All of these restaurants emphasize local ingredients,
and they also advertise in Edible Monterey Bay!
Stop by for a free issue, and tell them that we sent you!
Craft beer? Glass of local wine? Delicious, creative food? Thanks to chef Geoffrey Hargrave, East End Gastropub in Capitola has it all! Photo by Michelle Magdalena.
7564 Soquel Drive
A cozy, green-certified, take-out or eat-in café, Carried Away has a menu that changes weekly and features primarily organic, locally sourced ingredients. Owner/chef Tom McNary worked for many years at Chez Panisse, and his dishes reflect the seasons. Soups, salads, entrées and desserts are all made freshly daily. Thin-crust pizzas available on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Open M–F 11am–7pm, Sa 11am–5pm, Su closed.
Sanderlings/Seascape Beach Resort
1 Seascape Resort Drive
With magnificent panoramic views of the ocean and the manicured grounds of Seascape Beach Resort, Sanderlings restaurant is a great choice for a meal any time of day or night. Their wide selection of salads and seafood dishes features locally grown produce and Seafood Watch-approved fish. Santa Cruz County wines are highlighted; weekday Happy Hour on the patio from 4–6pm is an excellent value. Open daily M–F 6am– midnight, Sa–Su 7am–midnight.
Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn
47900 Highway 1
Executive chef Elizabeth Murray and executive pastry chef Ben Spungin use exceptional ingredients, many grown on site, to deliver a unique gastronomic take on the Big Sur experience. Dinner features a 4-course prix fixe menu and the 9-course Taste of Big Sur tasting menu; lunch offers 3-course and 5-course options. Choose from almost 3,000 different wines from the Wine Spectator Grand Award winning wine list. Arrive before sunset for breathtaking views from this iconic restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows and cliff-side terrace. Open daily for lunch 12:15–2:30pm, dinner 5:30–9pm.
East End Gastropub
1501 41st Avenue
Some would say that East End Gastropub is the new baby sister to West End Tap & Kitchen, but that reference risks diminishing East End’s grand presence, reworking a very much outdated location and delivering a robust, beer-friendly menu. Chef Geoffrey Hargrave has created dishes that are familiar yet innovative, such as the “Kentucky fried” duck leg or Szechuan-cured pork belly with bao buns. The restaurant offers its own brews, along with local rotating taps and a strong wine list. Open Tu–Su 11:30am–10pm.
The Penny Ice Creamery
820 41st Avenue
Open Su–Th noon–9pm, F–Sa noon–10pm
See The Penny description under Santa Cruz for more.
1750 Wharf Road
A Santa Cruz County landmark since 1947, the world-famous Shadowbrook continues to be an overwhelming favorite with locals and visitors alike. Its fine food, extensive wine list and unparalleled setting and ambiance have earned it numerous awards, including Northern California’s “Most Romantic Restaurant” and “Best Date Night Restaurant.” Gift cards and reservations available online. Open M–F 5–8:45pm, Sa 4:30– 9:45pm, Su 4:30–8:45pm.
Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh avenues
Chef Benoit Petel aims to use the best seasonal and local ingredients in the classic and creative French cuisine he prepares at this warm and elegant restaurant in downtown Carmel. Standouts include Monterey abalone with gnocchi, wild mushrooms and seaweed; escargot with garlic parsley butter, hazelnuts, and puff pastry; and a classic duck confit with lentils. Petel works with Colleen from Savor the Local and the Monterey County Farmers’ Markets to obtain the freshest ingredients. Open daily 5:30–9:30pm, F–Su noon–2pm.
Monte Verde Street at Seventh Avenue
Located within the romantic L’Auberge Carmel, a visit to Aubergine feels like a trip to Europe. Executive chef Justin Cogley was named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs of 2013. He has been nominated multiple times for a James Beard award and it’s no wonder—he’s an eloquent and imaginative interpreter of fine seasonal ingredients. Executive pastry chef Yulanda Santos delights with stunning and inventive desserts. Open daily 6–9:30pm.
