Oswald

Oswald

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://oswaldrestaurant.com/
  • Phone: 8314237427
  • 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.
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Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Service
Oswald reviews from OpenTable diners
92 reviews since April 29, 2014
Overall Rating4.3
  • Food4.5
    Service4.5
  • Ambiance4
    Noise LevelModerate
89% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (55)special occasion (43)neighborhood gem (31)vibrant bar scene (31)notable wine list (23)hot spot (20)romantic (19)good for groups (11)late-night find (6)great for lunch (3)kid-friendly (2)great for brunch (1)Show More
  • Best of Santa Cruz
    FashionMom
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Great food-fresh and ever changing menu. Food is always well seasoned and tasty. The chocolate soufflé is always must. The waiters are very attentive but not over baring. A Santa Cruz gem.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Love Oswalds
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    Oswald' s always pleases. Try a Negroni cocktail or any one of their specialtie drinks. Great friendly bartenders. Usually have the duck - it's outstanding. Lovely downtown gem. Big city foodie feel in a small town.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Birthday Dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    I was looking for good seafood in the Santa Curz/Capitola Area to take my wife for her birthday. I didn't want to go to the 'regular' places or anything on the Wharf. I came across Oswald and thought it would be good go give it a try. We had Halibut and Salmon, and although not local, it was seasoned and cooked to perfection. The garnish for both dishes, corn-potato blend was a little different than one would expect with Seafood, but it worked quite well and the cous cous served with the salmon was excellent. The servers were nice and kept our water glasses full. The tables were a little too cramped w/ shared benches, giving it an unnecessary big city/small rest feel. Overall a very good experience. Looking forward to a 2nd visit.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Oswald is always spot on!!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    I live in santa cruz- and Oswald is definitely my go to destination for an upscale meal, and excellent cocktails. I'm not a big fish person when I go out- but at Oswald, I almost always have fish as my main course... they cook it to perfection everytime, and the quality of the fillet can't be beat. I can't wait to treat another friend to a birthday dinner at Oswald Resturant!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Oswald's Dinner 8/21
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    We had been to the restaurant previously. The food was both interesting and excellent. The service was excellent and the waitperson was familiar with the dishes and had valuable comments. The noise level was fine for conversation. Wine list was reasonably priced and the wine we selected was very good. We would definitely go to Oswalds again in the near future.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • SF in SC
    judyVIP
    Dined on 8/20/2014
    Excellent food! Oswald could compete with any restaurant in San Francisco in ambience, food and service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Our Annual Indulgence
    saarakataja
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    We eat at Oswald once or twice a year to celebrate special occasions; any more would be beyond our means. This time, the tab for one cocktail, one appetizer, two entrees, one dessert and one coffee ran to almost $100 before the tip. What makes it worthwhile is the food. This kitchen knows and loves great food--flavor, texture, presentation, how to bring out the best in fine ingredients. We shared the Dungeness crab and avocado appetizer and the almond custard tart for dessert. My husband opted for the crispy duck entree; I had one of the specials, a piece of lightly seared albacore atop sweet corn, potatoes, and charred padrone peppers. Everything was exquisitely prepared and richly flavorful. We'll be back next year.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Oswald is outstanding!
    SCFoodieVIP
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    I don't know what took us so long to try Oswald but we are certainly happy we finally did. Food was delectable, service was outstanding and great wine selection. We had a special appetizer of pork belly that was expertly prepared and Dungeness crab with avocado. Both were superb. For entrees we had the duck and lamb and again, each bite was a better than the last. We had the fig & walnut tart for dessert which was a perfect end to a perfect meal. There was a great selection of affordable wines and a nice selection of after dinner spirits. We will definitely make Oswald a regular night out!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Still going strong
    FrequentDinerVIP
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    Although it has lost the charm of its previous location, the service and food continues to be excellent. But the crowds on basketball nights and the fast eating should be avoided
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Our first time
    NateVIP
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    They were extremely busy. We were lucky to get a reservation at 8:30. Our waitress, Janet, was very busy but kept up well. My wife had the duck and I had the skirt steak. We had the fig dessert. Everything was expertly prepared. We will be back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Poor Food Quality
    foodieVIP
    Dined on 8/6/2014
    After dining here several times and enjoying it, we were very disappointed in our meal. Maybe a Wednesday is not the best night since they have a limited menu, however the skirt steak had absolutely no seasoning and was incredibly bland. The fried chicken tasted like bread crumbs straight out of the can and had no salt or seasoning whatsoever. It was also extremely dry. The chocolate souffle was served with cream on the side, odd...not creme anglaise just plain half and half or cream. It was very one of the worse dinners we've had for some time.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Best of Santa Cruz
    Jon1949
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    We've been visiting Santa Cruz for thirty years, and Oswald gets our vote for the best place to have dinner. This may be due to the server we had on Saturday night. Janet may have been the most helpful server we've encountered. We weren't that hungry and wanted to share plates, so she made that very easy. She also suggested some excellent wines to go with the ahi tuna salad and the pork belly. She even gave us half-glasses of both wines. The food was also excellent. We truly enjoyed the experience and will return to Oswald next time we're in Santa Cruz.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • twice in a week
    LaurahVIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Oswald is consistently excellent. We had the pork belly and the abalone appetizers, followed by the albacore special and the duck. Everything was beautifully prepared and presented. And delicious! The special fig, walnut tart with goat cheese ice cream was sensational. Everything was so good that we brought our grown sons tonight. Again, excellent. I had the salmon, my husband the lamb with blue cheese bread pudding. It sounds odd, but tasted sensational, and went beautifully with the Ridge primitivo. The boys had albacore and ahi. We sampled more of the desserts... All great.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • skyvver
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Second try in as many weeks. The quality just isn't worth the price. This is one of the better restaurants in Santa Cruz, but are the prices justified?
