Santa Cruz lures with its boardwalk and plentiful opportunities for sun and surf, but in-the-know visitors ditch the crowds and head for the city’s funkier west side. More grown-up but just as fun, the walkable western end—specifically Swift and Ingalls streets courtyards—offers a buzzing dining scene, a burgeoning distillery and winery movement, and a smattering of hip stores and coffee shops.
Where to Eat in West Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz stalwart Verve Coffee Roasters recently opened a bright and airy location, where you’ll find ethically sourced, largely single-origin beans and plenty of exposed wood and hanging planters. Straight coffee is celebrated here, but you can also score baked goods from Manresa Bread, an offshoot of the Michelin-starred Manresa in Los Gatos.
Bantam’s consistently packed dining room speaks to the quality coming from the open kitchen, where you can watch chefs prep seasonal Mediterranean dishes and slide pizzas into the wood-fired oven. Started by Ben (a Chez Panisse alum) and Sarah Sims, the restaurant offers a small selection of first and second courses (such as, in the spring, farro topped with snap peas and ricotta), but the made-to-order pizza is the real star, with toppings that range from house-made sausage and Calabrian chiles to hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and creamy mozzarella.