Basil Seasonal Dining
San Carlos Street between Ocean and Seventh avenues (Paseo Courtyard)
“Organic, local and seasonal” are not just buzzwords at Basil. This cozy restaurant in the Paseo Courtyard was awarded three stars from the national Green Restaurant Association. General manager/owner Denis Boaro and chef/owner Soerke Peters turn out intensely flavorful dishes and provide a full bar with a great selection of California wines. Many vegan entrées available. Heated, dog-friendly outdoor seating. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30am, Su brunch 11am–3pm.
California Market at Pacific’s Edge
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, 120 Highlands Drive
Enjoy sustainable, locally sourced farm-to-table fare prepared by executive chef Chad Minton’s team while dining on the outdoor deck overlooking unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. Dine indoors next to the expansive windows and gaze at the rugged beauty of the Big Sur coastline. In addition to the à la carte menus, the restaurant offers exciting daily specials, craft cocktails and the very best California wines. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Dolores Street between Ocean and Seventh avenues
Prepared in the Tuscan tradition, using the freshest and simplest ingredients sourced locally or imported from Italy, this authentic Italian eatery serves housemade breads, pastas and sauces, hand-cut premium meats and antipasti with the restaurant’s artisanal salume. Guests are served in an atmosphere of warm tones and dark woods, which invites lingering over a second glass of wine or another bite of tiramisu, apple crostata or cheese. Dinner Su–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–10pm; lunch F– Su noon–3pm.
Doud Craft Studios
San Carlos Street at Ocean Avenue
This bright, airy restaurant is a favorite gathering place for anyone looking for a casual atmosphere and a stellar breakfast, lunch or dinner. The chefs here source only the best local and organic ingredients for their seasonally driven menu. Sign up online to receive Belle’s pop-up calendar and to hear about its special events. Enjoy your meal next to the fire pit or take advantage of the curbside pickup service to take it home. Open W– Su 8am–8pm, M–Tu 8am–5pm.
Earthbound Farm’s Farm Stand Organic Kitchen
7250 Carmel Valley Road
At its Carmel Valley Farm Stand, Earthbound Farm’s certified organic kitchen delights with housemade soups, sandwiches, baked goods and an expanded salad bar. Experience picturesque Carmel Valley as you stroll through Earthbound’s organic gardens and learn about its pioneering local heritage and commitment to organic integrity. Food is available for take-away or a relaxing afternoon at tables in the gardens. Groceries also are available for replenishing your pantry. Watch Facebook for special events and classes! Open M–Sa 8am– 6:30pm, Su 9am–5:30pm.
Edgar’s at Quail
8000 Valley Greens Drive
Taste the fresh ingredients harvested from local organic farms that are hand selected by Edgar’s executive chef Brian Kearns and exquisitely prepared by his culinary team into the savory dishes available on its new menus. Set in the clubhouse of Quail Lodge & Golf Club, Edgar’s restaurant and bar features a casual elegance with its indoor and outdoor fireside dining located alongside the natural backdrop of the golf course and Santa Lucia Mountains. Edgar’s at Quail is proudly guided in the principles of sustainability by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and focuses on local farm-to-table options. Open daily 11am–9pm.
Mission Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues
The intent behind this sister restaurant to Carmel’s popular La Balena is to create a more casual spot where diners can gather for a glass of wine, simple pastas and small plates. Enjoy a housemade Italian cookie or dessert after your meal, or put in an order to bring some treats home. Prices are also lower than at La Balena, but the same chef is creating the dishes, so expect impeccable sourcing and delicious results. Garden seating available. Open M–F 11:30am–9pm, Sa 5–9pm.
Junipero Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues
Winner of EMB’s 2014 Local Heroes award for Best Chef/Best Restaurant, La Balena has a seasonal menu that changes daily but always expresses an inventive take on the rustic food of a Tuscan trattoria. The outstanding culinary team sources ingredients from local organic farms and prepares the restaurant’s pastas and slow-cooked meats from scratch daily. Owners Anna and Emanuele Bartolini have created an excellent Italian wine list and a warm, inviting atmosphere, complete with back garden seating. Open Tu–Su 5–10pm.
