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A Taste of Luxury: Exploring the Best Restaurants and Bars in Santa Cruz County


A Taste of Luxury: Exploring the Best Restaurants and Bars in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County is between the Bay Area's hustle and bustle and the Central Coast's serenity; it's an oasis of year-round beachside fun. With expansive, sun-kissed beaches providing a view that never gets old, to the seaside luxury homes and quaint, charming neighborhoods, there's something undeniably magnetic about this place.

It's also the gateway to the magnificent Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The county offers an array of natural beauty and outdoor adventures, whether you're cruising down scenic routes or wandering through the lush redwood forests.

Shadowbrook Restaurant

1750 Wharf Rd, Capitola, CA

Shadowbrook Restaurant has a quirky dining room with a palpable old-world charm adorned with intricate details. Its prime location offers an enchanting view of the calm Soquel Creek, adding a natural serenity to your dining experience. The restaurant's bakery department is something to rave about, producing freshly baked bread, sumptuous pastries, and mouth-watering desserts daily, all made in-house. The aroma alone is enough to make anyone's mouth water! Shadowbrook's sizeable private dining room provides an idyllic setting for parties, meetings, or family gatherings.

Oswald Restaurant

121 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA

The Oswald Restaurant menu is a dynamic showcase of creative American entrées, a testament to the culinary team's dedication to innovation and passion. Each dish is thoughtfully curated, blending familiar flavors with unexpected twists.

Yet, Oswald doesn't stop at just tantalizing your taste buds. It also stimulates the artistic soul. The restaurant hosts bi-monthly art exhibitions, offering patrons an enriching visual feast alongside their meal. Every exhibit tells a story, allowing diners to immerse themselves in local artistry and take a piece of Santa Cruz home.

La Posta

538 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA

La Posta is a culinary journey to the heart of Italy in coastal California. The moment you step into La Posta, you're embraced by an ambiance reminiscent of a rustic Italian trattoria, where the art of food is celebrated with utmost passion. Their inventive Italian dishes are narratives of age-old traditions merged with the vibrancy of contemporary flavors. A consistent commitment to sourcing local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients means the menu is an ever-evolving tapestry of the region's bounties. The real magic lies in La Posta's balance between generous portions and refined flavors, ensuring guests leave their hearts and stomachs full.


7945 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA

Persephone, named after the Greek goddess of vegetation, the restaurant embodies her essence, presenting dishes that echo the richness and vitality of nature. The meticulous selection of ingredients truly sets Persephone apart. The chef's insistence on only the freshest and highest quality components transforms each meal into a vibrant medley of flavors and textures, leaving an indelible mark on the palate.

The setting is just as spectacular as the food. The contemporary, white-linen interiors provide a pristine backdrop to the colorful dishes, creating an elegant and inviting atmosphere. A family-owned and operated venture, Persephone exudes warmth and hospitality.

Café Sparrow

8042 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA

Whisking you away to the romantic countryside of France, Café Sparrow stands as an emblem of culinary poetry in the heart of Aptos. With its authentic charm and quaint elegance, this enchanting establishment is in a beautifully restored post office and general store. Café Sparrow merges history with modernity. The architecture, echoing yesteryears, plays the perfect foil to the innovative French dishes served within its walls. Its cozy vibes resonate with the very soul of French dining - where meals are not rushed affairs but prolonged symphonies of flavor and conversation.

Jack O'Neill Restaurant & Lounge

175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA

In the iconic Dream Inn, Jack O'Neill Restaurant & Lounge celebrates Santa Cruz's storied surfing legacy and the legendary surfer Jack O'Neill. The restaurant captures the essence of the coastal lifestyle, blending the free spirit of the surf with culinary sophistication. The lounge has a relaxed and airy environment reminiscent of those endless summer days on the beach. Panoramic windows frame the mesmerizing vista of the ocean, offering uninterrupted views that seem to stretch into infinity.

The menu at Jack O'Neill's is a testament to the chef's upbringing, with dishes that echo cherished memories of growing up on a family farm. Each creation, crafted from locally sourced ingredients, reflects Santa Cruz's rich agricultural heritage. It's a unique blend of farm-fresh flavors with the zest of coastal cuisines. Designed to cater to every palate, the restaurant is family-friendly.

Lillian’s Italian Kitchen

1148 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

The menu at Lillian's features a delectable array of seasonal and Sicilian dishes crafted from the freshest ingredients. With a focus on sustainability and culinary creativity, Lillian's promises a delightful menu of soups and salads, spaghetti alla Carbonara, chicken parmesan, slow-roasted half-chicken, and much more. The warm and inviting atmosphere, coupled with friendly and attentive service, makes Lillian's a top choice for those looking to savor the unique and delicious flavors of Santa Cruz in a charming setting.


155 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Alderwood is another culinary gem that seamlessly blends the beauty of coastal California with a passion for exceptional food. This beloved restaurant has made a name for itself with its dedication to locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients. From freshly caught seafood and oysters to inventive vegetarian creations, every plate at Alderwood reflects the bounty of the land and sea. The restaurant's inviting ambiance, accentuated by a rustic yet modern decor, creates the perfect backdrop for a memorable dining experience. With a commitment to sustainability and culinary innovation, Alderwood has earned its reputation as a top-tier restaurant in Santa Cruz.

Avanti Restaurant

1917 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Avanti is a delightful dining destination that embodies the spirit of coastal cuisine with a Mediterranean twist. This charming restaurant offers a fantastic menu inspired by the flavors of Italy, Greece, and the broader Mediterranean region. From delectable pasta dishes to fresh seafood and crisp salads, Avanti presents a culinary experience like no other. Whether you're savoring a romantic dinner or enjoying a gathering with friends, Avanti is a place where good food and great company come together in harmony.


174 Aptos Vlg Wy, Aptos, CA 95003

Mentone offers a menu that celebrates the region's rich agricultural heritage, showcasing fresh, locally sourced ingredients in every dish. With a commitment to sustainability and a passion for seasonal flavors, Mentone brings the essence of Italy's Amalfi Coast to the Santa Cruz area. The restaurant's wood-fired oven and delightful menu of wood-oven pizzas, house-made pasta, and Mediterranean-inspired dishes make it a highly sought-after destination for food enthusiasts. The warm and inviting ambiance, complete with an open kitchen, adds to the overall experience, making Mentone a favorite gathering spot for those seeking a taste of California's coastal culinary delights in an inviting, laid-back setting.

Finding your perfect spot with GRO Real Estate

Ready to make Santa Cruz County your permanent vacation spot or a place to call home? Explore Santa Cruz County homes for sale in this beautiful region with the help of the trusted experts of GRO Real Estate. As the top real estate company in the county, their agents' unmatched expertise and deep local knowledge will guide you to the perfect property. After all, there's no place like home, especially when it's in Santa Cruz County. Cheers to new beginnings!

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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