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Feb 11, 2009 11:44 PM

Santa Cruz -- Best Current Restaurants

My brother and most of his family will be heading up the coast next month, looking at colleges for my niece. Decades since I went to UCSC. He's a foodie, but appreciates authentic ethnic as much as high-end fine dining. I'm interested in recommendations.

Back when I ate there, the bigdeal restaurant was the Shadowbrook, with that tram up the hill. I have fond memories of Chef Tong's for great Chinese, the chocolate madness at the Saturn Cafe, the cinnamon rolls that came out of the oven at 2:30 at Harrell's, and a bunch of vegetarian places. I also have very fond memories of the croissant at Kelly's bakery -- I think it or a remnant is still around, but is it still great?

They will be heading to Stanford and up to Berkeley after, and loved Chez Panisse, Zuni, and Tartine their last trip a couple years ago. So anything really unique and current in Santa Cruz or on the way too or from would be appreciated. Let me know what you recommend and why you appreciate them.

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  1. The mention of Chef Tong's really dates you! That was a hot spot in the early 80s. No Chinese in SC comes close to CT's, nor to the New Riverside, another wonderful restaurant of the past.

    La Posta seems to be the it restaurant these days, though my husband and I are not especially fond of it. Our tastes, at least in our hometown, lean more towards the affordable, in Nuevo Southwest Grill on Portola (extremely fresh and flavorful Mexican/California) and Avanti on the Westside on Mission (you might remember it as Papa Joe's Deli....had the best eggplant parm back in the day). Avanti never disappoints me; their quiche is always delicious and the always have whatever is fresh locally featured on their menu.

    1. If you like Kelly’s Bakery you will love The Buttery Bakery on Soquel Ave. If you have a chance, brunch is amazing on a Sunday morning, everything is fresh and feels like it was made just for you.
      Ristorante Italiano has great Italian food. Whenever I visit family this is the place we go, great for groups of people. It has some of the best cioppino I have ever had (huge portions as well). They only serve the cioppino Friday, Saturday,and Sunday.

      1. I highly recommend Kelly's Bakery, its on the corner of swift street and ingalls street now in the swift street courtyard. It's a little over priced but worth it. Great ambiance and simple menu

        1. Did you go already? The best restaurant between Santa Cruz & SF, hands down, is Manresa in Los Gatos. Michelin star quality & prices, though.

          1. Search recent posts. There was just a thread on Santa Cruz with excellent recommendations.