Blackbird

4.3
100 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Contemporary American
Top Tags:
  • Fit for Foodies
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasion
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 100 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
4.4
food
4.5
service
4.3
ambience
3.6
value
Noise · Moderate
77% of people would recommend it to a friend
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2.0Dined 2 days ago

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

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5.0Dined 6 days ago

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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5.0Dined on April 16, 2018

Excellent, innovative food and wonderful service in a beautiful space!!

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5.0Dined on April 9, 2018

Our compliments to the chef and his lovely staff! We had a wonderful meal here last night and thought the menu was to be commended for it's eclectic selection and local sourcing. The "mixed greens" was anything but basic, beautifully presented with some ash-rolled creamy goats cheese. My salmon with peas was delicious, while my husband enjoyed his steak with the interesting sauce that we can't remember the name of. Would definitely recommend this restaurant, it's contemporary fine dining without any stuffy pretentiousness. Cool decor inside, a large bar and some outside patio seating as well.

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4.0Dined on April 8, 2018

The space was well suited for a special meal. Sat outdoors on the patio which had great patio heaters and plenty of them. The service was very nice and knowledgeable however... once the order was taken we didn’t see the waiter. After an hour wait we were advised that our order had not been given to the kitchen. They made it up with an appetizer and a drink on the house. The main courses were amazing! Hoping this is a one off because we would like to go back. The table next to us experienced a slow down in the service after their meals were delivered. Different waitor.

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3.0Dined on April 8, 2018

We have dined here several time and for the most part it has been excellent except for desserts which are always weird and don’t taste good. However this time the food was not good. They changed the menu and my favorites were gone , replaced with bland and lukewarm soup, tasteless skate fish and even worse desserts. The service was excellent and the bartender makes the best Manhattans in town. We may go back when they change the menu again or get rid of the Michelin starred pastry chef.

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4.0Dined on April 4, 2018

As a first time visitor I was pleased overall with the food which was delicious. Service was good if a bit slow at the start. The only thing that spoils the restaurant is the noise level. The acoustics are dreadful and it is very noisy and therefore rather exhausting as you have to lean forward all the time in order to hear what your guests are saying. I hope the owners can address the situation as this comment has been made by several friends who have dined there. Would I go back - yes but not as often as I would, if I could hear!!

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5.0Dined on March 19, 2018

This was our second visit following our first one a week after they opened last fall. We should have come back sooner! We have lived in SB for more than 10 years and have been waiting for a restaurant we could really call 5 star for its food preparation and Blackbird is it! Our dinner was exceptional from all points of view. Taste, selections and presentations beyond compare to any of the other more established hi-end restaurants in SB. Everything was delicious and Tim, our waiter provided very attentive service. We started with the Rabbit and Octopus dishes which compared to the best we have ever had on numerous European trips to Italy and Spain. They were followed by sharing an equally good swordfish with wonderful accompaniments . The desert was surprisingly very 'light" as it is called Bread Baking, but nothing like it sounds. We loved it. All in a beautifully decorated and stylish new dining/ bar environment with comfortable chairs.

We went on a Sunday evening as we expect the Friday/Saturday nights would have too much background "buzz' for our age and taste. It was fine. This is not an inexpensive restaurant, but actually on par with several of the older more established restaurants in SB that are still serving their same old (albeit good) menu selections. Look out Biltmore and The Ranch (when they reopen) as this restaurant has 'raised the bar' significantly. We are looking forward to our return visit sooner than later.

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3.0Dined on March 18, 2018

The service was amazing

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4.0Dined on March 18, 2018

Fun restaurant with very creative food options. Service, once it kicks in, is impeccable, though it did take a while to get seated despite having a reservation. The noise level is very high so you have to sit close to the people at your table to carry on a conversation.

Wine list is excellent. Wines by the glass give you a decent choice. Plate portions are indicative of the modern creative side of food: delicious but very small for the tapas; only a few bites. Consequently, sharing may be unrealistic unless a number of plates are ordered. Also, the food value is poor to fair at this restaurant, including the drinks, so don't be surprised when the bill comes.

Blackbird is worth a try, at least once, to check out the setting, the bar, and the menu.

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5.0Dined on March 16, 2018

I do not write many reviews and therefore am pretty tough critic. Ate there on March 15, 2018. The place is about as good as it gets. The food was excellent and food presentation was to perfection.

The service was over the top. I drink a lot of ice tea, no matter how fast I drank it, the glass was never ever empty. At one point my napkin slipped off my lap and onto the floor. I had not realized yet. They had a new one on the table and picked up mine before I even knew I had an issue.

You need good food at any restaurant, this they nailed, but it is the overall experience that will last for months and years in the mind. You will get that dining at Blackbird. I was 25 years in San Francisco with the best the world has to offer. Blackbird was as good or exceed anything in the bay area. They actually cared about providing a good experience.

It is now on our list to go to as a local of Santa Barbara. And, there location is basically ground zero too.

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5.0Dined on March 9, 2018

Everything fabulous with food and service ! The only negative is that is is very noisy. Needs rugs or drapes for sound absorption.

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5.0Dined on March 8, 2018

First time. Had the charcuterie plate, which was filled with local seafood and pate. Unusually good, with distinctive flavors. Moved to ribeye and duck. Both superb. Again, creative flavor blending. Hidden gem, but not for long.

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4.0Dined on March 3, 2018

Service was fabulous! So many food choices, with extensive cocktail and wine options.
Noise level was quite high; younger crowd, yet still a fun experience!

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4.0Dined on March 2, 2018

This chef is really inventive. Each dish we had was thoughtful, interesting and delicious without the diner saying....."What is that"? We would definitely go again. The host was wonderful and so welcoming and the wait staff was extremely accommodating. Definitely would go back and recommend.

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3.0Dined on March 2, 2018

I really struggled with how to or if I should write a review as this is a new restaurant. I heard the rumblings that it wasn't great but needed to try for myself. I picked SBRestaurant Week to have dinner. Service seemed great, we enjoyed a delicious pre-dinner drink waiting for our friends. I don't want to think service tanked when we decided to eat off the SBRW menu @$45 per person, but our waitstaff became almost invisible. The meals were also not great. The appetizer Roots Salad was delicious!! but the salmon was really undercooked and didn't have much flavor and the chicken didn't really impress either. We just received our credit card bill and I have to say my immediate thought was I really should have enjoyed that $200 dinner ( our share for 2 people) I may consider a another try but it will take me a while...

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