Top 10 restaurants in Santa Cruz, United States

April 14, 2018 Leonarda Pillsbury

The quintessential California beach town of Santa Cruz! It was here that surfing was first brought to the mainland by Hawaiian royalty. Home to the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined downtown area, and the historic Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, which stretches out a half-mile into the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Other highlights include UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, and nearby redwood forests.
Things to do in Santa Cruz

1. Linda's Seabreeze Cafe

542 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062-3421 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible American, Cafe, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch +1 831-427-9713
Excellent
73%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 303 reviews

Linda's Seabreeze Cafe

Reviewed By Fraser000

The style and presentation are there. The food is good and fresh. The outdoor coffee is a great touch (though $2/cup is steep for coffee while you wait).The missing ingredient is a lot of taste. There is definitely some there, but there is a risk of blandness. We had a combination of pancakes, omelets, tofu scramble, and more pancakes. The tofu scramble was surprisingly the best in the pack (not easy making a good tofu scramble). But it seems like once the breakfast art was mastered, Linda may have taken a breather. Going back to the drawing board could include things like whipped butter for pancakes, more finely chopped onions in omelet, over-easy eggs that are not too firm, and some other stuff. Anyway, we would go back and recommend it despite the nitpicking.

2. Laili Restaurant

101B Cooper St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4526 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Afghani, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 9 - SGD 29 +1 831-423-4545
Excellent
65%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 432 reviews

Laili Restaurant

For centuries a five thousand mile trade route has joined the Mediterranean to China through Afghanistan and India. Known mostly for the Silk Trade, the Silk Road has acted as a conduit of ideas, cultures, music, food & spices throughout all of its regions. Laili aims to bring the age old flavors and traditions of the Silk Road to life by creating a positive and relaxing environment with a culturally rich and flavorful dining experience.

Reviewed By 2Klecks - Sacramento, California

We didn't have a reservation on the weekend before Valentine's Day, so we ate "at the bar", which was really highboy tables in the back. Turns out we enjoyed the location as it was much quieter than the center dining room. I should start with we don't eat Mediterranean food very often, so we aren't experts on what it should or shouldn't taste like. We started with a glass of Scrimshaw red wine and a glass of Au Bon Climat chardonnay. The red was good, but the chardonnay was excellent, from Santa Barbara, and I'll be looking for that in the store. We both had the small Greek Salad for lunch. The salads were good, but not great. I couldn't tell how clean or not clean the place really was because it is kind of dark inside. However, when I visited the restroom, I figured out it wasn't very clean. I always figure if the restrooms aren't clean, the kitchen isn't either. I don't know, it wasn't a bad lunch, but I don't think I would return for a second visit.

3. Walnut Avenue Cafe

106 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-3913 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible American, Cafe, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch +1 831-457-2307
Excellent
56%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 293 reviews

Walnut Avenue Cafe

Reviewed By Luv W

I arrive for a late-afternoon lunch and was seated immediately. I ordered the black bean tostadas with shrimp. The shrimp were plentiful, the black beans were housemaid and flavorful, and all ingredients for very fresh. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch.

4. Zachary's Restaurant

819 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4433 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible American, Cafe, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch SGD 26 +1 831-427-0646
Excellent
58%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 221 reviews

Zachary's Restaurant

Reviewed By w0rkt0travel - Dairyland, USA

We walked from near the pier and some portions of the walk were a bit sketchy. The restaurant’s front window was etched with graffiti and there was graffiti on the trash can in the bathroom. I however didn’t feel unsafe, but did notice it.

The food was amazing. Plenty of options for gluten free or otherwise. I has one of the house specialties and husband had an omelette. Both were good and we agreed we would come here again.

5. Betty Burgers

505 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062-3748 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Wheelchair Accessible, Highchairs Available American, Fast Food, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner SGD 7 - SGD 13 +1 831-423-8190
Excellent
59%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 163 reviews

Betty Burgers

Our delicious burgers are made with fresh, all-natural beef with NO hormones and NO antibiotics. Local vegetables are delivered fresh daily.

