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“Memorable dining”
Review of Downey's

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Ranked #20 of 529 Restaurants in Santa Barbara
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $30 - $60
Cuisines: Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Dinner, Accepts American Express, Accepts Discover, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Wine and Beer
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Victoria
Description: Downey's restaurant is the cornerstone of fine casual dining on State Street in the heart of the downtown Santa Barbara theater district. Chef John Downey has been serving "Farm-to-Table" cuisine since 1982. The dining room is comfortably furnished with well-spaced tables allowing for pleasant dinner conversation. Original plein-aire landscapes of local scenes painted by co-owner Liz Downey adorn the walls. Liz also is most often overseeing the smooth running of her dining room where you may expect professional yet friendly service.
Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
471 reviews
286 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 180 helpful votes
“Memorable dining”
Reviewed June 16, 2013

We loved our dinner! Had appetizers of smoked salmon and avocado, prosciutto with cantaloupe and arugula- yummy. The corn soup was thin-the way I like soups-with a subtle flavor. The pork tenderloin and black cod with chard were delicious. The chocolate mousse with espresso was an intense chocolate delight. The fresh peach ice cream with meringue crust was light, sweet, and extraordinary in textures and favors. Our dining experience was leisurely - had time to savor each dish-Downey's has been around for 30 years-this was our first visit but not our last!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank DeborahandAndy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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347 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Oxnard, California
Level Contributor
18 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Food doesn't match the hype”
Reviewed June 12, 2013

After years of reading glowing reviews and seeing their Zagat score of perfection, my wife and I ate at Downey's for our 36th wedding anniversary. The setting was very nice, the service nearly impeccable, but the food was not exceptional. The prosciutto and cantaloup appetizer was good, but not the best I've tasted. We had two different salads for a second course, and again they were both good, but nothing exceptional. Both of us had the duck, which was clearly overcooked. The breast meat had just the barest hint of pink in the middle. When I spend $250 for dinner for two, I am looking for a meal that makes me put down my fork and ask, "how did they make that taste like this?". The duck I ate at Artisan in Paso Robles earlier this year was such a meal. That did not happen at Downey's last evening. Frankly, I would prefer to eat the duck at Opal, and spend a lot less money.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank Jerry R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
117 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“Zagat rating is over rated...”
Reviewed May 31, 2013

Zagat gives this restaurant a 28 in food which pretty much says it is as good as it can be on that rating scale, but on the night we were there (4 of us), we were all disappointed in our meal, for various reasons. Two of us ordered the filet mignon, but at $40 there was nothing to warrant it out of the ordinary. The other two guests ordered the ahi tuna, which came cold and tasteless. The cauliflower soup was watery, not creamy as it should be and served barely luke warm. For a Thursday night, the place was near empty with only 3 tables full out of 15. With the newly re-opened Encanto just up the road, Downey's might be losing more of its cliental in the future.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Carolynn S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
santa barbara, california usa
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Quiet, intimate dining”
Reviewed May 30, 2013

A charming environment made more so by the owners, John & Liz Downey (Liz, most likely, will welcome you or Dan, their long-time maitre de) and their efficient staff. The food is always exceptional and everything created in house. It's pricey but worth it -- a special occasion destination. I suggestsigning up to receive John's personal e-mails that let you know "what's cooking" and the dates for his special seasonal dinners.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank jljsb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
32 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Excellent service, loved the veal!”
Reviewed May 29, 2013

We went there on a Tuesday evening, having made our reservation on OpenTable. It was not necessary, as it was not crowded. Ms Downey actually helped serve our table, so that was an added treat! She is an elegant woman, and very friendly. The veal was great, the filet mignon fantastic, the lobster and angel hair salad was a great appetizer, and the squab (game bird) cooked to perfection. There were 4 of us, and no one had a bad meal. Would definitely recommend it to others.

Visited May 2013
Thank rumproof
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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