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Deborah’s Guidebook

Deborah

Deborah’s Guidebook

Food Scene
I've listed my favorites for casual breakfast and lunch spots, to hip evening gastro-pubs to fine dining options.
Best cupcakes you will ever have. Creative, artistic, delish. Operative word: BUTTER. They also have cookies and other items for breakfast and lunch including salads. The sweets part of the house is the specialty, but I've had several good breakfasts and lunches here. Mellow vibe. Outdoor picnic tables too.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
The Buttery
702 Soquel Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Best cupcakes you will ever have. Creative, artistic, delish. Operative word: BUTTER. They also have cookies and other items for breakfast and lunch including salads. The sweets part of the house is the specialty, but I've had several good breakfasts and lunches here. Mellow vibe. Outdoor picnic tables too.
Killer Food, expensive, but worth it. I've taken my closest friends here and you really can't go wrong. Huge long case of prepared foods (deli) both warm and cold, many salads, meats, fish, pasta. Another long case of pastries, pies, cookies, that are out of this world. Beer, wine, excellent coffee. Take to go for a picnic or to heat up at home or eat in at a semi-outdoor space with big tables (think permenant tent with heating). Casual atmoshphere but high end food.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria
504 Bay Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Killer Food, expensive, but worth it. I've taken my closest friends here and you really can't go wrong. Huge long case of prepared foods (deli) both warm and cold, many salads, meats, fish, pasta. Another long case of pastries, pies, cookies, that are out of this world. Beer, wine, excellent coffee. Take to go for a picnic or to heat up at home or eat in at a semi-outdoor space with big tables (think permenant tent with heating). Casual atmoshphere but high end food.
My personal favorite restaurant. Could not be quainter atmosphere - actually set inside a house. Food is top notch as is service. I take all my guests here. Not inexpensive, but worth it!
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
HOME
3101 N Main St
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
My personal favorite restaurant. Could not be quainter atmosphere - actually set inside a house. Food is top notch as is service. I take all my guests here. Not inexpensive, but worth it!
This is a wierd trip back in time. A local favorite. This is party central. The food is decent, but not great or super healthy. It's just a fun scene especially for happy hour. You would never know how hopping this place is till you step inside. It's a bit loud in here because people are drinking and having fun.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Café Cruz
2621 41st Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
This is a wierd trip back in time. A local favorite. This is party central. The food is decent, but not great or super healthy. It's just a fun scene especially for happy hour. You would never know how hopping this place is till you step inside. It's a bit loud in here because people are drinking and having fun.
Very good fresh sushi, good service. Mid-town location.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Akira Sushi
1222 Soquel Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Very good fresh sushi, good service. Mid-town location.
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Harbor Café
535 7th Avenue
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Great burgers with endless variations, tater tots that rock, great beer selection, outdoor seating in a quiet environment. I like this location better than the West Side.
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burger. Aptos
1520 Mission Street
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Great burgers with endless variations, tater tots that rock, great beer selection, outdoor seating in a quiet environment. I like this location better than the West Side.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Linda's Seabreeze Café
542 Seabright Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Big portions, comfort food, hangover specials. This is a Santa Cruz institution. I've never been myself but others who've gone there have raved about it. you have to be in the mood for some serious carbo loading here.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Silver Spur
2650 Soquel Drive
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Big portions, comfort food, hangover specials. This is a Santa Cruz institution. I've never been myself but others who've gone there have raved about it. you have to be in the mood for some serious carbo loading here.
New discovery for me. Excellent tapas (small plates), amazing wine selection, small outdoor deck with baskets full of blankets and sun-hats. Really cool comfy interior, games.
Cantine
8050 Soquel Dr
New discovery for me. Excellent tapas (small plates), amazing wine selection, small outdoor deck with baskets full of blankets and sun-hats. Really cool comfy interior, games.
Hip Vibe, open bar atmosphere and some outdoor seating. Cool lighting. Burgers, salads, upscale pub food. This is the West End, lots of things sprouting up in this general area.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
West End Tap and Kitchen
334 Ingalls Street
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Hip Vibe, open bar atmosphere and some outdoor seating. Cool lighting. Burgers, salads, upscale pub food. This is the West End, lots of things sprouting up in this general area.
Cool area where you can sit outside, other shops and eateries, including a brewery and a wine tasting room in walking distance. It's a little courtyard. The pastries are amazing here. Fresh salads.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Kelly's French Bakery
