Where the Locals Eat in Santa Cruz

May 26, 2012 | 2012 Articles, Christina Morgan Cree, Food Fun, Travel

by Christina Morgan Cree

Sunny, mild weather and ocean breezes; a love of the environment and local art and a laid back feeling of “what’s the hurry”–people in Santa Cruz take time to enjoy their surroundings. Downtown, you’re likely to run into a variety of characters on Pacific Garden Mall, the outdoor shopping area that runs mainly on Pacific Ave, which has adopted the motto of “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” (t-shirts are available at Bookshop Santa Cruz). On any given day you will run into students, professionals, hippies who never made the transition to yuppie, surfers of all ages, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals and street performers.

Pacific Cookie Co. on the Pacific Garden Mall Downtown Santa Cruz

Santa Cruzians appreciate good food and good company. There are many exceptional, locally owned yet reasonably priced restaurants in Santa Cruz to choose from. Those featured here are all within the vicinity of downtown Santa Cruz and all favorites of the locals.


Zachary’s (819 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, 95060, (831) 427-0646)

With its brick front and bare necessities interior, Zachary’s gives you a glimpse of Santa Cruz before the big earthquake of 1989. You will hear nothing but rave reviews for this breakfast place. Their breakfasts can’t be topped even if it’s just the standard eggs and bacon that you order. The home style potatoes are a favorite and be sure to order at least a ½ stack of the sourdough pancakes. Anything you decide on is sure to please. Be prepared for a wait, but as anyone who’s ever been will tell you–it is well worth it!


Jack’s (202 Lincoln St, Santa Cruz, 95060, (831) 423-4111)

On the corner of Cedar and Lincoln, you’ll find a favorite of both locals and tourists. Jack’s has had the same owners since 1990 and they’ve continued to provide quality fast food at a very reasonable price. A hamburger with fries, a “burger basket”, is around $5. Come between 3PM and 4PM, buy one “burger basket” and get the second half price. Check out their specials like the “Holy Guacamole” or the Tri-Tip sandwich.

In Between Snack

The Pacific Cookie Company (1203 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, (831) 429-6905)
You can’t visit Santa Cruz and not get a cookie at The Pacific Cookie Co. Straight out of the oven, the smell of those freshly baked cookies wafts down Pacific Ave. and practically pulls you into the shop. Go with a standard like a chocolate chip, or try a “Dr. Midnight,” “Mint Condition” or one of their seasonal specials. Made with the finest ingredients, their cookies are impossible to pass up. http://www.pacificcookie.com/

Tray of delicious cookes at Pacific Cookie Co


Oswald’s (121 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, (831) 423-7427

When asked where to go for a special dinner out in Santa Cruz, Oswald’s was the restaurant of choice among locals. An intimate, but open space, it surrounds you with artistry and positive feeling. Their menu is innovative and deliciously imaginative, but can still accommodate both the adventurous and the picky eater. http://oswaldrestaurant.com/


Chocolate (1522 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, (831) 427-9900)
Boasting 10 different types of hot chocolate, this European style café is the perfect spot for a late night dessert, hot drink or a bowl of homemade chicken soup. Sit inside or out on the patio and order the “Sofia,” a dark hot chocolate for two that comes in a 22oz copper kettle.

Christina Morgan Cree is an enthusiastic Agatha Christie buff. She’s seen nearly every film adaptation and read almost every book. She lives in Santa Cruz with her three children and divides her time between fashion design, performing on stage and writing. Finding inspiration everywhere, she squeezes the most she can out of each day chasing ideas, over-analyzing everything and loving the people around her.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the review. It made me hungry just reading it. It reminds me that I haven’t been to Zachary’s in about a decade. Methinks it’s time to go again so I can enjoy a “Mike’s Mess!” Yummy! Oh, and the truffles at Chocolat–to die for. Ho hum, I guess I’ll have to settle for a bowl of cereal at this hour, but tomorrow, you’ll catch me on the town in Santa Cruz!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.