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Diners' Choice: Lively restaurants in Santa Cruz / Capitola / Aptos

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OpenTable
Updated July 05, 2024

Looking for restaurants that have the most vibrant bar scenes in Santa Cruz / Capitola / Aptos? You’re in the right place. Each month, OpenTable analyzes nearly 2 million global diner reviews from the past four months. We sort the results by location and category to help you discover new favorite restaurants. It's a great partnership: you reserve, eat, and review. We listen...and deliver the results for all to benefit. Enjoy!


A photo of Suda restaurant
4.8
4.8 (365)
$31 to $50
American
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
Pairing seasonal produce from local farmers with line caught fish and lean, hormone-free beef, the menu at Süda stays as fresh as the ingredients. With a variety of inventive dishes, including vegan and gluten free options, there is truly something for everyone.

The atmosphere at the bar is lively, while booths offer diners a more intimate experience making Süda the perfect place for a casual meal with friends or a night out with someone special. We are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can enjoy fresh food whenever your heart desires.



Top review
Mauivip
Dined on Jul 6, 2024
Food at Sudas excellent most of the time today we had chicken wing for a starter and have had them a dozen times this year always plump and meaty, this time scrawny no meat and over cooked just gristle, fish of the day usually outstanding but tiny potion and practically nothing else on plate, disappointing
A photo of Cafe Cruz Rosticceria & Bar restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1978)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Soquel
About the restaurant
Cafe Cruz is a popular and lively local restaurant. We offer casual/fine dining with a full bar, indoor and heated patio dining. Guests enjoy watching the "magic" created in our open copper-backed kitchen each night by our talented team of chefs. Notable features include many locally sourced foods, nightly sustainable seafood specials, and many creative salad and vegetable options. Our innovative pastas and sandwiches are always a hit.
Spit-Roasted meats are featured each night, cooked on a french Rotisol rotisserie. The lush garden room can seat larger parties of up to 35. Guests enjoy our warm friendly service, our many seating options, and exceptionally delicious food.

Top review
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 7 days ago
Excellent Service!!! great food! One of our favorite places to dine.
A photo of Barceloneta restaurant
4.7
4.7 (178)
$31 to $50
Tapas / Small Plates
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
Barceloneta in Downtown Santa Cruz features expertly made paellas, tapas, cocktails, sangria and churros. We pride ourselves on working with local farmers and sourcing specialty foods directly from Spain. Most popular dishes include seafood paella, patatas bravas, jamon croquetas, ibiza hippie salad and harissa ribs. Locals know we have the best vegan and vegetarian options. We are known for freshly juiced cocktails, sangria pitchers, an extensive list of Spanish wines, sherries, vermouths and gins. Diners love our cheery, bright space, open kitchen and bustling bar scene.
Owners Brett and Elan Emerson are husband and wife team who previously owned Contigo, San Francisco. They are known for hospitality, authentic service and delicious, memorable dishes.
*Winner Best New Restaurant, Best Small Plates, Best Tapas Bar, Best Spanish Restaurant North America*
Chef Brett Emerson has been featured in Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetite, Time Out, Financial Times, Via, Plate Magazine and more.

Top review
Mark561
Dined on Jun 23, 2024
Really great authentic Spanish cuisine and exceptional service. Great cocktails as well. I will definitely be back.
A photo of Alderwood Santa Cruz restaurant
4.6
4.6 (600)
$50 and over
Contemporary American
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
Alderwood, under the culinary leadership of Executive Chef Mikey Adams, is dedicated to providing a dining experience that strikes a delicate balance between the comfort and warmth of home and the vibrancy of the downtown dining scene. Our mission is to offer our guests an exceptional and memorable meal that is deeply rooted in our commitment to fostering a genuine connection between our open kitchen and the local community. We welcome you to join us for an unforgettable culinary journey that celebrates the essence of togetherness and exceptional cuisine.
Top review
JohnRvip
Dined 1 day ago
This was one of the very best (and most surprising) meals my wife and I have ever enjoyed. The restaurant had strong reviews and we were excited to try it but I was not anticipating it would be a 5-star experience. All of the food we had knocked our socks off. We began with the Pork Tinga appetizer. Legitimately a perfect bite of food: the combination of the lime, the cream, the cilantro, with the slow-cooked pork, all sitting on top of the crisp sesame cracker. We could have eaten an entree sized plate of this dish! For our entrees, I had the Rib Cap (new to the menu today - lucky us!). It was a generous portion, accompanied by a cabbage/mustard seed/Fresno chile/onion pairing that serves to provide a bite that plays more in the pastrami world. The meat itself melted in your mouth, I kept bouncing back and forth between bites off the meat by itself and with the full accompaniment, unable to decide which bites were better. My wife enjoyed the Roasted Squash dish, served with a green curry featuring black eyed peas, pumpkin seeds, and spring greens. The dish also featured a miso component throughout that was not highlighted on the menu, but it served to create a perfect vegetarian offering. In addition to the entrees, we ordered the Maitake Tempura...simply the bets tempura mushrooms we've ever had (and we order them any time we see them on a menu). It was our first anniversary so we skipped dessert as we were diving into our wedding cake, but that leaves us something new to try when we come back! While the restaurant is certainly priced as an upscale venue, we have paid more for much less (both in quantity and quality) many times. Overall, felt the pricing here was a bargain for the OUTSTANDING meal we enjoyed. A must try.
A photo of Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen | Westside restaurant
4.6
4.6 (587)
$31 to $50
Californian
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
Enjoy handcrafted cocktails and food right next to the distillery where our spirits are produced. Indoor, bar and covered heated patio seating available.

