For the view

What is better than delicious food? Delicious food with a view, of course.

Santa Cruz offers many places to enjoy a great meal with a beautiful view. Some are at the Wharf, others are on the harbor, and some are found in the forest overlooking the bay. 

DolphinSanta Cruz - Dolphin Restaurant

Dolphin restaurant is our favorite place for breakfast on the pier. It sits at the end of the long pier with indoor and outdoor seating and great views all around.

The food and service are always exceptional. Some of our favorites are Eggs Benedict, Biscuits and Gravy, and the Denver Omelet.

For lunch or dinner, you can order one of their gourmet seafood sandwiches, Hamburgers, or Pasta dishes.

Santa Cruz - Stangniro Bros. by gérard - FlickrStagnaro Bros.

Stagnaro’s is another good place to enjoy a meal on the Wharf with great bay views. The food is above average but not exceptional. Service can be spotty, depending on the crowds.

The best choices here are Clam Chowder, Fish Tacos, and Seafood Tortellini. You can also get Cracked Crab or Lobster Tail.

Zelda's on the beach

Zelda's on the beach - CapitolaZelda's restaurant is located in the heart of Capitola village, right on the beach, with spectacular views of Monterey Bay and Capitola Pier. 

The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining with a beachfront deck that is always super busy. Even with reservations, we had to wait for a table. 

But the wait was worth it. Once we were seated, we enjoyed the view, great summer weather, delicious food and drinks, and tasty desserts. 

Tree view at Chaminade resort 

Tree view at Chaminade resort - Santa CruzThe view was unparalleled, and the food and service were just average. 

We did go for the view, and this restaurant did not disappoint. It is nestled in the trees on a hill overlooking the city of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. 

We came for breakfast, and per our request, we were seated at a bar with high chairs on the porch. We had an unobstructed view of the forest and the bay.

While listening to birds chirping and admiring the view, we enjoyed the breakfast burrito and the country-style breakfast with lots of coffee.

Chaminade resort is large, and you can easily get lost in it. Look for the lobby signs. The restaurant is located downstairs from the lobby.

Crow's nest

Crow's nest - Santa CruzLocated right on the beach where the Harbor meets the sea, Cow’s Nest offers award-winning dishes with breathtaking views of Santa Cruz Harbor, lighthouse, and wharf.

We made reservations a few days ahead of time, but we found out that you can walk in anytime and self-seat at the upper deck. The outdoor porch has heaters, but you should bring a jacket anyway – Santa Cruz weather can turn cold at night, even in the summer.

The service was top-notch, and the food was excellent. During our visit, we tried the rack of lamb, seafood risotto, and butternut squash ravioli. They all were delicious and filling. 

We ordered the Mango Key-lime Pie for dessert for a great end to our meal.

There is plenty of parking near the restaurant, but there is no validation. 

For the location

Downtown Santa Cruz is comprised of a few blocks of stores, restaurants, and entertainment. It is easily walkable and close to many hotels and attractions.


Santa Cruz - Laili Restaurant - by Dean C.A unique mix of Mediterranean cuisine with an Afghani twist. The place is large with an outdoor garden area.

The food is always delicious. For starters try the Mediterranean Plate with a variety of popular dishes like hummus, tabbouleh, and babaghanoush.

For the main course, we like Eggplant parmesan flatbread, Lamb shank, Filet mignon kabob, Roasted Cauliflower.

For a great finish to this meal, you must try Pistachio Cardamom Ice Creamor or Baklava - or both.

I love Sushi

Santa Cruz -  I Love Sushi - by Gwen C.Do you love Sushi? We do and it is a tradition for our family to eat here whenever we visit Santa Cruz. The menu is extensive and includes delicious rolls, Sashimi, hand-rolls and combo plates.

The restaurant is famous for serving free samples before your order. It could be appetizers or a new roll to try. It is always a nice surprise when it shows up.

Too many favorite rolls to mention here. Be adventurous and try them all. For people who hate Sushi, they offer a selection of cooked dishes like Beef Teriyaki and Chicken Teriyaki.

For the Food


In a small strip mall away from downtown, you will find this hidden gem. Akira offers Sushi, Santa Cruz - Akira SushiSashimi and creative rolls. They also have a large selection of vegetarian rolls and dishes.

Some of my favorite specialty rolls are White Dragon, Natural Bridges, and Akira Rainbow. If you are looking for a cooked meal, try the Sesame Chicken Donduri or Salmon Teriyaki. They also have a Bento Box with 1, 2, or 3 items.

For a drink, try their hot Sake. They also have cold Sake and a variety of beers. For dessert, you must try the Green Tea Mochi.