About Us

John Downey knew that he wanted to become a chef at the age of 12 in his native England. At 19 he was cooking for Britain's Queen Elizabeth aboard her namesake ocean liner QE2 while seeing the world.

In 1972 John settled down in New York and learned the finer points of classic French cuisine while working at one of that city's best restaurants; Lafayette. An invitation to join the "New American" food movement put him working under the advisory of James Beard at the World Trade Center's "Market Dining Rooms". Freshness was key. It was very good food. A passion was ignited in New York and Chef Downey was compelled to travel to California where so much of that good food was produced. Arriving in Santa Barbara in 1978, John brought his years of experience; English, French Nouvelle, New American and commenced a seachange of fine dining in this town. About the same time, Alice Waters in San Francisco and Wolfgang Puck in L.A. were also changing the way Californians would dine out. It would be termed "California Cuisine" by the food press. In 1982 we opened Downey's in the very heart of the  best farming region in the country.



The majority of the produce we use in our kitchen is grown organically by local farmers; our seafood is chosen using the sustainable guidelines of "Seafood Watch" and local when available; meats and poultry  sources are classified "Naturally-raised" wherever possible.


The wine list is in the care of Liz Downey, who will be happy to guide you through some of the California- produced selections (with a proud bias towards the locally made wines!) We invite you to see a recent edition of our constantly-evolving wine list as well as Liz Downey's philosophy on buiding her wine list. You can find our wine drop-down menu at the top of this page.


Our restaurant is small, comfortable and personal. Adorning the soft green walls of Downey's dining room you will find beautiful plein-aire paintings of local scenes by Liz Downey. If you would like to enjoy a true Santa Barbara Dining Experience where you will not be rushed, but cared-for, we invite you to visit Downey's for dinner. To paraphrase more than one satisfied guest, you just may have "the very best meal of your life."


Downey's is located at 1305 State Street (at Victoria) in downtown Santa Barbara.

For Dinner Reservations please call Liz Downey at (805)-966-5006

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Diner’s Choice 2015

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014 Winner

Santa Barbara Independent Foodie Awards 2011

Taste of Santa Barbara Menu

Liz and John Downey invite you to join them at Downey’s for the Seasonal Tasting Menu here.


Downey's Restaurant

1305 State Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101