News, music, movies & restaurants from the editors of the Silicon Valley's #1 weekly newspaper.
Serving San Jose, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Campbell, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Fremont & nearby cities.


home | restaurants | santa cruz county restaurant reviews | santa cruz restaurant reviews

Restaurant Reviews

Mexican. $. Traditional Mexican favorites like steak piccata and chile relleno suiza. Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 1116 Pacific Ave. 831. 426.7588.

Al Dente
Italian. $$. Pasta prince Lucio Fanni cooks with a gift for garlic. Can be noisy. Sometimes a long wait. Dinner Wed-Sun 5:30-10pm. Closed Mon-Tue. 415 Seabright Ave, 831.466.0649

Asian Rose
Asian. $. The emphasis is on inexpensive, vegetarian dishes like Sri Lankan spring rolls, tempeh stir-fry and Gado Malabar. Open for lunch and dinner. 1116 Soquel Ave, 831.423-7906

Japanese sushi bar. $$. Benten delivers the goods without a lot of fuss but with good quality for the price. Lunch Wed-Mon 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner daily 5:30-9pm. 1541 Pacific Ave, 831.425.7079

Blacks Beach Cafe
California cuisine. $$. Cafe comfort and nonstereotypical vegetarian-leaning cuisine. Breakfast/lunch Sat-Sun 9am-2pm; dinner Tue-Sun 5-9pm. Closed Mon. 2-1490 East Cliff Dr, 831.475.2233

Caffe Bella Napoli
Italian. $$$. Fine appetizers, seasonal produce and exceptional pastas. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; dinner nightly 5:30-10pm (Sun 5-9:30pm). 503 Water St, 831.426.7401

Italian/seafood. $$. Provides culinary depth without tourist-fare condescension. Lunch 11:30am-3:30pm; dinner from 5pm. 49A Municipal Wharf, 831.458.3600

California/New American. $$$. Landmark dining room showcases the skills of Chef Scott Cater and company. Classic filet mignon. Dinner nightly from 5pm. 101 Main St, 831.426.9063

New American. $$$. The seafood buffet hosts salads, cheeses and fresh vegetables, oysters and prawns, and hot entrees. Mon-Sat 7am-11pm,Sun 8am-9pm. One Chaminade Lane, 831.475.5600

Charlie Hong Kong
Asian street food. $. Big bowls of rice or noodles stir-fried with veggies and/or meat, Southeast Asian po boy sandwiches and more. Mon-Sun 11am-11pm. 141 Soquel Ave, 831.426.5664

Sweets. $. A wonderful dessert menu and sidewalk seating are backed up with salads, soups and sandwiches. Daily 9am-11pm. 1522 Pacific Ave, 831.427.9900

American, California-style. $$. With a great bar scene, casually glamorous setting and an attentive waitstaff. Full bar. Mon-Sat 11:30am-10pm, Sun 1-10pm. 110 Church St, 831.429.2000

Costa Brava
South American. $$. Costa Brava explores the cuisine of Cuba, Brazil, Argentina and Peru. Full bar. Mon-Thu 4:30-10pm (bar until midnight), Fri-Sun 11:30am-11pm. 1222 Pacific Ave, 831.425-7871

The Crepe Place
Crepes and more. $$. Featuring the spinach crepe and Tunisian doughnut. Full bar. Mon-Thu 11am-midnight, Fri 11am-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 10am-midnight. 1134 Soquel Ave, 831.429.6994

Crow's Nest
$$. Lunch Mon-Fri Santa Cruz 11:30am-2:30pm, Sat-11:30am-3pm, Sun 11am-3pm; dinner Mon-Fri 5:30-9pm, Sat-Sun 5-10pm. 2218 East Cliff Dr, 831.476.4560

Dynasty Restaurant
Chinese. $. Full array of stir-fries and sizzling platter dishes. Cantonese dim sum on weekends. Daily, 11am-9:30pm (until 10pm on weekends). 3601 Portola Dr, 831.479.3388

Engfer Pizza Works
Pizza. $. Wood-fired oven produces pizza in two sizes with a wealth of toppings, including 100 percent vegan pies. Tue-Sun 4 to about 9pm; closed Mon. 537 Seabright Ave, 831.429.1856

Falafel House
Middle Eastern. $. Falafel, gyros and other fried Middle Eastern fare served up fast with fries. Sun-Thu 11am-9:30pm. Fri-Sat 11am-10:30pm. 113 Walnut Ave, 831.459.9770

