611 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz CA 95060
With an emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients, the restaurant’s menu is thoughtfully designed by Executive Chef Ross McKee. Ross, a locally renowned Chef, carries a reputation of offering an exquisite, solid range of choices, including locally caught seafood, vegetarian, meats and more. The bar features an indoor fireplace, and offers a great assortment of local artisan beers and wines. Serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Solaire Restaurant + Bar is Santa Cruz’s newest dining alternative.
1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Potatoes at breakfast are usually gratuitous, a starchy way of filling up the plate, a carbo-charged afterthought. The potatoes at Hoffman’s are worth eating right down to the last bite. We discovered this happy fact, and more, last week at a post-workout breakfast that left us full and satisfied.
121 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
The freshest ingredients prepared in innovative ways, Oswald is a contemporary restaurant in the heart of Santa Cruz. Featuring a modern style and a relaxed atmosphere, it's a Santa Cruz fine dining favorite. Menu of modern American cuisine and full bar.
736 Water St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Small and intimate, an attractive assortment of artwork adorning the coral-hued walls, this little Sri Lankan dining room makes a special invitation to those who like vegetarian dining. But there is plenty of lamb and chicken on offer as well.
105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060
It seems that the entire culinary world is fair game for the talents of Soif’s chef, Santos Majano. The American South, the Middle East, France, California, Spain—all figure prominently in the menu Majano has orchestrated for the downtown wine bar.
99 Bottles of Beer
110 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Enormous, warm, freshly grilled burgers topped with blue cheese and thick-cut bacon… or guacamole and melted jack… or chili or cheddar or mushrooms and swiss. It’s big, it’s fresh, it comes with addictive crispy waffle-cut fries and any one of a vast (really; vast) assortment of cold, delicious beers.
515 Kitchen & Cocktails
515 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, CA
Most people go for the plush velour couches, the sparkling firelight and the romantic deck. Oh, and let’s not forget the sophisticated lineup of cocktails. But we went to dine, and we were happy with the overall results.
1116 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Since 1967, Acapulco has been dishing up hearty helpings of authentic Mexican comfort food and tangy, ice-cold margaritas to hungry downtown crowds in search of a fiesta. Tucked in a jewel-like location on Pacific Avenue with a small outdoor seating area and newly remodeled bar, this small venue with the big tequila selection specializes in updated takes on old standbys—think shrimp fajitas, skirt steak nachos, chicken tequila fettuccini and coconut prawns—as well as classic favorites like enchiladas and Baja fish tacos.
320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA
Bagels are only half the story at this sleek, streamlined, no-fuss home of freshly made soups, salads, spreads and, yes, hyperdelicious bagels. The egg salad is legendary, as is the albacore, the hummus and the dazzling array of flavored and spiced cream cheese possibilities. The Duke—a voluptuous arrangement of cream cheese, apple butter and cashews on raisin bagel—is the stuff of inexpensive fantasies. Friendly and easy to like, the Bagelry is a top spot to park yourself for a lunch date.
1541 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Japanese sushi bar. Benten delivers the goods without a lot of fuss but with good quality for the price.
Betty’s Eat Inn
1222 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
In 2011 the popular burger stand that opened just a few years ago in Seabright expanded to downtown. Now its vibrantly decorated interior includes a full bar, booths and tall tables where patrons can enjoy generous burgers slathered with “secret lube” accompanied by shoestring fries, onion rings and salads. Best of all, Betty’s Eat Inn serves food late, so the after-movie crowd doesn’t have to go home hungry.
702 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz’s favorite bakery on the Eastside expanded last year into a pit-stop for lunch and early dinners. The famed zucchini muffin, lemon tarts and pecan sandie are still among the best sweet temptations available. But the poached egg breakfasts, Joe’s Favorite Black Forest ham sandwich and Caesar salad lunches now have their own devoted followings.
740 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA
Café Mare's spacious dining room always has a soothing effect. The staff provides plenty of space for in-depth conversation without ignoring patrons' needs. And the location is perfect for Pacific Avenue sightseeing.
1522 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Organic ingredients in decadent, inspired combinations (think warm artichoke and cheese pot served with fresh bread or spicy chocolate barbecued pork roast) makes this eatery a favorite with the late crowd, with service until 11pm nightly. If the heated patio isn't warm enough, perhaps a glass of insanely rich hot chocolate (try the Sofia) will do the trick.
1336 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Gorgeous landmark location, festive Mexican menu—this full-service dining palace has it all. The tequila list is endless (don’t miss the midori margaritas), while spicy lunch legends include the crisp sope, creamy chicken tostada and signature snapper tacos. Salmon with guajillo sauce, and classic red pozole are among the menu stars, especially served with an order of warm house-made corn tortillas. The bar scene is lively and the all-day taco arcade offers fresh burritos, quesadillas, tacos and endless salsa.
910 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA
Oil paintings line the graceful rooms, white cloths and fresh flowers top the tables. And between a fine lineup of California wines and a nightly menu showcasing local specialty items, this is arguably the best dining in town.
