Santa Cruz Restaurants

Santa Cruz RestaurantsLooking for the best Santa Cruz Restaurants?
Below you will find restaurant reviews and roundups of some of the best restaurants by category, like our popular Best Pizza in Santa Cruz, and 10 Must-Try Sandwiches posts.
Santa Cruz, and the surrounding areas, have plenty of unique dining experiences. You won't find us covering many chain restaurants here. Luckily the local flavor in Santa Cruz far surpasses anything the chains can offer.
Downtown Santa Cruz is home to many of the top restaurants in the area, but you'll also find great seafood on the wharf, charming restaurants in the Capitola Village, and many great restaurants throughout Santa Cruz County.

Best New Santa Cruz Restaurants: Assembly

Assembly Santa Cruz

This is the first of seven choices for the Best New Restaurants in Santa Cruz in 2014. To see the full list, click here.

Zach Davis and Kendra Baker opened Assembly, their latest venue and their first full-service restaurant, in March. The dynamic duo first opened The Penny Ice Creamery in 2010 and followed that with The Picnic Basket and then more Penny locations (a kiosk, then Pleasure Point).

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Best New Restaurants in Santa Cruz County in 2014

best new santa cruz restaurants

Editor’s Note – We wanted to put together a list of some of the best new restaurants to open in and around Santa Cruz in 2014.  We naturally turned to Tara Fatemi Walker from for help.  What follows is a 7-part series of Tara’s picks for the best new restaurants.  Bon appetit!

There were several restaurants that opened in 2014 in the Santa Cruz area, and I’ve narrowed that group to my favorite seven.

Restaurants are listed alphabetically, with the first likely coming as a surprise to no one.

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Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2014

Restaurant Week Santa Cruz 2014
Santa Cruz Restaurant Week is Oct. 22-29, 2014. Never participated? It’s something that goes on in many cities across the country; some areas do it twice a year (like Silicon Valley and San Francisco – the latter’s is even two weeks long each time!). Some do it once a year–like Santa Cruz, which jumped on the Restaurant Week bandwagon 5 years ago. Restaurants create fixed-price menus available for a limited time. It’s an opportunity for people to try new places or try new dishes or perhaps just visit some of their already-favorite venues.

For Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2014, more than 30 local restaurants – from Aptos, Soquel and Capitola to Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Ben Lomond, and Felton–are participating. Some offer three-course gourmet dinners for $25, and some for $35 (this is a change from previous years, when all prices were $25).

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The Cheesiest, Crustiest, Sauciest, Best Pizza in Santa Cruz

Best Pizza Santa Cruz

Pizza may have first appeared in Italy over 7000 years ago, but there’s no doubt that Americans have taken the simple dish and made it their own, from deep-dish in Chicago to fold-over in Brooklyn.

The best variations in Santa Cruz run the gamut from gourmet to greasy, but they are united by their tastiness and individuality.

Attempting to name the best pizza in Santa Cruz is no easy task, given the subjective nature of the topic.  Below are our picks, in no particular order.  Let the argument debate begin…

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Shadowbrook Restaurant: Capitola’s Landmark Dining Experience

Shadowbrook Restaurant Capitola

Shadowbrook is a complex restaurant—it has received accolades for being everything from “Most Romantic Restaurant” (as reported by many newspapers, magazines, and web sites) to “Top 10 Places Nationwide for Dining With Kids Near the Beach” (from USA Today). But there is a simple fact that hasn’t changed during its 67-year history: Shadowbrook serves top-notch food accompanied by stellar service. [Read more…]

10 Must-Try Sandwiches in Santa Cruz County

Best Santa Cruz SandwichesPhoto: Hoisin Pork Sandwich from Charlie Hong Kong

There are so many terrific sandwiches in Santa Cruz County, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  So I’ve picked 10 scrumptious sandwiches – well actually, nine, because I’d like you, dear readers, to select the 10th one!  You can do this by posting a comment that mentions a sandwich you love from somewhere in Santa Cruz County, that didn’t make it on the list.  I can’t wait to hear about a few “must-try” sandwiches that I have never eaten!

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8 Meal Deals That Will Keep Your Belly & Wallet Full All Week Long

The following is a guest post by Daniel Talamantes, a writer living in Santa Cruz.  You can read his blog at The Porchlight Dan.

Fish Tacos

We’ve all been there.

Sometimes after a hard day’s work or a lazy afternoon on the beach, you can’t gather the energy or spirit to prepare a meal.

If it’s a weekday and you’re looking for good food at a great price, then you’re in luck.

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Savor the Perfect Blend of Nutritious and Delicious at The Buttery

The Buttery in Santa CruzRich chocolate cupcakes, warm apple pie, and……. organic grilled vegetables?

That’s right, you can have it all! Health nuts and dessert lovers alike rejoice at The Buttery.

A bustling cafe on the corner of Soquel and Branciforte, The Buttery has been serving up delicious meals and baked treats for almost thirty years.

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The Bagelry: Serving up Santa Cruz Style Bagels

The Bagelry Santa CruzSome of the best restaurants are the ones who make something you could make at home — burgers, tacos, etc. — only they do it so, so much better.

File The Bagelry, a Santa Cruz treasure of a breakfast and lunch spot, under that heading.

What is there to say about the Bagelry, which has locations on Seabright Ave, downtown on Cedar St., and in Soquel, that hasn’t already been said by nearly everyone who’s tasted one of their creations?  It’s simple food: bagels, a selection of cream cheeses, eggs, hummus, lox, and other toppings.  But the loyalty many Santa Cruzans feel toward this spot is anything but ordinary.

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Gobble Up Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week Santa Cruz 2013From cool downtown dinner-and-drinks spots like 515 Kitchen and Cocktails and Soif Wine Bar to beachside hangouts like Crow’s Nest and Johnny’s Harborside, eating in Santa Cruz is a treat year-round.

But there exists a kind of lull for SC restaurants in between the tourist season of summer and the holiday rush of November through January.  Similarly, life tends to slow down for Santa Cruz residents as the sky grows grayer, school is back in session, and vacations can only be found in scrapbooks.

In 2009, the folks at Santa Cruz Weekly found a solution to both those problems: Santa Cruz Restaurant Week (SCRW).

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