Cachagua General Store/Lokal
13750 Center Street
831.659.5886 (Lokal)/831.659.1857 (CGS)
Father and son Michael and Brendan Jones are now under one roof with the relocation of Michael’s legendary Monday-night pop-up, the Cachagua General Store, to Brendan’s Lokal restaurant in Carmel Valley Village. The two restaurants will continue to operate independently, both of them emphasizing local and organic ingredients but each remaining the exuberantly creative and distinct foodie oasis it has become known for. CGS is open 10–12:30 on Sundays and 6pm–Midnight on Mondays. Lokal’s hours are 10–2:30 and 6pm–closing Th–Su.
Lucia Restaurant & Bar
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
415 W. Carmel Valley Road
Where once there were walls, glass panels now can be folded back to bring the outside into the new Lucia Restaurant & Bar. Named for the Santa Lucia mountain range and wine appellation that beckons to the south of the lodge, the expansive restaurant replaces what once was Wicket’s Bistro and Marinus. Renowned chef Cal Stamenov is still in the kitchen, serving both his signature tasting menu and dishes à la carte. Wine list is equally notable. Open daily 7am–2pm and 5–10pm.
Trailside Café and Beer Garden
3 Del Fino Place
Those needing to refuel after a day on the trail can head to Trailside Café for home-cooked meals in Carmel Valley. Beer lovers get to choose from 16 on tap, and sports fans can watch games on the HDTVs. Locals are treated to specials on Mondays and Tuesdays. On the weekends enjoy live music in the dining room. Check out the calendar on its website for more details. Dogs are welcome on the patio. Open daily 8am–9pm.
Whale City Bakery
490 Highway 1
Davenport’s artistic charm and oceanside location make it hard not to slow when you pass through on Highway 1. Those in the know always stop at the historic Whale City Bakery. The bakery tempts with housemade breads, pastries, muffins and pies—and that’s only the beginning! Whale City also offers a full restaurant that serves up comfort classics and other hearty dishes. The bar and live music every Thursday attract a loyal local following. Open daily 6:30am–8pm.
The Cremer House
6256 Highway 9
Housed in the oldest building in Felton, The Cremer House showcases progressive, handmade food and drink with a nod to its historic mountain surroundings. This collaborative restaurant project between the Felton New Leaf Market and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing has filled a niche in the San Lorenzo Valley, bringing organic craft beer, cider and wine on tap, and artisan, housemade breads and “pantry” products to this restored and revered property. Open Su–Th 11:30am– 9pm, F–Sa 11:30am–10pm.
Grillin & Chillin Alehouse and Brewery
401 McCray Street, Suite B24
Grillin & Chillin’s downtown location with an on-site brewery is your go-to spot for a burger and beer. With 40 craft beers on tap and just as many in bottles, there’s something for everyone. A favorite spot among bikers and other Hollister locals, the alehouse has a friendly and knowledgeable staff that can help you pick a pint from the long list of brews. Open Su–W noon–10pm, Th–Sa noon–11pm.
Grillin & Chillin Roadhouse
3650 San Juan Road
Grillin & Chillin’s Roadhouse location is your stop for steaks, burgers, craft beer, and whiskey. With 30 beers on tap (including many locals brews), 100 more in bottles, and a long list of small batch bourbon and whiskies, there are plenty of options to help wash down your fish tacos, Cowboy Burger or 16-ounce bone-in ribeye named the “Tomahawk.” Catch the game on one of the 5 TVs or relax on the covered patio. Open Su–Th 11:30am–9pm, F–Sa 11:30am–10pm.
Sorensen’s Country Café
14255 Highway 88
The next time your travels take you to Lake Tahoe, remember the adorable Sorensen’s Resort cabins and full-service restaurant just south of the lake. Enjoy specialties such as Mary’s natural chicken with a gremolata topping, fresh and wild fish, New York steak, garden-fresh salads and housemade bread pudding. Enjoy Eggs Benedict on weekends. Accompany your meal with a fine wine or specialty beer. Enjoy a great meal while you get away for a weekend! Open for breakfast M–F 7:30– 11am and Sa–Su 7:30am–noon, lunch daily from 11am–4pm, dinner 5–8:30 pm daily.
