Pearl of the Ocean

3.9
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95 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Indian

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Good Vegetarian Options
Pearl of the Ocean offers a unique luncheon or dining experience for locals and visitors alike. We are conveniently located on Water Street near downtown Santa Cruz, with easy bus access, and plenty of parking. The restaurant first opened in 2004 as Sri Restaurant, and quickly became popular Ayoma Wilen, the new owner/chef, is continuing the tradition of serving delicious Sri Lankan cuisine, using fresh quality organic and locally grown ingredients, and a variety of special ingredients imported directly from Sri Lanka. We have many vegetarian and vegan offerings that are unique to our restaurant, as well as several dishes that include meat and seafood. In addition to all the delicious food, we have a wonderful selection of teas and exotic drinks. You'll enjoy our cuisine in a comfortable atmosphere, at reasonable prices; once you try it, you'll be back for more. Come savor the flavors of Sri Lanka!
What 95 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
3.9based on all time ratings
4.2
food
3.7
service
3.5
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
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JS
JuneS
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2020
Overall4food4service2ambience3

We went for Burger Week and the menu was hard to understand plus the waiter didn't ask how we wanted our meat cooked.
Their website says "We serve grass-fed burgers, but only one of the burgers offered was grass-fed.
That's the one we ordered and it was very good.
The service was slow, but we weren't in a hurry so didn't mind.
I would go there again.

m
msxcski
Central Coast
24 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

We all enjoyed our meals. The mushroom curry was especially delicious as was the salmon and the lamb. CHT Ayoma Wilen continues to provide delicious food.

L
Lynn
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 23, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience3

Our waitress and waiter went out of their way to ensure that we were happy with our meal - when the first dish was too spicy for one in our party, they re-made the dish and offered other suggestions for next time. Delicious Sri Lankan food.

CP
vipCaPatola
Central Coast
27 reviews
Dined on October 4, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We love Pearl of The Ocean. Fresh, delicious food!!

s
sundip17
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience4

Food was okay. Service was not that great. But way too pricey than what it deserves.

OG
OrganicGirl
Milwaukee
11 reviews
Dined on May 15, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always excellent warming healthy creative flavorful comfort like food in a warm ambiance with incredible service!

E
vipEnjoyable
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on March 17, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience2

I have eaten at Pearl of the Ocean a number of times and always had the feeling that "wow is it expensive" but the quality and taste may be worth it. My last visit was not good. I did not like the taste and the service was very very slow.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Seattle
1 review
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was exceptional. One of the best high quality in Santa Cruz. We are picky eaters and prefer to eat at home because pretty much no food in Santa Cruz is up to our standards. I would go to this restaurant on any given day and wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring my guest in here.

SN
SusanN
Central Coast
9 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall4food5service2ambience5

The food is extraordinary and the atmosphere is cozy. But be prepared to wait. Dinner is at least a two hour event. So I wouldn’t plan to dine before an evening event. If you are planning a leisurely dinner, this is the place!

S
Skyotedancer
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a lovely time with a delicious dinner and a welcoming atmosphere. We will definitely return!

R
Ronb
1 review
Dined on December 20, 2018
Overall1food1service1ambience1

I made a reservation for 5:15 PM because we had a concert that evening and needed to make sure we were not late for the show. I arrived a bit early, around 4:55 PM to make sure we would stay on schedule and the restaurant was dark even though the sign and OpenTable information indicated they opened at 5 PM. My partner arrived about 5 minutes before I did and said she saw a man enter the restaurant but all the lights except for one we could see back in the kitchen remained off and at 5:03 PM I called the restaurant as no one answered our knocks on the door, and I received voicemail and left a message saying we would like to know what was going on and if we needed to find another place to eat dinner. Pressed for time and concerned about missing our show or dinner my partner got out of the car again at 5:09 PM and knocked on the door again hard until the man inside finally came to talk to her, but only through the locked glass door. He told her he worked there and had expected the owner to be there by now and had no idea where she was. Pretty certain we would not be seated and served on schedule if at all, we left very frustrated and hungry in search of another restaurant that could accomodate in a last minute situation. We never received a call back from the owner with an appology or any explanation and can therefore not recommend this reataurant. I wanted to leave a review for Overall, Service and Value on OpenTable but unfortunately It would not allow me to submit a review with only those categories selected. I therefore checked Poor for Food and Ambiance as well because under the circumstances there were no other options other than leaving a better rating so you can ignore my vote in those two categories which we were not in a position to rate accurately.

WB
vipWilliamB
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 9, 2018
Overall5food4service4ambience5

Inventive and delicious food in a family restaurant setting. Good value and very unique dishes.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2018
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent food!! Great meal for restaurant week. Amazing flavors come together for a perfect meal. The desserts were delicious!

