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Ideal Bar & Grill

4.1
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171 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 out side seating on our sunny deck! Come down and try our award winning clam chowder today!

Experiences

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Explore unique dining experiences for every mood—from prix-fixe menus to can't-miss promotions.

Special menus

  • Live Maine Lobster

    Jul 19 - Sep 30, 2020
    Every Wednesday night starting at 4pm $18.95 Live Maine Lobster served warm drawn butter and rice pilaf

Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
  • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
  • Contactless payment available
  • Sealed or wrapped utensils used
Personal Protective Equipment
  • Waitstaff wear masks
  • Diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking
What 171 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.0
food
4.3
service
4.0
ambience
3.8
value
Noise · Moderate
76% of people would recommend it to a friend
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DL
DanielleL
Central Coast
2 reviews
Dined on June 25, 2020
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Overall, everything was great. Food was yummy and our server was extremely friendly. There were just a few little service details that slipped through the cracks - dropping appetizer without share plates; including only one set of chopsticks with appetizer, even though there were two of us; not bussing or cleaning table before bringing the dessert (knives from entrees, used salt and pepper packets, empty glass from a cocktail, and half a carrot were all left on the table). These are little details that make a big difference.

CD
CrissyD
1 review
Dined on June 20, 2020
Overall5food4service5ambience4

The outdoor seating is great and the service was AMAZING!

YL
YnezL
1 review
Dined on June 12, 2020
Overall3food2service4ambience2

It was ok at best. Bonus points for outside seating near the water. Food was bland and under seasoned. Clam chowder was a hit with my husband. Price point did not reflect in the quality of the food.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on February 22, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience4

The calamari was delicious. Seabass was tasty but they ran out of spinach! Our waitress Shelby was a cheerful and organized
Server. We enjoyed our evening.

TG
vipTamiG
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2020
Overall5food4service4ambience5

Great view, close to boardwalk. Nice place to grab a snack & relax.

h
harriet
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2020
Overall1food1service3ambience4

Over priced, expensive food that tasted as though it was microwaved. Garlic bread was chewy and stale. The chicken was gristly with cartilage, and the ribs were lacking any flavor. Almost $80 for chili’s / Applebee’s standard food. Lovely location and atmosphere, however the food was very disappointing.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 12, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful, helpful waitress for our Wednesday Maine Lobster birthday dinner. Very fun experience.

A
Ashley
1 review
Dined on February 8, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Stuffed salmon was delicious and service was good, definitely will return for more stuffed salmon, the whole meal was delicious!

JZ
JoeZeppy
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall3food5service2ambience4

First off : Ideal Fish (as Iv'e always known them) is a landmark location in Santa Cruz with a stellar reputation for good food. So after many years since the last visit, we made the long dangerous journey from Soquel and went for a birthday meal. Tonight they definitely lived up to their reputation.
Having said that; the bar was empty but I had to walk over to the bartender to get service after a few-too-many minutes without even an acknowledgement. Then,when while waiting at the reception area, a waiter acknowledged us and said she would tell the receptionist we were there waiting. The receptionist came, but we were waiting a bit longer so, upon me saying something she said, "oh, I thought you were just waiting for the bathroom", (what the?).
Okay, now were seated at a nice table with a killer evening view of the ocean and pier. The waiter came (super nice), food ordered, drinks on the way. Cool!
The food was fantastic. The highlight of the meal was the app, Roasted Garlic & Brie. When it was time to go, or at least time for the waiter to come back, she was, um, busy. She was seen hurriedly walking all over the dining room but even arm-waves and a loud "miss" didn't get her attention. A bus-boy saw we were trying to signal so he stopped, then brought us a to-go container. After a while with our napkin in our plates and the to-go package all set, there we waited, and waited, and... well you know.
After a bit, we went to the register area and found a MGR. She was predictably apologetic and turned-on the charm with experienced enthusiasm. The waiter showed up pretty quick now, with the bill and having comped the app for "our trouble". This was their Birthday Bash night (free preset dinner entree if it's your birthday month) so the customers were likely all locals, like us. I have to assume that a promotional gig like this is to bring locals in, and to get them to want to come back. We'll definitely be back; but maybe just to pick up our To-Go order.

