Best Lunch in Santa Cruz

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Clean Plate Club

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For all that Santa Cruz’s beaches can feel like a slice of paradise and the coastal hiking trails can seem isolated, the city is still big and bustling, and there’s plenty of fabulous lunch restaurants in and around Santa Cruz. If you’re searching for a quick bite to eat before rushing off to the historic mission church, or in the mood for a leisurely sit down lunch, we’ve got your back.

Feature photo: West End Tap & Kitchen

Scones and coffee from Lunch restaurant Delmarette in Santa Cruz, California.
Photo: Courtesy of Cafe Delmarette

Located right in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, Café Delmarette is the perfect place to grab a quick lunch during a busy day of exploring the area. This cute café offers a wide assortment of sandwiches, like their famous Rita’s, complete with egg frittata and roasted potatoes, as well as excellent coffees and teas, including their popular matcha latte. Take a seat in their outside patio and people watch while you munch on fresh pastries and sip on a cup of their house-made cold brew. 

Firefly Tavern_lunch_Santa Cruz_1200x900_FireflyTavern facebook_fireflytavernsc_gmail
Photo: Courtesy of Firefly Tavern

For classic tavern food with a twist, come to Firefly Tavern. Try their house brisket with Korean fried rice, topped with an egg and mixed pickled veggies in a gochujang sauce, or opt for their chicken chili verde bowl with chicken confit and garlic fried rice. Vegetarians, don’t fear! Almost all dishes on the menu allow for tofu and soyrizo substitutions, free of charge. This trendy tavern is the perfect place to have a meal with friends, especially those that enjoy a refreshing IPA on a hot summer day. 

West End_lunch_Santa Cruz_1200x900_WestEnd Facebook_westendtap2@gmail_com
Photo: Courtesy of West End Tap & Kitchen

At West End, local produce and seasonal menu items come together to create a fresh, California take on traditional pub fare. For something filling, try their kimchi fried chicken sandwich, with sweet honey aioli and crispy fries. For something lighter, go for the fried cauliflower and friseé, topped with champagne vinaigrette, shaved fennel, and preserved lemon. They have a lot of vegan and gluten free options as well, all conveniently labeled on their menu. 

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For more suggestions on the best restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula, the best things to do on the Monterey Peninsula and the best places to stay on the Monterey Peninsula, click here.
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