A really interesting place with the feel of a prohibition-era cigar bar and, of course, an ambiance full or red furniture, lighting etc.
Tap list was about 20 or so strong with a pretty good selection of IPA, porter/stout, Belgian beers, etc. with some pretty nice selections, although nothing rare or harder to find. Serving sizes were appropriate to the beer, which is always nice to see.
Service was very good and friendly as well, and also knowledgeable about craft beer, which is always appreciated.
There's no action over here. Really, there's none. If there's any activity , it's in the little Mexican joint on the street corner. Go on, nothing to see. Yet I see well dressed people walking into an unnamed place. Ok, let's get closer. There's a menu of food and drink...Deschutes, Rodebach, ok, I'm going in!
Walk through the door, climb two flights of steps, go left, and welcome. There's low lighting inside, and it's red colored at that. It feels like a club out of another era. 70's funk is playing loud, and is going really well with the way this place looks. Lounge chairs and sofas are scattered throughout the floor. The bar hugs a corner and is looked after by several people. Most of the spots are taken, but I see an opening. But first, let's get a drink.
Over two dozen good taps of beer, brought out by the names Rodenbach, Blanche de Bruxelles, Green Flash, Paulaner, Rogue, Deschutes, North Coast, and Flying Dog. A dozen bottles are available in addition to the taps, emphasized by Belgian styles. And sweetening the pot is the array of glassware and beautiful pours. Fair pricing helps too ($5.50-8 a pour), perhaps a tick more by Santa Cruz standards, but very fair by the Orange County standards I've grown by.
How much of Santa Cruz's economy is created from beer drinking? The Red, 99 Bottles, burger, Seabright, 515 Kitchen, Publick Parish House; that's a fun list for a city of 60,000. The Red is simply a great place to spend some time and drink at, and it takes a mold similar to 515 Kitchen (sans the heavy hitting bottle list).
Went here once for food and beers. The decor of this place is...um...interesting to say the least. It looks a little bit like a lounge from circa 1940. It's very red. Still though, they've got a nice beer selection, assuming they're not out of your first, second, and third choice. Lots of good SoCal beers make it up here - AleSmith, Lost Abbey, etc, and you can get great Bay Area beers like Russian River, Bear Republic, Moonlight, Uncommon Brewers, etc. Sometimes they'll have some surprising stuff available. Lots of taps, but again, the menu is rarely up-to-date, and you'll order a 5 beer flight only to be told they're out of 3 of them. Sort of sucks. Quality is also hit-or-miss, as it seems that some of the tap lines get sort of old at times. Food is solid though, very eclectic, and overall I'd say this is a good place to go if you're down in Santa Cruz.
This play is terrible. The quality of the beer is consistently flat, across all their beers. Doesn't matter which one. I've now been here three times, spaced 6 months, and two weeks apart in my visits respectively, and they all had the same draft problems. The gentleman below alluded to this as well. They have a serious flaw with how they store or dispense their beers. I don't bother coming here anymore. Add in mediocre food, and it's depressing because otherwise the service is decent and the place itself is cool.
I just got back from a weekend in Santa Cruz with my wife. Red was our downtown fueling station and it is due for a BeerFly Review.
It is in a great location one block off the main strip, Pacific. It is very close to plenty of parking, a movie theatre, and the Catalyst. It is located on the top level of the Hotel Santa Cruz and it is a large space. They have a pretty large bar and lots of couches and chairs set up to sit back and relax. Their is also a portion reserved for sit down dining. Both times we went we opted to sit in the lounge area.
We went both days during their happy hour, which happens everyday from 4 to 7. Lots of various appetizers and small plates are specially priced from $3 to $7. We tried the fried pickles and the chicken skewers, both of which were good and come out to $8 total for plenty of food. They also serve large portions of other types of food. The prices seemed fair.
The beer selection was pretty awesome. I did not catch how many taps they had, but the draught menu was quite large. The menu they have online is quite old though. This was the first place that I have seen Alesmith on tap in Northern California. They had their IPA, Imperial IPA (Yulesmith?), and Speedway Stout. They also had Moonlight Reality Czech and Death and Taxes. Some other great beers included Green Flash Saison, Craftsman Cabernale (never seen them in NorCal), Bear Republic El Oso, Weihenstephaner Korbinian and Hefe, and a tone more. They also have a huge bottle list covering everything from Belgians to Port Brewing. While the selection was good, I did find that they were out of a lot of the beers advertised on their menu. They ran out of the SN Kellerweiss, Stone IPA, and Lagunitas New Dogtown Ale. Our first server knew what replaced the dead kegs, but our second one did not. Having a beer board above the bar would definitely help customers decide what beer to get. I also found the Alesmith IPA and Imperial IPA to be a tad malty and past their prime. Most pints were priced around $5.50. The higher abv beers are served in 10 ounce glasses and a lot more are served in Imperial pint glasses.
The service was excellent on one night and lacking the next. Our waitress the first night was great. I did not catch her name, but she mentioned she was from San Diego and personally drove down to Alesith, Craftsman, etc. to get the beer. She was great and very knowledgeable about what had replaced the kegs that had run out. Our server the second night seemed a tad bit flustered and did not even know they had the GF Saison until I had mentioned it to her.
Overall I thought this was an excellent place. It has a really comfortable vibe and has a selection that I am willing to bet is the best in the city. As previously mentioned, it would help if they did a better job of not relying on a piece of paper to let customers know what is currently on tap. I will definitely be going back here on my next trip to Santa Cruz.
There's a lot to like about the Red Restaurant, but it has more then its share of flaws as well.