MC
MimiC
1 review
Dined on October 14, 2018
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food. Nice atmosphere. Cute and cozy place:)

SD
SeaDubsFan
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 11, 2018
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Delicious meal, part of the fixed-price Santa Cruz Restaurant Week. The pakoras starter was lightly breaded with chickpea flour, to let the vegetables shine through. And it was an impressive and generous mix of vegetables. The jackfruit curry was flavorful, paired with the delicious ginger rice and yellow lentil dal for which Pearl of the Ocean is known. The mixed vegetable curry on the side was delicious. It all went well with the house white wine, a buttery Chardonnay.

TS
TonyS
1 review
Dined on September 23, 2018
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely some of the best food you will ever eat. Being Sri Lankan ourselves we not only enjoy it for the authenticity but for presentation, originality, freshness, and taste as well.

E
vipEnjoyable
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on August 22, 2018
Overall4food5service3ambience3

Food quality and taste is great. Will go back many times for the taste.

LW
LuckyW
1 review
Dined on July 14, 2018
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The owner came to our table to make sure we got what we wanted and helped us with deciding on our meal. Most kind and attentive to our special needs.
Best meal and beautifully presented we both could remember! We were very pleased with all our choices and the taste wad different than anything we had ever had....in a good way. Definitely worth the drive from Carmel. Thank you for the treats and treatment of caring. The Best!

GU
GrilledUnicorn
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on May 17, 2018
Overall4food5service2ambience3

I really love the food here, the service is polite but very slow. No other tables in the whole place sometimes and it still takes 15-20 minutes to get water. I love the food, but often choose not to come here if I don't have 2+ hours to eat. Lunch seems faster.

CT
CindyT
1 review
Dined on March 3, 2018
Overall1food1service4ambience2

Honestly this food was SO overpriced first of all second of all my food came cold and I had to send it back. To Boot it was tasteless. I would not recommend this place to anyone. But I have to add the waitress was a sweetheart !

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2017
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This is my new favorite place! Yummy organic, locally sourced & VEGAN sri lankan food. I had the triple mushroom curry with brown rice & salad rolls and 2 glasses of their signature wine. The owner/chef was also serving due to pre-holiday reduction in staff and she never gave off any impression that she was hurried or harried but was lovely and friendly and helpful. The food was fresh, interesting & delicious. The wine was sweet, rich and full bodied and fun to drink. One of my favorite things was the ambience was like a cafe with mellow dimmed lighting. It has less than 20 tables and the result is you can converse with your friend/s. This may not seem like a big deal but I am hearing impaired so a general din as you find in most restaurants was noticeably missing here & it made the whole dining experience so peaceful. Prices were reasonable and the food was excellent. I'll be back!! Thank you.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 10, 2017
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Really love this place every time I come I get something different, food has flavors that are so yummy, if it's says Spicey it really is so be careful if you don't like hot spices.

G
Grandma
Sacramento
6 reviews
Dined on October 20, 2017
Overall4food4service4ambience3

My husband and I were visiting Santa Cruz for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. This wasn't my birthday celebration restaurant, but we were looking forward to a new experience in Sri Lankan cooking. We had very early reservations (5:30) and so the service was quick. The fixed price menu for restaurant week had been extended to Friday, October 20th even though the menu indicated it would end on October 18th. The food was good but a small criticism was that it was served only slightly warm even though it had come directly from the kitchen. Perhaps that is the way Sri Lankan food is served. The staff service was delightful and gracious.

L
Lynn
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on October 15, 2017
Overall2food3service2ambience2

We decided to give this place a second try, but found it much like our first experience: loud, crowded, and over-priced with slow service.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 13, 2017
Overall3food3service4ambience3

The deviled beef with eggplant was scrumptious. The salmon was overdone (I asked for it rare, and they told me it couldn't be done, so that's on me), and I wasn't crazy about the sauce on top. The coconut/leek sambal was also too spicy for me. But dessert was fab (chocolate cake for hubby and tapioca for me), and I loved that the chef came out for a short visit. She was lovely. I'd go back and just not order the salmon.

SK
SewK
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2017
Overall4food5service4ambience4

The food was really delicious, healthy and fresh. The flavors were unique and vibrant! I would come here next time I visit Santa Cruz. There was only one waiter and he was serving all the tables, so a few things were forgotten and we needed to be patient. I have a friend who is allergic to coconut and soy, and she was not able to eat anything other than a noodle dish. So, I wish I could have seen more of the menu online prior to arriving.

KD
vipKDavis
Sacramento
6 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2017
Overall5food5service3ambience4

Food was creative and delicious, in a small but bright and cheerful space. Service was friendly but quite slow. The house-label wine (we had the cab) was surprisingly good.

MA
vipMarshaA
Orange County
7 reviews
Dined on July 26, 2017
Overall4food5service5ambience3

Great spicy food, $$. Groupon next time!!