Gabriella Cafe
Bistro. $$$. Offbeat combinations and superb desserts. Lunch weekdays and dinner nightly; weekend brunch 11am Sat, 10am Sun. 910 Cedar St, 831.457.1677

Gilbert's Seafood Grill
Seafood. $$. Perfect for dinner dates, Gilbert's specializes in fresh flavors, generous portions of grilled fish and modest prices. Daily 11:30am-3:30pm lunch menu; open till 10pm for dinner. 460 Municipal Wharf. 831.423.5200

Americana. $$. Ribs, steaks and burgers are definitely the stars. Full bar. Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Sun-Thu 5:30-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30-10pm. 303 Soquel Ave, 831.426.7770

Thai. $. Nicely made classics include silver noodles and superb satays. Mon-Fri 11am-3pm; Sat 11:30am-3pm; dinner nightly from 5pm. Santa Cruz 107 Leonard St, 831.420.1688

Mei Garden
Chinese. $$. Finessed Szechuan and Cantonese classics at great prices. Daily 11am-10pm (11pm Fri-Sat). 533 Ocean St., 831.458.1687

La Mission
Mexican. $. A neighborhood establishment with no gimmicks, on-target cooking and authentic flavors. Daily 11am-9pm. 1719 Mission St, 831.426.3564

Mobo Sushi
Japanese/California sushi. $$. Straight sushi and tempura combined with California cuisine. Full bar. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Mon-Wed 5-10pm, Thu-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 4-10pm. 105 S. River St, 831.425.1700

Naka Sushi
Sushi. $$. Inviting edible sculptures made from sticky rice, fiery wasabi and unbelievably fresh seafood. Sun 5-8pm; Tue-Thu 5-9pm; Fri-Sat 5-9:30pm. 851 41st Ave, 479.9620

Provincial Szechuan. $$. Chinese favorites with fresh, light presentation. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm. Dinner Sun-Thu 5-9pm (10pm Fri-Sat). 2316 Mission St, 831.425.8458

Bistro. $$$. Downtown Santa Cruz' gem of a bistro reinvents the taste of the seasons with all-star menus and fresh inspiration. Dinner Tue-Sun from 5:30pm. 1547 E. Pacific Ave, 831.423.7427

El Palomar
Mexican. $$. Consistent authenticity, bold flavors and freshly made dishes--specially the pozole. Lively bar, wide margarita selection. Lunch and dinner daily. 1336 Pacific Ave, 831.425.7575

Peachwood's Grill & Bar
California. $$. Trusty offerings of prime rib, various steaks, seafood and pasta cater to a wide range of taste buds and are served in an attractive dining room. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; dinner 5-10pm nightly (9pm Sun), Sunday brunch 10am-2pm. 555 Hwy 17, 831.426.6333

Pearl Alley Bistro
Bistro. $$$. Unpretentious, tasteful and convivial bistro with seasonal menus. Lunch daily 11:30am-5pm; dinner 5-11pm (11:30pm Fri-Sat). 110 Pearl Alley, 831.429.8070

Planet Fresh
World wraps. $. No-lard, low-cholesterol, low-fat and low-sodium multicultural burritos, tacos and tostadas stuffed with unique and tasty fillings. Mon-Sat 11:15am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm. 1003 Cedar St., 831.423.9799

The Portola House
Steak and seafood. $$. Chock-full of steakhouse classics that satisfy the primal primal food urges in everyone. Dinner nightly from 5:30pm. 3326 Portola Dr, 831.476.2733

Real Thai Kitchen
Thai. $. Real Thai does southern Thai curries simply and well. Spicy duck curry is a destination dish. Lunch daily 11am-3pm; dinner nightly 5-10pm. 1632 Seabright Ave, 831.427.2559

Ristorante Avanti
Italian. $$. Always delicious, often inspired Mediterranean cookery. Breakfast Mon-Fri 8-11:30am; lunch daily 11:30am-2pm; dinner Sun-Thu 5-9pm, Sat-Sun 5-9:30pm; brunch Sat-Sun 8am-2pm; wine bar. 1711 Mission St, 831.427.0135

Ristorante Italiano
Italian-American. $$. Lasagnas, pastas, scampi in generous portions. Full bar, patio dining. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm, limited menu till 4pm, dinner at 5pm. 555 Soquel Ave, 831.458.2321

