Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Jul 21, 2008 08:42 AM

Any good restaurants in Santa Cruz? [moved from SF Bay board]

My daughter is starting school at UC in the fall, (we are from Oakland) and the little exploring we've done has not turned up any good food. We tried Kianti's on Pacific Avenue and thought the food was terrible. A little taco place near the Boardwalk was cozy and fun but the food was just ok.
Please send recommendations, we like all kinds of food.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Oswald, Gabriella and Pearl Alley are all pretty good. I'd check the Califonia board.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ML8000

          Gabriella is brilliant. Sean Baker is the (young) chef there and he's a SC treasure. Go quickly before he moves on. Unfortunately my son graduated last year, so we have no more reason to go to SC and what I miss most is Gabriella.

          1. re: ML8000

            I believe Oswald's is still not open as they are on a long break as they build their new space.

            And Pearl Alley no longer exists having been replace by Fusion which I have not tried.

            1. re: Nathan P

              I thought Oswald was suppose to be open by now. I'm definitely out of the loop. Don't get to SC as much as I'd like.

          2. Love Johnny's Harborside. Menu changes seasonally and if you get there early there are some happy hour specials. It's near the Crow's Nest which I would recommend skipping.
            If you are willing to drive a little, Shadowbrook is nice. I've never had a bad meal there but I hear it gets mixed reviews. The atmosphere is nice and taking the cable car down the hill is a fun experience.

            1. Malabar is one of my favorite places to eat in SC -- it's vegetarian, Sri Lankan food. Wonderful food, very reasonably priced, in a pretty, high ceilinged space.

              9 Replies
              1. re: operagirl

                Depending on what you are looking for, some of my Santa Cruz area favorites are: Kelly's Bakery, Gayle's (both bakery & rosticceria), Carpo's, Walnut Ave & Hoffman's, Zoccoli's. According to my parents the new place everyone is raving about is a French place called Ma Maison. They have been there three times so far and had two excellent meals and one that was only so-so. Believe it or not everyone is excited now because they just got a Pollo Loco. There is not a lot of fast food in town so it was big news.

                1. re: drucie

                  Just wanted to give a quick Kelly's Bakery update: stopped in for a quick breakfast this am before an appointment. I had a very good latte and a ham and gruyere open face sandwhich on sourdough toast. Friendly people and high quality tasty ingredients! The patio would be nice later in the day or in good weather...Didn't sample much of the baked goods but it all looked excellent. They were just putting the finishing touches on some lovely looking macarons. I did take a few Mexican wedding cookies to go and enjoyed them very much as a post-meeting snack.

                  Oh, and the chicken pot pies (which were large, the size of a typical fruit pie) looked wonderful too. I hope to be able to get back soon to try more; its a great place.

                  Kelly's French Bakery
                  402 Ingalls St, Santa Cruz, CA

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    was back today and had a chocolate macaron. Yumm!

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      I'm glad you liked Kelly's, susancinsf. I confess that I haven't been there in ages (I live much closer to The Buttery), but the savory food can be solid and some sweets a treat. The macarons aren't as light and airy as I'd like, but they're large and can satisfy a craving when needed. I think they're the only ones who offer a French macaron in town. We went in the evening once and had a really satisfying burger and fries plate. Thanks for the encouragement to check them out again soon!

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        hope you do, and please report back: the macaron I had actually wasn't all that big, but I would describe it as light, but disclaimer: I am NOT a macaron expert...

                        If any Santa Cruz folks are coming to the Chowhound picnic, Kelly's would be a great source for nice treats or a savory dish to bring for anyone who isn't cooking!


                        1. re: susancinsf

                          I can't come to the picnic this year, but I'd be making my own food anyway. :-)

                          Kelly's macaron used to be nearly 3" in diameter and kind of flat, not puffy. They used to sell chocolate, raspberry, and pistachio and pistachio was my favorite. I'll have to see if their recipe/execution has changed. I've always wanted to make macarons at home, but I've been too lazy. I've liked their jam sable in the past.

                          I really want to check out Pim et Isabelle's baked goods at Lulu's at the Octagon! Anyone try them yet?

                  2. re: drucie

                    We tried Hoffman's and Walnut Ave for breakfasts on consecutive mornings. While we enjoyed Hoffman's, we found Walnut Ave to be more to our liking. More quaint (Hoffman's feels more boutique-ish), more of a local feel, off the beaten path a bit, the service was far better and more personable, all the food tasted like it was made in a home kitchen by a very competent mother who knows food, and and the menu in general was more varied.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I can attest that both are indeed local faves! My parents live walking distance to the Pacific Garden Mall and go to both of these places several times a week, and they always see the same people over & over. Also Gayle's is like this (the running joke is that Gayle's is the company cafeteria for my mom's business, which is walking distance) and Kelly's too, even in such a seemingly inaccessible location. I think Santa Cruz folks are VERY loyal when a place is good.

                      1. re: drucie

                        True, true, true. Walnut Cafe, Caffe Pergolesi, and Tacos Moreno can pretty much count on my repeat business for life ;-). Not to mention Hoffmans' bakery, for the raspberry jam-filled shortbread cookies . . .