Santa Cruz pier?
If you want to be right on the wharf go to Riva's. I second everyone else's recs for Hoffman's & Walnut Ave in Santa Cruz and for Gayle's in Capitola. I don't like Margaritaville in Capitola. El Palomar is good for Mexican. Marianne's does have great ice cream but the setting could be better for familiies - with the kids in tow go to Marini's (on Pacific Ave not the Boardwalk) instead.
Well we wandered down to the wharf on our first night and chose the Miramar. Prices were a little lower than the first few restaurants and they had sand dabs. It's not fancy but all 12 of us were pretty happy from the kids to the adults. We had oysters, calamari, chowder, fresh halibut and sand dabs. Others had calamari steak and a quite tasty seared ahi appetizer. My son had fish and chips and the kids had a variety of kids stuff. The adults shared two bottles of wine. We left quite satisfied.
We stumbled on the Walnut Avenue Cafe for breakfast and went back a second time. I had the huevos rancheros with carnitas and eggs benedict on different days. I don't get out to breakfast very much and both were excellent.
One night the adults went out to dinner and left the kids and teenagers home. We thought we could walk to downtown and find something. Someone had read about the grill or something like that. Once we got there around 8:30, it looked like we would be the only ones in the restaurant so we decided to keep looking. We actually sat down at Aqua Bleu and looked over the menu and decided it as too strange for us. It was Asian fusion and seemed way overpriced for odd combinations. We ended up at a decent Mexican place a few spots down. Just fine.
re: Cheesy Oysters
Thanks for the report back! Sorry I didn't offer any recs, but I never eat on the wharf and I've been down on the local food scene lately. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the Miramar. I've never been there myself, but if I were to eat at the wharf these days, I'd probably try Stagnaro's or Riva. I do enjoy Aldo's at the yacht harbor for fried seafood baskets and breakfast.
Walnut Ave. Cafe is very popular and good for families. I like breakfast at Hoffman's (also downtown) a bit better. I don't really care for Aqua Bleu's eclectic menu either along w/ their high prices so have never ventured in. Was the Mexican place you settled on called El Palomar? Their food is satisfying, and I like their margaritas.
Miramar Fish Grotto
45 Municipal, Wharf Santa Cruz, CA
Walnut Avenue Cafe
106 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
1344 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
I agree with the last reply, there really are no good deals on the wharf/pier. toodie jane was right, Gayle's Bakery and Rosticerria is absolutely yummy. And since you get to pick your items from a wide variety, every can get what they want. The Aptos Farmer's Market at Cabrillo College is fun, and the food fresh. Lots of local color too. Go to Palapas Restaurant y Cantina in Aptos for great Mexican food. Kids are welcome, (they have a kiddie menu). Food is great, drinks are great too. Make a reservation though. It's about a 15 minute drive.
For ice cream go to Marianne's on Ocean in Santa Cruz. The best ice cream, made on site. Breakfast at the Silver Spur on Soquel. If you want other ideas give a holler. Enjoy!
here's a list:
I believe Aldo's gets good recs on this board. Did you search the board for "Seafood Santa Cruz"?
But don't limit yourself to the pier area. Not all that family friendly once the sun goes down. Just a few blocks away is Downtown with shops, cafes and it is very walkable. The Mission St. corridor (northbound Hiway 1) is just a few blocks beyond that with several choices for dining. And Capitola is just 15 minutes to the south. A charming village, nice kiddie beach and Gayle's Bakery is not to be missed if you are fond of pastires.
If you are here on Saturday, there is a great morning Farmers Market in Aptos (15 min) at Cabrillo College, on Soquel Ave. Live music, produce, seafood, breads and pastries, plants and flowers, you name it. A festival atmosphere.Fun for all ages.
Oh ! how fun! we just got back on Monday from visit the area. Were at the pier on Saturday, but ate (pretty expensive) carnival food all day. There was fried fish and garlic fries stand. The only decent deal on the pier IMO was the 24 oz beers for $6 bucks. I would be interested in knowing where the good bargains are in the area for seafood. We did have Mexican at Margaritaville in Capitola. I recommend the chiles rellenos filled with garlic mash- it's enough for two people if you order a side of tortillas.