Nobody doesn’t love breakfast, and we’ve got every possible style available in the breakfast-obsessed Santa Cruz area. To get you started on your tour, we’ve helpfully corralled several of our favorite spots into appetite needs—choose what fits your morning.
Pastries and More
Verve: In three Santa Cruz locations, Verve’s brisk baristas serve up expert espresso, along with mind-altering pastries from Manresa Breads in a sleek contemporary atmosphere. But the possibilities don’t end there. Verve’s avocado toast with chives, radish and organic poached egg gets many local techies started for the day. Verve breakfasts invariably involve fellow travelers with laptops, surfers, politicians, and visiting rock stars. Big Verve occupies a spacious corner of downtown Santa Cruz; more intimate Verve breakfasts are served at Pleasure Point and on the Westside, where the al fresco deck invites long conversations and the discovery of true love. 6:30 a.m. -9 p.m. vervecoffee.com.
Companion Bakeshop In Aptos, downtown Santa Cruz, and the Westside, this hip stop for incredible pastries, baguette breakfasts, and outstanding espresso drinks thrills locals and out-of-towners alike. Exceptionally buttery pastries, from the stellar kouign amann to eccentric variations on the classic palmier, tempt even the gluten averse. Definitive bear claws and galettes embedded with eggs and ham make brilliant partners to that first and second cappuccino of the morning. Share the space with precocious children, cyclists and fitness fanatics. 7 a.m.- 5 p.m., 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Monday. companionbakeshop.com.
Cafe Iveta on the Westside is a required pit stop for students, faculty, and writers in need of something more than simply good wifi access (although there’s that as well). Iveta’s signature house scones and addictive almond croissants are often all that’s needed to get the day going. Along with a Lavazza espresso macchiato, of course. But if you’ve just come from a Pilates class, or are on your way to a blazing Skype appointment, you’ll need something more like the two-fisted breakfast taco, or the amazing scrambled organic eggs with a side of organic arugula. One of the top places for avocado toast topped with bacon, tomatoes and cilantro. 2125 Delaware Ave., Santa Cruz. 7 a.m.-4 p.m., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. iveta.com.
All the Bases
The Buttery Once simply an irresistible bakery, the Buttery outgrew itself and now offers a full range of morning foods to enjoy in the boisterous old Victorian interior, or out on the picnic table patio. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, this house of tempting cakes and cookies also invites locals to stay awhile over a croissant, fresh fruit and the morning paper. Locals come for the hearty breakfasts of two eggs any style, bacon, potatoes and toast. Or the much more interactive breakfast sandwiches involving scrambled eggs, cheeses, bacon, ham, avocado, everything California loves. Don’t miss the exceptional zucchini muffins and outstanding lattés. 702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 7a.m.-7p.m. daily. butterybakery.com.
Kelly’s French Bakery With offerings such as creamy polenta with poached eggs and pesto, open-faced ham and gruyere toast, or smoked salmon and avocado with poached eggs, Kelly’s offers more than simply dazzling showcases filled with fresh muffins, scones, and eye-popping pastries. But don’t miss the house morning bun, an authentic bit of French pastry swirl loaded with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add a double espresso. Sit outside under an umbrella and watch the fog burn off at this north county institution. Corner of Ingalls and Swift streets. kellysfrenchbakery.com.
Major Breakfast Encounters
Walnut Avenue Cafe Old-school chic is available here for serious breakfasts that run the classical gamut. We’re mad for the house-poached eggs with a pot of Earl Grey tea. But the eggs benedict competes with the righteous french toast for adoring fanbase. If you crave scrambles with homefries, this is your spot. Spacious, yet cozy. Tucked into an historic building in the center of downtown Santa Cruz. 106 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. 7 a.m.-3 p.m., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. walnutavenuecafe.com.
Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe You will never, ever be in danger of not getting enough to eat at this Seabright institution. A dollhouse interior lined with local artwork and potted plants, Linda’s feels like a trip to the kitchen of a Midwestern farmhouse. Massive omelets, plate-sized waffles, spicy specials loaded with veggies, cheeses, sausages, tofu curries, and salsas, plus the old-school cinnamon bun make it a deserving favorite. The house makes unforgettable homefries sauteed with veggies and covered with melted cheese and sour cream. Exceptional coffee and a peerless Florentine omelet—cheese, bacon, and spinach inside, sour cream on top—are enough for breakfast and lunch. 542 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. 6 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. seabreezecafe.com.
Of course, the breakfast possibilities here are endless—from the oceanfront ambience of Crow’s Nest to tiny Cafe Brasil to neo-hippie landmark Zachary’s. And it’s countywide! From Whale City Bakery in Davenport, you can travel along the shore to Santa Cruz’s Jack O’Neill Restaurant, hit Zoccoli’s Deli downtown and Bistro One Twelve at the Tannery, then head to the redwoods for Scotts Valley’s Heavenly Roadside Cafe, twisting all the way down to the Red Apple Cafe in Watsonville. Breakfast is everywhere—now go out and find yours.