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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

4.4

service

4.6

ambience

4.2

value

3.9

Noise

Moderate

90% would recommend it to a friend

Good for a Date (29)
Handcrafted Cocktails (27)
Fit for Foodies (25)
See All
Bar Seating (19)
Creative Cuisine (19)
Special Occasion (17)
Neighborhood Gem (15)
Good for Anniversaries (14)
Romantic (12)
Local Ingredients (11)
Fun (11)
Casual (10)
Quiet Conversation (9)
Notable Wine List (8)
Pre/post Theatre (8)
Worth the Drive (8)
Authentic (7)
Good for Birthdays (7)
Vibrant Bar Scene (7)
Business Meals (6)
Cozy (6)
Hot Spot (6)
Seasonal (6)
Healthy (5)
People Watching (5)
Good for Groups (3)
Happy Hour (3)
Late-night Find (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (3)
Kid-friendly (2)
Great for Lunch (2)
Organic (2)
Comfort Food (1)
Disabled Access (1)
Gluten Free Options (1)
Paleo Friendly (1)
Quick Bite (1)
Vegan (1)
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871 reviews
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 (San Francisco)·Dined 5 days ago

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 5 days ago

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
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
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
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
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
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
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
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
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

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on October 11, 2017

I dined here alone and was very comfortable. The food is always excellent. One of my favorite places Santa Cruz

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Good for Birthdays, Good for a Date, Vibrant Bar Scene
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on October 8, 2017

I love coming to Oswald, but miss the old gang! Got to see Maria! XX

Tags: Bar Seating, Pre/post Theatre, Late-night Find, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for a Date
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on October 1, 2017

Lovely place, delicious dinner with great service.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on October 1, 2017

My husband and I were in Santa Cruz for a combination anniversary/birthday beach celebration. Oswald was perfect--exquisite food and wine, simple but elegant ambience, and exceptional service from the restaurant manager, Janet, whose art assemblages add interest to every wall. It all added up to a memorable evening.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Notable Wine List, Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New York Area)·Dined on September 27, 2017

Always great!!!

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food5
ambience4
service5

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on September 25, 2017

Wonderful food, superb service. Pricey but worth every penny. The best Saphire martini I have every had.

Tags: Business Meals, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on September 24, 2017

We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at Oswalds. The wine and cocktails were very nice. Very limited menu, but creative and tasted great.

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion, Good for a Date, Good for Anniversaries, Fit for Foodies
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
·Dined on September 20, 2017

Interesting cocktails, good wine and knowledgeable staff. The eggplant risotto was a delicious surprise. Really enjoyed the evening.

Tags: Cozy, Good Vegetarian Options, Good for a Date, Handcrafted Cocktails
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
·Dined on September 17, 2017

The service was terrible, the 2 waitresses helping us - complacent and not the sharpest knife in a drawer, each made several ordering mistakes.

Tags: Great for Lunch
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food4
ambience2
service1
value2

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on September 17, 2017

This restaurant is a bit of an anomaly in the downtown area of Santa Cruz about a block off Pacific St. on the corner of Soquel and Front. It's an upscale restaurant with a great happy hour bar scene and friendly service (ask for Maria if she's working). The happy hour sliders are so scrumptious, it's worth going out of your way just for those; the burger patties are so tasty and juicy! And the buns are house-made brioche...fantastic. We shared the skirt steak entree afterwards; it comes with au gratin potatoes, roasted carrots, and is served with a bleu cheese butter sauce that is complements the steak perfectly. Ordered medium rare, it is juicy, tender, and very flavorful. Oswald also has some creative house-recipe cocktails that we thoroughly enjoyed, such as their current seasonal special which is a margarita made with watermelon juice and muddled fruit. Very refreshing and super tasty.

Other highlights in the restaurant included the open kitchen and thoughtful touches such as the sound-deadening acoustic baffles hanging from the ceiling. I wish more restaurants used these, because it really helps with canceling out echoing from conversations, kitchen noises, etc. and allows you to have a normal-volume conversation at your table.

Highly recommended.

Tags: Bar Seating, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for a Date, Fun, Neighborhood Gem, Casual, People Watching, Hot Spot, Fit for Foodies, Happy Hour
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on September 16, 2017

Consistently good! I have my favorites when I go, but I tried the scallop special this time. Excellent! I also like the lively atmosphere.

Tags: Hot Spot, Special Occasion, Good for Anniversaries, Seasonal, Bar Seating, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on September 15, 2017

As usual the dinner was outstanding...and Janet made the evening even better!

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for Groups, Business Meals, Quiet Conversation
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on September 2, 2017

Consistently good! The only place in Santa Cruz I can take someone from out of town and know they will have a good time and have an exceptional meal.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Good for a Date, Neighborhood Gem, Vibrant Bar Scene, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on August 27, 2017

Food was delicious. Service, in terms of the time it took for food to be served, was very, very slow and consequently problematic.

Not many options on the menu that immediately accommodate food sensitivities but restaurant was quick to substitute one item for another.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Handcrafted Cocktails
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food5
ambience3
service3
value3

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on August 25, 2017

We went to Oswalds for our anniversary dinner. The cocktails are unique and delicious and seasonal. The appetized of chicken liver mousse was outstanding.. not something you can find everywhere. I was a little disappointed with the fish entrée but the steak was tender and delicious. The service was excellent.

Tags: Authentic, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for a Date, Special Occasion
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on August 23, 2017

fantastic dishes and service. You go Janelle.....to Italy and beyond. Scallops needed to be purged of sand to a further extent. Otherwise, everything was perfect. Try the albarino wine with seafood.

Tags: Romantic, Pre/post Theatre, Vibrant Bar Scene, Good for Groups, Good for a Date
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food4
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on August 19, 2017

Good food but definitely high priced for what it is. The quality used to be much higher (and worth the cost) but is less consistent now. I was disappointed to find out when I received the bill that the abalone appetizer special was $32, the server neglected to mention this and seemed to think it was a non issue. We used to frequent Oswald regularly but given the decrease in quality and the unfortunate high prices and better options in town I don't see much reason to go back.

1 person found this review helpful.
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food3
ambience3
service3
value2

vip
 (Charlotte)·Dined on August 17, 2017

Found this on OT while in Santa Cruz on business. My wife and I had an enjoyable
lunch here. Good food, funky, excellent service.
Worth going back to.

Tags: Fun, Neighborhood Gem, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (Atlanta)·Dined on August 16, 2017

Really Good service
We enjoyed everything about this restaurant. Great food and interesting and different food selections. Service was especially good. Intelligent and appropriate as distinguished from either fawningly obsequiously intrusive or impersonally haphazard as apparently customary in some restaurants in this area.

Tags: Local Ingredients, Cozy, Romantic, Fun, Fit for Foodies, Good Vegetarian Options
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

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