Food, whether regarded as a quick bite or a delicacy, should be an informed choice. Here, you can find an array of Santa Cruz restaurant options at a variety of price ranges, as well as farmer’s markets, Santa Cruz restaurants with ocean views and wineries. Choice often depends on two factors: pricing and rating from previous dining experiences. We have consulted Yelp for rating by number of stars (5 stars as the best) and price scores. The following is Yelp’s explanation of their rating system for pricing Santa Cruz restaurants:
$ cheap pricing (under $10)
$$ moderate pricing ($11-$30)
$$$ spending ($31-$60)
$$$$ a splurge (above $61)
Popular Santa Cruz Restaurants
Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria
Offering pastas, oak-roasted chicken, vegetarian dishes, specialty salads, soups, along with delectable breads & pastries. Top it off with choices of wine and espresso.
Ride the “cable car,” for a classic dining experience! Shadowbrook Capitola is known for its special occasion dining, and is now a popular destination for its casual Lounge and Bar menu. Vegetarian and vegan options available.
A Slice of Kianti’s
Enjoy dining near Santa Cruz Wharf. Kianti’s offers pizzas, subs, and ready-made slices. Order at the walk-up counter, and enjoy your selection on the patio. Vegetarian options available.
Spectacularly prepared seafood and vegetables, with a perfect view, and gorgeous ambiance. Enjoy this casual but sophisticated modern American bistro featuring local organic produce & local wines. They even bring a cup of cotton candy with your bill!
Great little stop off the beaten path with an ocean view from every table. Casablanca Bistro is an elegant, yet casual choice. Boasts creative dishes that are well executed including delectable steaks, seafood, chicken, and pasta. 400 wines, full bars
Crow’s Nest Restaurant
Dine on the beach and enjoy beautiful views of Monterey Bay. Fresh seafood, aged Midwestern beef, salads & pasta. Upstairs full bar, live entertainment, dancing, & live comedy. Vegetarian options available.
El Palomar Restaurant
El Palomar sets a new standard in Mexican cuisine – combining recipes from Michoacan in Central America with local produce & fresh fish in unique dishes. Choose from seated dining or their walk up taqueria. Delicious chips and salsa, and tons of entree options.
Fire Fish Grill
Great spot for seafood, pasta, and steaks. Offering lots of window seating, friendly service, and good food. Chef’s fresh fish specials daily. Vegetarian options available.
Hindquarter Bar & Grille
Offers a mix of savory meats including aged Midwestern steaks, prime rib, fresh seafood, smoked specialties, along with sweet sauces in a comfortable atmosphere. Exciting specials offered nightly.
Ideal Bar & Grill
Sit on the porch overlooking Main Beach and Monterey Bay. Featuring fresh California cuisine.
Superb service, quality seafood, and beautiful views will have you returning to Johnny’s. Their fresh catch is made your way! Full bar.
Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar
Great food & a great family restaurant with a FUN atmosphere! Kianti’s has been voted Best of Santa Cruz since 2004. This high energy restaurant offers hand tossed pizzas & create-your-own pastas. Kianti’s has weekend performances by pizza-spinning champions. Vegetarian options available.
Linwood’s Bar & Grill at Chaminade
Enjoy contemporary California cuisine featuring local products. Vegetarian options.
Miramar Fish Grotto
Dine seaside & enjoy fun flavors. Sit on the outside patio near their new tiki bar with an ocean view from every table. Or sit indoors near the full bar and enjoy the Internet juke box. Thursday lobster special.
Enjoy authentic Thai Cuisine in a modern casual environment surrounded by local artwork. Top off your meal with one of the best bubble teas/shakes in the Santa Cruz/Monterey area.
Enjoy a taste of the Midwest with this Kansas City style steakhouse in Santa Cruz.
Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort
Sanderlings Restaurant at Seascape Resort offers elegant, casual dining with a spectacular ocean view from sunrise to sunset. Take a stroll down the private path leading to the beach, or take one of their golf cart shuttles.
Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company
A prime example of how local coffee should be done. Free Internet & live weekend evening music.
Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar
At Soif, Santos runs a “scratch” kitchen, endeavoring to source the cleanest, healthiest, most savory and tasty raw ingredients. Stop in for “Tapas Tuesdays”. Vegetarian options available.
Stagnaro Bros. Restaurant
Yum, and awesome, as one review noted. Large selection of fresh seafood. Upper deck lounge, family-friendly dining, panoramic ocean views. Outdoor fish market.
Known for its variety of fresh buffet items & panoramic views of the Monterey Bay. Vegetarian options available.
$$ (rating for entire resort- not just the restaurant)
Stop in for award-winning bites in east Santa Cruz. The new deli offers wonderful sandwiches and delightful fresh salads. Vegetarian options available.
Walnut Avenue Cafe
If you’re ever craving Eggs Benedict, this is the place to go! Enjoy an award winning breakfast & lunch in downtown Santa Cruz. Indoor & outdoor seating. A local favorite!
Dolphin is a hidden gem at the very end of the Wharf. A favorite among the locals; sit outside on the new patio, or indoors for a quieter meal. Serving Santa Cruz since 1963. The panoramic ocean views are free!
The original Stagnaro family restaurant, Gilda’s serves up fresh seafood, steaks, pastas, and salads. Vegetarian options available.
Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room
TIKI TIKI TIKI TIKI (Boom shaka laka BOOM shaka laka) 1960’s Vegas meets 1950’s Waikiki. Excellent drinks and generous portions, fun & friendly service, along with a tiki bar. If you go in a large group, bring cash. The restaurant only accepts 3 credit cards max on each bill. Vegetarian menu items.
India Joze Restaurant
Enjoy seafood, lamb, and chicken with a wok emphasis since 1972. Cafe, catering, beer and wine. Eclectic pan-Asian lunches and dinners daily except Sunday. Order online and get a discount. Vegetarian and vegan menu items. Reviews state it’s fresh and filling, consistently good.
Traditional Italian menu choices with local products – fresh pastas, desserts, bread & pizza directly from their brick oven. Menu is changed regularly; reviews boast the fresh breads and pasta.
Paradise Beach Grille
Sit on the patio overlooking the water in Capitola Village. Great atmosphere combined with fresh island fusion cuisine. Full bar, wine menu.
The Penny Ice Creamery
The Penny Ice Creamery is the only ice cream shop in Santa Cruz making delicious ice cream completely from scratch in-house.
A taste of Santa Cruz past & present with a beachy atmosphere and quick service. Woodies is a unique new addition to the Santa Cruz Wharf that’s inspired by Woodies on the Wharf. If you seek fun, casual, and affordable dining on the bay, try Woodies Cafe!
Wineries, Vineyards, and Tasting Rooms
It’s a common misconception that the Central Coast is one wine region. The reality is that it’s home to numerous individual appellations. These separate regions enjoy their own personalities and strength while sharing a common trait. Each is owned and operated by relaxed and friendly people who are eager to help you. Because even as the Central Coast continues to improve upon its wines, rivaling the best in the world, the region has not lost its modest, simple ways. Select from the following list for wineries, vineyards, or tasting rooms in the Santa Cruz region.
Producing handcrafted wines in the Santa Cruz Mountains since 1933, Bargetto is tucked away in the trees, just a short drive from the beach. $7.00 tasting fee for 5 wines or $12.00 for Reserve Tasting. Open 11am – 6pm daily, 6:30 on Sat/Sun.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Cellar Door
Offers a unique and exceptional step into the world of locally produced wines of vibrant minerality; tasting bar. Wine tasting fee $5, reportedly refunded if you purchase a bottle.
Dining room serves organic cuisine.
Great location, local art, and top-notch wine. Family owned, their philosophy states, “Wine is first an art, second a science.”
Corralitos Wine Trail
In this picturesque spot for grape growing, four independent, family-owned wineries have established the Corralitos Wine Trail. Wander through the vineyards and olive groves of picturesque Corralitos and taste their estate wines. Open Saturdays,12-9pm.
Pelican Ranch Winery
Created by Phil Crews, PhD & UCSC chemistry professor. This winemaker produces elegant wines from Rhone & Burgundy-styles. Production is limited.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
Making European-style, food-friendly, cellar-worthy wines since 1975; well known for making Pinot Noir that can age beautifully for three decades. $3 tastings. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Noon to 5:00pm, other times by appointment.