402 Ingalls Street
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Cool area where you can sit outside, other shops and eateries, including a brewery and a wine tasting room in walking distance. It's a little courtyard. The pastries are amazing here. Fresh salads.
Interesting mediteranean menu, lovely atmosphere, great service, fine dining. More romantic, not for kids.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Laili
101 Cooper Street
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Interesting mediteranean menu, lovely atmosphere, great service, fine dining. More romantic, not for kids.
Great wine bar, with good food and service. Upscale dining, downtown. Close to walk to see shops and other happening things downtown.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Soif
105 Walnut Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Great wine bar, with good food and service. Upscale dining, downtown. Close to walk to see shops and other happening things downtown.
Fine Dining, great bar. I've been here several times on special occasions. Very solid fresh menu and service.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Oswald Restaurant
121 Soquel Avenue
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Fine Dining, great bar. I've been here several times on special occasions. Very solid fresh menu and service.
Neighborhoods
This is a great walking path alongside the ocean starting from the Dream Inn just to the North (right facing ocean) of the Wharf where all the rides are. The Dream Inn is a nice place to start/end as there are bathrooms and a bar/restaurant (surf themed) with an ocean view in the lower level. Sometimes they even have live music. Great for a refreshment at the bar with an appetizer or a whole meal. Good photo ops in the lobby with colorful surfboards along the wall. It goes for several miles to Natural Bridges Beach with several beaches along the way (staircases go down from the sidewalk). Great place to soak up the surf scene, get some exercise and see beautiful sea view homes across from the ocean. You can easily park w/o a fee anywhere in residential zones a block off of West Cliff. The parking lots are usually very full. There is a small surfer museum at Lighthouse field.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
West Cliff Drive
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
This is a great walking path alongside the ocean starting from the Dream Inn just to the North (right facing ocean) of the Wharf where all the rides are. The Dream Inn is a nice place to start/end as there are bathrooms and a bar/restaurant (surf themed) with an ocean view in the lower level. Sometimes they even have live music. Great for a refreshment at the bar with an appetizer or a whole meal. Good photo ops in the lobby with colorful surfboards along the wall. It goes for several miles to Natural Bridges Beach with several beaches along the way (staircases go down from the sidewalk). Great place to soak up the surf scene, get some exercise and see beautiful sea view homes across from the ocean. You can easily park w/o a fee anywhere in residential zones a block off of West Cliff. The parking lots are usually very full. There is a small surfer museum at Lighthouse field.
Aptos is about 20 minutes South of Santa Cruz. It is a quieter, more mature demographic, less touristy and a bit more upscale than Santa Cruz itself. Great boutiques, eateries, coffee shops, wine bars, very green and serene. You can drive along Soquel Avenue from Santa Cruz to Aptos without getting on the highway.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Aptos
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Aptos is about 20 minutes South of Santa Cruz. It is a quieter, more mature demographic, less touristy and a bit more upscale than Santa Cruz itself. Great boutiques, eateries, coffee shops, wine bars, very green and serene. You can drive along Soquel Avenue from Santa Cruz to Aptos without getting on the highway.
Capitola is known for being a bohemian, 'romantic' beach town directly on the beach. It is known for small, pastel colored rental bungalows right on the water. Because there are many shops and eateries and a beach in close walking distance, it is popular with tourists from far and near, especially on the weekends (a definite downside). The phrase 'sip and stroll' applies to this place (open drinking seems to be accepted). Parking is a challenge. However, if you're up for walking a few blocks you can park further in the town. I would recommend going there for a walk around IF you can manage going on a week-day. Shadowbrook Restaurant is a fantastic, off-the-beaten-path, bohemian bar with a great history. They offer their own parking lot. It consists of an old log cabin at its core, boasts a funicular elevator ride from the street level to the restaurant's entrance at the river's edge. Great, retro wood bar.
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Capitola
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Recomendado por los habitantes de la zona
Capitola is known for being a bohemian, 'romantic' beach town directly on the beach. It is known for small, pastel colored rental bungalows right on the water. Because there are many shops and eateries and a beach in close walking distance, it is popular with tourists from far and near, especially on the weekends (a definite downside). The phrase 'sip and stroll' applies to this place (open drinking seems to be accepted). Parking is a challenge. However, if you're up for walking a few blocks you can park further in the town. I would recommend going there for a walk around IF you can manage going on a week-day. Shadowbrook Restaurant is a fantastic, off-the-beaten-path, bohemian bar with a great history. They offer their own parking lot. It consists of an old log cabin at its core, boasts a funicular elevator ride from the street level to the restaurant's entrance at the river's edge. Great, retro wood bar.

