Grab a Bite at Reefside’s Favorite Santa Cruz Restaurants

Santa Cruz offers so many things: A warm and open Californian vibe, the open-heartedness of a small college town, and an appreciation for the value of living and eating well. As for the eating part, Santa Cruz restaurants offer an incredible array of dining options for a town so small: You’ll find hearty, classic American fare, vibrant Mexican, and vitamin-packed vegan cuisine all within a couple of miles of each other. 

So let’s get right to it: Here’s Reefside’s list of our favorite Santa Cruz restaurants and eateries! 

 

Favorite Santa Cruz Restaurants

 

Zachary’s Restaurant

819 Pacific Ave

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 427-0646

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An institution among Santa Cruz restaurants, Zachary’s is the homestyle diner of your dreams. Following an “everything homemade” philosophy, you’ll find hearty breakfasts—featuring eggs or organic tofu—including the unbeatable “Mike’s Mess”: A huge plate of eggs, bacon, home fries and toppings all jumbled together in a delicious disaster. Lunch brings unbeatable burgers, chowders and chilis, and fresh salads loaded with fresh veggies or proteins like marinated chicken. Do not think about visiting without trying the homemade jalapeño cornbread!

 

Cafe Gratitude

103 Lincoln St

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 427-9583

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A diner of a very different kind, this oh-so-Santa Cruz spot offers yummy and filling entrees and salads but leaves out meat, eggs, and dairy. Trust us: You won’t miss them after sampling the platters laden with roast veggies, beans and grains, and crisp and hearty greens. If you’re looking for fresh and flavorful meals touched with just a little vegan virtue, this is the spot for you.

 

Taqueria Los Pericos

139 Water St

Santa Cruz, CA 95060 

(831) 469-7685

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Let’s face it: Especially in this neck of the woods, tacos and burritos are a dime a dozen. But when they’re as fresh and expertly made as these, they’re worth taking note of. You’ll find few frills at this little counter-service joint: Just steaming-hot soft tacos filled with yummy bites like grilled fish, chili-dusted grilled chicken or tender braised carnitas. There are plenty of vegetarian offerings too, a reflection of this sweet and welcoming taqueria’s overall warmth and vibe.

 

Cafe Brasil

1410 Mission St

Santa Cruz, CA 95060

(831) 429-1855

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Brazil is a nation of vibrant colors and flavors, and you’ll be transported right there with a meal at this quirky little restaurant tucked into a cottage. From the traditional Brazilian breakfast of a bowl—no, not that kind of bowl!—packed with fresh and exotic fruit like açaí or caju (cashew fruit), to hearty black bean and rice dishes enlivened with Latin American sauces, poached eggs and more, the warm vibe is infectious. Lunch brings indigenous dishes like muquecas, proteins simmered in a rich tomato-and-coconut milk sauce, plus plenty of meatless options. Well worth a visit!