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Updated Santa Cruz restaurant reviews/opinions, please!

West End Tap & Kitchen between Swift and Fair is a new favorite, as is Bantam, just a block away. Keeping fingers crossed that Assembly will be a success, as well.




Mar 10, 2014
spiltinky in California

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk food recommendations?

And don't forget about The Picnic Basket just across the street from the Boardwalk. Interesting and tasty food options from local, artisan producers and purveyors. http://thepicnicbasketsc.com/

Jun 27, 2012
spiltinky in California

The Etiquette of Mushroom Foraging

Love this topic! I've had a very close friend make it a point to not reveal her special foraging places and conversely, a friend of a friend (a stranger to me) take me and my husband on a foraging excursion where he revealed an incredible gold mine of mushrooms in an area close to where we live, but where we never would have thought to look. We rewarded him with the best bottle of wine we owned, and also made a point of not going back to that spot again that year. I agree with Helena's suggestion of engaging people in general conversations about foraging and would recommend you get involved with the local mycological groups in your area.

Oct 15, 2011
spiltinky in Features

Fancy Bakeshops in Santa Cruz?

I think your best bet would probably be Kelly's French Bakery. They tend to have things like petit fours, mini tarts, etc. The Buttery also has smaller pastries, but some of them are more like 2-3 servings, e.g., 4" cheesecakes and that sort of thing--not really individual servings. The Buttery has a large assortment of cookies, rugelach and muffins, but it sounds like you may be looking for something a little more elegant.

Kelly's French Bakery
402 Ingalls St, Santa Cruz, CA

Sep 15, 2011
spiltinky in California

Another week (and a half) of vacation with the family in Santa Cruz

Thanks for another delicious recap of your food adventures here in Santa Cruz. I'm very glad you made it to Donnelly Chocolates. It falls off my radar but it is such a gem. Also Verve coffee, LaPosta, etc., all great choices. Your review reminds me of the places I need to get out to more often. Safe travels home to you and your family.

Aug 19, 2011
spiltinky in California

budget dinner near Santa Cruz boardwalk?

Oooohhhh, so sorry that you had an unpleasant meal there. Nobody should have to eat airplane food--not even on an airplane. In the past I've had the steamed clams, crab sandwich and a crab salad and they all were quite good. I'm glad you at least were able to enjoy the view, and I hope your next visit to the area brings a more favorable dining experience. I apologize for steering you in the wrong direction. :-(

Jul 21, 2011
spiltinky in California

budget dinner near Santa Cruz boardwalk?

If you are seafood fans, Riva's on the wharf offers options in the $20 and under range without alcoholic beverages (cash only, though so be prepared). Alternatively, you could walk (about 20 minutes) or drive down Pacific Ave., the street that runs into the wharf, and hit downtown Santa Cruz, which has a number of options in the price range you mention, e.g., Asana Tea Cafe (on Lincoln just off Pacific), Betty's Eat Inn, Chocolate (next to Bookshop Santa Cruz), etc.

Jul 02, 2011
spiltinky in California

El Salchichero on Ingalls - anyone been yet?

Definitely worth a stop. El Salchichero's delicious sausages and some fresh meats are also at several of the farmer's markets (Santa Cruz, Live Oak and Scotts Valley), but there is more variety at the store on Swift St. Chris LaVeque is at the helm and is doing a great job creating innovative charcuterie using local sources. The website lists what's available each week. www.elsalchichero.com.

El Salchichero
402 Ingalls St #5, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

May 16, 2011
spiltinky in California

Funky casual lunch in Santa Cruz

Kelly's is a great suggestion and they also have an ice cream option. If you really want to be in close proximity to the Penney Ice Creamery you could check out Betty's Eat Inn, which recently opened on Pacific Ave. They serve burgers, salads, sandwiches, etc. all day and are about a block or two away from the PIC.

May 11, 2011
spiltinky in California

Santa Cruz Moutains Wineries

Check out the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers website at www.scwma.com. They have lots of info, maps and descriptions of dozens of wineries in the area and also sponsor a number of reasonably priced wine tasting events in the area. For example, there's an upcoming self-guided tour of Pinot Noir producing wineries at the end of March and one of the quarterly Passport days in April, which features lots of local wineries with unlimited tastings for one price.

Mar 14, 2011
spiltinky in California

Cupcakes in Santa Cruz

You might try Starz Cupcakes in Capitola at www.starzcupcakes.com or Edith Meyer Wedding Cakes in Santa Cruz, who also does cupcake towers at www.edithmeyer.com.

