515 Kitchen & Cocktails

Bar, Eatery

515 Cedar St
Santa Cruz, California, 95060-4306
United States

(831) 425-5051 | map

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Ratings by mctizzz:
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Rated by mctizzz from California

4/5  rDev -1.5%

Jun 13, 2014
More User Ratings:
Rated: 3.5 by BarrelAgedG from California

Apr 12, 2019
Rated: 3.86 by Spaceman_Jer from Colorado

Jan 31, 2017
Rated: 4.23 by B_B from California

Jan 08, 2015
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Reviewed by LaneMeyer from California

3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
Great location, great atmosphere, very good food. Not the best beer selection in the world but not bad. If you want to go get a good bite to eat and have a decent beer in Santa Cruz it's worth a try.
Aug 16, 2014
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Reviewed by TheSevenDuffs from Canada (ON)

3.14/5  rDev -22.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3
I have no clue how this place has the ratings that it has. The only thing I can think of is that it has really slipped over the past couple of years (last review was about 2 years ago).

Tap list had 12, including Stella, so 11 craft brews. Selection was average at best. Even the local breweries, which were represent weren't all that appealing to the point that Deschutes Mirror Pond and Black Butte seemed like the two best options. The bottle list was also unimpressive with nothing all that interesting. The rare bottles mentioned in the reviews below were nowhere to be found.

Atmosphere wasn't great either. Kind of old and dirty.

I wouldn't even bother stopping here. It doesn't hold a candle to burger or 99 Beers.
Aug 02, 2013
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Reviewed by gs1397 from South Carolina

4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5
A buddy of mine at work took me to 515 in Santa Cruz one Friday night after work back in July 2010. It was a quaint looking, pink shotgun-style building with two floors. The first floor was dark and mostly empty... just 6-7 people dancing around to some techno a DJ was spinning.

We headed upstairs and immediately had a bit of a time finding room for our party of 6. Some folks were kind enough to move to accommodate us right next to the doors that led out to the second story porch. The place could definitely be described as "cozy" and not too loud... just the kind of place I like to hang out for after dinner conversation.

In terms of selection, I was in heaven. Most of the folks I was there with were Bay Area natives who had never been introduced to craft, so I started out by ordering a round of Bourbon Barrel Aged Angel Share (on tap!) for the couples and my buddy and me. It was phenomenal, and only $7 per 12oz pour! I'd had this stuff in the bottle before, but that paled in comparison to how vibrant and fresh this AS was on tap. Everyone except the ladies loved the AS so much that I ordered a bottle of Speedway Stout to share. Most people really liked it, but said it tended to be a bit boring compared to what we had just drunk.

So we ended the night with a bottle of Old Raspy XII. What a great decision... the barrel aging brought our palates back to life. I'd only had the standard Old Raspy prior to this, so I was quite pleased/amazed with what the barrel aging had done to this beer.

The ambiance, selection, and prices at 515 were impressive. Even the bottles we purchased weren't subject to the insane markup I'm used to seeing in my hometown. I will definitely be back the next time I visit Santa Cruz.
Jul 27, 2011
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Reviewed by DoubleJ from Wisconsin

4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5
First off, the atmosphere is great. It was cold outside, but it was extra toasty inside. The fireplace was a nice touch. Darkly lit inside, some cozy shairs and sofas near the bar, and a projector projecting 70s movies on the wall. There's a second floor to the place, but we stayed on the first floor and crashed onto a sofa.

It took a little attention to get our table cleared, and to get our drink order in. After that, things started to run smoothly between us and the servers. One of our servers turned out to be really chill, and seemed excited when I was the first to order a dose of Utopias....

Yes fellow reader, they stocked Utopias. In fact, 515 K&C stocks a lot a great beers. The draft list rotates, and the botttle lists features some hard to gets. 2004 Bigfoot Ale, Anchor Steam, Green Flash IPA, Chocolate Indulgence, Duvel Draft, Lil' Devil, St. Bernardus Witbier, Samichlaus, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Trumer, Brother Thelonious all on-tap. The bottle list is very good. Let's see....Rochefort, Westmalle, Samuel Smith's, Unibroue, Pinkus, Moylan's, Czechvar. But what makes it are the "exotics", such as Utopias, Speedway Stout, Firestone XII & XIII, Malheur, Rasputin XII, Scaldis Noel, and Black Xantus.

To make things even better, they use correct glassware, serve at the correct temperature, and without any odd flavors collected from the taps.

I would say that this is the place to be in Santa Cruz if you're a beer geek. I expected it to be good, but it well exceeded my expectations. Highly recommended.
Feb 07, 2010
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Reviewed by radshoesbro from California

4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4
Arrived at 3:30 just to find out they don't actually open until 4! Took a look at their menu (posted outside) and saw that they have a small selection of belgians, but nothing really remarkable.

A little after they opened my wife and I went in. We had to go upstairs, as their lower level appeared to be closed off by purple crushed velvet curtains. We went up the christmas light lined staircase, with a picture of a jazz drummer at the top. Take a left and enter a small dining room on the right. There is a tiny, curving bar at the end with an assortment of spirits on a shelf, a small tap selection and various liquors and wines. It looks very much like a mini dive inside a nicer restaurant. Our bartender was a very nice young woman that was fairly knowledgeable about the beers they had, but didn't seem like she knew a lot about beer in general. Luckily, the list that we read outside was only the beginning, they had about 20 taps, some of which were very impressive.

