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Places to Eat in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County is home to some of the finest restaurants in California. Whether you’re looking for an elegant, romantic dinner or something that you can grab and take to the beach, Santa Cruz has a wide range of options that will meet all of your expectations. 

The Dining Guide below lists restaurants in Santa Cruz, Capitola, Soquel and Aptos. 

You can also expand your search for restaurants in Santa Cruz Mountains or restaurants in Scotts Valley.  Click on a link to view the listings.
    

Our Top Picks 

Here are some of our picks for the top eateries in Santa Cruz. Please note that our experiences and tastes may be different than yours, so please plan your meals based on your own preferences. For more choices, please click on a category listed under All Santa Cruz Restaurants 

Best Inexpensive Restaurants

Betty’s Burgers – American

1053 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 429-6095

Explorer Review – If you like burgers, this is the place to go in Santa Cruz.  Although they have a limited — specialized — menu, their burger, fries and real ice-cream milk shakes are always fresh and very yummy!  Most of their burgers come with a 1/2 pound beef patty.  If you are not a big eater, you may want to try to downsize it to their 1/3 pound burger.  At peak meal times you may experience a long line of hungry carnivores.  Service is usually very fast, though!

 

Santa Cruz Diner – American

909 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-7151

Explorer Review – The diner has a very diverse menu with many options that you wouldn’t normal expect from a local diner. The good food, great service and reasonable prices make this a good choice.

Carpo’s Restaurant

2400 Porter St., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-6260

Explorer Review – A family restaurant that not only makes a good burger, but also offers some innovative menu options including fresh fish.   Good food, quick service and reasonable prices.

 
 

Best Restaurants for Breakfast

 Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe

542 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-9713

Explorer Review – Linda’s is one of our top choices for breakfast.  They offer great food at reasonable prices.  The only downside is the restaurant is fairly small so arrive early to avoid long lines.

Zachary’s Restaurant – American

819 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-0646

Explorer Review – This popular rustic restaurant has been serving breakfast for many years.  Fast service, good food and reasonable prices make this a top pick for locals.  Expect long lines on weekends after 9:00 AM.

Cafe Sparrow

8042 Soquel Drive, Aptos Village, CA  831-688-6238

Explorer Review – Wonderful food, service and ambiance.  Some of the brunch items can be a little pricy, but quality and environment make it worthwhile.

 
 
 

Best Restaurants for Lunch

Cafe Cruz

2621 41st Ave., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-3801

Explorer Review – Not much to look at from the outside, but the food and interior ambiance are wonderful.  The patio area on a sunny afternoon makes for a very pleasant experience — adding to the good food and service.

Crow’s Nest Restaurant

2218 E. Cliff Dr.., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 476-4560

Explorer Review – Located at the Santa Cruz Harbor, the harbor and Monterey Bay views and good customer service make this a good lunch pick.

River Cafe & Cheese Shop

415 River St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 420-1280

Explorer Review – Wonderful gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches.  It can be a little pricy, but the food is outstanding.  The actual interior of the cafe is very small and has has limited seating.  So you can take the food with you or, if it’s a nice warm day, enjoy your meal on their large deck.

 

Best Restaurants for Dinner

Cafe Cruz

2621 41st Ave., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-3801

Explorer Review – Not much to look at from the outside, but the food and interior ambiance are wonderful.  The patio area on a sunny afternoon makes for a very pleasant experience — adding to the good food and service.

Bella Roma Restaurante – Italian

316 Capitola Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 464-2608

Explorer Review – This small, well appointed restaurant serves up some very tasty Italian classic dishes.  Good food and service make this moderately priced restaurant a good choice.
 

 

Best Romantic Restaurants

Bittersweet Bistro

787 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Rio Del Mar  (831) 662-9799

Explorer Review – Great desserts, good food, and excellent service and warm ambiance make this an excellent choice.
 
 

  

All Santa Cruz Restaurants

American and Family Restaurants

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

110 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 459-9999

Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant

616 Atlantic Ave., Santa Cruz, CA, CA (831) 426-3736

Aquarius Restaurant

175 West Cliff Drive Santa Cruz, CA   ( 831) 460-5012

Chef Breneman serves creative American cuisine inspired by fresh and local seafood, complemented by a regional wine list. 