Mar 09, 2011
spiltinky in California

SANTA CRUZ Area- NEED Cookies, Cupcakes Gift Delivery SUGGESTION PLEASE

JMK, Hope this isn't too late. I can't think of a bakery or sweet shop that delivers, but we do have a bicycle delivery company based in downtown that might be able to help you. Their website is http://www.pedalexpress.com/santacruz/. We have several outstanding bakeries, probably the most notable are The Buttery (www.butterybakery.com) and Kelly's French Bakery (www.kellysfrenchbakery.com). There is also Pacific Cookie Company (www.pacificcookie.com).

Kelly's French Bakery
402 Ingalls St, Santa Cruz, CA

Feb 22, 2011
spiltinky in California

Grabbing a to-go lunch in S Cruz?

The time of day and not taking you too far from Hwy 1 make this a bit challenging, but here are two options you might consider. The Farm Bakery & Cafe on Soquel in Aptos or Garden Liquors and Deli, also on Soquel, but further north near Dominican Hospital. Yes, it's a liquor store, but they make sandwiches that are extra tasty. Both are relatively near Hwy 1. I'd suggest giving them both a call to make sure they have sandwiches in the early a.m.

Good luck, and have a great time at the Love Apple Farm tomato class. Cynthia is a real gem.

Farm Bakery & Cafe
6790 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003

Aug 31, 2010
spiltinky in California

A week of vacation with the family in Santa Cruz - three squares a day and Chow-worthy?

Great feedback on your trip. I'm a "local" and I have never even heard of Peach Garden. As for your service experience at Harbor Cafe, yes, that happens. And I hope someone tips off the manager for a gentle reminder to staff.

And although Santa Cruz is blessed to be near the San Joaquin Valley, much of the produce and other products you've sampled this trip probably came from small farms much closer than that.

Thanks again for your great on-the-spot reporting. Happy trails!

Peach Garden
1733 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Aug 20, 2010
spiltinky in California

A week of vacation with the family in Santa Cruz - three squares a day and Chow-worthy?

Good suggestions by earlier posters.

To answer you query about local wines, the Swift Street Courtyard (where Bonny Doon Cellars and Kelly's Bakery are located) has several tasting rooms for local wineries and a local brewery (see link below) and the New Leaf store mentioned earlier at the other end of this block carries a number of local wines--many at below list prices.


Also, Vinocruz in downtown Santa Cruz specializes in local wines and has a small tasting bar and a very friendly and knowledgeable onsite owner.

As for dog-friendly dining, there are a fair number of places with outdoor eating areas that welcome dogs, but dogs are not allowed on Pacific Avenue, so Chocolate is out. However, a block away on Cedar St., Cafe Limelight (pannini sandwiches, salads, etc.) has a dog-friendly patio, and Aldo's at the Harbor is another popular spot for dining with your dog.

The Live Oak Farmer's Market is on Sunday's from 9-1 on the corner of East Cliff and 15th St. A nice option if you don't make it to one of the Saturday Farmer's Markets (there is also a Saturday market on the Westside, not far from the Swift St. Courtyard that runs from 9-1). I'd highly recommend getting to at least one farmer's market while you're in town, they are all really great and offer a wonderful array of local produce and prepared foods. (The downtown market is on Wednesdays from 2:30-6:30.


Hope you enjoy your visit.

Cafe Limelight
1016 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA

Aug 06, 2010
spiltinky in California

Downtown Santa Cruz dinner updates?

I think the Soif, Gabriella and Oswald are still the best downtown options for interesting and delicious food. If you're too full at dinner and want a little something sweet to round out the experience, I'd suggest a walk down to Chocolate (next to Bookshop Santa Cruz), for one of their over-the-top hot chocolates. Right now they have a "chocolatini" drink that is out of this world. Served in a small espresso cup with a much-needed spoon and a dollop of whipped cream--it is small, but mighty delicious.

Jul 18, 2010
spiltinky in California

40th Birthday Dinner in Santa Cruz

Soif and the Bonny Doon Cellar Cafe are both great choices. Gabriella Cafe downtown is also very good, but the space is small, so it depends on how many people will be joining you. Ristorante Avanti has phenomenal food, but it can get pretty noisy on weekend evenings. Also, if time and logistics allow a pre-dinner cocktail, I highly recommend Aquarius at the Dream Inn as a lovely kick-off point. Hope you enjoy your visit.

