The Central Coast may have a hippy-dippy-crunchy-health-food kind of reputation for its local cuisine, but did you know we also have a reputation for having the best burgers here in Santa Cruz County? Cheesy, doubled, topped with bacon, stuffed with pickles, slathered in secret sauce, anyway you want it! There’s even a whole week – Santa Cruz Burger Week – dedicated to the American staple.
We’ve got all the beef – Angus, Wagyu, bison, lamb, grass-fed, organic, free-range. And because this is still Santa Cruz, we’ve got the turkey, chicken, and plant-based patties, too.
Here are some of my favorite burger joints around the county:
Grab a napkin! Here are the Best Burgers in Santa Cruz County
The raging debate in our house is whether this place is called “Burger” or “Burger Dot.” Whether or not you pronounce the punctuation, there’s no argument that this place can make a burger to your detailed specifications. Although the menu boasts a wide variety of pre-designed burgers, you have options on everything. Switch out your patty, toppings, bun and sides however your heart desires. Don’t miss their shakes (especially the caramel flavor!) and wide variety of brews. Located in Westside Santa Cruz
at 1520 Mission St.
This locals’ favorite boasts four locations in Santa Cruz and Aptos
. With a rockabilly theme and great tattoo-inspired art, you’ll pick up the fun vibe as soon as you walk in. But it isn’t all looks – Betty’s turns out some great food, too. Most burgers feature their signature “lube,” and the adult milkshakes are not to be missed.
This family-owned joint in Watsonville turns out delicious burgers and grilled sandwiches (the pastrami sandwich is a favorite!) Friendly staff and scrumptious shakes round out this local secret spot. 1467 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville.
Although technically not a “burger joint” like spots I mentioned above, Parish Publick House serves an amazing burger and deserves to be on a list of best burgers in Santa Cruz County. Publick House is a great spot to grab pub food and watch a game. Try the garlic fries and be sure to check out the kid menu – it will give you a laugh! Aptos: 8017 Soquel Dr.; Santa Cruz: 841 Almar Ave.
Belly Goat gets points for creativity. For example, the Seoul Surfer comes with kimchi, toasted sesame, bbq’d smoked pork belly, fried egg, and gochujang mayo. The Forager comes with avocado mash, chimichurri marinated tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, blackened sous-vide portobello, and sriracha-pimento olive aioli. Located in Abbott Square Market at 725 Front St., Santa Cruz.
Do burgers taste better at altitude? Devoted fans of Heavenly Roadside Café in Scotts Valley think so. The John Wayne Burger topped with house-made onion rings is a favorite. 210 Mt. Hermon Rd., Scotts Valley.
Jack’s Burgers is the locals’ go-to spot for straight-forward, traditional burgers. 202 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz.
For the best burgers in Santa Cruz County with a view, try Paradise Beach Grille in Capitola. From the outdoor patio, you can see the historic Venetian condominiums and gorgeous Monterey Bay. 215 Esplanade, Capitola.
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