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Nearby points of interest

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About 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.

121 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
View Larger Map

Dining Style:
Casual Elegant

Cuisines:
Contemporary American

Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Wednesday - Saturday 11:30am - 2:00pm; Dinner: Tuesday - Sunday: 5:30pm - close

Cross Street:
Front

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(831) 423-7427

Website:
http://oswaldrestaurant.com/

Parking Details:
Oswald is located on the street level of a four story public parking garage with very reasonable rates.

Executive Chef:
Damani Thomas

Additional:
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Wine

Oswald Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.5

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.5

service

4.5

ambience

4.2

value

4.0

Noise

Moderate

91% would recommend it to a friend

Creative Cuisine (29)
Good for a Date (28)
Handcrafted Cocktails (28)
See All
Fit for Foodies (25)
Special Occasion (18)
Good for Birthdays (16)
Casual (15)
Good for Anniversaries (14)
Bar Seating (14)
Romantic (14)
Local Ingredients (13)
Neighborhood Gem (12)
Fun (12)
Pre/post Theatre (12)
Notable Wine List (12)
Authentic (11)
Business Meals (11)
Quiet Conversation (9)
Cozy (8)
Healthy (8)
Vibrant Bar Scene (8)
Hot Spot (7)
People Watching (7)
Seasonal (7)
Good for Groups (6)
Worth the Drive (6)
Organic (5)
Happy Hour (4)
Great for Lunch (4)
Quick Bite (4)
Sunday Lunch (4)
Late-night Find (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (3)
Comfort Food (2)
Gluten Free Options (2)
Afternoon Coffee (1)
Afternoon Tea (1)
Kid-friendly (1)
Disabled Access (1)
Great Beer (1)
Paleo Friendly (1)
Vegan (1)
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891 reviews
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·Dined 4 days ago

We were taken at our reservation time which was important since we had a game that night... food was great as was the service ... we love Oswald’s...

Tags: Hot Spot, Casual, Healthy, Good for Groups, Good Vegetarian Options, Good for a Date, Business Meals, Notable Wine List, People Watching, Local Ingredients, Good for Birthdays, Vibrant Bar Scene, Authentic, Happy Hour, Quick Bite, Fun, Neighborhood Gem, Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined 5 days ago

We've been to Oswald several times in the last 30 years. The food is reliably excellent. The ambiance is lovely - pretty and relaxed, but not spectacular. My objection is the price. Portions are smallish, which is not such a big deal, but the two of us spent $90 on two entrees and an arugula salad. We probably won't be back for a while.

Tags: Seasonal, Organic, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value3

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined 5 days ago

Very enjoyable meal. It was quiet enough for good conversation.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, People Watching
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined 6 days ago

Best dinner service and fine dining food in Santa Cruz. Lively cocktail bar evenings.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Hot Spot, Pre/post Theatre, Business Meals, Handcrafted Cocktails
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (Sacramento)·Dined on January 14, 2018

Excellent experience,scallops were excellent and the shirt steak was perfect!

Tags: Local Ingredients, Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service4
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 10, 2018

We went for a weekday lunch and found the menu to be surprisingly varied. My brother had the skirt steak with sautéed vegetables and liked it. My wife and I had the sautéed spinach and farro with a fried egg and it was delicious; perfect for vegetarians.

Tags: Good Vegetarian Options, Creative Cuisine, Fit for Foodies
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on January 1, 2018

Mussels were excellent. Skirt steak was tender but arrived cold ☹

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food4
ambience3
service4

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 31, 2017

Being a beach and college town, Santa Cruz is funky and fun. Oswalds offer upscle food at upscale prices. We split a Caesear salad and it was large enough for three with anchovies on top. All of the entrees were exquisitely prepared with ingredients that were both surprising yet complimentary. We ordered the duck confit, scallops, skirt steak, and the homemade fettucine, each bite a delight. Prices are on the high side $32-38 per entrée yet delicious. Our waitress knew how to elegantly describe the food. Corkage was $15. Strolling thrugh downtown Santa Cruz is a blast to the past.