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fabulous food!!
    2FoodiesForever
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    If you like excellent food prepared in an innovative manner and served beautifully, this is the restaurant for you! The inside is typical, Santa Cruz informal. No white table cloths, but food more than deserving of linens and china. We enjoyed an abalone appetizer that was so tender you could cut it with a fork. The fresh, local, seared albacore melted in your mouth. To finish we shared a goat cheese ice cream served with a small tart of walnuts and pecans. Fabulous!! The prices are reasonable for the quality of dishes created from fresh, local foods. Try it, you won't be disappointed!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Blah food for too much money
    Pickyifspendingmuchobucks
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    I don't mind spending over 100 for a nice meal with my husband but this food was ordinary. Nothing special. No amazing flavors. My favorite was the calamari appetizer. The tuna and steak entres were fine. Edible. But last week we ate at two other downtown restaurants, not as fancy, but so much more tasty! So, I'm learning about what makes for a fun night out. For us, anyway, Oswald doesn't work.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • so noisy even server can't hear you
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    good food but noisy. very bad interior, acoustically.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great food and wine!!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    Kind of a weird location - corner under the parking garage and next to public toilets but once inside you would think San Francisco! The food was wonderful, wine list very good and the service was also very good. Great treasure for Santa Cruz foodies!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best restaurant in Santa Cruz
    saguarobear
    Dined on 7/22/2014
    excellent from start to finish. scrumptuous appetizers, juicy flavorful rack of lamb, outstanding local wines, and every dessert a great finish to a wonderful meal. also have to mention Adrianne, our server. She is truly a delightful young lady who has been terrific every time we've been there.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Good -- but not for vegetarians!
    easydiner
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    Oswald's has great ambiance, friendly and helpful staff. The lamb and duck dishes are amazing! Unfortunately, we chose this restaurant for a birthday dinner for a vegetarian friend. Oops. Should have checked ahead. There was only one main course for him, and it was pretty pedestrian and clearly an afterthought.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Terrific, as always
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 7/10/2014
    We've been dining here for more than a decade and it always delivers.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, late-night find, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Love it
    KyleL
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    We love going to Iswalds when we are in Santa Cruz. So delicious and fresh.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food. Noisy
    Yummy
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    We all thought the food was very good at Oswalt. The service was good. They did not rush a smart table at all. It was very difficult hearing each other either because the restaurant was noisy and acoustically it was challenging to hear each other. It is one of the better restaurants in Santa Cruz. It was was it Nice.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Innovative CA fusion
    CalTex
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    Very creative and successful cooking. Professional and convivial staff.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Refined cooking
    farpointdiveVIP
    Dined on 7/1/2014
    Oswald's holds the refined cooking title in Santa Cruz. The wine list is overpriced for all except Santa Cruz wines. The cooking ventures into interesting venues with mixed success. Service, as always, is lovely and attentive.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Santa Cruz good
    Ceejay85
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    This place has potential, looks great, good bar, open kitchen, and was great service. The food wasn't very exciting although good it wasn't special and we couldn't hear, it gets very loud they need to do something about the acoustics.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Out for a special occasion
    SCyum
    Dined on 6/24/2014
    I've dined at Oswald many times over the years. It's consistent in the the quality of the food, service, ambience. It was my birthday and I wanted to go somewhere special. It was just perfect for that. I was glad it was a Tuesday night, as it wasn't crowded and the noise level was down. . . not my prior experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Perfect
    PicadillySquare
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    The food was fantastic and the server was personable, helpful, and rather wonderful in general. Great drink list to go along with an amazing meal.
    Special Features:
    late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Always Excellent!
    Daisy
    Dined on 6/18/2014
    Wow, Arctic Char cooked to perfection, amazing salads and vegetable sides never disappoint here, and desserts (creme brûlée and chocolate soufflé) that are unforgettable! Beautiful restaurant, excellent service, and food you will remember fondly!!!! So lucky to live nearby!