Reviewed By Ann G - California

stopped here for lunch, small location, not many inside tables, limited parking lot. order at the counter, burger was good, shoestrings french fries. nice place for a quick burger, nothing fancy

6. West End Tap & Kitchen

334 Ingalls St Ste D, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-5880 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Television, Full Bar American, Bar, Pub, Brew Pub, Gastropub, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch SGD 10 - SGD 25 +1 831-471-8115
Excellent
52%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 181 reviews

West End Tap & Kitchen

West End is a neighborhood eatery which showcases the flavors of a traditional pub with a California twist; using local, fresh and seasonal foods. Our food is cooked to pair perfectly with one of many craft beers and wines. Our chef brings French cuisine techniques to a simple and approachable menu for all to enjoy and afford! We are proud to offer healthy and fun kids choices along with mouth-watering house-made desserts and ice creams. Come in and be our guest!

Reviewed By Lesley B

We had a delicious lunch at the West End Tap & Kitchen. The interior is really cool and the food and service was awesome! I had the kale & spinach salad with salmon. Highly recommend it!

7. Lillian's Italian Kitchen

1148 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062-2106 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Highchairs Available Italian, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner +1 831-425-2288
Excellent
66%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 104 reviews

Lillian's Italian Kitchen

Lillian’s Italian Kitchen opened quietly on July 4, 2007. It’s a joint venture of the owners, Joe and Charlotte Moreno and their sons Chris and Matt. Long time residents of Santa Cruz, the Moreno’s dream was to open a neighborhood place that was an extension of their family kitchen. The inspiration was Grandma Lilly’s wonderful home cooking. Lillian was devoted to family and friends and her life was greatly fulfilled by her love and passion for cooking. Born in Yonkers, New York, Lillian was able to combine traditional Sicilian recipes learned from her parents and the many Italian influences in her neighborhood. Executive Chef Chris honors Lillian’s family recipes as well as offering a variety of fresh and creative additions to the menu while Matt makes sure guests feel at home. Good food, good friends, great prices and straight from the heart. Tutti a mangiare!

Reviewed By Pat G - Bethesda, Maryland, United States

We saw on many social media sites that Lillian’s was rated Number 1 for Italian restaurants. It is terrific! The wine selection is good. The Chianti was very smooth. The food selection was plentiful. The lasagna and carbonara were excellent! The dessert gelato was outstanding. The place was full on a Sunday. It was full still when we finished because the food was excellent.

8. Hula's Island Grill and Tiki Room

221 Cathcart St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4419 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Television, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Free Wifi American, Bar, Seafood, Hawaiian, Polynesian, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night +1 831-426-4852
Excellent
43%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 276 reviews

Hula's Island Grill and Tiki Room

Reviewed By mastaple - Scottsdale, Arizona

Fun place in the main section of Santa Cruz. Lots of room, lots of food and drink choices. We had a very large group and one server managed us extremely well. She was attentive and handled our drinks, appetizer, dinner, and dessert ordering well. The menu had a mix of American standard, fish, and steaks to fit all appetites. Most amazing thing about this place was the Rum menu. So many choices!!

9. Johnny's Harborside

493 Lake Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062-3938 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Discover, Reservations, Parking Available, Accepts Credit Cards American, Seafood, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Drinks, Breakfast SGD 20 - SGD 39 +1 831-479-3430
Excellent
45%
Good
40%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 227 reviews

Johnny's Harborside

Reviewed By Don M - Littleton, Colorado

Great view, on harbor, elevator up, easy parking. Calamari $5, clam chowder $7, happy hour, draft beers $3, also an outstanding "simply fish seabass-corvina" (4). great food and service.

10. Saturn Cafe

145 Laurel St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4498 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol American, Cafe, Diner, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 26 +1 831-429-8505
Excellent
47%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 223 reviews

Saturn Cafe

Reviewed By Henry S - Santa Cruz, California

Long time family restaurant with lots of choices for the family. High end dinner food with lots of healthy choices and it’s all vegetarian but with incredible tastes

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