Tags: Hot Spot, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience3
service5
value3

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 31, 2017

Experience was 'ok'...
couple of issues:
1 - got seated to the left of the front door...if you are facing the street at one of those tables, there is a gigantic, BLINDING street light out side that really kills the ambiance of the restaurant, which is otherwise great
2 - ordered a glass of wine, which was more like a third or half a glass...at $12 a glass, i expected a nice pour...
3 - food was actually very good - we had the skirt steak and rack of lamb, but overall, the meal was a bit pricey for what we got...

that said, i want to try lunch some time...heard the burgers are great.

Tags: Fun, Good for a Date, Business Meals
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food4
ambience3
service5
value3

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 30, 2017

Always amazing and a wonderful treat! Cannot wait for the next time!

Tags: Romantic, Gluten Free Options, Special Occasion, Creative Cuisine, Authentic, Cozy, Business Meals, Fun, Sunday Lunch, Organic, Fit for Foodies
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on December 21, 2017

First visit with gift card. Very nice & we will return.

Tags: Happy Hour, Casual
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 18, 2017

Understaffed, service was slow but very courteous and apologetic and comp'd drinks. Limited menu for guests with food sensitivities. Skirtsteak was not cooked correctly/as ordered.

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails
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food3
ambience4
service4
value3

 
·Dined on December 16, 2017

The place was a little noisy and it was a little difficult to have a conversation. Food was really good.

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food5
ambience3
service4
value4

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on December 13, 2017

Excellent food and service. I had very tasty grilled scallops preceded by delicious persimmon/squash soup. My dining companions had equally tasty meals.

We were all happy that the noise level seems to have been softened somewhat since our last visit a few years ago. It made for much easier conversation .

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Creative Cuisine, Handcrafted Cocktails, Local Ingredients, Pre/post Theatre, Seasonal
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 9, 2017

Easily one of the best restaurants in the general Santa Cruz area.

Tags: Good for Groups, Creative Cuisine
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
·Dined on December 6, 2017

Superb food carefully prepared. Service was low key but attentive. Love to come here again and again.

Tags: Casual, Comfort Food, Good for a Date, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Quiet Conversation, Local Ingredients
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on December 3, 2017

Music was terribly loud. Food was quite good though the bit pricey

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food4
ambience3
service5
value3

 
·Dined on December 1, 2017

My family absolutely loves this restaurant . We have been coming here for years and we love it EVERY time.
Fabulous food, service, and ambiance.
Our favorite thing they serve is their creme brûlée. The best we have every had. Made with simple real food ingredients. We also really enjoy sipping on their aperitif, made with herbs.
Get a reservation if you want to dine in the restaurant because they are usually booked up. They do have a nice bar area (much louder) where you can eat if you don’t have reservations.
Overall this restaurant tops our list as one of our favorites. ❤️

Tags: Authentic, Good for Anniversaries, Good for Birthdays, Handcrafted Cocktails, Worth the Drive, Gluten Free Options, Casual, Hot Spot, Fit for Foodies, People Watching, Cozy, Fun, Comfort Food, Kid-friendly, Special Occasion, Organic, Quick Bite, Business Meals, Good for a Date, Sunday Lunch, Healthy, Neighborhood Gem, Local Ingredients, Great Beer, Notable Wine List, Great for Lunch, Quiet Conversation, Creative Cuisine, Romantic, Bar Seating
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Central Coast)·Dined on November 29, 2017

I only go to Oswald for lunch; it's way to noisy at dinner time. In fact, even at lunchtime we had to ask them to turn down the music so we could talk to each other (they were very accommodating about it). But what a lunch! The soup that day was butternut squash and persimmon, with smoked paprika oil and toasted walnuts - sensational! The texture was like a cloud! My wife has celiac disease and they don't offer GF options so we opted for sandwiches with out the bread - one was chicken, with bacon & cheese & avocado. So good. The other was a marinated and grilled portobello mushroom with a nice cheesy topping and all the fixins. We had to pass on the french fries because they are cooked in the same oil as the fried chicken, but the side salads we ate instead were delicious! For dessert: the most perfect crême brulée ever!