DC
DylanC
1 review
Dined on January 9, 2020
Overall3food2service4ambience3

The restaurant was completely empty when I got there. Staff was friendly. Had the fettuccine Alfredo with chicken and it was the most bland food I have ever had. The chicken was inedible and the pasta was fine because it just tasted like nothing. I never thought I would have to put salt on Alfredo but I did that night.

t
t007
Ruhr region
3 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall2food2service3ambience2

essen geschmacklos
ohne jegliche liebe zum detail
(keine tischdecke zum silvestermenu?)
schnelle abfertigung, rechnung kam
dann ohne aufforderung

preis/leistung geht gar nicht
200 usd für 3 hauptspeisen , 3 tassen suppe
und ein kinderteller??!

es sollte unser silvesterabend highlight werden

nie wieder !

Report
p
vipparbake
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2019
Overall1food1service1ambience1

We were just starting to wonder where our food was when our waiter came over to tell us he forgot to put our order in. Any points for honesty that we awarded him at that juncture disappeared later; when he brought out our food, he brought out crab-stuffed salmon instead of horseradish salmon, and he questioned whether my wife had put the order in correctly. She had, in fact, put the order in correctly TWICE. At that point we just said forget it and left without eating dinner.

JL
JoanL
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We usually have Thanksgiving or Xmas dinner at the Ideal.
This year it was Xmas. The choices were very good. Lobster and prime rib and more.
We had a reservation for the first time and were seated by the window.
Dinner and drinks excellent
We will be back for sure

R
vipRobert
San Francisco
53 reviews
Dined on December 25, 2019
Overall4food3service4ambience3

Made a last minute Christmas dinner reservation, but had never dined here before. We were pleasantly surprised. Our server Kyle was outstanding and the food was better than we expected. The venue is definitely beach casual and some of the menu items may be a bit more challenging than the kitchen can handle, but nothing was awful and most items were darn good. I personally hate a salad served un-tossed with a portion of salad dressing on the side, so that was my first negative food experience. There were 3 of us dining. I had the cioppino, my spouse the pot roast and our guest the Jerusalem chicken, each served specially for Christmas. Each was good enough to satisfy, but none was good enough to rave about. We will likely return in the summer to dine amidst the beach goers.

RN
RickN
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 19, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

It’s always great being at Ideal. It was a busy night and I thought the prime rib was over cooked.

SM
vipSusanM
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love the lobster special on Wednesdays - the best!

OT
OpenTable Diner
1 review
Dined on November 29, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Amazing. Had a very pleasant experience.

s
santacruzeater11
Central Coast
6 reviews
Dined on November 28, 2019
Overall3food3service5ambience2

Service was excellent, but food was so-so. Lots of folks, so pretty noisy, too.

GD
vipGourmetDiva
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on November 28, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

We've gone for the last 4 Thanksgivings. Their Prime Rib is delicious and good value. Nice window seat and attentive service.

LR
LindaR
Sacramento
4 reviews
Dined on November 27, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience4

I have been wanting to try this restaurant for some time. I was glad I did. The food was very good. Our waitress was very attentive. The atmosphere was very cool.

SM
vipSusanM
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on November 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The Wednesday night lobster special is excellent! Waitstaff is really good. A fun place to go!

G
Gene
Sacramento
15 reviews
Dined on October 31, 2019
Overall2food2service4ambience3

I booked dinner to celebrate my sister’s birthday. For starters, we had oysters which were fresh and sweet. The clam chowder was thick and tasty but not enough clams in it. My sister had the NY steak. She ordered medium rare but it came out medium. It needed steal sauce as it lacked flavor. I had the stuffed salmon with island rice. The stuffing was supposed to be a mixture of crab and shrimp. It was mostly starch which I did not eat. The rice was cooked with coconut milk and shredded coconut which tasted sweet and did not go well with the salmon.

