Best Restaurants with Ocean View in Santa Cruz

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Walk along the wharf to be surrounded by the sea or sit alongside the beach to appreciate the sandy shores of Santa Cruz. Or stroll the Capiltola esplanade for lively seaside  scenery. No matter where you prefer to dine, you’re spoiled for choice in the culinary scene of the city and its surrounding areas. Nothing feels quite as breathtaking as watching the sun set over the ocean while you dine.

Feature Photo: Courtesy of Jack O’Niell Restaurant & Lounge

Makai Island, Ocean View, Santa Cruz
Photo: Makai Island

You would be hard pressed to find a more immersive restaurant along the Santa Cruz beach than Makai Island Kitchen, with its location out on the wharf giving guests unrestricted views of the ocean. This tropically decorated restaurant is a true tiki experience, with all the ahi sliders, poke stacks, and coconut prawns that you can dream of. Sit out by the water, sip on one of their signature mai tais or margaritas, and enjoy the view.

Paradise Beach Grille, Ocean View, Santa Cruz
Photo: Paradise Beach Grille

Nothing beats a warm summer evening sitting on Paradise Beach Grille’s waterfront patio and enjoying the view of the Capitola Beach. While they have a more limited menu than some places in the city, everything is a hit, from the sugar and spice salmon with pineapple salsa to their Hawaiian baby-back ribs with garlic fries. For those that go gluten free, they offer gluten free pasta and bread substitutions, so you don’t need to be limited in your options.

Margaritaville, Ocean View, Santa Cruz
Photo: Margaritaville

Don’t be fooled by the name, as this restaurant offers not only a wonderful beachside atmosphere and top-notch drinks, but also incredible made-from-scratch Mexican fare. Of course you simply have to try a margarita. Pair the Italian margarita (made with Cointreau and agave pineapple juice) and their popular nachos, with house made tortilla chips and melty queso Oaxaca. Or opt for a Midnight margarita (mezcal verde and lavender) and classic quesabirria tacos with a side of consommé.

Jack O’Niell Restaurant, Ocean View, Santa Cruz
Photo: Jack O’Niell Restaurant & Lounge

With a stylish and comfy interior and a perfect view of the beach, Jack O’Niell Restaurant & Lounge makes for a perfect night out. The menu is designed to showcase everything California’s coast can provide, whether that’s in their ahi tuna poke with jalapeno ponzu or their seared scallops with beluga lentils and rainbow chard. For a truly stunning experience, come shortly before sunset and ask for a table by a window.

The Crow's Nest, Ocean View, Santa Cruz

This Santa Cruz institution has been the go-to spot for people seeking seaside dining since 1969. Located at the Santa Cruz Harbor, the restaurant offers a dining room with panoramic views, a heated outside patio and an upstairs Breakwater Bar and Grill where there are live performances most days of the week. The stunning all-wood interior showcases similar roots to Capitola’s Shadowbrook restaurant, which was started by the same owners, Mike McClelland and Mike Clark. Vintage surfboard and collectables add to the community vibe. The standout dishes here are unsurprisingly the seafood, with favorites including calamari, shrimp-stuffed artichokes and whatever local fish they are serving, often offering fish like sole, halibut and swordfish.

This is a hidden gem in plain sight – an authentic, tasty  Thai food restaurant right on the beach with ocean views. This restaurant has been through a lot with the storms causing damage to its interior but they keep bouncing back, recently redoing their walls with an beautiful three dimensional mural depicting Capitola’s colorful esplanade among Thai buildings. The menu offers classics from Pad Thai to Pumpkin Curry at affordable prices , but you cant go wrong whatever you pick.

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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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