Ideal Bar & Grill

3.6
118 reviews
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$30 and under
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Californian
Fun, family friendly dining with a beautiful view of Santa Cruz Main beach and the Municipal Wharf! We offer seating both inside and on our sunny deck! Come down and try our award winning clam chowder today!
What 118 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
3.6based on recent ratings
3.5
food
3.8
service
3.7
ambience
3.3
value
Noise · Moderate
71% of people would recommend it to a friend
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NE
1 review
Dined on January 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great service, great lemon drop. Had 4 kids with us and very accommodating. Had fish and chips and clam chowder and loved both! Our new fav family dinner out in that part of town!👍🏻⭐️

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KA
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Nice restaurant on the water. The stuffed salmon and the calamari were great. Flavorful and large portions. The NY steak was unfortunately pretty bad. There was cartilage and fat all over it and it wasn’t seasoned. After cutting off a quarter of the size in “extra” bits, and adding salt, it was just ok. The waiter was very nice and the ambience was festive for the New Year.

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KN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Really good prime rib. Cioppino tasted out of a can or frozen. Service better than it was at Thanksgiving. Veggies fixed well. Bread tired. I get better bread at my grocery.

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OT
Denver
17 reviews
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Enjoyed a very American afternoon lunch, we loved it. Very kind wait staff, food was good and most importantly, extremely family friendly.

Our experience was at low season with minimal patrons. Either way, we will go back!

Great Nachos.

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R
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 2ambience 2

Food is below average

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MB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 22, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Normally the food here is excellent. Got the Thanksgiving Turkey meal, but Turkey was dry and potatoes and gravy too salty. Nice ambience though. Won't be here next year for Turkey day.

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EC
1 review
Dined on November 22, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

We come down for Thanksgiving every year. We can always get a nice spot outside. The service is great.
For some reason, the weather is always wonderful on Thanksgiving, so we like to sit outside.
The only thing that I do not like are the pigeons. The staff is quick to pick up the plates, but they always manage to swarm a vacated table. Sometimes they fly right over my head while I am eating.
I think you need a couple hawks and an owl.

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KN
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 22, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

GREAT for Xmas and Thanksgiving traditional meal. You can also order from the menu. Cheapest and tastiest for these two holidays. Unfortunately, the rest of the year, not so good. I don't know why they can't have as good food other times. I was assured that I could NOT get all dark meat. It was half light and half dark (said on the menu). My plate arrived all white. After complaining, I got a tiny amount of dark.

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OT
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on November 13, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Great food! Slow night but it was a great date or special occasion restaurant.

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KP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 5

Staff was not very accommodating, seemingly befuddled by very basic requests, and unable to problem-solve. That said, the spot is perfect, hard to go wrong with the view. Food was fine.

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HH
Central Coast
5 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 4

Ideal is clean, comfortable, and relaxing. The menu is varied and service is prompt.

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SC
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 2

A bit disappointing. Quality of food depends on what you order. My baked salmon was too dry, but the wife and daughter both enjoyed their Chicken Parmesan and fish dish. Island rice was excellent, and the baked potato fries very delicious. Our main problem was service. The waiter was a nice guy but not very attentive (and we aren't exactly high maintenance. Just check up on us once in a while.) Often he was too busy socializing with other waiters to notice us trying to get his attention. Eating on the patio was also a challenge since it was so dark. We took out our phones just to make sure the plates in front of us had what we ordered. 'Would probably not go back again - at least not to eat on the patio.

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Atlanta
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

The sea platter that I ordered as a main dish came first, I had to ask the waiter to first bring the clam chowder that I ordered and take the main dish back. Only five minutes later when I was only halfway with the chowder, the waiter came bringing the main dish again. Again I had to ask the waiter to take it back and wait until I had finished my chowder. I didn’t feel treated as a guest here.

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DT
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

The kitchen was slammed, so the food came out later than expected. Overall, the restaurant is great.

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a
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 3

Unfortunately the experience was not good. Our server was fine and tried hard. But, the kitchen let her down and made us wait for substandard fare. This was our third visit and yet this is the one that we will remember and not in a good way. After waiting close to an hour for our food to arrive, the burger was over cooked and another dish was missing some additional items ordered.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2018
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 2

I didn’t receive open table points for my reservation
Service was poor
No manager
Food was cold

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MM
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 3

Ideal used to be my favorite place to go in Santa Cruz. The last few times I've gone, I have regretted making the effort. The service is slow, server pays no attention. Main course arrived before appetizers. Then for we were only comped for one of them. Menu is limited (compared to past visits). You go to eat on the beach, you want sea food... not seeing your favorites only offered once a week. And never on the weekend.

We don't live in the area anymore. We traveled 400 miles for a weekend getaway. I have gone to Ideal for over 15 years. Sadly I have decided not to return again.