Riva Fish House
Seafood. $$. Riva offers a traditional seafood house menu complete with a sleek interior and terrific view. Daily from 11am. 500 Municipal Wharf, 831.429.1223

Rosa's Rosticeria
Caribbean, seafood, rotisserie. $. Cuban, Creole and Caribbean dishes have edged out the formerly Mexican-intensive menu. Beer and wine. Daily 11:30am-9pm. 493 B Lake Ave, 831.479.3536

Rosie McCann's
Irish Pub & Restaurant. $$. Informal pub fare with reliable execution. Lunch and dinner all day, open Mon-Fri 11:30am-midnight, Sat-Sun 11:30am-1:30am. 1220 Pacific Ave, 831.426.9930

Royal Taj
Indian. $$. Complexly spiced Indian dishes are served in a relaxed and easygoing atmosphere. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30-10pm. 270 Soquel Ave, 831.427.2400

Sabieng Thai Cuisine
Thai. $$. Frangrant and fiery Thai classics such as Peak Gai Krob, Pla Rad Pik and Pad Thai. Lunch daily 11:30am-3pm; dinner nightly 5-9:30pm (Fri-Sun 10pm). 1218 Mission St, 831.425.1020.

Sea Cloud
Contemporary California, seafood. $$$. Freshly grilled seafood, pastas and salads. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, Sat-Sun 1-5pm; dinner Mon-Fri 5-9:30pm, Sat 5-10pm, Sun 5-9:30pm. 49-B Municipal Wharf, 831.458.9393

Seabright Brewery
Coastal brewpub. $. Burgers, clam chowder, grilled eggplant and red pepper sandwiches plus the brewery's assortment of microbrews. Daily 11:30am-11:30pm. 519 Seabright Ave, 831.426.2739

Sushi. $. Exceptionally fresh ingredients are sometimes overwhelmed by large portions. Mon-Wed 5-9pm, Thu-Fri 5-10pm, Sat 3-10pm; lunch Mon-Fri noon-2:30pm. 1123 Pacific Ave, 831.469.4477

Sukeroku Restaurant
Japanese. $$. Dynamite sushi and a substantial listing of Japanese culinary favorites. Lunch Tue-Fri noon-1:45pm; dinner Tue-Sun 5:30-9pm. Closed Mon. 1701 Mission St, 831.426.6660

Star Bene
Italian. $$. The restaurant draws its menu from the owner's and chef's roots in Italy's Calabria. Lunch Mon-Fri noon-3pm; dinner daily 5-10pm. 2-1245 E. Cliff Dr., 831.479.4307

Szechuan Garden
Szechuan. $. A neighborhood Chinese restaurant with a friendly staff. Lunch Tue-Fri 11:30am-2pm; dinner Tue-Sun 5-9pm (9:30pm Fri-Sat). Closed Mon. 617 Pacific Ave, 831.423.2574

Thai House
Thai. $$. Offering chicken and eggplant, and a spicy prawn salad and more. Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm, Sat-Sun noon-3pm; dinner Mon-Fri 3-10pm, Sat-Sun 5-10:pm. 353 Soquel Ave, 831.458.3546

Tony & Alba's
Pizza. $. Inventive pizza specials are supplemented by pastas, soups and salads. Daily 11am-10pm. 817 Soquel Ave, 831.425.8669

Greek. $$. Taverna-style specials from horiatiki salad to roast lamb. Plenty of spunk and friendly atmosphere. Lunch weekdays; dinner from 5:30pm. Closed Mon. 1501 Mission St, 831.458.9808

Walnut Avenue Cafe
American diner. $$. Fresh ingredients, friendly service and a complete lack of trendiness. Weekdays 7am-4pm; weekends 8am-4pm. 106 Walnut Ave, 831.457.2307

American. $. A breakfast tradition that meets and exceeds expectations. Try the Mike's Mess. Tue-Sun 7am-2:30pm. 819 Pacific Ave, 831.427.0646

Zoccoli's Pasta House
Italian. $$. Zoccoli's provides Santa Cruz with its own Mediterranean mecca. Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm; dinner nightly 5-9pm (9:30pm Fri-Sat). 431 Front St, 831.423.1717


Live Feed
Quick restaurant hits by Metro dining editor Stett Holbrook.

5 Things to Love
Top-5 lists and hot picks.

Silicon Valley Veggie
Vegetarian eateries in the South Bay.