435 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA
Somehow you know you've been here before. Metaphorically, at least. The Greek offers a melodious echo of its progenitor, Vasili's—the restaurant that launched a thousand spontaneous dancing parties and retsina afterglows. Well, the Greek is the new Mediterranean kid in downtown Santa Cruz, and it's deliciously armed with the irrepressible menu that made Vasili's a local legend.
303 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Americana. Ribs, steaks and burgers are definitely the stars. Full bar.
221 Cathcart St, Santa Cruz, CA
The theme here is Hawaii and surf, which means this tiki-themed restaurant serves plenty of grilled ono, mahi mahi and ahi to enjoy while the surf videos run nonstop.
202 Lincoln St, Santa Cruz, CA
Two dings of the bell at Jack’s elicits a pavlovian response for a whole subset of Santa Cruz locals, for it means a cheeseburger basket with fries and onions is on the way. Damn, these are good burgers—not too big, not too sloppily dressed, wrapped in wax paper and served with perfect, crispy fries on a sunny downtown patio. That’s living.
1100 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
This popular downtown restaurant serves pizzas, generous platters of pasta and nice salads at reasonable prices.
810 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA
Spacious and clean, the new home of northern Indian cuisine is punctuated with some Afghan recipes as well--and this is great news for fans of the curry-scented dishes of mountainous South Asia.
105 S. River St, Santa Cruz, CA
Japanese/California sushi. Straight sushi and tempura combined with California cuisine. Full bar.
Pacific Thai Santa Cruz
1319 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, CA
Located in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, Pacific Thai offers the sweet and savory flavors of both Thai cuisine and Boba Teas. Popular dishes include Fresh Spring Rolls, Pad Thai, and Panang Curry. Boba teas include Milk Teas, Juice Teas, Milkshakes and Smoothies. Enjoy an intimate, modern setting for Lunch Specials during the weekdays or dinner 7 days a week. Great for take out as well. Happy Hour is every Sunday through Thursday, 4-7pm. Discounts on "Thai-titled" items every Tuesday. Local art and hundreds of origami cranes decorate the only Thai restaurant downtown.
Pizza My Heart
1116B Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
After a trip to the bars, nothing satisfies like a delicious, flexible, foldable slice of pepperoni pizza at PMH. Ask for two paper plates if you’re taking it home in the cab. Open til midnight Sunday-Thursday and until 2am Friday-Saturday.
Red Restaurant & Lounge
200 Locust St, Santa Cruz, CA
If the salads don’t get you, the Wimpy Burgers will. The kitchen at this plush, popular downtown nightspot is open til midnight most nights, turning out generous platters of surprisingly sophisticated fare (like ribeye rubbed with espresso and pizzettas with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and chives). It’s also pleasantly easy on the wallet.
555 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Italian-American restaurant. Lasagnas, pastas, scampi in generous portions. Full bar, patio dining.
Santa Cruz Diner
909 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA
When the post-party calls for a pile of hefty pancakes served with ice cream scoop-sized mounds of whipped butter, this is your place. With plenty of crazy stuff on the walls to distract you from the gyrations of the other late-night revelers, this is the perfect meal to have right before a long, well-deserved rest.
145 Laurel St, Santa Cruz, CA
For almost three decades this late-night, all-day vegetarian diner has been serving up instant comfort of the edible variety. The condiment-friendly menu is long on cheeses, salads, faux burgers, french fries and cheeses. Veggie corndogs, mac and cheese, fakin bacon BLTs and mega-salads with vegan dressing all pair nicely with luscious ice cream desserts. Playful décor and rock & roll restrooms, plus inventive meat-free cuisine that caters to the munchies until 3am. Awesome.
1123 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Sushi. Exceptionally fresh ingredients and large portions.
Walnut Avenue Café
106 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
When my mom was a kid, she used to come “downtown” from Boulder Creek to see movies at the corner of Walnut and Pacific Avenue. I imagine the fun of those movie palace days every time I have breakfast in the café now housed in the old theater. Somehow the footprint of the turn of the century still haunts this low-key, completely welcoming breakfast spot. The beamed ceiling, small cozy booths and diner-style counter seating, even the polished wood floors and suspended chandeliers, retain the feel of a kinder, gentler era. And that oasis of old-fashioned comfort definitely attracts an energetic clientele of downtown workers and professionals on weekday mornings.
710 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA
Located downtown, Woodstock’s Pizza offers a casual dining atmosphere and an inviting and popular heated patio. Woodstock’s also delivers and can handle large group orders. From the vast selection of toppings, a pizza lover can create a unique pizza or try one of the award-winning classic combos. It also serves a variety of fresh salads, sandwiches, appetizers and desserts.
819 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Simple and delicious, a storied downtown eatery stands the test of time.
1534 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
Landmark downtown deli offers a touch of the last century loaded with flavor freshness. Specialty sandwiches like the legendary Mediterranean, the Castroville—big on marinated artichokes—and the meal-sized muffaletta all turn lunch into a community event. Every deli salad imaginable fills the menu along with a fresh soup each day. Italian pastas, candies, and sauces add to the carry-out temptation. Mostly it’s a treat just to step back into the past and enjoy a genuine, family-run atmosphere.