beautiful decor. Great location. Nice addition to the area.

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5.0Dined on July 3, 2018

Wow..the best pork chop I have ever had!
We had a great meal and the service was excellent.

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5.0Dined on July 1, 2018

Girls trips to SB with my best friend. We had an amazing dinner!

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5.0Dined on June 28, 2018

Superb food with an exciting selection of high end dining. Good balance of artful plating and flavor. Staff enhanced the experience.

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5.0Dined on June 28, 2018

Great food, service and atmosphere. The food was amazing! Can't go wrong with any of the dishes. My favorite was the flat bread, grilled octopus and The seared scallops, gnocchi & soft boiled egg.

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2.0Dined on June 22, 2018

Fish was over cooked . Bad menu.
Tim our server was super nice and attentive.

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5.0Dined on June 18, 2018

Great spot for foodies. Service and pace was spot on. Drinks were inventive.

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5.0Dined on June 15, 2018

Santa Barbara has finally got a true artisanal restaurant. The menu is well thought, the flavors are adventurous without being odd, the chef blends and contrasts flavors and textures to provide a truly sensuous food experience. This is food as art.
Our server Kelly knew his menu well, had great recommendations and followed through with some great wine recommendations as well. We were here on a Thursday night, so I can't speak to weekend traffic. As a life long Santa Barbara resident, I would highly recommend Blackbird to locals as well as visitors.

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5.0Dined on June 15, 2018

Wonderful dinner- our waitress was awesome-
Get the flat bread appetizer- amazing flavors!
Perfect cocktails - love the European mixed flavors in the food!
A special place !!!!

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5.0Dined on June 12, 2018

Wonderful presentation. creative and inspired menu

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5.0Dined on June 9, 2018

A very great chef .... we went back after a wonderful first visit 2 days ago
We were not disappointed despite a small problem of synchonization between appetizer and meal but soon forgotten with the help of Tim. The cooking of the fish (halibut and bass) was perfect.
We had chocolate and strawberry with nettle ice cream as desserts. A delight ....
Wine was very good ....
A very great pleasure .... we will come back as soon as possible

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5.0Dined on June 8, 2018

Pretty, open kitchen. Wonderful waiter. Nice patio. Creative and delicious fare. A very special meal.

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5.0Dined on June 7, 2018

Everything was perfect .... apetizer, entrées and dessert ... fantastic meal
We’ll come back, for sure

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3.0Dined on June 3, 2018

Restaurant is beautiful, the staff was very very nice and service was great. The food. OMG:
too 'precious' for where it is-next to Sterns Warf! and just trying to be too foodie. The plating, lord have mercy, this is not Jean George in Paris people....know where you are and who your audience is. That said the taste: SALT. salty beyond words, I promise you it was inedible. and was just, again, TOO MUCH! To many flavors at once. a concoction of salt and salt and more salty something. nothing distinctive. My mouth hurt.

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3.0Dined on June 3, 2018

Not that great considering the prices. We had the halibut and a couple appetizers and salad. Our friends had the branzino and yellowtail. We all agreed that our meals were mediocre at best.

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5.0Dined on May 31, 2018

Really delicious and well thought out food. Great service and attention to detail. We will definitely be back.

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5.0Dined on May 29, 2018

My husband and I came here to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The restaurant decor is beautiful, and the service was spectacular. The food manages to be both artful and delicious. We were wowed and look forward to returning soon.

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5.0Dined on May 28, 2018

Our waiter, Bobby, was fun and helpful. The cocktails rival most any bar you’ll visit. Loved the specialty vodka cocktail. The shared dish approach is very fun and a great way to enjoy many taste. The Salmon entree is to die for! We will definitely be back.

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5.0Dined on May 27, 2018

Fabulous meal. Start to finish. The chef's experience in some of the best restaurants in the US is clear from the menu to the food delivery. So happy to have a restaurant of this caliber in SB. I will be back!!!!

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5.0Dined on May 26, 2018

Our service, especially Tim, was amazing and the food even better! We will definitely be back again very soon!

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4.0Dined on May 26, 2018

Server, and service, were great; food too.
My one criticism is that it gets too loud after 7pm to hear each other, which, for us, intruded on the overall dining experience.

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1.0Dined on May 20, 2018

Restaurant try to be very upscale, food and service is very nice, unfortunately the rest is so bad. If you enjoy screaming people, extremely loud ambiance, what in my opinion does not belong in very upscale establishment, maybe you will enjoy, unfortunately I left very disappointed

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5.0Dined on May 15, 2018

Absolutely one of the best meals we had while visiting Santa Barbara. Our server, Bobby, was great giving us a tour of the menu, pointing out outstanding dishes. Upon discovering our love of the local wines, Drew Schaffer, Blackbird's Manager, paired incredible wines with each dish. Drew and Bobby made us feel like long time friends. What a wonderful night...thank you both! We are looking forward to our return to SB and another fantastic meal at Blackbird!
James L

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3.0Dined on May 13, 2018

An addition to creative but delicious dining options in SB is always welcome, and Blackbird has potential to fit the bill. It is this diner's view that a bit more creativity might be employed in unlocking dynamic flavors, whereas today the focus seems more on textures and ingredients thought of more in the barn or paddock than at the table. The appetizers, including the green salad (which was most interesting and full of taste and texture), were satisfying save the soup, which was bland in addition to being difficult to negotiate, and the lobster (actually langoustine) plus pork belly (1) had bland and dry chunks of the crustacean and almost no pork belly so is not to be recommended. The branzino was truly marvelous, even with its curious nduja accompaniment, and the squid ink pasta lively and rich.