Consejos para la ciudad

Viajar con niños
Avoid the Boardwalk - Tourist Trap
The Boardwalk is iconic to Santa Cruz. However, avoid it unless you have kids who must experience carnival rides and noisy arcades. Pros: 1) It's right on the ocean w/beach access 2) It's free to walk into the gates 3) Free Summer Concerts on Wknds 4) There is a tram ride with colorful retro shaped baskets to sit in (2 person max) to get a birds eye view of everything from one end of the park to the other. Cons: 1) $$$ Parking (you can avoid if you are ok walking a few blocks) 2) Masses of Humanity, walking and eating & taking selfies
Qué debes empacar
Bring Layers, Hoodies for Cool Foggy Mornings/Evenings
Santa Cruz is generally Mediterranean weather, mild, temperate, often sunny. The warmest months are August - October. There is often a fog layer that comes in the morning and burns off before noon, then comes again after sunset. If you'll be out for a whole day, it's best to pack shorts & jeans, T-shirts and a sweater or jacket.
Facilidad para moverse por la casa
Uber and Lyft ride services are fast, safe and reliable
Uber or Lyft is a great idea especially if you're a group and want to drink while you're out. An Uber from the house to Downtown Santa Cruz is about a 12 minute drive and costs about $15. An Uber to the Dream Inn (start of West Cliff Drive, just next to the Boardwalk) is about a 12 minute drive and costs about $15.
Costumbres y cultura
Novice Surfers Beware of Territorial Locals
If you're new to surfing, my advice is to get lessons from any number of reputable places that know where to take you for easy surf. Do not just take a rented board and go out where you see a lot of surfers. I've heard the locals can be brutal out there (you can get yourself punched) and are not kind to strangers especially if one isn't a long-time surfer and not aware of right of way rules for who gets to take a wave.
Formas de ahorrar
FREE PARKING in Residential Areas Along West Cliff Drive
Avoid the parking lots when you want to go to the beach or just walk along West Cliff Drive. All the residential neighborhoods still allow free all day parking without meters or permits. You can park just a block or two in from the main drag. Just remember where you parked your car. Take a photo of the street you parked on with your phone. Don't leave luggage or other obvious valuables in your car. Santa Cruz is a tourist destination and as such, you should hide valuables in trunk or better yet, don't leave them in your car at all.
No te pierdas
Farmer's Markets - Music, Flowers, Produce, Coffee, Food
Every Saturday - 9a-1p Westside - at the corner of Hwy 1 and Western Drive, situated on the northern edge of Santa Cruz’s greenbelt. It is just a hop, skip and a jump from Downtown and features live music & prepared foods. Every Sunday - 9a-1p Live Oak / Mid-town - 15th & Eastcliff Drive Every Wednesday Downtown Santa Cruz - Cedar St & Lincoln St fall/winter hrs 1-5p; spring/summer hrs 1-6p Apr thru Oct
No te pierdas
Music Scene - Alive and Well - Jazz, Blues, Rock, Symphony
Moes Alley - Small Blues Club with outdoor zone and food! The Catalyst - Major rock and indie acts play here, 2 floors Kuumbwa - World Class Jazz Club w/food! Symphony - Santa Cruz has its very own symphony!