The C restaurant + bar
InterContinental The Clement Monterey
750 Cannery Row
Step into The C restaurant + bar, and the bustle of Cannery Row will seem like a world away. Elegant yet relaxed, The C offers stunning ocean views from its floor-to-ceiling windows and oceanside deck; chef Matt Bolton provides equally gorgeous food, imaginatively prepared from sustainably sourced seafood, meats and produce. Creative cocktails include a design-your-own Bloody Mary. Open 6:30am–10pm daily, Happy Hour 4–7pm Su–Th
Jacks Restaurant & Lounge
2 Portola Plaza
Perfect for any occasion, visit Jacks for breakfast, drinks or dinner, or plan a private event on the pet-friendly heated patio or indoors in the fireside dining room. The restaurant features a breakfast buffet with made-to-order omelets and bottomless mimosas, locally grown produce, certified Angus beef and fresh seafood for dinner. Jacks Lounge features daily Happy Hour from 4–6pm with small bites, an award-winning wine list and barrel- aged cocktails. Open for breakfast M–F 6–11am, Sa–Su 6am–noon; dinner daily 5–10pm.
Peter B’s Brewpub
2 Portola Plaza
Experience Monterey’s original craft brewery, Peter B’s Brewpub, located behind the Portola Hotel & Spa. Enjoy great food and award-winning handcrafted beers. Watch your favorite game on one of 18 HDTVs or enjoy the pet-friendly heated patio with fire pits. Peter B’s is open daily with nightly Happy Hour from 4– 6:30pm. Open Su–Th 11am–11pm, F–Sa 11–12am.
Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar
400 Cannery Row
Sit out on the ocean-side patio if you can, but it’s still considered seaside dining if you are seated inside the dining room, whose polished wood, bay windows and seafaring décor seem like the interior of a sailing ship. Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar serves executive chef James Waller’s sustainable seafood and prime steaks. The restaurant takes a creative Californian approach to soups, fresh salads, sandwiches and wood-fired flatbreads, paired with a diverse wine list featuring local favorites. Open daily 6:30am–11pm.
Stone Creek Kitchen
465 Canyon del Rey Boulevard
A glass-walled kitchen in the middle of a spacious cookware and tabletop shop turns out imaginative Mediterranean deli treats and sweets to take away or eat under the market umbrellas outside. Sandwiches, salads and entrée options change seasonally. Don’t miss Paella Fridays! Cooking classes, tasting events and dinner parties are hosted in the intimate teaching kitchen. Find a schedule of upcoming events on the website. Open M– F 10am–7pm, Sa 10am–4pm, Su closed.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa
1 Old Golf Course Road
Blending the beauty and bounty of Tuscany and California, and inspired by the hearty appetite and abundance of southern Italy, TusCA serves up seasonally sourced menus made from fresh, local produce, meats and fish. TusCA chef Steve Johnson delights diners with meals both intriguing and indulgent, particularly those baked in his wood-burning oven or served with the housemade pastas. Open daily for breakfast and lunch 6:30am–1:30pm, dinner 6–9pm Tu–Sa.
The Wharf Marketplace
290 Figueroa Street at Wharf No. 2 and Del Monte Avenue
The Wharf Marketplace is Monterey’s newly remodeled, go-to fresh, local market with free 24-minute parking. Features the best-grown Salinas Valley lettuces and vegetables, artisanal cheeses, wines and draft beer. The Café & Grab-n-Go selections are designed to satisfy your cravings for every meal. Catering made easy for any staff breakfast or lunch and ready-to-take home dinners are sure to delight. Comfortable indoor/outdoor seating available. Open daily 5:30am–7pm; Taste It Thursdays offer complimentary wine and beer tasting with onebite wonders 4:30–6:30pm.
The Haute Enchilada
7902 Moss Landing Road
Gourmet Latin fusion dishes await those who venture off Highway 1 and into this fanciful restaurant with its large gallery out back that also serves as a venue for entertainment and private events. Fiesta-colored walls in the restaurant are adorned with enormous gold leaf paintings. Try dishes like Peruvian Ceviche, Squash Blossom Empanadas or the popular Pescado Cubano— line-caught red snapper in a pistachio/pumpernickel crust served with tomatillo avocado sauce. Ingredients are all natural, organic as much as possible. Open daily 11am. Last seating at 8pm.
Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
173 Central Avenue
The menu changes daily at Happy Girl’s airy and bright Pacific Grove café, but the food is always delicious, organic and reasonably priced. The sandwich of the day is $6.50, and a bowl of the soup of the day is $6. To drink, you’ll find kombucha on tap and freshly roasted Four Barrel coffee brewed to perfection. Homemade baked goods include a daily scone, cookies and turnovers. Open daily 7:30am–3pm.
Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar
542 Lighthouse Avenue
Inspired by flavors of the Mediterranean, Jeninni Kitchen + Wine Bar’s rich and decadent cuisine takes you on a journey from Morocco and Spain to the Levant, birthplace of owner and sommelier, Thamin Saleh. Don’t miss chef Matthew Zimny’s crispy octopus, lamb burger with signature eggplant fries and occasional paella nights and other special events. Open Su–Th 4– 9pm, F–Sa 4–10pm. Happy Hour—”sips and snacks”—4–6pm every day. Closed W.
701 Lighthouse Avenue
If you’re looking for a restaurant with playful, spectacular food and a scrupulous commitment to sustainability, this green-certified restaurant is hard to rival. The elegant dining room is celebratory yet relaxed, and the award-winning wine list features many sustainable names and is priced at retail. Chef Ted Walter’s menu is ever changing with the seasons, but always includes delicious organic local produce, inventive slow-cooked meats and an array of sustainable seafood choices. Open daily 5pm.
Point Pinos Grill
79 Asilomar Boulevard
With sweeping views of the coast and a relaxed clubhouse vibe, this scenic spot has blossomed under the direction of executive chef Dory Ford. For breakfast, choose from huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak and an array of tasty omelets. For lunch through dinner, enjoy dishes like Ale-Steamed Mussels and Crispy Fried Dry Rubbed Jerk Chicken Wings paired with craft beers, local wines or a house specialty cocktail. Open M–F 7:30am–8pm, Sa 7am–8pm, Su 7am–6pm. Happy Hour is M–F 4–6pm.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, 1700 17-Mile Drive
Overlooking the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Bench at The Lodge at Pebble Beach delivers an eclectic menu inspired by international styles and methods, which uses the innovative technique of wood roasting and open-flame cooking. You can also enjoy one-of-a-kind craft cocktails, as well as an array of draft beers and wines by the glass. Open daily 11am–10pm.
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, 1700 17-Mile Drive
Overlooking the first tee of Pebble Beach Golf Links, Gallery Cafe offers a wide selection of breakfast choices, from light smoothies to omelets and pancakes. For a casual lunch, try the excellent burgers or choose from a delicious selection of artisan sandwiches, plus the best milkshakes this side of the 1950s. Open daily 6am–2pm.
Pèppoli at Pebble Beach
The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17-Mile Drive
At Pèppoli, the scents of Italian herbs and spices fill the air, and the décor transports you to a cozy Tuscan villa. The menu is big and bold, ripe with traditional pastas, seafood and meats. The extraordinary wine list is matched by equally impressive dishes, including delicious desserts, all with stunning views of Spanish Bay. Open daily 5:30–10pm.
Porter’s in the Forest
3200 Lopez Road
A restaurant on a golf course, not a golf course restaurant. Chef Johnny De Vivo and his team have created a destination dining experience that has quickly become one of Pebble Beach’s top-rated restaurants on Yelp. Worried about driving on 17-Mile Drive? They will reimburse you up to $20 if you take UBER transportation, which should cover round trip from almost anywhere on the peninsula. Open daily for breakfast and lunch and W–Su for dinner.
Roy’s at Pebble Beach
The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17-Mile Drive
It’s all about big flavors and the gorgeous ocean view at Roy’s at Pebble Beach. Fresh seafood is front and center, where sushi, sashimi and blackened rare Ahi tuna are prepared to perfection, but many exciting meat dishes and island salads are also featured on the extensive Hawaiian-fusion menu. Add a dynamic wine list, exceptional desserts and an energetic environment, and you have one impressive dining experience, all overlooking Spanish Bay. Open daily for breakfast 6:30– 11am, lunch 11:30am–5pm, dinner 5:30–10pm.