To start with, atmosphere here is lounge lizard kistch, which I guess is fine if that's what you're in the mood for. As one walks upstairs into the dining area, one immediately sees quite a few sofas and low tables. There is also a good size bar to the left, which probably holds close to 20 patrons. The lighting was low (as was the cut of the bartender's dress) in keeping with the lounge lizard motif. The selection of beer is very good here, with something like 30 beers on tap and a number of bottles. The draft list is divided into a Belgian style and "others" section. There is no crap on tap at Red's, something I always appreciate. As it turned out, the local Deschutes rep was there, and he confirmed that he goes out of his way to make sure he provides the owner with as good a selection of beers as possible. The rep made it clear that the owner is the preeminent "player" when it comes to craft beer and imports in Santa Cruz. After reading over the beer list, I was not the least bit surprised to hear this.
In terms of service, the woman behind the bar was extremely pleasant and friendly. That's the good news. The bad news is that she knew very little about beer, but thought she could "fake it." I ordered a YuleSmith that clearly had something wrong with it. The beer was completely flat and was obviously "off." I told her immediately that I would happily pay for it, but that the beer was off and so I wanted something different. Her response was that Belgian beers tend to be better when served somewhat warmer, and so that's probably what I found odd about this beer. At that point I pointed out that the beer was from Southern California, was a DIPA, and so there was nothing Belgian about it. Fortunately for me, the Deschutes rep also tried the beer, and confirmed something was wrong with the beer. So at that point I ordered a glass of Racer X, whereupon she started to pour some Racer 5. I reminded her that I had ordered the X, and just wanted to be sure that they had the wrong tap handle for it. At that point she indicated she had thought I'd ordered the Racer 5 (yeah, right - turns out the X was long gone, though still on the menu), but agreed to get me something different. On the bright side, she was unfailingly pleasant and didn't charge me for the Racer 5 or the YuleSmith. That's really the only reason I give this place as good a score as I do for service.
Prices here were on the high side I thought, especially for some of the non-beer related items. The 12 ounce glass of Gouden Carolous Noel was an acceptable $7.75, but $3 for a glass of well tonic water for my friend (who is not a big beer drinker) is absolute nonsense.
I don't know. The beer selection here is pretty good and Red Restaurant certainly deserves all the accolades it's received in that regard. I understand this place is popular with the local college crowd (lots of trendy designer cocktails), and I can certainly see why it would be. It's a place I'd visit again (any place can have an off night), but given a choice, I'll take my money to 515.
Located upstairs in the old Santa Cruz hotel is Red Restaurant & lounge.
Long L shaped bar with about 20 stools. Nice big sky light in the ceiling above. Many couches & comfy chairs, fireplace, and old wood decor give this place a very cool old historic lounge vibe.
The beer selection is top notch. On my visits they've had Bear Republic Racer X, Moonlight Death & Taxes and Bombay By Boat, Alesmith Speedway Stout, Alesmith IPA & Brown, Flying Dog Gonzo, Craftsman IPA, Green Flash Hop Head Red, etc. All these special brews go along with the more "standard" offerings like Delerium Tremens, Stone, Chimay, Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, etc. Nice bottle list as well. You can get a Rochefort 10 for $9. Many Port & Lost Abbey bottles as well.
Food is good as well. I've had the Risotto, New York steak, Assault & Battery, all very good.
Service has always been friendly all the way around.
If you're in Santa Cruz looking for beer...this is the only place to go.
The Red is clearly the best beer destination in Santa Cruz proper.
The Red is always packed with college students on Thursday through Sunday nights. It's often very difficult to get a spot at the bar (or at anywhere else) when it's busy. They play hip music from an iPod over the speaker system and the whole place is lit by red lights and candles. It's nice looking but noisy and busy.
The beer is a real treat here though. They consistently have great stuff from AleSmith, Stone, Craftsman, Moonlight, Bear Republic, and Deschutes on tap. Gonzo Imperial Porter and Duchesse de Bourgogne are usually on tap as well. The bottle selection is also great but pricey. Normally they'll have AleSmith, Stone, all 3 Rocheforts, Orval, Unibroue, and Lost Abbey (!!!). I love checking in to The Red to see what obscure stuff they managed to get and put on tap.
Service is pretty good. Although it's difficult to get noticed over the droves of banana slugs, the bartenders are surprisingly competent. They serve Belgian beers in snifters/tulips, and they have the specific glasses for Duvel, St. Bernardus, Rochefort, Celebrator, Lindemanns lambics, and Trumer Pils. If they're out of something, they generally know enough to recommend another beer or two of the same style.
The food is excellent. Instead of traditional pub grub, they make ritzy dishes with high quality ingredients. This makes it pricey but well worth it if you're treating yourself.
Another great perk about The Red is that their liquor license allows beer-to-go. That's right, if you are willing to pay the high bottle price for beer that you can't find anywhere else around the central coast, you can walk right out the door with whatever you want from the bottle list.
Great bar, and one of the only must-go beer destinations for like 70 miles.
First off, Best Beer Selection in Santa Cruz-Period.
Located on the second floor of an old building on a side street in downtown Santa Cruz. Walking in you notice how red it is, hence Red Bar, and how hip the furniture is. The bar is to the left of the door. The draft and and bottle selection is fantastic. I had a good conversation with the bar keep whom informed me that she and others drive to breweries and pick up beers that aren't distributed in this area. Some of the beers currently on tap are:
Thirsty Bear (1)
Bear Republic (2?)
They also have about 10 German, Belgium, and English beers.
They also have about 20 bottles including;
More Belgium beers as well
Prices are between $5 and $7 per draft serving-which depends on the style and ABV.
Service was fantastic-my bar keep gave me a few tasters-and we had some excellent beer conversation.