Tags: Cozy, Business Meals, Handcrafted Cocktails, Special Occasion, Neighborhood Gem, Good for a Date, Great for Lunch
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 16, 2017

We had been trying to get together with another couple, our good friends, for some time to celebrate both of us guy's October birthdays. Even though it was a month late for us, Oswald did a great job in preparing and serving a terrific meal and making us feel very welcome.

Tags: Quiet Conversation, Fun, Worth the Drive, Bar Seating, Organic, Good for a Date, Good for Anniversaries, Fit for Foodies, Handcrafted Cocktails
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 15, 2017

The food at Oswald's is exceptional. Flavors are well paired. The offerings are creative and appealing. Went for lunch. Original and delicious cocktails available. The tab was high for lunch but worth it for a special occasion.

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Fit for Foodies, Local Ingredients, Special Occasion, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
·Dined on November 12, 2017

We returned to Oswald as a celebration of when we were engaged 6 years ago. That night was magic. Tonight was merely good. With so many restaurants to choose from, we likely will seek others on our next visit to downtown Santa Cruz. We found that few of the dining options were suitable for a person allergic to dairy products. Yes, cheese can be withheld, and olive oil substituted for butter, but at the cost of flavor, versus developing a dairy free dish from the beginning.

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food3
ambience4
service4
value3

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on November 12, 2017

We had a very nice dinner at Oswald’s. The only thing I wish they had one more vegetarian or fish options. I husband had lamb and loved it. I ended up just getting a couple of sides which were good but I would’ve preferred a good piece of fish or vegetarian plate.

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine, Special Occasion
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food3
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 12, 2017

We were a table of four persons, and all of us felt our different dishes were too seasoned. My friend had the lamb dish and couldn't eat it (but didn't complain to the server; the server did not inquire why she hadn't eaten it, which I thought was strange) and my sea scallops were extremely salty. My husband's flank steak was too salty, also. The salads and desserts were much better than the main dishes. If I go back, I will just order a salad and dessert.

Tags: Good for a Date
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food2
ambience4
service4
value2

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 10, 2017

Delicious as always

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food5
ambience5
service5

 
 (Tahoe)·Dined on November 8, 2017

We found their menu to be very limited. We only order a salad and soup and it was still really expensive. Won't be back!

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food2
ambience3
service5
value1

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 6, 2017

Oswald is ALWAYS our go-to place when we want to celebrate...this was an anniversary, so there is no place in Santa Cruz County that will do other than Oswald...real professional from beginning to end!...nice greeting...Superlative Service and Outstanding Food and Cocktails!...it’s our go-to place...bottom line...thanks to all!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Casual, Bar Seating
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Tahoe)·Dined on November 5, 2017

We don't get to downtown Santa Cruz very often, but if we did we would eat at Oswald's far more often than we do. The service is always excellent, the food is creative and very well prepared. Prices are reasonable for the quality you receive. Kind of noisy but it's not an ear drum buster, just not perfect for a quiet, intimate dinner. Go, you won't be disappointed.

Tags: Bar Seating, Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine, People Watching, Pre/post Theatre, Fit for Foodies
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food4
ambience3
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 5, 2017

Over the past several years, we have been going to Oswald's about once or twice a year. In the past, the experience had been truly excellent. This time, however, the overall experience was somewhat disappointing and, given the higher prices than a year ago, Oswald's is no longer a place we would recommend for finer dining. While the first courses (endive salad and crab & avocado salad) were just fine, the main courses were underwhelming. The eggplant risotto ($28) did not taste very fresh and the black cod chowder ($32) was too salty, the broth did not taste very good, and the accompanying toasted bread was almost burnt and had too much butter. The service was very good, but, at $80 per person (tax and tip included) with just a glass of wine one would have a higher expectation. Too bad for Oswald.

Also, Open Table needs to update the indicated price range "$30 and under" for Oswald.