Stave Wine Cellar at Spanish Bay
The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17-Mile Drive
A combined wine lounge and retail shop, Stave Wine Cellar is a luxurious yet casual space that is ideal for special wine dinners or gathering with friends and colleagues. You can pair varietals by the glass with a menu of cheese and charcuterie plates. In addition to nearly 30 wines and eight craft beers by the glass, Stave has more than 200 wines for purchase by the bottle, including a wide selection of coveted bottles. A knowledgeable staff, including certified sommeliers are on-hand. Open Tu– Sa 2–10pm, Su–M 2–7pm.
The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17-Mile Drive
STICKS is the perfect place for home-style comfort food in a lively sports bar atmosphere. Savor a hearty meal, a cold draft beer or one of the many tasty appetizers while enjoying sports on big flat-panel TVs. Outside on the patio, enjoy seating next to our fire pits while soaking in gorgeous views of The Links at Spanish Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Ask about our nightly Bagpiper Specials, such as Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, Southern Fried Chicken ‘n’ Waffles or Juicy Prime Rib. Open daily 6am–8pm.
Stillwater Bar & Grill
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, 1700 17-Mile Drive
Stillwater Bar & Grill prides itself in offering the freshest and most flavorful in sustainable seafood and organic produce. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner—or Stillwater’s famous Sunday Brunch—the menus are sure to delight. Shellfish lovers will marvel at the bountiful seafood tank, while those who prefer turf to surf can choose from a variety of meaty options. Each of these delectable feasts is enhanced by fantastic views of Carmel Bay and the 18th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links. Open daily 7am–10pm.
The Tap Room
The Lodge at Pebble Beach, 1700 17-Mile Drive
The Tap Room is more than a legendary 19th hole with an outstanding selection of draft and bottled beers, vintage wines and top quality spirits. It’s also a world-class steakhouse serving up hearty all-American fare, from burgers to prime rib to filet mignon. Renowned for its extensive collection of prized golf memorabilia, The Tap Room is a comfortable and inviting place for watching televised sporting events or recounting your successes on the courses of Pebble Beach. Open daily 11–12am.
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA
Vertigo Coffee Roasters
81 Fourth Street
Artisanal coffee roasted on site as well as local craft beer, wood-fired pizzas, salads, sandwiches, breakfast items plus pan dulce from El Nopal bakery in Hollister have made Vertigo a locals’ favorite as well as a great find for visitors en route to the San Juan Mission, Pinnacles or other area attractions. Open M–Th 7am–6pm, Fri–Sat 7am–9pm, and Sun 8am-6pm.
Sweet Elena’s Bakery and Café
465 Olympia Avenue, Suite D
Whether for a delicious breakfast, lunch or baked goods to go, this warm café provides a welcome respite from the big-box stores that surround it. Baker-owner Elena Salsedo uses fine local ingredients and organic flours in all her quiches, galettes and sweets. She specializes in pies, often made with organic fruit, and sourdough bread made for the farmers’ market. Her granola has a cult following. Sweet Elena’s is also a community anchor— it regularly hosts book signings, art shows and other cultural and holiday events. Open M–F 8am– 5pm, Sa 9am–3pm.
1108 Pacific Avenue
This full-service restaurant from Penny Ice Creamery founders Kendra Baker and Zach Davis offers rustic California cuisine based on local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients. Watch for new chef Jessica Yarr to make her own mark. The restaurant’s wood-metal- stone décor radiates from a long community table that anchors the center of the dining room, which is filled with natural light in daytime and bathed in the soft glow of copper accents at night. Open for lunch weekdays 11:30am, dinner W–M until late, brunch 10am Sa–Su, closed Tu.
Charlie Hong Kong
1141 Soquel Avenue
Charlie Hong Kong has been providing the Santa Cruz community with healthy, sustainable, affordable and high-quality food since 1998. The colorful, casual eatery’s delicious fusion of Southeast Asian influences and the Central Coast’s local organic produce has made it an inclusive, family-friendly, neighborhood favorite. Its slogan is “love your body, eat organic,” and its cuisine is proof that fast food can be good for you. All dishes may be ordered gluten-free, vegan or with meat or fish. Open daily 11am–11pm.
The Crow’s Nest
2218 E. Cliff Drive
A perfect spot to enjoy lunch or catch a sunset over the harbor, the nautical-themed Crow’s Nest is a Santa Cruz institution that never goes out of style. There’s always something happening, from free seasonal Thursday night beach parties to comedy nights and happy hours. Famous for its salad bar and house-smoked salmon, The Crow’s Nest is a member of Seafood Watch and is a certified green business. Open daily for breakfast 7:30am– 11:30am; lunch M–F 11:30am–2:30pm and Sa–Su 11:30am–3pm; dinner M–F 5pm, Sa–Su 4:30pm.
