Top Choice Ice Cream in Santa Cruz

Penny Ice Creamery

With a cult following, this artisan ice-cream shop crafts zany flavors such as bourbon-candied ginger, lemon-verbena–blueberry and ricotta apricot all from scratch using local, organic and wild-harvested ingredients…
Top Choice Californian in Santa Cruz


Farm-to-table and proudly regional flavors feature at this excellent bistro in downtown Santa Cruz. Assembly's Californian vibe belies real culinary nous in the kitchen, and the seasonal menu could include dishes su…
Top Choice Market in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Farmers Market

Organic produce, baked goods and arts-and-crafts and food booths all give you an authentic taste of the local vibe. Shorter fall and winter hours.
Bistro in Santa Cruz


Following a recent makeover, one of Santa Cruz's more established restaurants is now better than ever, and the chic and cosmopolitan decor showcases a stunning wine list – including tasting flights ($20.50) of local…
Japanese in Santa Cruz


Head northeast of downtown Santa Cruz to Soquel Ave's restaurant strip for Akira's modern take on sushi, sashimi and other Japanese flavors. Combining sake, craft brews and a surf-town ambience, Akira's menu harness…
Californian in Santa Cruz


Another opening in the up-and-coming dining scene in Santa Cruz's West End, Bantam's versatile space is often packed with SC locals enjoying wood-fired pizza, a savvy cocktail, the wine and craft-beer list, and more…
Mexican in Santa Cruz


Regional Mexican flavors feature at this bricks-and-mortar expansion of a popular long-standing Santa Cruz food stall. A strong adherence to organic ingredients shines in dishes like a delicious chicken mole (a Mexi…
Pizza in Santa Cruz

Engfer Pizza Works

Detour to find this old factory, where wood-fired oven pizzas are made from scratch with love – the no-name specialty is like a giant salad on roasted bread. Play Ping-Pong and down craft beers from local breweries …
Afghani in Santa Cruz


A chic downtown dining oasis, family-owned Laili invites diners in with an elegant high-ceilinged dining room and garden patio. Share apricot-chicken flatbread, tart pomegranate eggplant, roasted cauliflower with sa…
Breakfast in Santa Cruz

Walnut Ave Cafe

Line up at this clean, well-lit breakfast spot for fluffy Belgian waffles, blackened ahi tuna eggs benny, Mexican huevos rancheros with pulled pork and all kinds of veggie scrambles. Lunch brings less-exciting sandw…