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 25, 2017
Overall3food4service2ambience2

The food was beautifully presented, very colorful, with varied textures and spiciness.
I especially recommend the pakora--a deep fried variety of vegetables with a chili sauce for dipping.
Waitstaff seemed friendly and helpful, but somewhat inexperienced.
Many vegetarian and vegan choices.

D
Dave
Key West
3 reviews
Dined on June 2, 2017
Overall4food5service4ambience3

The food was great. My son-in-law is from Sri Lanka and he confirmed that the food was authentic and very good. However, the prices were a bit over-the-top. 3 Adults and a child and the bill with tip came to $145. We ordered 3 main entrees, one shared appetizer and three beers plus one Tea. The child shared our food. The servings were good-sized and we had some to take home with us. I would consider going back for a special occasion, but would not take the family for a regular dinner out considering the prices.

The evening sun was a bit too bright and glaring in the restaurant. It really detracted from the atmosphere.

Service was very good even with a first-day employee. She did very well for it being her first day on the job. Very friendly! The manager was also very attentive and stopped by a couple times to make sure we were being taken cared of well.

A
Aaron
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 19, 2017
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Delicious, beautiful display of food with friendly and generous service.
All food sold if bought at local Santa Cruz farmers markets.

F
Funeats
San Diego
1 review
Dined on April 14, 2017
Overall3food3service2ambience2

The food was good and different.
The hostess/?owner was on her cell phone most of the time and even came to the table while still talking on it. There was a mix up with the bill and the other party left upset. This could have been handled better with improved customer relations.

f
flip
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on March 18, 2017
Overall2food3service3ambience2

they opened late then the wine list wasn't what was on the menu only their own white/red--plus price and items did not match their website--so won't be back.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on February 18, 2017
Overall1food1service4ambience1

Stuffy steamy room
Overpriced
No decent lighting
Mediocre food
Never going back

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2017
Overall5food5service5ambience4

My fiancée and I went here for Valentine's Day—not realizing there was a prix fixe menu for Valentine's Day at $45/person...I had only budgeted for about $75 for the 2 of us with tax and tip, since we are planning a wedding in just a few months. It was a busy night, so my fiancée let the waiter know that we didn't realize the price, and we don't want to take away a seat from someone else, so we would leave. He was SO friendly!! He said that since it was Valentine's Day, and he didn't want us to have to leave simply due to our financial constraints, that he would allow us to order off the regular menu (the one we had budgeted for). That was so nice, because we both had a delicious meal! I definitely don't recommend going on a really busy night if you're in a huge hurry, because it did take a while to get our check at the end, but the food was delicious, atmosphere was lovely, and the waiter was truly so kind and a great people-person!

The owner and both staff members were so friendly, accommodating, and warm—great customer service.

YOU MUST GO HERE FOR THE FOOD: I loved everything I had. Since I don't like really spicy food, I asked the waiter what was more mild, and he was very accommodating—everything I had was at the perfect level of spice. My fiancée was more adventurous and tried dishes he warned us had some chili powder—and he was right! It definitely had a kick, but went well with everything else on the plate—great for those who like spice. Both of us got the "mild" versions—they can also do medium and hot. I LOVED the kale, the dhal, the paan, and the special squash curry—so basically I loved everything I ate!

Definitely worth the wait and time for the delicious food and truly compassionate staff.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 11, 2017
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Excellent, tasty food, helpful service, a bit expensive but totally satisfying.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on January 23, 2017
Overall5food5service5ambience3

This is our new favorite restaurant. The food is delicious. Their willingness to work with allergies and food preferences is first rate.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Sacramento
19 reviews
Dined on January 6, 2017
Overall1food1service3ambience1

I was so excited when I discovered that a Sri Lanka Restraunt was in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed with the food and cost after our experience. The host was nice and the service was pleasant, however the dishes lacked authenticity and flavor. We ordered several vegan dishes and the vegetable selections used in the dishes was predominatly cabbage with a few carrort, broccilli, onion and few bell peppers. We also ordered the salmon special for the evening and the salmon was flavored with heavy salt. The special came with cashew cauliflower, dalh and a coconut curry. THE CASHEW CAULIFLOWER WAS TASTY. I am familiar with Sri Lankan cusine and have been to Sri Lanka several times, I would not recommend this place.
The price for 3 adults and a 2 year old was over $100.00 and this was with no alcohol! I considered this to be expensive for what we got.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2016
Overall5food5service4ambience4

The vegetable side-dish selection is a must-taste. A great variety of tastes and textures.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on December 19, 2016
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Our new favorite restaurant. Works around all types of allergies and food preferences.

FAQs

Pearl of the Ocean offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (831) 457-2350.

Pearl of the Ocean is rated 3.9 stars by 95 OpenTable diners.

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