381 Soquel Avenue
The fine dining veterans behind this food stop are serving sophisticated yet affordable organic, non-GMO food for the 99%. No-fuss counter service doesn’t detract from the open, airy and surprisingly elegant space and the deliciously detailed menu. Enjoy soups, salads, burgers, pizzas and baked goods made with produce from local farms in the restaurant or on the go. Dietary restrictions are accommodated. Delivery is available. Breakfast and weekend brunch now offered! Open M, W, Th 8am–9pm; F 8am–10pm; Sa–Su 9am–10pm. Closed Tu.
1001 Center Street
This airy, contemporary space with a large courtyard is the creative staging ground for exciting pop-up dinners and community events. Monday through Saturday, the fun gets started at 11am with the Pantry Artisan Market, a local artisan food marketplace. Happy hour at the Food Lounge bar runs M–F, 4–6pm and features local beer, wine, cider and small batch craft spirits. For a full list of events and hours see calendar at scfoodlounge.com.
101B Cooper Street
Exotic flavors of the Silk Road are served in a stylish dining room decorated in eggplant and pistachio colors and on a hidden candlelit patio. Locals rave about Laílí’s homemade naan served warm from the oven with a selection of Mediterranean dips. There is a wide variety of deliciously spiced vegetable dishes, organic whenever possible, and all meats are hormone free and free range. Open daily for lunch 11:30am–2:30pm, dinner 5–9:30pm.
538 Seabright Avenue
A cozy neighborhood bistro not far from the Santa Cruz yacht harbor, La Posta chef Katherine Stern prepares Northern Italian cuisine using local ingredients—some foraged and some grown on nearby organic farms. Charcuterie is house cured; pasta, bread, and gelati are made in-house, while the balance of the menu reflects whatever produce is freshest right now. A sister restaurant of Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar, La Posta also offers a great selection of wines. Open Tu–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–9:30pm, Su 5–8:30pm, M closed.
Pearl of the Ocean
736 Water Street
At Pearl of the Ocean you’ll enjoy classic spice- and coconut- infused Sri Lankan dishes, like pakoras, curries and dhal. But here, chef-owner Ayoma Wilen goes beyond the expected to bejewel the dishes with the bountiful local, organic produce that makes Santa Cruz so special. Dishes are accompanied by a dizzying array of sides, like coconut leek sambal and kale mallam. The warm colors, altars and blessings that decorate the space help guests feel transported to an exotic island. Open for lunch daily 11am–2:30pm; dinner Su–Th 5–9pm and F–Sa 5–9:30pm.
The Penny Ice Creamery
913 Cedar Street
Lines out the front door of its converted Spanish bungalow are evidence of Penny’s popularity. All ice cream, including bases, is made from scratch on the premises using local organic ingredients when possible. Dozens of exotic flavors rotate seasonally, but two favorites are bourbon bacon chocolate and strawberry pink peppercorn.
Open daily noon–11pm.
Downtown – Kiosk 1520 Pacific Avenue, Suite K2
Open Su–Th noon–6pm, F–Sa noon–9pm
See also The Penny under Capitola.
The Picnic Basket
125 Beach Street
Across the street from the main beach, owners of The Penny Ice Creamery have opened an alternative to boardwalk fast food. Sandwiches, organic salads, coffee and beer, all from local food artisans, and of course Penny’s popular ice cream, are all on offer to eat in or outside with your feet in the sand. Open daily 7am–4pm.
1220 Pacific Avenue
No typical Irish pub, Rosie’s emphasizes organic, local ingredients in its traditional Irish dishes like lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, corned beef hash and fish and chips, as well as its California specialties such as grassfed burgers, coriander wild salmon, salads and fish tacos. Expect dozens of beers on tap—including local selections. All desserts are made in house, so save room for the Guinness- Ghirardelli chocolate cake. Open M–F for lunch 11:30am–4pm; dinner 4–10pm. Open Sa–Sun for brunch 9:30am–2pm; dinner 2–10pm.
Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar
105 Walnut Avenue
Inspired by the offerings from local farmers and provisioners, chef Mark Denham’s cuisine shows California flair, with seasonal dishes like autumn endive salad with pear, steamed clams with housemade linguica, potatoes and kale, and a great burger! A cozy, new bar now offers cocktails in addition to the best wine selection in town. The bottle shop next door provides a world-class selection of wines, and a welcoming seating area for sampling them. Raw oysters and live jazz every Monday. Open Su–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–10pm. Wine bar opens noon Tu–Sa, 5pm Su–M.
3910 Portola Drive
Every element of this tasteful space offers the diner with choice and comfort, from the diverse menu with vegan, gluten-free and full-fledged carnivore options to the high caliber beverage program to a variety of intimate booths, bar stools and communal seating. There’s even a private room in the back, perfect for making a special occasion even more so. Open Su–W 11:30am–9pm, Th–Sa 11:30am–10pm. Open M 5pm.
10 Pearl Street
The enticing, almost secret nature of an upstairs restaurant never fails. Here at Ulterior, the latest venture for the former pop-up team of chef Zachary Mazi and Tighe Melville of LionFish SupperClub, what awaits you at the top of those steep stairs from parent business Motiv down below is an alluring combination of seasonal, innovative dishes, crafty cocktails and a hip atmosphere. This Ulterior nest is also one of the rare places in Santa Cruz where you can get a high quality, late-night nibble. Open S, Tu, W, Th 5–9pm; F, Sa 5–10pm.
West End Tap & Kitchen
334D Ingalls Street
Perfect for any parent who is looking for a happy hour to satisfy the whole family, at West End adults and kids alike can’t get enough of the duck fat popcorn, fried calamari and flatbread pizzas. A diverse, season-driven menu with offerings like charred onion tagliatelle, and an even longer list of craft beer, cider and wine options make West End a Westside staple. The outdoor patio is perfect for people watching amidst the bustling Swift Street Courtyard. Open daily 11:30am–10pm.
1901 Fremont Boulevard
Gusto owner Denis Boaro, a partner in Carmel’s Basil Seasonal Dining and a native of Northern Italy, named the restaurant for the Italian word for taste and his enthusiasm for delivering delicious rustic Italian food and great service that can be seen in the happy faces of his diners. The bright red-tiled, wood-fired oven just inside the entrance both sets the restaurant’s festive tone and produces terrific pizzas. Pastas are from Sand City’s Bigoli pasta and are made from organic flours. Open daily 11:30am–2:30pm, 4:30–9pm.
Surf City Sandwich
4101 Soquel Drive
It makes perfect sense in a town so rich in surf lore that a surfer would be the driving force behind a popular local haunt and similarly storied classic: the sandwich. Owner and chef Paul Figliomeni’s motto, “Go Fresh or Go Home,” is an indicator that anything you order here will be made with good ingredients and by hand. Throw in some vintage surf goods, homemade potato chips and local beer on tap, and you’ll never actually make it down to the beach. Open M–Sa 10:30am–7pm, Su 10:30am–5pm.
55 Peckham Road
Visitors from great distances love this third-generation, family-run farm business that popularized the “pik-yorself” experience just east of Watsonville’s Interlaken neighborhood. Tour the farm, pick fresh apples or berries or watch the action inside the juice-pressing barn. No one leaves hungry if they spend time at the bakery-deli that pleases with its fresh pies, shortcakes and pastries, along with hearty sandwiches and box lunches. This family friendly experience is also a treat for kids, who will enjoy the wide-open spaces and the homemade popsicles. Open daily 9am–5pm.
Hidden Fortress Coffee
125 Hangar Way, Suite 270
A local’s market favorite puts down some roots just two minutes off of Highway 1 in Watsonville. Owner Amelia Loftus serves up house-roasted, organic coffee and bagged beans to go, sourced from small-scale family farms in the best coffee growing regions around the world. This low-key, charming cafe also sells local and organic baked goods, housemade seasonal smoothies, yogurt parfaits and sandwiches, and local chef-prepared soups and salad shakers. Open M–F 6:30am–3:30pm, Sa 8:30am–5:30pm. Closed Su.