The beer was served in proper glassware and at an acceptable temperature. They have a wide enough selection that even the biggest beer dorks will be able to find something they will like. I was lucky enough to have a '04 Bigfoot, which was fantastic.

We weren't there in time for dinner, but the food they did have was really good! Not super expensive, and fair portions.

All in all, if I were back in Santa Cruz I can certainly see myself stopping in here for a bite and a drink!
Jan 10, 2010
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Reviewed by John_M from Oregon

4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
6/1/09 update. We had such a good time back in January, that I was looking forward to stopping by again during a recent, short trip to San Jose. First the good news:

We tried the food this time and it was every bit as terrific as it looked during our previous visit. My grilled portobello on sourdough bun was excellent, and my friend's red pepper, tomato bisque was homemade and excellent. The fries that came with my sandwich could not have been much better, and my friends house salad was fresh and excellent. The food is seriously good. On the other hand...

We visited 515 on Friday and Sunday and encountered similar problems both times. Several of the selections listed on the draft list were out, with the bartender clueless as to what they had been replaced with (he admitted that he only works one day a week, and so needed time to get up to speed). On Sunday I was initially dismayed to see the exact same draft list, with what I had to assume was an even more outdated selection. However, the bartender quickly handed me a new draft list, which she said had just been printed and was up to date. However, when I tried to order a glass of death and taxes, she noted that sometimes the list is printed with beers they expect to have on tap later. In other words, no death and taxes for me. I then inquired about a glass of St. Bernardus 12, but was told it was out.... even though the new list had just been printed and was supposedly up to date.

515 is a great place, but come on guys, let's get it together. I've gone here 3 times now and every time have been told that one or two of my choices from the draft list were out. I can only conclude that the draft list here is NEVER accurate and/or up to date, and have adjusted my quality and selection scores accordingly. End of update.

By and large the quality of food and services has always been fairly high in Santa Cruz, but nevertheless, I confess I wasn't expecting anything quite like this.

515 consists of a modest size two story gold colored building, located just off the Pacific Garden Mall at the corner of Cathcart and Cedar. The downstairs area is the main dining area, with a more relaxed, informal dining area and bar upstairs. There is also an outdoor deck, with a brazier going on cold winter days. The bar area holds around 10 patrons and consists of a wrap around (more or less) bar. The quality of the beer selection the day I was here was so good it had me scratching my head. They had just run out of the Reality Czech Pils, but still had 5 or 6 Belgians on tap, including the St. Bernardus X-mas, La Chouffe and Chimay, just to name a few. As they were out of the Reality Czech (the Trumer Pils was on in its place), I went with a glass of La Folie and Racer X. In other words, I didn't suffer much.

Service was very good, consisting this day of a very pleasant, very knowledgeable young woman. Service was prompt and friendly; no complaints there. I think there were between 16 and 20 beers on draft, with not a dud among them. The line-up here is/was seriously impressive. There is also a pretty decent selection of bottled beers, once again consisting mostly of Belgians. However, the draft list here was so strong, I had no interest in even looking at the bottle selection.

Didn't get the food this day, but won't make that mistake next time. What I saw looked very, very good.

Prices were reasonable, I thought, for what was available. My 12 ounce glass of La Folie was $4 and my pint of Racer X around $5.

I was told that the Red Restaurant just up the street is even better then this place (will visit today to see), which is hard to imagine. This is a very solid, absolutely outstanding place. Recommended.
Jan 26, 2009
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Reviewed by illidurit from California

4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5
This place has an odd layout, with two floors that serve the same purpose. Both floors have restaurant seating. Both floors have their own bar. A bit of confusion occurs however, when you realize that the upstairs bar and the downstairs bar have different beer. You may order something from the downstairs bar only to have the bartender leave and go upstairs to get it. This results in occasionally spotty service, because if you're with friends who are all ordering drinks, the bartender will have to get a beer from upstairs, a cocktail from upstairs, a different beer from downstairs, wine from downstairs, etc etc and unfortunately something is bound to get forgotten.

That said, the owner is a very nice guy (judging from our beermail conversations) with a keen eye for eclectic beer. This is the same guy who manages The Red, which is just down the street and boasts the best beer selection in Santa Cruz. 515 is likely to have at least 1 or 2 Moonlight beers, Alesmith, Port, Brooklyn, Allagash, and an assortment of local crafts. Prices are pretty standard, but sometimes you'll find a steal, like the $4 glasses of La Folie on the menu a few months back. They have some great gourmet cheese platters available if you're in the mood to pair (with either wine or beer) and a kitchen that makes some great entrees (not just pub grub).

The vibe is hip, with a population of mostly mid-late twentysomethings. This sets it apart from The Red, which is almost always packed with college kids looking to get loaded. I've been in here on prime drinking nights of the week to find it only 60-70% full. Good location a block off the main strip of downtown SC, lots of free parking all around.
Nov 26, 2008
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Reviewed by bradybeer from California

4.28/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5
Walking in you will notice that it has two levels-upstairs is a cozy little bar area that has 1/2 dozen beers on tap-including St. Bernadus Abt 12, Chimay Red, etc. Plus several beers in the bottle-including Russian River Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig, plus several Moonlight Brewing Beers. Down stairs is a wine bar with 10 taps including Ale Smith. It too is very cozy, hip kind of place.

The up stairs is open at 4pm and the down stairs at 5pm. I was only able to go up stairs.

Service was good, prices are reasonable-IE St. Bernadus fot $7 a glass.

Didn't have any food
Nov 25, 2008
515 Kitchen & Cocktails in Santa Cruz, CA
Place rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 12 ratings