Top Restaurants in Santa Cruz, CA


Nestled right on top of Monterey Bay in Northern California sits the city of Santa Cruz. With landmarks like the University of California and the Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz draws thousands of visitors a day. Among its attractions are the plethora of restaurants and eating establishments around the city.

santa cruz map

Here are some of the notable restaurants in and around Santa Cruz according to California Restaurant Association’s Ashley Rowe.

ashley  Ashley Rowe

Dream Inn

“Beautiful beachfront hotel near the boardwalk! Also has the worldwide famous inventor of the wet-suit Jack Oniel’s Lounge for a dining affair.”

Full YELP review.

Ideal Bar & Grill

ideal bar

“Fun beachfront drinking spot that is next to the boardwalk. They are known for their seasonal karaoke! One of the best sports bars in town, with an additional tiki bar & deck seating options.”

Full YELP review.

Paradise Beach Grille

paradise grill

“Beautiful, elegant restaurant in the Capitola Village. Great for date night and/or friends gathering. Must try their cheese board! Also, surrounded by great boutique shopping!”

Full YELP review.

Crow’s Nest

“Known as one of the best salad bars in town & deck seating to watch all the activity in the harbor! During the summer, they have their well-known Beach Parties with Live Music. They even have comedy night every Sunday!”

Full YELP review.

Seascape Beach Resort


“Beautiful resort in Aptos known as a great brunch spot, and for weddings and special events!”

Full YELP review.

Shadowbrook Restaurant


“A go-to must! The architecture and unique environment is forever memorable. You have the option to take the unique gondola down to the main entrance.”

Full YELP review.

Café Rio Aptos

cafe rio

“Located in the Aptos Flats, where you can walk to the historic Cement Ship known as the SS Palo Alto, which celebrated 91 years this year! Dog parents: They allow your kids on the patio, too.”

Full YELP review.

Beer Thirty

“A fun place to gather with family and friends to enjoy craft beer & outdoor games! They have brought a great vibe to the Santa Cruz community & they welcome fur babies.”

Full YELP review.

El Palomar


“Highly recommended by all locals, if not most, to get your authentic Mexican cuisine fix. They are located in downtown Santa Cruz. Their Taco Bar is perfect for a quick bite. The Cantina is a great spot for drinks & apps. The dining room is a beautiful piece of downtown Santa Cruz history.”

Full YELP review.

Michael’s on Main

michael's on main

“A great local restaurant that offers live music and fun events, such as paint night!”

Full YELP review.

Have you eaten at any of these restaurants? Let us know your experience in the comments below.