Top Choice Ice Cream in Santa Cruz

Penny Ice Creamery

With a cult following, this artisan ice-cream shop crafts zany flavors like bourbon candied ginger, lemon verbena blueberry and ricotta apricot all from scratch using local, organic and wild-harvested ingredients. E…
Mexican in Santa Cruz

El Palomar

Always-packed El Palomar serves tasty Mexican staples – try the ceviches – and good margaritas. The tortillas are made fresh in the covered courtyard.
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 draft microbrews while you wait.
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


Bon vivants swoon over a heady selection of three dozen international wines by the glass, paired with a sophisticated, seasonally driven Euro-Cal menu. Expect tastebud-ticklers like roasted beet salad with fava bean…
American in Santa Cruz


At this scruffy brunch spot that locals don’t want you to know about, huge portions of sourdough pancakes and cinnamon-nut coffee cake will keep you going all day. ‘Mike’s Mess’ is the kitchen-sink standout.
Mexican in Santa Cruz

Tacos Moreno

Who cares how long the line is at lunchtime? Find taquería heaven with these marinated pork, chicken or beef soft tacos. Also on 41st Ave in Capitola.
Deli in Santa Cruz

Picnic Basket

Across the street from the beach boardwalk, this locavarian kitchen puts together creative sandwiches such as beet with lemony couscous or 'fancy pants' grilled cheese with fruit chutney, plus homemade soups, breakf…
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…
Deli in Santa Cruz


The bagels here are twice-cooked (boiled, then baked), and come with fantastic spreads like crunchy 'Tofu del Fuego' or hummus with sprouts.