I’ve been here a million times so I might as well review it.
This is a rather typical gastropub with a largish but unimpressive beer selection. Lots of widely available micros make this a quantity-not-quality place that someone new to craft beer can cut his/her teeth on. Unfortunately, for the experienced beer connoisseur, it gets old fast. The beer list has extremely low turnover, the food is fairly standard pub grub, the service is good but not great, prices are typical. They do have fun events like trivia night on Wednesdays and I think karaoke on another night. Unless you really like trivia or want a plaque on the wall (for sampling all 99 beers), there’s no real reason to pick 99 Bottles over 515 Kitchen and Cocktails or The Red Restaurant and Lounge, which are both less than 3 blocks away and boast wonderfully eclectic beer lists.
I used to come here a lot with my parents as a child and I remember the food being good, especially the cheese sticks, but that was long ago and I haven*t eaten anything since returning to drink beer here as an adult. The bottom line is that this is your second choice to drink craft beer in downtown Santa Cruz when the Red is too overrun on a weekend night. Pretty mellow atmosphere, wooden bar, plenty of booths and tables,a couple smaller tvs above the cramped bar area. The selection is large, consisting of mostly mainstream crafts and imports, with a few hidden gems and belgians. Last time I went in though, they were out of half of their taps, literally. Choices for IPAs were Sierra Nevada IPA and Lagunitas IPA. Sorry, but that doesn*t do it at a west coast beer bar. They did have Racer 5 and Indica, but happened to be out of both. If you come in, you are likely to find something decent, but don*t expect much in the way of bigger or more obscure beers. If they have all the beers on the menu
99 bottles looked like a typical resto-bar, we sat in a booth in order to read the limericks from some of patrons who got their name on the wall of Beer. A lot of them were pretty funny, like “I still like Bud the most” or “I only came here for one Beer”. Checking out the menu, they had a lot of brews you can easily find or I’ve had a bunch of times before, especially the bottled selection that was filled with crappy imports, so I stuck to draft pints. Some local rep, nothing that made me go “Wow, I’m glad we came here”. Maybe I happened to be there on a bad week. And they were out of my first two choices. Our waitress was a little slow, but I won’t hold it against her, she was like 8 months pregnant, walking around all wobbly. The worst thing was that my girlfriend’s pint of ace cider had a ton of crap floating around in it, it looked like more like orange juice with extra pulp, so we made her take it back and bring another. I almost did the same with my pint, it tasted pretty stale, and so did my following one. Food was passable at best. From the vibe I got, it felt like a locals’ bar with some effort made to have decent Beer, although from the lack of freshness of my pints, maybe that “I still like Bud the most” inscription seems to sum up the general consensus here. Meh.
Cool place. First started going here during the summer of ’92. The staff at that time were terrific. Knowledgeable friendly and helpful. The goal of drinking 99 different beers they serve and getting a small personalized placard on the wall was a nice incentive to keep stopping by and keep drinking new beers. I made it on the wall by the end of the summer. Great beer selection then and above average now. They have something like 30 to 40 beers on tap. The food is pretty good pub grub. Location is awesome being right there at Pacific Garden Mall.
The bar is quite small, the food is forgetable but I’ve been there two or three times with the sole purpose of drinking beer and trying new beers. It served that purpose well with a decent Draught selection and a nice bottled selection. Its worth checking out but I didn’t fall in love with it.
JFGrind (82) Glenside, Pennsylvania | October 11, 2005| Updated December 6, 2005
I wish a few things were different about 99 bottles; the service was better, the bar itself was larger (less than 15 stools), and the value of the food was better than a C+. If 99 Bottles could switch locations with Ideal Bar & Grille on Main Beach it would be more of a destination. Like Mullman says just another townie bar with a big beer selection. I also didn’t like that the bar doesn’t open until 11:30 AM on Sundays. We wanted to watch some early NFL games there but had to go elsewhere.
the selection isnt fantastic, but ok. lots of other cool things to do in santa cruz, and this seems like more of a local/townie bar with a big selection. doesn’t really give you the vibe of santa cruz.
Odeed (15) Bakersfield , California | June 13, 2005
as the name says,they have over 99 bottles (and taps) of beer.i had old rasputin on tap while i was there,and a cheeseburger.its your typical pub grub and atmosphere,but the selection of brew is awsome!
Crit (150) Surrey, British Columbia | March 30, 2005| Updated September 18, 2008
A very good selection. don’t try to go at night, unless you like to wait in line.Ambience wasn’t much. food is average. Daytime service is good, nighttime very poor