Wonderful Restaurants to Suit any Taste or Cuisine

For a relatively small county, Santa Cruz County has a wide range of restaurants to choose from. We’ve highlighted some of favorites below, and also recommend TripAdvisor for some opinions that we generally find useful. Many of these places are in Seacliff, Seascape, or Aptos Village, and are therefore only a few minutes away from the Hawley Beach House. Others are in Capitola, Santa Cruz, or Soquel. As we said, it’s a small county so nothing is very far away.

 
 
Snapper Special. See, we told you!

Snapper Special. See, we told you!

Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant, Seacliff

Our parents used to take us to Manuel’s (or Manny’s as it is locally referred to) when it first opened in the 1960s. It’s a Santa Cruz institution, with wonderful food, friendly service, and great margaritas! Located in Seacliff Village, immediately above the Cement Ship. They have nightly specials, and we’re especially fond of the Friday night Snapper Special (reserve in advance) and the Saturday Night Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. Tell them Chuck and Susan sent you.

 
Friendly, with great French-themed food

Friendly, with great French-themed food

Sparrow Cafe, Aptos Village

The Sparrow Cafe was perhaps my parent’s favorite restaurant, and it’s easy to see why. Located with a gorgeous view of the Aptos Creek valley, the Sparrow Cafe is known for tasty, interesting French entrees and an extensive wine list. Service is friendly and efficient, and the prices are inline with the experience. Located in Aptos Village, there’s usually parking in front or across Soquel Drive. Highly recommended.

 
Outside dining and cocktails in nice weather is an option.

Outside dining and cocktails in nice weather is an option.

Cafe Cruz, 41st AVenue

You know when you open a menu and virtually everything on it seems like “and I could get that, and that, and that”? Cafe Cruz’s menu is like that. Whether you want a burger, or their roast chicken, or pasta, or steaks, or salads: it’s all inviting and delicious. The place is generally packed, but for good reason: it’s a fun place with great food and a complete bar. They have a good wine list, too, with many local wines and some imports. Parking can be a problem, and many of the spots behind Cafe Cruz are reserved. We feel OK parking across the street on the edge of the The Home Depot lot, then carefully crossing 41st Avenue. Try the Storr’s Chardonnay. And save us some!