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food3
ambience3
service4
value2

 
·Dined on November 4, 2017

I was disappointed in the cuisine, the entree was very small. Just so-so. Sine the dining room and bar are in one room, it was very noisy until the happy hour peeps left. Back to ShadowbrooK!

Tags: Vibrant Bar Scene, Casual, Creative Cuisine
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food2
ambience1
service4
value2

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on November 4, 2017

Without a doubt Oswald is our favorite restaurant is Santa Cruz County. We have been there numerous times for dinner. Their rack of lamb when it's on the menu is SUPERB. The service is great and it is easy to make reservations, but I recommend doing it as soon as you know the date.

They always have the freshest food beautifully presented and it's wonderful for any special occasion.

Tags: Business Meals, Good for Groups, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Notable Wine List, Authentic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on October 29, 2017

my partner & I had a wonderful time at oswald. we were there celebrating a dating anniversary, and it was perfect! we did have to wait a little at the bar for our table, but didn't mind sitting there and perusing the menu while sipping a cocktail. our server was beyond charming & we felt grateful to be in her company! we had the mussels appetizer, scallops special, and chowder, as well as an apple dessert. heavenly! thaaaanks oswald <3

Tags: Worth the Drive, Authentic, Romantic, Fit for Foodies, Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on October 23, 2017

Went there for Sunday dinner with a friend. First we split an arugula salad that had three small abalone steaks along for the ride. Abalone was quite fresh, from the abalone farm up in Davenport, just north of Santa Cruz. For an entré, we both ordered the skirt steak, which came with the best potatoes gratin I've ever tasted. The beef was cooked to perfection, on the rare side of medium rare, with a reduction sauce...perfect.

Tags: Quiet Conversation, Romantic, Worth the Drive, Authentic, Fit for Foodies, Creative Cuisine, Good for a Date, Bar Seating
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on October 22, 2017

When I made the reservation for my friend's birthday i think I was expecting better, it looked pretty quiet and friendly online, but the place was so small, crowded and super noisy.. It was a total disappointment. I'm sorry but I won't be back here.

Tags: Late-night Find, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Dallas)·Dined on October 21, 2017

Casual and conveniently located within Santa Cruz. We walked from the Hyatt Place to the restaurant because it was so incredibly close. Vibrant artwork throughout the restaurant. Modest priced menu items with enough variety to please everyone. The waitress had an outgoing personality and very engaging throughout the evening. The only unusual factor is the mirrors that line the walls and seemingly only reflect the ceiling. Regardless, we highly recommend this to locals or anyone visiting the area. Cheers!

Tags: Authentic, Neighborhood Gem, Good for a Date, Bar Seating, Creative Cuisine, Casual, Cozy
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on October 21, 2017

Highly recommend the mushroom bruscetta as an appetizer. Tuna was cooked perfectly but it was bland and the quinoa bed was uninspiring. Drinks always fabulous. Janelle our waitress was warm, friendly and took great care of us. Great service in our town is unusual. Hostess seemed to be having a bad night on Friday. While not exactly rude all 3 in our party commented on her less than welcoming attitude. A mixed night for us.

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food4
ambience4
service4

 
·Dined on October 16, 2017

Excellent service and great food. limited menu had good food and there was a small add on menu of more traditional items.

Tags: Special Occasion, Romantic, Good for Birthdays
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on October 15, 2017

I'd place Oswalds in the top 5 or 6 best dinner spots in the Santa Cruz area.

Tags: Romantic, Cozy, Casual, Quiet Conversation, Handcrafted Cocktails, Pre/post Theatre, Good for Birthdays, Good for Anniversaries, Fit for Foodies, Good for a Date
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (London)·Dined on October 14, 2017

Great spot...food and service was so good!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on October 14, 2017

The steak dish that I had at Oswald (and the exceptional wine that I had paired with it) was one of the best meals of my vacation. Santa Cruz isn't a city renowned for their dining, but Oswald is clearly one of the better and more focused options for high-end eats and delicious cocktails.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem
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food4
ambience3
service3
value3

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