The restaurant is located at the Santa Cruz Wharf area with a great view of the sea. However, what I paid for the food was not worth it. Overpriced.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Grand Rapids
6 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience3

Convenient to boardwalk and wharf. Indoor & outdoor seating with nice view. If your party is larger than 4 then you cannot sit by window. Apparently they can’t push 2 tables together. The larger parties are put to the back of restaurant which has a huge draft with the door to outside being constantly opened with servers going in and out. Overall it’s. Ice they take reservations and nice location on beach. As for the food and atmosphere just ok

HH
HappyHiker
Central Coast
7 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

Portion sizes were generous. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. The menu had a wide variety. People of all ages are welcome here.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience5

Good food, good service. A little pricey. Calamari is great.

T
vipTony
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2019
Overall2food2service2ambience1

Noisy place with average food.

SV
SusanaV
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on August 30, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Very friendly staff. Oysters were great, a bit small but very delicious. Great atmosphere. Comfortable with my family and parking was easy at Cowell's beach surf shop.

J
vipJmal
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on August 30, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Great service. Wonderful night for sitting outside.

OT
OpenTable Diner
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

It was nice

NK
NancyK
1 review
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Food was delicious as always. Wait staff was fun and helpful. A busy summer night so waiters were spread thin but our party was understanding and enjoyed the evening very much.

g
vipgotmel
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2019
Overall3food2service3ambience2

The service is super slow, but I want to like the restaurant

BF
BruceF
2 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We thoroughly enjoyed a recent dinner there. Food was well prepared and fresh, service was very good, and outdoor seating was comfortable. The restaurant fronts right on the beach providing great views of the ocean and the wharf. Prices were reasonable, especially given the quality of the food. We look forward to returning next time we are in Santa Cruz.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall1food2service1ambience2

Bad service, barely edible food & overall would not visit again here voluntarily :(

SB
SerenaB
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This restaurant is right on the boardwalk. It definitely has the beachy vibe due to there being sand on the ground and the smell of the ocean in the air. The food is amazing and has great flavors. There is indoor and outdoor seating. Definitely recommend reserving a table in advanced due to the wait time can be up to 30-45 without a reservation.

k
vipkgirl
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience5

In Santa Cruz for the weekend for Wharf to Wharf race. The restaurant was very busy but our waitress was amazing! We were a 6 person party and she never missed a beat. Food was consistently good for everyone. The ice cream at the end was a huge hit. They had a flavor called 10/20 that was to die for. Overall a really nice experience. Would eat here again!

LL
LoriL
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The service was great, cheerful, responsive, and attentive. It was very busy, and I felt the service was adaquate to the ratio of people frequenting. Overall, a great place, great atmosphere, and the Prime Rib was excellent!

C
vipChar
Las Vegas
47 reviews
Dined on July 17, 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience5

Service was excellent. Location is excellent. Value excellent. Only bad thing....and it is major....food was not at proper temperature. Lobster served to us was room temp. We thought it was supposed to be hotter but we were tired and hungry so we didn’t send it back. About halfway through our meal the lady next to us got hers and as she tore it in half there was noticeable steam. My husband and I both had digestive problems early the next morning .

s
vipseafood
Central Coast
9 reviews
Dined on July 7, 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience4

Clam Chowder outstanding but stuffed salmon was dry. Disapointing

IC
vipInCognito
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2019
Overall1food1service1ambience3

Horrible service and food

CL
CelesteL
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 28, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience3

I didn't enjoy the lighting change mid meal. The food was great .wish they offered Samuel Adams's summer ale.

FAQs

Ideal Bar & Grill does offer delivery in partnership with Toast. Ideal Bar & Grill also offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (831) 423-5271.

Ideal Bar & Grill is rated 4.1 stars by 171 OpenTable diners.

You can book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size.