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YA
1 review
Dined on August 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service was great from the minute we walked in to the minute we walked out.
But the food was...amazing! My ten year old had the crab legs and said they were the best he's had(he has been eating them since he was 5 years old).
This is a great place to eat, very comfortable too.

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R
1 review
Dined on August 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Nice dinner in the evening, prime rib was outstanding!

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KC
Philadelphia
9 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

I thought the atmosphere ( laid back) and service was excellent at this waterfront restaurant. The ribs were the best I’ve ever tasted!

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DM
1 review
Dined on August 6, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

A fine place but overpriced. Not unexpected given the location and convenience to the Boardwalk. Server was quite good though.

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DP
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on August 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was amazing and even though it was busy, the service was great!

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J
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on August 2, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Everything was good. It was busy. The only thing I didn’t like was the oysters. I should have asked if they had mignonette...... they don’t.

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SK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 29, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

I had dinner here for my birthday and had made reservations for my 8 guests, myself included. I believe everybody loved their food and thought our waitress was quite professional.

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LR
1 review
Dined on June 30, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

I did not like how they nickled and dimes you to death. $3.00 more if you asked for this, $6.00 to add this...... simple things

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r
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on June 30, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

The food just isn’t that good. Weird seasoning on fish and chips, sea bass thin and dry. Mashed potatoes with chunks of skin ( regular potatoes not red or thin skinned). Food doesn’t seem to be the main concern. Anniversary was both checked and written in the table request but was completely missed or ignored. might try lobster night if we happen to be in SC on a Wed but otherwise, will probably not return.

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BP
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on June 29, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Ok for a big group, but not great food

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NB
1 review
Dined on June 22, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

We had a great time. I share a birthday with one of my dearest friends. It has become a tradition, every year we celebrate together at Ideal Restaurant's birthday bash. With so many people in one place celebrating birthdays, as soon as you walk in the door, you feel the happiness. its festive without being too loud or irritating.

The food was good, reasonably priced and the service was excellent.

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BA
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on June 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Ideal Bar & Grill hosts a Birthday Specials for those lucky people celebrating a birthday in any given month. My month was June and on the 3rd Thursday of the month is a free Birthday Prime rib dinner or 1/2 rack of baby back ribs. I had the prime rib which was great! You must buy and equal or lesser value entree. Great views, good for people watching and a must for the award winning Clam Chowder.

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OT
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on May 27, 2018
Overall 3food 1service 5ambience 2

Soooo loud, food was terrible, thankfully I was only there to drink

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L
Portland
1 review
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Great casual place. Right on the beach, nice outdoor eating area. Close walk to Beach Boardwalk. Reasonably priced. Good Santa Cruz surfer beach atmosphere.

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C
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on May 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

We were delighted by good drinks and a perfectly cooked steak with an excellent crust and lovely King Crab which was cut for us so easy to get to. It was chilly outside but we sat under the heaters and enjoyed watching people go by.

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SA
Richmond
3 reviews
Dined on May 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Breakfast special was good and a real bargain.

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v
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on May 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

we came down for our sons baseball game. i had to change my reservation 3 times due to the game prior to my sons and then his game. you were very accommodating...we finally got there and the food was delicious...great menu choice and great server!!!!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our server was kaitlyn . She was very nice , very friendly , great smile and awesome service . I will for sure be back to eat again .

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MB
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on April 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

We celebrated my daughters 2nd birthday. Our server was super nice and helped us make her feel so special. The food was good and the atmosphere was perfect for beachside dining.

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PC
1 review
Dined on April 7, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Unfortunately, this night was a complete disaster!!! We have been going to this restaurant for years, at least 20 years that I can remember. Friday night is prime rib night, so I decided to have my birthday dinner there. Made reservations and everything was good to go, Until we sat down. No color crayons for kids anymore even though the kids menu has an activity page. The appetizers were so greasy and not very good, Dinner was ok for the adults. The food for the kids, my grandchildren was straight up disgusting. How in the world do you mess up a corn dog? Chicken nuggets?? They both tasted old, freezer burn, just absolutely horrible. I will say the service was absolutely horrible, we ordered drinks and had to walk to bar and get our drinks before our dinner was almost done. We will absolutely never go to Ideal again !!! Such a disappointment after years of being a faithful customer. Never again !! Food horrible, drinks not so good, service deplorable !!!

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KC
1 review
Dined on April 1, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

First 10 minuets no one came to our table once they did he stopped and said I will be right with you then 10 min later with no drinks we walked out!!!

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GH
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 31, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

I ordered the prime rib, medium and received rare to medium rare. Sent it back, and my partners was more than half way through her dinner when the prime rib returned. It was now well done, but I was hungry and my partner was almost done. The prime rib had good flavor just over cooked. I would still recommend the place and the prime rib.

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CM
1 review
Dined on March 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved the prime rib special! Nice table by Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Daughter was glad for the kids’ menu. We would go again if in Santa Cruz.

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