Restaurants in Downtown Santa Cruz
When you stay at the Hinds House you are never far from a great meal. Here we recommend some places to dine in Downtown. If a restaurant isn't on this list we don't recommend it. All these places are within six blocks of us.
Cafe' Campesino (831)425-5979. Chef Dina serves up authentic Mexican peasant food in a mini kiosk in front of New Leaf Market near the corner of Pacif and Lincoln Streets. There is no dining room here. Eating is done on the sidewalk at plastic tables.
We like the Calabacitas, a medley of squash, corn and vegetables topped with tomato, cheese and sour cream served with rice, beans and homemade tortilla. Also good is the Johnny Depp plate named after...well you know who.
Cafe' Limelight (831)425-7873. A wonderful little cafe on Cedar Street near the corner of Union. This is an intimate spot with passionate owners who make delightful salads, hot pannini sandwiches all in a funky and fun hone-like environment. Outdoor seating is available in good weather.
Italian soda, loose-leaf tea, espresso and desserts round out the offerings.
El Palomar Taco Bar (831)425-7575. We think the best part of the Palomar Restaurant is their little taco bar next door. Order a couple of fish tacos and you'll be all set. Find this place in the arcade at 1336 Pacific.
Kianti's (831)469-4400. This is a Santa Cruz favorite. It's noisy and busy but serves up great homemade pasta, pizza and salads. It's affordable and casual. The pizza maker in the kitchen is fun to watch and is recognized world wide as one of the best in the field. 1100 Pacific Ave. at Cathcart St.
Little Shanghai (831)458-2460
Consistently good Chinese food from owners Jack and Sue and their growing children. Try the Gan Pong chicken or the Family Style Tofu for vegetarians. Lunchtime steam table is a fast and tasty bargain. On the corner of Cedar and Locust. (Note: the public rest rooms in this building are a challenge. We recommend take out food here or dine-in but use other rest rooms before you arrive.)
Oswald reopened on December 31, 2008. This noisy and bustling bistro consistently serves some of the best meals in Santa Cruz. Active full bar. Wonderful wine list and attentive service. Dinner only on weekends. Lunch served Tuesday - Friday. Closed Monday. Entrees $20-$28. Appetizers and salads $8-$12. Reservations recommended. 121 Soquel Ave at Front Street in the corner of the parking garage.
Pizza My Heart (831)426-2511
Popular local pizza place that does a brisk business by the slice. Whether it's the pesto or the vegetarian delight, Pizza My Heart serves pizza with fresh ingredients to the masses. 1116 Pacific between Lincoln and Cathcart.
Red Restaurant (831) 425-1913
Upstairs in the old Santa Cruz Hotel you will find a lively bar scene and slow, relaxed restaurant that serves good comfort food. Seafood, steaks, small pizzas, sandwiches and salads all beautifully presented and at reasonable prices. The decor is dark and very red. This is the kind of place that envelopes you. You can disappear into this place for hours and forget that the outside world exists. Service can take a while, so don't go there ready to eat immediately. As the night wears on the adjoining bar scene creeps in and takes over the restaurant space. Definitely the best late-night spot in Santa Cruz - Red serves dinners until 1:00am. Reservations recommended on weekends. 200 Locust St. at the corner of Cedar (above Planet Fresh Burritos).
Fresh Japanese fare and wonderful sushi. This establishment serves consistently great food. Can get crowded on Friday and Saturday nights. Located at 1123 Pacific near the corner of Lincoln.
Soif Wine Bar (831)423-2020
Pronounced "swaf" (french for thirst) this new arrival downtown has struck a chord with food and wine enthusiasts alike. Soif offers small meals to compliment their large wine selection (over 50 wines are offered by the glass). A wine shop adjoins the restaurant and has a wonderful selection. This establishment is a feast for the eyes as well as the palette thanks to local artist and architect Mark Primack's building renovation.
Taqueria Vallarta (831)471-2655
Fast and fresh burritos, tacos, and seafood specialties in a no-nonsense atmosphere. Inexpensive and always good. Lunch and dinner at the corner of Pacific and Cathcart.
Walnut Avenue Cafe (831)457-2307
Civilized and refined breakfast and lunch with continental flavors. At 106 Walnut Avenue between Pacific and Cedar.
Zachary's Restaurant (831)427-0646
The classic California breakfast house featuring huge omelets, home fries, and homemade pancakes. The coffee cake changes daily and is worth the upgrade with your omelet. Get there early on the weekends if you want a table. A downtown tradition, and for good reason. Located at 819 Pacific Avenue between Laurel and Maple.
99 Bottles (831)459-9999
Always fun and always full, 99 Bottles has the best beer and ale selection in downtown and a popular trivia night every Wednesday evening at 8:00pm. Walk down and join a team and you could win free beer. Located at 110 Walnut between Pacific and Cedar.
Cafes, Desserts, Coffee
The Bagelry (831)429-8049
The original Santa Cruz bagel makers. Their cafe serves bagels with every possible combination of fresh and delicious spreads. Don't miss the two daily homemade soups. Located at 320 Cedar St between Maple and Laurel.
Cafe Pergolesi (831)426-1775
Coffee, Tea and lighter fare. popular with UCSC students. 418 Cedar between Cathcart and Elm.
Coffee, tea, desserts and light lunch and dinner. 1552 Pacific at the corner of Locust. Located within the popular Bookshop Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company (831)459-0100
Long-time Santa Cruz coffee house in the heart of downtown. A local favorite with indoor and outdoor sidewalk seating. The largest selection of coffee in SC. Located at 1330 Pacific Avenue between Church and Walnut.
Lulu Carpenters (831)429-9804
A very civilized coffee house with fine art on the walls and many clients with laptop computers. Could it be because of the free wireless DSL? Full lunches and breakfast pastries. Everything's good at Lulu's. Located at 1545 Pacific Avenue near the corner of Front St and at the Octagon building on the corner of Cooper and Front St.
Togo's Eatery (831)426-8441
Sandwiches and soups made by this popular chain restaurant are always fresh and tasty. Low prices and fresh ingredients keep people coming back. The institutional atmosphere inside is less interesting than the street life outside. Take your sandwich out to a sidewalk bench. 1315 Pacific Avenue between Church and Walnut.
Zoccoli's Deli (831)423-1711
With cafe tables right on Pacific Avenue, this full delicatessen serves fresh sandwiches and salads daily for the business lunch crowd. Lots of custom sandwich choices and ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads. Located at 1534 Pacific Avenue near the corner of Pacific and Front.
Nut Kreations & True Olive Connection These two shops on Lincoln Street between Pacific and Cedar is our little gourmet ghetto. Nut Kreations has great healthy snacks and custom trail mixes. The True Olive Connection is THE place to get fresh Extra Virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegars.