Best Seafood in Santa Cruz

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Clean Plate Club

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With the piers and wharfs only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the rich culinary scene of Santa Cruz, it comes as no surprise that the city and its surrounding areas boast some of the freshest seafood on the California coast. Whether you prefer your fish battered and fried or seared atop spaghetti, we’ve got an option for you.

Feature Photo: Courtesy of Firefish Grill

Shadowbrook, Seafood, Santa Cruz
Photo: Shadowbrook

The brick walls and wooden décor of Shadowbrook make for a charming setting to any dinner, whether that’s a night out with the family, or a romantic evening for two. With a menu that celebrates all things seafood, you will be spoiled for choice between their tender clam chowder served with bacon and fresh rosemary, and their classic lobster tail with champagne beurre blanc. But don’t ignore their baked brie either, a fan favorite served with herbed crostini and a mild jalapeño jelly.

Lillian’s Italian Kitchen, Seafood, Santa Cruz
Photo: Lillian’s Italian Kitchen

If you ask a local where the best seafood in the city is, don’t be surprised if they point you in the direction of Lillian’s. This family owned kitchen has all the classic Italian dishes that you adore, like their prawn scampi with wild gulf prawns tossed in a white wine butter sauce, and their classic pan seared scallops with a sweet corn bisque. Make sure to ask about their catch of the day!

Firefish Grill, Seafood, Santa Cruz
Photo: Firefish Grill

When you think of a seafood spread, odds are good the image that comes to mind is similar to what you’ll find at Firefish Grill. Oysters on the half shell, bay shrimp cocktail, and crab cakes, along with main dishes like their grilled pacific snapper topped with tartar sauce. If you’re in the mood to split a meal with a friend, get their seafood platter, a decadent plate of prawns, scallops, calamari, salmon and snapper. If you want something all to yourself, get the chowder, which comes in a sourdough bread bowl.

The Sand Bar, Seafood, Santa Cruz
Photo: The Sand Bar

While this is a more casual spot, don’t let that fool you into thinking the food isn’t incredible. Not to mention the outdoor seating right on the waterfront that makes for a great view while munching on crab cakes with saffron aioli or their Baja-style fish tacos with spicy house avocado sauce. They also offer an extensive cocktail menu, including their Sand Bar Old Fashion, a twist on a familiar favorite. Come for happy hour and their live music events!

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