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Oswald's Father's Day Weekend
    TravelwiseVIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    I eat at Oswald's regularly and rave about all their dishes. Due to the busy Father's Day weekend, they had a limited prix fixed menu. It wasn't as nice because I usually order their abalone or mussels, but doable. I enjoyed the beet salad, calamari, and bread pudding. My friend thought his dinner of rib eye steak with fries was great. I have ordered the arctic char dish frequently. But this time, the piece of arctic char I received was near the tail, a thing flat piece of fish that amounted to about 4 small bites. It was rather disappointing and I should have sent it back, but I ate it because I didn't want my friend to wait on his meal and figured I was reducing my calorie intake. Every other details was top notch.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, late-night find, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Oswald "classics"
    farpointdiveVIP
    Dined on 6/5/2014
    Some of the things for which we enjoyed Oswald's are definitely still on the menu and thriving and not really surpassed elsewhere. I was a little distressed at the wine prices. They appear to be at least double of the cost of wine at retail value and with so many vineyards in the area it's too pricey. Next time we'll bring our own wine and enjoy the marvelous food.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Modern, upscale American food
    coastalfoodie
    Dined on 5/31/2014
    Great dining experience. We started at the bar where the bartender made cocktails with all fresh ingredients. He earned his right to be called a mixologist. Dinner was delicious---there was a nice variety of fish, meat, and pasta without anything being mundane or something I could make myself. Our server was seasoned, experienced, and had a perfect tempo for service throughout the evening. She was there right when you needed her, but never obtrusive. Dessert was also great--coffee was french pressed at the table. Probably some of the best apres-dinner coffee I've ever had in a restaurant. Well done Oswald. You delivered a San Francisco dining experience in Santa Cruz. We need more of that here.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food was a bit uneven
    joaneousVIP
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    Some very good and some mediocre. The abalone appetizer was wonderful. The lamb so-so.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • MandGmtry
    Dined on 5/21/2014
    Food & service is always outstanding. We also appreciate the quality and the consistency of the meals every time we go. You are not awed one time and then disappointed the next time you have a meal. That is very hard to accomplish in a restaurant. Dining out is always about expectations and we have rarely been disappointed. Pricing is very reasonable for the quality and presentation of the food and the Wednesday Price fix menu can not be beat. 5 stars
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great find
    SweetTooth
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    The food was outstanding! Best food I have had in Santa Cruz as of yet. The cocktails were also wonderful. It was not a quiet place but the scene was orderly, stylish and clean. I will definitely be going back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A hidden gem
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 5/10/2014
    I've been to Oswald several times, and they never disappoint. The cocktails alone are worth giving this spot a try. The food...OMG...so good! I have never had the same dish, as their menu changes often. All have been delish, even my picky in-laws agree. As a vegetarian, I appreciate they always have something special and yummy on the menu. I also want to point out, a lot of people think this place is expensive. It's not. You'll pay more going to Ideal and getting a plate of spaghetti thrown in front of you. Oswald runs about $25 per dinner, and it is money more than well spent. I'm not a foodie by any means, but, Oswald has opened the door to a whole different flavor profile I never new existed. Give them a try!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Consistently very good
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009VIP
    Dined on 5/2/2014
    I enjoy the local and seasonal offerings and it's one of the few places where I don't have trepidation about straying from my favorite dish - everything is delicious here and there's not a better-made martini in town.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem, Vibrant Bar Scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 55 ratings-only reviews submitted since April 29, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.4
    • Food4.5
    • Ambiance4.2
    • Service4.6
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 394 reviews are from the Oswald reviews archive.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    The food at Oswald is prepared really well and is very tasty. The drawback for me, however, is that I am a picky eater, and there is not a huge selection of entrees. I specifically checked the menu online to make sure there was something I could eat before making the reservation, only to find out that the menu is not up-to-date on the website after we sat down to eat. There was no entree on the menu I could eat, so I ended up ordering the closest one and only could eat about half of the food on the plate. I would not have made the reservation (and spent $130 on a meal for 2 people that one couldn't eat) if the menu had been accurate online. I was very disappointed in a meal that I had really been looking forward to enjoying.
    Special Features:
    Romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great ingredients perfectly cooked.
    pvanosta
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    Popular neighborhood restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz. American / Californian modern takes on classic dishes. Bone marrow appetizer was a lovely portion and delicious. Rack of Lamb with nettle (!) risotto was equally generously portioned (5 small chops) , succulent and delicious. Service was efficient and friendly. The cocktail menu has some interesting discoveries. Highly recommended!
    Special Features:
    Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent dinner!
    Tara
    Dined on 4/18/2014
    Second time dining here, food delicious, service very efficient. I don't drink anymore, but apparently selection is wonderful according to friends. Very enjoyable dinner, thanks!
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Good for Groups, Hot Spot, Vibrant Bar Scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.