Cafe Cruz

2621 41st Ave., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-3801

Carpo’s Restaurant

2400 Porter St., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-6260

Catalyst Nightclub & Restaurant

1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-1338

Cole’s Bar-B-Q  Restaurant

2590 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 476-4424

8059 Aptos St., Aptos, CA  (831) 662-1721

Crepe Place  Restaurant

1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 429-6994

Crow’s Nest Restaurant

2218 E. Cliff Dr.., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 476-4560

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria

504 Bay Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 462-1200

Hindquarter  Restaurant

303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-7770

Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe

542 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-9713

Michael’s on Main

2591 Main St., Soquel, CA  (831) 479-9777

Noah’s New York Bagels

1411 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 454-9555

Paradise Beach Grille

215 Esplanade, Capitola, CA  (831) 476-3328

Peachwood’s  Restaurant

Hwy. 17 at Pasatiempo, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-6333

Sanderlings Restaurant

1 Seascape Dr., Aptos, CA  (831) 662-7120

Seabright Brewery & Restaurant

519 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-2739

Severino’s Bar & Grill

7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos, CA  (831) 688-8987

Stockton Bridge Grille

231 Esplanade, Suite 102, Capitola CA (831) 464-1933

Shadowbrook

1750 Wharf Dr., Capitola, CA  (831) 475-1511

Silver Spur Restaurant

2650 Soquel Dr., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 475-2725

Wharf House Restaurant — at the end of the Capitola Wharf

1400 Wharf Road., Capitola, CA   (831) 476-0636

Zachary’s Restaurant

819 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-0646

Zelda’s Restaurant

203 Esplanade, Capitola, CA  (831) 475-4900

 
 
 

Buffet Restaurants

China One Buffet

525 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-3800
 
 
 

Californian Restaurants

 

 
 
 

Catering Restaurants

 

 

Chinese Restaurants

O’Mei Restaurant

2316 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-8458

Explorer Review – This is the BEST Chinese food that I’ve ever eaten! Good food and friendly staff make this a great choice.  Be prepared, though, for Chinese food, it is very expensive, but worth it.

Bangkok West Restaurant

2505 Cabrillo College Dr., Soquel  (831) 479-8297

Charlie Hong Kong Restaurant

1141 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-5664

Golden Buddha Restaurant

9071 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003  (831) 688-5886

Hong Kong Garden Restaurant

#14 Seascape Village, Aptos, CA  (831) 662-0166

Little Shanghai Restaurant

1010 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-2460

Mei Garden II Restaurant

533 Ocean, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-1687

O’Mei Restaurant

2316 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-8458

Explorer Review – This is the BEST Chinese food that I’ve ever eaten! Good food and friendly staff make this a great choice.  Be prepared, though, for Chinese food, it is very expensive, but worth it.

Panda Inn &  Restaurant

783 Rio Del Mar Blvd # 5, Aptos, CA 95003  (831) 688-8620

Peking Restaurant

2623 41st Ave., Soquel, CA  (831) 475-9234

 

 

Continental Restaurants

Bocci’s Cellar Restaurant

140 Encinal St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-1795

Bittersweet Bistro

787 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Rio Del Mar  (831) 662-9799

Chaminade Restaurant

1 Chaminade Ln., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 475-5600

Gabriella Cafe

910 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 457-1677

“The town’s most romantic spot.” (Sunset magazine, March 2000). Intimate bistro dining in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz.

Hollins House Restaurant

20 Clubhouse Rd., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 459-9177

Oswald’s Restaurant

121 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060   (831) 423-7427

Severino’s Restaurant

7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos, CA  (831) 688-8987

Shadowbrook

1750 Wharf Dr., Capitola, CA  (831) 475-1511

Wharf House Restaurant

1400 Wharf Rd., Capitola, CA  (831) 476-3534
 
  
 
 

Deli

Erik’s DeliCafe

155 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060  (831) 425-5353

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria

504 Bay Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 462-1200

Staff of Life

1266 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062  (831) 423-8632

Zoccoli’s Delicatessen

1534 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-1711

 

Family Restaurants

Carpo’s Restaurant

2400 Porter St., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-6260

Gilda’s  Family Restaurant

494 Municipal Wharf Santa Cruz, CA     (831) 423-2010

 

 

French Restaurants

Cafe Sparrow

8042 Soquel Drive, Aptos Village, CA  (831) 688-6238

Explorer Review – Wonderful food, service and ambiance.  It can be a little pricy, but the quality of food, service and ambience make it worthwhile.

 

 

Indian Restaurants

Royal Taj (Indian Restaurant)

270 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-2400
 
  
 
 

Irish Restaurants

Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

1220 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-9930
 
 
 

Italian Restaurants

Bella Roma Restaurante

316 Capitola Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 464-2608

Bocci’s Cellar Restaurant

140 Encinal St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-1795

Cafe Mare

740 front St.. # 100, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-1212

Ristorante Italiano

555 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-2321

Star Bene Restaurant

2-1245 E. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 479-3865

 

Juice, Java & Bakeries

 

Java Junction Coffee Roasting

Seabright Avenue store 831-423-JAVA (5282)

Verve Coffee – 41st Avenue

816 41st Ave.  (831) 475-7776

 

 

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co.

