Santa Cruz’s thriving downtown is constantly growing and seeing new additions to the culinary scene. From long-standing institutions that have served the foodie community for years to brand new restaurant ventures entering the vibrant Santa Cruz food world, there is a perfect bite for everyone just waiting to be discovered. Recently, the downtown area has seen a boom in new restaurants, bakeries, and pop-ups. Here is a list of Downtown Santa Cruz’s hottest new spots to check out!
The chic new downtown location for Ivéta is serving up some impressive food in a beautiful space just a few blocks from the ocean. The opening of the third location for this family-owned business brings a new European-style bistro to the downtown area. The menu features delicious plates like their melt-in-your-mouth short ribs and spicy Calabrian chili cauliflower. They also make delectable sweet bites like handmade cannolis and granola yogurt bowls covered in fresh seasonal fruit. Whether you come in to enjoy dinner at Ivéta or weekend brunch, each dish is carefully created with fresh local ingredients that offer a feast for the eyes and the stomach! The beautiful outdoor patio and spacious interior full of natural light make this new spot perfect for enjoying a good meal or grabbing a drink while you catch up with friends.
2.) Chicken Foot
The secretive speakeasy space above Motiv, which is accessed through a back door in Pearl Alley leading to a hidden door behind a fake bookshelf, has a new resident restaurant, Chicken Foot. The delicious brainchild of Chef Jessica Yarr features plant-forward cooking with nostalgic roots in Chef Jessica’s Ukrainian heritage. The speakeasy space has a great cocktail bar to grab a drink while enjoying Chicken Foot’s menu. Every bite is carefully crafted to reflect a farm-to-table, seasonal approach to food that makes each dish a perfect marriage between California seasonal ingredients and Eastern European tradition. The Khachapuri, a bread boat filled with gooey cheese and jammy eggs, is a unique must-try item you can’t find anywhere else in the area. Other delicious bites like pierogies, potato knish, deviled eggs, and smoked trout dip make up a stellar menu well worth the buzz!
3.) Honey B Market
Downtown Santa Cruz gets a fresh new take on baked goods with the fermentation-forward Honey B Market. The sunny exterior of this new bakery welcomes visitors inside where they can find fresh pastries, healthy huni bowls, and unique drinks like Shroomy Hot Cocoa. Honey B Market also has coffee service provided by Coffee Conspiracy that perfectly complements the delicious treats from the market. All the food at Honey B Market is made with love and focused on healing through food by promoting healthy guts without sacrificing delicious taste. Honey B definitely succeeds in its mission to produce healthy, probiotic-rich foods using high-quality ingredients that taste delicious! The freshly baked, still steaming cinnamon rolls aptly called a Cinnamon Snail topped with creamy probiotic cashew frosting will be your new morning staple after discovering this new cafe downtown.
Hanloh is a marvelous mash-up of comfort food and traditional Thai country cooking that has taken up residency in Bad Animal’s book and wine bar. Following the Midway’s time at Bad Animal, Hanloh is the newest restaurant residency delivering some of the best meals in Santa Cruz. Every dish on Hanloh’s menu is bursting with flavor that is rich with spices and perfectly balanced. The clay pot Ob Woonsen is a phenomenal must-have dish with delicate glass noodles, fresh crab meat, and succulent pork belly. The yellow curry with puffed tofu, crispy long yard beans, and rich, creamy coconut combined with Chef Lalita’s hand-prepared yellow curry paste is another star on Hanloh’s menu not to be missed. The impressive wine list from Bad Animal’s selection, which features unique natural and orange wines, perfectly complements the complexly deep flavors of the food. This new spot is definitely worth the buzz and adds a bright new star to the culinary scene in Downtown Santa Cruz.
5.) Mad Yokes
Mad Yolks is the newest addition to the Downtown Santa Cruz area and features all-day breakfast! Celebrating all things eggs, Mad Yolks levels up the breakfast game in Santa Cruz by serving up unique breakfast food and delectable fresh-squeezed juices, matcha drinks, and teas. They dish up delicious breakfast sandwiches like their popular B.A.E breakfast sandwich filled with soft scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and melty cheese all served on their homemade fluffy brioche buns. Their fried chicken sandwich, the Mad Chick, is juicy, lightly battered, and bursting with flavor! From the egg tiled mosaic in the doorway to the bright yellow interior and neon “yolked” sign, Mad Yolks is a full immersion experience into the beloved world of breakfast food you don’t want to miss when visiting Downtown Santa Cruz.