Ristorante Avanti
1711 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Jul 11, 2010
spiltinky in California

POUTINE with cheddar cheese curds

Hi Suzie, In Orange County, my Quebecois father-in-law gets his poutine fix at Brasserie Pascal in Fashion Island. I didn't see it on their online menu, but I know he's had it there, as well as the site's former incarnation French 75 (which appears to have a site in Laguna Beach). The Brasserie link is below.

Apr 04, 2010
spiltinky in California

Santa Cruz Catering or Take-Out for 16 for a Saturday night?

Two options that are not Mexican or Chinese:

Zameen restaurant in Aptos. They serve Mediterranean cuisine and have a lot of choices for vegetarians and meat eaters. I've used them for workplace and personal functions and received lots of good feedback from a variety of diners. Someone will have to pick up the food at their restaurant location, but they ae pretty easy to get to off of the State Park Drive exit on Hwy 1.


Another possibility is Feel Good Foods Catering. I haven't hired them, but have enjoyed their food at different events. They are the same folks who own the River Cafe Cheese Shop near downtown Santa Cruz, hence the web address.

Hope you have a great birthday!


Nov 02, 2009
spiltinky in California

Ambrosia India Bistro Open in Aptos

The lunch buffet M-F is $9.95. They do a champagne brunch buffet on the weekend, and as I recall, the price is slightly higher. Not sure about ordering off the menu during buffet hours.

Four of us had dinner there the other night and we all thought it was fantastic. We had an okra dish with ginger that was amazing. I'd go back just for that.

Aug 25, 2008
spiltinky in California

Seeking Good Caterer for Santa Cruz area!

I used Zameen for catering my birthday party in July after enjoying their food at a catered workplace event. Delicious food, large portions, lovely presentation. The only drawback is that in both instances we had to go pick up the food--they do not do onsite catering or delivery. I can also recommend Fat Cat Catering in Los Gatos. They have done many events in Santa Cruz including Mediterranean, vegan, etc. No website, but the phone is 408-438-0387.

Aug 13, 2008
spiltinky in California


You might want to check out Costanoa. It's on the coast between Santa Cruz and San Francisco and they do weddings, have onsite accomodations and catering options.

May 05, 2008
spiltinky in California

Santa Cruz area - dinner

If you search this board using "Santa Cruz" as your search term, you'll get lots of restaurant reviews for the area. To give you a quick answer to some of your questions, I'd suggest Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant for late afternoon/evening.and 515 Kitchen and Cocktails for a good Sunday breakfast/brunch. Gabriella Cafe is also a nice place for inventive, regional cuisine. All of these restaurants are in downtown Santa Cruz. The wine passport days in general tend to be fun and not overly crowded. If you don't want to drive around a lot, you can also do tastings Saturday afternoon at the aforementioned Soif or at Vino Cruz, a wine shop/tasting bar also downtown that features Santa Cruz Mountain wines. Another good breakfast spot is Cafe Brazil on Mission St., but be prepared to wait. Hope this helps.

Apr 17, 2008
spiltinky in California

Tamales for a crowd in Santa Cruz?

Can anyone recommend a place to get fresh tamales for a party of 50-70 people in Santa Cruz? The party is not until June, but I want to know I can count on them as a main dish, and I want to be able to order ahead and pick them up. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Apr 17, 2008
spiltinky in California

Eat Your Lawn

My husband dug up all of the ugly crabgrass in the front of our house two years ago and turned our front yard into a mini-farm. In order to address the issue of "not so pretty in the off-season" he built a series of planter boxes in interesting shapes, used colored stones and pavers to create paths between the boxes, added some large pots and put in some non-vegetable plants that grow year-round to keep things from looking too barren. We're lucky that where we live, we can still grown some vegetables during the colder months. (BTW--He's no farmer, just a guy who plans well and doesn't mind some heavy lifting.) The best part is that he got to know just about everyone in the neighborhood while working on this project. He managed to grow tomato plants that went above our roof line, which generated lots of interest. He also puts out periodic boxes of free produce so people could help themselves. We've had people leave jars of homemade salsa or chutney on our front porch with a thank you note. It's the best thing we've done since moving to the neighborhood six years ago.

Mar 25, 2008
spiltinky in Features

Santa Cruz coffee roasters or coffee bars

You might want to try Lulu's at the Octagon (downtown on Cooper St. in front of the museum). It's the sister store to long-time favorite Lulu's on Pacific, and it is very single-mindedly focused on coffee and espresso.

Aug 07, 2007
spiltinky in California