1330 Pacific Ave  (831) 459-0100

 

 

 

Japanese Restaurants

August Moon Sushi Cafe

3555 Clares, Capitola, CA  (831) 464-9898

Benten Restaurant

1541 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-7079

Mobo Sushi Restaurant

105 S. River St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-1700

Miyako Japanese Restaurant

1820 41st Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 462-5288

Naka Sushi Restaurant

851 41st Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 479-9620

Paradise Sushi Restaurant

200 Monterey Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 464-3328

Pink Godzilla Sushi Bar

830 41st Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 464-2586

Sukeroku Restaurant

1701 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-6660

Sushi Garden Japanese Restaurant

820 Bay Avenue #148, Capitola, CA  (831) 464-9192

Takara Japanese Restaurant

1800 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 457-8466

 

Mediterranean

Falafel of Capitola, CA

2121 41st Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 479-9963

Falafel of Santa Cruz

1501 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 459-0486

Vasili’s Greek Food & BBQ

1501 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-9808

 

Mexican Restaurants

The Acapulco

1116-A Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-7588

Costa Brava Restaurant

1222 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-7871

El Chino Restaurant

2525 Soquel Dr., Soquel, CA  (831) 476-7175

El Palomar Restaurant

1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-7575

La Mission Restaurant

1719 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-3564

Las Palmas Taco Bar

55 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 429-1220

Little Tampico Restaurant

2605 Main St., Soquel, CA  (831) 475-4700

Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant

261 Center St., Seacliff  (831) 688-4848

Margaritaville Restaurant

221 Esplanade, Capitola, CA  (831) 476-2263

Olitas Cantina and Grille

650 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-9393

Palapas Restaurant

21 Seascape Village, Aptos, CA  (831) 662-9000

Tacos Moreno Restaurant

1053 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA  (8310429-6095

Taqueria Santa Cruz

2215 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-0606

Tampico Kitchen  Restaurant

822 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-2821

Tortilla Flats

4616 Soquel Dr., Soquel, CA   (831) 476-1754  

 

Pizza Restaurants

Aptos Pizza

7945 Soquel Dr., Aptos, CA  (831) 688-4030

Joe’s Pizza and Subs

736 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-5955

Pacific Ave Pizza & Grille

1415 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-7492

Pizza My Heart

209 Esplanade, Capitolal, CA  (831) 475-5714

Rosco’s Pizza

7945 Soquel Dr., Aptos, CA  (831) 688-4030

Tony & Alba’s Pizza

1501 41st Ave., Capitola, CA  (831) 475-4450

817 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 425-8669

Upper Crust

2415 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-9010

2501 Soquel Dr., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 476-2333

 

Seafood & Steaks

Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant

616 Atlantic Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-3736

Cafe Rio Restaurant

131 Esplanade, Rio Del Mar  (831) 688-8917

Crow’s Nest Restaurant

2218 E Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 476-4560

Dolphin Restaurant

Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-5830

Gilbert’s Seafood Grill

460 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-5200

Hula’s Restaurant

221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz , CA   (831) 426-4852

The Hindquarter Restaurant

303 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 426-0313

Hollins House Restaurant

20 Clubhouse Rd., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 459-9177

Ideal Bar & Grill

106 Beach St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-5271

Miramar Restaurant

Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-4441

We offer indoor and outdoor dining with views of the famous Beach Boardwalk and Steamer’s Lane. Enjoy fresh seafood, steaks, chicken and salads.

Portola House Restaurant

3326 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 476-2733

Riva Fish House Restaurant

500 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 429-1223

Sanderlings

1 Seascape Dr., Aptos, CA  (831) 662-7120

Stagnaro Brother’s Seafood Restaurant

Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-2180

Stagnaro Brother’s feature over 20 kinds of fresh fish daily in their restaurant and fish market.

Zelda’s Restaurant

203 Esplanade, Capitola, CA  (831) 475-4900

 

 

Thai Restaurants

My Thai Beach Restaurant

207 Esplanade, Capitola, Ca. 95010    (831) 464-3800

Real Thai — Restaurant 1

632 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 427-2559

Star of Siam Restaurant

3005 Porter St., Soquel, CA  (831) 479-0366

Thai Basil Restaurant

210 Monterey Ave., Capitola, CA, 479-8985

Thai House — Restaurant

353 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 458-3546

Westside Thai Restaurant

2238 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 469-3209

 

Vegetarian Restaurants

Cafe del Sol — Staff of Life

1305 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA  (831) 423-8041

 

 
 
 

What’s on Tap

Events

Santa Cruz Festivals & Events:

Open Studios Art Tour – Weekends during Oct. 2016

Welcome Back Monarchs Day – Oct. 9, 2016  10am – 4pm.

Annual Monte Foundation Fireworks Extravaganza! – Oct. 9, 2016

Santa Cruz Pumpkin Patches—Oct. 2016

Santa Cruz Halloween Celebrations—Oct. 2016

 

For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Santa Cruz.

 

Attractions

Top Santa Cruz Attractions:

 

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Fun for all ages.

Santa Cruz Campgrounds

Ocean views or Redwoods? Over 27 campgrounds and RV Parks

Santa Cruz Fishing 

Fall is fishing and crabbing season in Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz Surfing

With 11 world-class surf breaks such as Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, it is easy to understand why the greatest surfers in the world call Santa Cruz home!

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May

 

For more information on local attractions, click on the Attractions or Recreational Activities.

 

 

Advisories

The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. Rush hour traffic can be extremely challenging – especially along Mission Street and Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Capitols. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to www.caltrans.com to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.