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.

El Palomar: Three Great Restaurants Under One Roof

El PalomarSometimes you want Mexican cuisine in a semi-formal setting. Sometimes you want a more relaxed, patio atmosphere. And sometimes you just want a delicious burrito or taco and a beer, cheap.

If you’re on Pacific Avenue and are in search of any of these three options, El Palomar is a solid, colorful choice.

Originally the ornate Hotel Palomar in the 1920s, the downstairs lobby area and bar (originally called The Circle Bar) was converted to a restaurant decades ago, becoming the multi-pronged dining experience it is today in the 1980s.  The upper stories are currently being used as apartments for low-income renters.
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Walnut Avenue Cafe: A Breakfast Favorite in Santa Cruz since 1994

Walnut Ave Cafe Santa CruzYou know a restaurant is serious about brunch when they aren’t even open for dinner.

In Santa Cruz, that restaurant is the Walnut Avenue Cafe, located downtown off Pacific Avenue.

Since opening in 1994, Walnut has been known as a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike to catch up with family members, nurse hangovers with friends, or share a romantic brunch with a love interest.

Open from early in the morning till three or four in the afternoon depending on the day, Walnut offers the perfect brunch menu, hitting every possible desire.

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Santa Cruz Restaurants Get Their 15 Minutes When The Food Network Comes to Town

Santa Cruz Restaurants on the Food NetworkFor being a relatively small town, Santa Cruz ends up in the media a lot, whether it’s being featured in the New York Times as an ideal destination, or being poked fun at by the folks at Comedy Central.

Santa Cruz restaurants have also received some media spotlight, often for their own unusual cuisine.

After all, what’s more unusual than a diner that serves Vietnamese food?

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Comfy Never Felt So Cool: The Abbey Santa Cruz Coffee, Art & Music Lounge

The Abbey Santa CruzLooking for a cool place to work or study?

The Abbey Coffee, Art, and Music Lounge combines all the comfort and convenience of your living room with the superior style of an artsy cafe.

The Abbey offers free Wi-Fi to all its customers, so you can grab a coffee and settle in for a few hours of work or study.  I even know a few people who work out of The Abbey running their small businesses.

A great place for students as well as working professionals, The Abbey is a quiet environment for work during the day and a rockin’ music venue on weekend nights.

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Shadowbrook Orange Rolls: The Tastiest Treat You’ll Never Eat

ShadowbrookSunday Brunch at Shadowbrook.

It used to be a thing.

Nowadays they just point you to the Crow’s Nest for Sunday Brunch.  Nothing against the Crow’s Nest, but count me among the many who haven’t been able to get over Shadowbrook’s decision to stop offering brunch.

Forget that there isn’t a better atmosphere than the sun drenched Greenhouse dining room for a mid morning feast.  Put aside those cravings for the eggs benedict, the Ruben sandwich, and morning mimosa’s.

This is about the orange rolls.

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