Blackbird is handsomely accoutered and affords a fine atmosphere and good vibe.

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5.0Dined on May 13, 2018

Extraordinary service on every level from the engaging bus boy all the way to the manager! Great food, though a few items were a bit on the subtle side, keep in mind (green salad needed lemon or something for some much-needed acidity. Seemed like no dressing was on it at all). We were too full to try a main entree, so we’ll have to come back for that next time. However, one of our all-time favorite desserts is here—called English Pea. This has everything from pea-cucumber sorbet to candies peas and a side car juice that you sip! Words can’t do it justice, but I would make a special trip to Santa Barbara just for this—and believe me, that’s saying a lot! Kudos to the chef!

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2.0Dined on May 10, 2018

We met friends here for dinner. We are local and wanted to try this new place. The restaurant has a nice modern feeling and a beautiful bar. We ordered drinks and asked for some bread to munch on before we ordered. They do not serve bread! You have to order the flatbread, which we did. It was okay. I ordered the spring salad - where was the goat cheese? Not there. And I'm not sure there was dressing on it either. Two of us ordered duck. It is served two ways. The pasta stuffed with duck was dry and uninteresting. The sliced duck breast was okay - nothing special. The halibut was okay. The spaghetti with squid ink was dry and uninteresting. And $29 for a pasta dish with nothing really in it is high! All entrees came at room temperature. Nothing was hot. We did not have dessert. The place is attractive, the service was good, and the servers were knowledgeable, friendly and attentive but ... the menu is strange. Check it out on line. Seems like they are trying too hard to be unusual - putting together strange ingredients just to make things different and chic. And the prices are pretty high. It didn't work for us. None of the four of us really thought our meals were that good. Three of us thought they weren't bad but they weren't outstanding. One of us didn't like his meal and left half of it. The server noticed and asked if it was okay. No, it wasn't but it was nice of her to ask. We would come back if the menu changes so we will keep checking. Until then, there are plenty of other places in town to eat.

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2.0Dined on May 6, 2018

The menu needs editing.The Branzino was supposed to have been accompanied by fava beans of which there were very few. Instead there were kidney beans which were not very distinguished. The “ rhubarb” dessert left much to be desired with a too complicated assortment of tastes and only a thin thread of rhubarb connecting them all.
The noise level was appalling inside but our server moved us outside where we could hear each other.
Needs improvement before I go back.
Mary Dorra, formerly a freelance writer for Gourmet mag.

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5.0Dined on April 28, 2018

The food was excellent and the service great. They have a full bar plus an excellent wine list. It did get noisy by about 7 pm, so it’s not the place to have an intimate dinner.

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4.0Dined on April 25, 2018

Love the food - nice and seasonal. Ordered non meat items and it’s great there are a few options.. Only feedback is the service is very slow. Server pleasant and knowledgeable but painfully slow. Room temperature was very cold so that was also unpleasant.

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5.0Dined on April 23, 2018

We went with friends and had a delightful meal. Very creative cuisine . Some unusual combinations of taste, but all outstanding. We each ordered something different so we could try all the different items. I recommend trying something from each category, and save room for dessert. You will not be disappointed. The service was terrific, Our server was very knowledgeable about the foods and the wines. They have a wonderful selection, featuring many local wines. All excellent.
My only suggestion is that they get a SIGN with the restaurants name so you can find it!!! We definitely will return.

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3.0Dined on April 22, 2018

While Blackbird is new to the Santa Barbara scene, it's like so many other SB "new" restaurants that wants to prove to you that individual ingredients in a dish equals a delicious meal. The total doesn't equal the parts. Sure, they can point to the locally grown, blah, blah, blah - but in the end don't you want it to taste good? I think so. On our visit the plates were Instagram ready. But, not I'm sorry to say - delicious. Just, mmmeh. (Our plates both appetizers and entrees were COLD. Not good.) The bar scene is lively. I'd go again for that. Also, don't look to close at the upholstery, stains everywhere. (Didn't this place just open??) What's wrong with well prepared locally grown food? Nothing. Can't these new chef's deliver that? I'm just asking.
BTW. What's with menus that just list ingredients, like it's the text of ancient hieroglyphics? I'm not the contestant on Chopped' given 5 ingredients and I have to prepare a meal...

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