Silver Mountain is home to breathtaking views and award-winning premier wines- handcrafted, organically grown, and made in small lots.
Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar
Soif, meaning thirst, serves up superior dining and wines from around the world, by the taste, glass, bottle and at retail.
Sones Cellars is a local family winery producing small lots of fine quality, distinctive wines from grape varieties that flourish in California, focusing primarily on Petite Sirah & Zinfandel. $3 tasting fee, refunded with bottle purchase.
Vino Prima Wine Bar
Enjoy “boutique” wines on Santa Cruz Wharf. 21+ wines open daily, over 100 wines by the bottle. Serving wine by the flight (3 wines, 2oz each), glass, or bottle. Incredible views included!
Enjoy well-crafted, delicious, and affordable reds and whites that will compliment a wide array of foods. Uses the traditional handcrafted method for making sparkling wines since 1989. Also offers Mediterranean varietals under the Bartolo label.
Storrs Winery & Vineyards
Storrs Winery and Vineyards focuses on the best grapes, sustainably-grown from the Santa Cruz Mountains that truly reflect their terroir, or land – thus, the best wines.
Vine Hill Winery
Vine Hill Winery specializes in Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah under our Cumbre and Vine Hill labels and produce Syrah and Zinfandel wines under our Gatos Locos label.
Retail wine shop & tasting room featuring wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wine club, gifts & more. Despite a Front St. address, Vinocruz’s closest pedestrian entrance will be on Pacific Ave.
If you think one farmer’s market is like the other, you’ve not been to a Santa Cruz market. Whether you seek fresh produce, flowers, meats, or the like, here you can shop near ocean breezes, while sipping espresso, enjoying live music, and getting fresh kettle corn for the kiddies. Take a look, and enjoy!
Aptos Farmers Market
With over 80 vendors, the Aptos Farmers Market offers an awesome selection of locally grown fresh produce, flowers, and artisan products including year round produce, H&H Fish, Dave’s Gourmet Albacore, Corralitos meats, Bob Harris eggs, Golden Sheaf Bakery, pasta, nuts and nut butters. Saturday, 8am-12pm
Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market
The weekly Downtown Farmers Market offers live music, an oyster bar, food court, bakery, arts, gourmet artisanal foods and the largest selection of organic produce available. Companion Bread, Beckmann’s bakery, TLC eggs, Oakdale cheese, H&H Fish, Happy Girl pickles, pasta, nuts & nut butters, Hodo soy, Morganic honey. Wednesdays, 2:30-6:30pm year round
Felton Farmers Market
This family-friendly market has been serving the Santa Cruz community since 1987. May-November produce, Beckmann’s Bakery, dried fruits and nuts, honey, H&H Fish. Tuesdays 2:30-6:30pm
Live Oak Farmers Market
Come sip espresso, enjoy al fresco dining to live music and bring home the finest organic fruits & vegetables. May-November produce, Faria Farms eggs, Everett Family Farm eggs, Papa Joe’s Fish, Beckmann’s Bakery, Pacific Crest Apiaries honey. Sundays, 10am-2pm
Scotts Valley Farmers Market
A friendship of convenience and great food that showcases the region’s newest farmers. Find the freshest produce, bakery, butcher & more here. Operates every Saturday morning in Scotts Valley from 9am to 1pm.
Watsonville Certified Farmers Market
An enchanting farmers market with a “mercado” feel. Great selection of Latin American food; come for some kettle corn, papusas, tacos, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and grilled meat.
Westside Santa Cruz Farmers Market
Over 30 farms & vendors – large selection of certified organic produce. Unlimited parking, cafe seating, live music; H&H Fish, Companion Bread, TLC Ranch/Everett Family Farm/Faria Farms eggs, Happy Girl pickles, Pacific Crest Apiary honey. Saturday, 9am-1pm year round
More dining tips for Santa Cruz
- Dining with your dog
- BBQ food restaurants
- American food restaurants
- Chinese food restaurants
- Santa Cruz wineries
- Coffee houses and cafes
- Best local breweries in Santa Cruz