Oswald

Oswald

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://oswaldrestaurant.com/
  • Phone: (831) 423-7427
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Tuesday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:00pm; Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday: 5:30pm - close
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Contemporary American
  • Executive Chef: Damani Thomas
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Wine

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Front
  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: Oswald is located on the street level of a four story public parking garage with very reasonable rates.
A word from Oswald
Oswald is a contemporary American restaurant and bar that focuses on the abundance of delicious ingredients found on the central coast of California. Oswald features an eclectic, international wine list and an exciting, seasonal bar program. While the decor is spare and modern, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
See all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Service
Oswald reviews from OpenTable diners
125 reviews since July 28, 2014
Overall Rating4.2
  • Food4.3
    Service4.4
  • Ambiance3.8
    Noise LevelEnergetic
81% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (88)special occasion (60)neighborhood gem (39)vibrant bar scene (35)romantic (31)hot spot (26)notable wine list (23)good for groups (12)late-night find (3)great for lunch (2)great for brunch (1)scenic view (1)Show More
  • One of our favorites in Santa Cruz
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 11/22/2014
    Excellent food, awesome service, easy parking. We love going to this place to celebrate special events as well as on a Friday night when you just want to get out and have a really good meal and hang with friends. The staff is warm and welcoming and always greets with a smile. You can sit at the bar or tables at the bar which has a wonderful collection of Scotch. Dress is casual (you know Santa Cruz) but the feeling is upscale. Try it, you will love this place.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food but too bad about the noise
    Diasappointed
    Dined on 11/21/2014
    Having walked past Oswalds and salivated over the menu, my friend and I were looking forward to a great experience. We got early reservations thinking it would be less hectic when we arrived. We were sadly mistaken. The food was excellent, every dish was full of flavor. Not a single dish disappointed either of us. The portion size was also generous. The service matched the great food! The venue was beautifully decorated. That's where the good feelings ended. The noise level was extremely loud. You could not have a conversation lower than yelling with the person across your table. Frankly it ruined our experience. We hoped we had just come at the wrong time/day and maybe it was better at some other time. When we discussed ths with the staff, they assured us that the noise was actually better when we were there. We wont be back, sadly.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Disappointing
    Travelerscz
    Dined on 11/13/2014
    Oh so disappointed by my last dinner at Oswald. I ordered the signature mussels in sherry sauce and was served what seemed to be a half portion with too little sauce to enjoy. The special of the night was a braised lamb shank that was served relatively dry and with no "jus" at all. My dinner companion was not impressed with the pork tenderloin either. What was going on in the kitchen. It was a Thursday night. Was the junior varsity squad preparing the food tonight?
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Food Excellent, table horrible
    gigi1701
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    We went for a birthday dinner, we were put at a tiny table in the corner, the tables along that edge of the restaurant are really close together. The table next to us was loud and boisterous, a couple times I feared getting smacked in the face with waving of arms. They talked non-stop, and included stories of public urination, while we were trying to eat our meal. That was awful, especially since the food was very good, it was hard to enjoy it, so I took most of my meal to go. Next time we will try to go there on a quieter night than a Saturday. The food and service was outstanding and I want to try it again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Oswald disappoints
    snewwithyouVIP
    Dined on 11/8/2014
    We hadn't been to Oswald for some months and were happy to get reservations for three an hour and three-quarters before the Santa Cruz Symphony concert at the Civic Auditorium. My happiness, sustained through the as-always pleasing squash and persimmon soup with toasted walnuts, turned to disappointment with my entrée. The roasted chicken was cold, while the rest of the dish--potatoes and greens--were hot. I had to send it back to be heated. Also, I wouldn't recommend the anchovy butter of this dish to any but the most ardent fans of the fish. Potently fishy doesn't even begin to describe how powerful it was, and it seemed out of place on the chicken. The waiter was kind enough to deduct the cost of my soup because of the cold chicken.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Good as always
    PaulVIP
    Dined on 11/7/2014
    Met our normal high expectations. Service, ambiance and food quality all great.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Consistently outstanding
    FoodisgoodVIP
    Dined on 11/7/2014
    First-rate operation. Great food, incredible service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 11/7/2014
    Too noisy. Wait persons too busy to do usual good service
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Oswald Review
    Tinman
    Dined on 11/5/2014
    Lovely restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz. Friendly staff, good service. Food was very good with just the right portions and seasoned wonderfully. The noise level is somewhat loud.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • As Good as Santa Cruz Gets
    KenTheHungry
    Dined on 11/4/2014
    Unfortunately Santa Cruz has very low standards... Greeting at entrance slow and confrontational. Service at bar, because space not available for reservation, slow, however, bartender mixed drinks expertly. Waiter, and wait staff, almost made up for disastrous start. Boston butte appetizer excellent. Main course boring and uninspared. Dessert good. Noise level too high for meaningful conversation. Place as the ambiance of an upscale train station. Sadly, this is almost as good as it gets in Santa Cruz.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great seasonal dishes
    JefmelVIP
    Dined on 11/2/2014
    Service is always great at Oswalds. Unique mixed drinks & great dishes are what keeps us coming back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • ImaGrande
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    Santa Cruz doesn't have a plethora of "fine dining" restaurants, so we like to patronize those we do have. The food was pretty good, the drink disappointingly tasteless (their "special" of the night with pear and gin; couldn't taste the pear), service very slow and unapologetic. If the food was so complicated that it required extra time this would have been fine, but it wasn't. I am sorry to say I think Oswald reputation exceeds their actual quality. Also, they knew this was a birthday dinner and there was no mention or candle in the desserts we ordered and paid for. Wow.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Never again!