Hours:
Monday to Thursday 5pm-9pm
Friday to Sunday 4pm-9pm




Top review
Awashonksvip
Dined 2 days ago
Love their cocktails, delicious! Food was wonderful, my husband had the fried chicken (as usual) and I had a lovely roasted cauliflower with a dipping sauce that was wonderful. We sat outside on a balmy night at a high top table. Terrific.
A photo of Oswald restaurant
4.5
4.5 (1587)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
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. Oswald features new art shows every two months.

We do have first come tables available in the lounge as well as bar seats.
Come by and see if there is a table or seat for you.

Top review
RalphSvip
Dined on Jul 14, 2024
The happy hour pub grub is delicious, a good value and can be ordered in the dining room. Same goes for the daily cocktail specials, house wines and beer. My husband ordered the lasagne (came with a green salad), I had the burger and fries, both perfection, and each of us had a glass of wine.
A photo of Ideal Bar & Grill restaurant
4.5
4.5 (298)
$30 and under
Californian
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
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! Reservations are for our inside dining room only.
Top review
Erik
Dined on Jun 20, 2024
We are a family of four, with two young boys and a special needs four year old. The service was outstanding! Our hostess was kind and helpful. The waiter was very friendly and patient. And our food was simply delicious. Ideal Bar & Grill is 100 percent kid friendly, with a beautiful interior and a stunning view. 5 stars! We are definitely coming back.
A photo of Mozaic - Santa Cruz restaurant
4.5
4.5 (467)
$30 and under
Mediterranean
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
We named our restaurant Mozaic because we wanted to capture the diversity of flavors and culmination of authentic Mediterranean dishes that we offer. We bring together the best of Mediterranean recipes from Greece, Lebanon, Turkey and Sicily, emphasizing Middle Eastern influence.

Our menu is hand-crafted after years of experience in the restaurant business knowing what people like. We make every dish completely authentic, utilizing 100 years old techniques that have been passed down through generations to bring you incredible flavor. COME AND TASTE THE DIFFERENCE We seek only the best, local ingredients. We use high-quality meats, like our Australian lamb tenderloin and select only sustainable seafood. Our lavash comes from an authentic Persian bakery.

Everyone wants family. Mozaic is a warm and inviting atmosphere where everyone can feel at home. Come enjoy our incredible and lush atmosphere.

Top review
LizaNvip
Dined on Jul 12, 2024
Really appreciated the ambiance, food and especially the attentiveness of the staff!
A photo of Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen | Beachside restaurant
4.5
4.5 (294)
$31 to $50
Californian
Aptos
About the restaurant
Newly renovated beachside restaurant, located in Aptos, CA. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails with locally distilled Venus Spirits and a menu featuring local seafood, produce, and Venus favorites. Indoor, bar, and patio seating available.

Dinner Hours:
Wednesday - Thursday // 5pm - 9pm
Friday - Sunday // 4pm - 9pm

Lunch Hours:
Friday - Sunday // 12pm - 3pm

Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined today
Liked variety of choices on menu. Burrata was excellent but use of such a large serving platter made us think half the food was missing. Portion on platter was reasonable…..just too much empty space.
A photo of Oblo restaurant
4.4
4.4 (34)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Santa Cruz
About the restaurant
Coming Soon!
Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on Jul 14, 2024
Oblo blew us away!!! The food was absolutely incredible, the cocktails are delish and the service was impeccable. We will definitely be back
Explore Diners' Choice best of Santa Cruz / Capitola / Aptos
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