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The 10 Best Seafood Restaurants in Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz

If you always choose one of the seafood options when you are dining out, then it makes sense to choose a seafood restaurant. There are some excellent options in this part of California, most of which serve fresh fish and seafood that is sourced locally. Your choices vary from places serving traditional American cuisine to those that serve food that is inspired by international cuisine. There are also options to suit all budgets and occasions. To help you choose the best venue to suit your tastes, the following is an overview of the 10 best seafood restaurants in Santa Cruz, CA.

Santa Cruz

10. Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant

Both classic seafood dishes and Italian fare are served at Aldo’s Harbor Seafood. It is a family-owned restaurant right on the harbor at Mariner Park Way that is open from breakfast through to dinner daily. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available, and dogs are welcome to join you in the outdoor patio area. Those who have dined in this restaurant have praised the prices, the generosity of the portions, the speedy service, and the friendly staff. One of the top options from the menu is the fish n’ chips, which is served hot, crispy, and not floating in oil. Some other examples include crab Benedict and calamari.

Santa Cruz

9. Zelda’s On the Beach

There is the option to eat indoors in the dining room or outside on the beachside deck when dining at Zelda’s On the Beach. Regardless of whether you sit indoors or outdoors, you can enjoy excellent views This casual eatery serves an array of American dishes, most of which feature seafood. Diners have praised dishes including fish n’ chips, fried calamari, the seafood melt, and the lobster. You will find Zelda’s On the Beach on the Esplanade, and it is open from breakfast through to dinner daily.

Santa Cruz

8. Gilda’s

A family-friendly option is Gilda’s, which is a low-key eatery on Municipal Wharf. It serves American seafood classics, such as crab served in various ways and clam chowder. There are also a couple of meat and vegetarian dishes, and the specials change nightly. Former diners have praised the speed of service, the friendly staff, the nice views, and the affordable prices. This restaurant is open from 7.30 am to dinner service every day.

Santa Cruz

7. Café Cruz

The ambiance at Café Cruz is one that will suit a diverse group of people. On the one hand, there is a casual atmosphere that will suit groups of friends dining together. On the other hand, it has a romantic and intimate feel that is perfect for couples. These are themes that continue outside as the patio has a fireplace. This is a fun spot for friends to gather around, but the glow of the fireplace also adds to the romantic feel of the restaurant. American food is served at this restaurant, and the dishes focus on the use of fish and seafood, and there is also an extensive wine menu. Café Cruz is along 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz, and it is open for lunch and dinner.

Santa Cruz

6. Stagnaro Bros Restaurant

Stagnaro Bros Restaurant is a popular option among the locals as it is known for consistently serving high-quality seafood staples, such as fish n’ chips and clam chowder. Former guests of the restaurant say that it is a reasonably priced option that has a fantastic vibe. Another benefit of dining at this restaurant is the impressive views of the Pacific Ocean

Santa Cruz

5. The Crow’s Nest Restaurant

The waterside location of this restaurant along East Cliff Drive means that excellent views add to the dining experience at this seaside restaurant. The interior of this restaurant is warm and welcoming, with features such as exposed beams. From the extensive menu, diners can choose from a wide range of casual American fare that predominantly features seafood. On some evenings there is live music playing for entertainment. This restaurant is open from breakfast through to dinner seven days a week and has daily happy hours.

Santa Cruz

4. Riva Fish House

A great place to visit for a casual meal is Riva Fish House on Municipal Wharf. This is a low-key establishment that serves American seafood classics, such as Dungeness crab sandwiches, oysters, fried cod, and prawn dishes. It has earned a reputation for fantastic customer service and hearty portions. Along with the seafood dishes, there are also some meat options, such as the prime rib. This restaurant boasts an extensive wine list, so you will find the perfect wine to compliment any meal.

Santa Cruz

3. Shadowbrook Restaurant

Described as having a quirky dining room, Shadowbrook Restaurant is ideally positioned on Wharf Road to offer diners stunning views off Soquel Creek. The seafood-centric menu consists of Californian cuisine along with some Mediterranean dishes. Some examples of the dishes on offer include lobster, pan-fried scallops, bacon-wrapped prawns, and seafood campanelle pasta.

Santa Cruz

2. Ideal Bar &Grill

You will find Ideal Bar & Grill along Beach Street in Santa Cruz. It is a bustling bar and restaurant that serves traditional American seafood dishes, such as steamed clams and clam chowder. Every night the specials on the menu change. The staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is casual. You can enjoy a meal at this restaurant at any time of the day as it is open from 8 am to 11 pm daily.

Santa Cruz

1. Johnny’s Harborside Restaurant

According to, the best seafood restaurant in Santa Cruz, CA, is Johnny’s Harborside Restaurant. There is something for everyone at this seafood restaurant as the eclectic menu features dishes from both the Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Located on Lake Avenue, diners can enjoy the harbor views from the restaurant while they dine. In addition to the excellent food, this restaurant is also known for its cocktails and excellent customer service. On weekdays, there are happy hours when you can enjoy drinks and select dishes for cut prices.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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