    olive2eat
    Dined on 11/1/2014
    Went here with friends, hoping for a great meal and pleasant conversation. Food was good, but definitely not extraordinary -- what WAS extraordinary was the noise level: ear-shattering! We couldn't hear ourselves think, and couldn't wait to get out of there so that we could decompress. There are a lot of better restaurants in town, for both food quality and ambiance. (La Posta, for example.) p.s. The "Energetic" noise level that I was forced to assign does not come close to describing the horrible racket in this place!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Not worth the money
    Pilikia
    Dined on 10/29/2014
    First time trying this restaurant during restaurant week. We thought that restaurant week is for showcasing your restaurant but the food was mediocre for the price. One time is enough. Will not be back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Just right!
    Disappointed
    Dined on 10/29/2014
    We hadn't been in a long time. Loved the pre-earthquake location. Had a very nice meal during restaurant week. Everything was good-persimmon and squash soup, salad, chicken and steak. The real treat was dessert-a deeply rich chocolate soufflé and a lovely creme brûlée.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Date Night at Oswald
    mojito8828
    Dined on 10/28/2014
    Went to 4 restaurants for Restaurant Week in Santa Cruz, and this by far was the best. Was a little upset they upped theirs to $35 for 3 course prefixed where other are still $25, but from the moment they laid the food down I realized why. Food was outstanding from the mussels (even though we got less then the tables around us) and venison tartare for appetizers to the Roasted chicken (moistest I have ever tried) with sweet potatoes and the Skirt steak (didn't ask how I wanted it because it is cooked a perfect medium rare) with garlic mash potatoes. BUT THE ONE REASON TO GO BACK the chocolate souffle........ capped a perfect evening off with an amazing dessert
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Average to good
    Mountainbiker
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    Our server was very nice, put up with my goofiness, and even told me to try the venison tartare and she would substitute it if i didn't like it. Turned out to be the best course of the meal. Mussel app was decent. Char main was boring with very sparse root veg. Needed something more. Skirt steak main with mashers was good but quite small. Chocolate soufflé and creme brûlée were good enough. Inside tables, chairs and decor look like was a diner years ago. Overall, if you are in area and hungry, it's not bad, but I will try one of the so many other places in SC. Just can't get excited about it. Sorry.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Delicious!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    It was a fixed menu for Restaurant Week. I started with the mussels. They were very good. The broth was a little off for me but I still really enjoyed them. For the entree I had the chicken. It was delicious. The sweet potatoes were divine. Chicken was cooked perfectly. Lastly, I had the chocolate souffle. It came served with cream which I had never done before. Very enjoyable. Wish I could eat there every night!
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Santa Cruz Restaurant Week
    Katherine
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    What can I say?! What a lovely restaurant! I have lived in Santa Cruz my whole life and this was the first time eating at Oswalds. The fix prix menu for restaurant week had a nice variety of safe and more adventurous dishes and everything tasted so good. The service was wonderful as well. My only complaint about the restaurant is the location. It seems like such an unlikely place for a fine dining experience. But once you enter the restaurant, you completely forget where you are. I will definitely return for a special occasion soon!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    Great food and service. Only thing upsetting was having to wait 20 minutes even with a reservation.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Rushed but decent
    Spooky
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    My first impression of Oswald's was excellent as the hostess had our table waiting and sat us immediately. She was professional and courteous. However, I did feel the meal was rushed. Our server seemed anxious to move on with other tasks whenever we tried to engage her in opinions on food and wine. The meal was solid. No complaints. A bit loud. Perhaps with a different server I would have enjoyed it more. The hostess again stole the show by phoning us the next day to tell us we had left our umbrellas. They should promote her!!!
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great service!
    tupelohoney
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    We go to Oswalds for special occasions like our wedding anniversary. We have had the same waitress each time which has been exceptional as she and her companeros are friendly and personal. it's gr to have a fine dining rapport with the staff. And the food? Excellent! We have been consistently pleased with the various mix of flavors--which includes the cocktails as well. We are certain to go again and again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Oswalds
    40somethin
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    I've been to Oswalds about five times. I don't feel the flavors pop, though, they don't feature much in the way of fresh herbs (unless you, ahem, count parsley as making it gourmet LOL) and the portions are somewhat small, so I'm always hungry afterwards. For example, the other day I got muscles in garlic sauce appetizer and a skirt steak dinner, the shellfish was great but a little skimpy on the portion, the skirt steak was fatty with a fatty butter sauce and parsley, ala maitre d' butter, unimpressive though the potatoes and carrots had a good demi-glaze. So, it is good enough that we go back, but part of that is because we live close, it's usually about $50 per person, I guess I expect to leave impressed after paying that much.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    Great view . We went for Santa Cruz restaurant week, food too fancy .
    Special Features:
    scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • planetearthtrael
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    Excellent The chocolate soufflé is so good Always a delight to know dinner will be great Service was top notch and the wine selections are well selected. You can have a taste if you are not not sure which one to pick.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • As always
    PaulVIP
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Once again one of the top in our area. Met our expectations.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    The meal was excellent and the service was even better. My concerns in the past were about the limited menus, but if they continue to make changes and have specials, there will be no reason for concern. The abalone salad was brilliantly conceived and the presentation and quality of the other entrees remind me of the old Oswald's which was more adventurous.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Poor service/noisy!
    Dinersdisappointed
    Dined on 10/15/2014
    Very noisy ... we had no chance to carry on a proper conversation across the table (4 seats); my guests were very disappointed and commented such!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great find in Santa Cruz
    peachyplum
    Dined on 10/8/2014
    We went for the prix fixe dinner (Wed.) and it was delicious and very reasonably priced. They had an eclectic selection for that meal and everything we had was delicious and well-prepared. The chocolate lava cake was divine. They also offered us tastes of wines to assist in our choosing one for dinner, which impressed us. The best restaurant we visited in four days in Santa Cruz.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Love it!
    foodiegirl
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    Over the years, it gets better and better! Crispy duck is to die for! Could use a few more innovative salad choices. And the eggplant tomato tartin was skimpy but great. I had a similar dish in Oakland and they gave us 3 x this size fire same price and quality. But generally, portions are good and quality excellent. Service always wonderful!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, hot spot, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Foodie
    Dined on 10/2/2014
    Food was very good, especially the avocado/crab appetizer. Service was excellent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Awesome Oswald
    Debariffic
    Dined on 9/30/2014
    Outstanding food and service. We had noted on our OpenTable reservation that it was our first anniversary and we were greeted with "Happy Anniversary" and a private table. We started out having the special cocktail that was a fresh strawberry and cucumber vodka martini-esque drink. It was smooth and delicious, not at all sweet. We then split the vegetable salad and, while it was very beet intensive, I LOVED it, as a beet lover. For entree course I had the halibut and it melted in my mouth. My girlfriend had the pork loin and there was not a single hint of it on the plate at the end of our meal. This is a GREAT restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz that is definitely fit for foodies and special occasions.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A reliable experience
    FoodisgoodVIP
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    Can always count on Oswald- consistently delicious food and inventive drinks. Fantastic service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Loved Oswald!
    enewell2013
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    My husband and I had our first anniversary dinner here and were well attended to! Our server welcomed us and said, happy anniversary right away as I had noted that in my reservation. My husband's halibut was very slightly overcooked but everything else we tried was quite impressive. I had the special which was a Lingcod dish - delicious!! The endive salad was beautifully crafted and the flavors were perfectly paired.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • foodiegirl
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Consistently excellent! I wish they served breakfast or a Sunday Brunch. The staff is all fabulous--knowledgeable, attentive, smart, friendly but never over-bearing. Oswald was always a fave but, over time, it has become my very favorite in Santa Cruz. The chef has always been excellent and has begun putting new things on the menu--creative yet distinctively Oswald.The duck, lamb, and salmon--some of the best I've ever eaten.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yum!
    Victoria
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    A wonderful meal! So glad we made the reservation. Great cocktails as well! Definitely recommend when in Santa Cruz!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Santa Cruz Gem
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    We ordered the halibut and skirt steak entrees and both were very good. We sat at a cute little two top next to the bar which was fun. They had good specials on the drink menu and service was very attentive and fast. We really enjoyed our night and would recommend this restaurant for those looking for a sophisticated neighborhood stop in downtown Santa Cruz.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Amazing as always
    RachVIP
    Dined on 9/13/2014
    Love it. Love it. Love it. This time was for a birthday, so the 2 of us ordered 4 of the appetizers besides our entrees. Tomato tartine was particularly good, but everything was delicious. This is one of my favorite restaurants.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Santa Cruz Gem
    lifeisgood
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    I am mixed in giving a fabulous review because we might not be able to get back in when we are in town, but fair is fair...Oswald's makes exquisite food. The service is charming and immediate...each person is ready to serve whatever you ask. Oswald is a restaurant you wish was in your own town so that you could eat there regularly. We will be back and I hope we can still get in.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    the menue is small but creative. we enjoyed both the appetizer and entre.service was superb very attentive but not intrusive. this was not our first and certainly won't be our last.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic