Top 10 Brunch Spots In Santa Cruz, California

Photo of Michelle Nguyen
22 November 2016

Santa Cruz is known to be the perfect Californian beach getaway. But before you dive into the waves and take a stroll on the boardwalk, start your day right with one of these top brunch places.

Blackened Ahi Eggs Benedict – Walnut Avenue Cafe – Santa Cruz | © Todd Dwyer/Flickr

Walnut Avenue Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, American, French, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
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Cafe Brasil
Cafe Brasil | © Rory Finneren/Flickr
With eggs Benedict done right and the best home fries in town, their huge servings are sure to cure any hangover and satisfy any appetite. A variety of scrambles are on the menu: inspirational combinations made with fresh and local produce. Walnut Avenue Cafe has all your brunch favorites, and their huevos rancheros will give you a bang for your buck. Try their turkey cranberry sandwich served on two slices of French toast, a blend of flavors that will make your taste buds go ‘boom.’ With such a large space and lots of mouths to feed, there is always a bit of a wait, but being right downtown, there is always plenty of window shopping and street entertainment to keep you busy.

Cafe Brasil

Cafe, Restaurant, Brazilian, $$$
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A local favorite away from main attractions, Cafe Brasil feels like the perfect little getaway in this small town. While their dishes are quite hearty, make sure to start your meal with an açai bowl, a sweet berry sorbet-smoothie mix, topped with granola and fresh fruit (this is a must!). Food is always authentic, and service always comes with a smile. Cafe Brasil gets busy on the weekends, so the wait could be close to forty-five minutes for a larger group, but the food will get to you fast. With a small parking lot in the back, street parking is recommended.

Linda’s Seabreeze Café

Cafe, Diner, Restaurant, American, $$$
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It feels like you’re at an old friend’s house when you’re at Linda’s. Classic diner favorites are on the menu, with endless options for sides. Servings are enormous, so try not to fill up on the free coffee while you wait to be seated. The café is close to the pier and away from the college students that usually flood the main brunch spots.

Firefly Coffeehouse

Hidden behind a Walgreens is this little oasis, offering the best homemade bagels in town. While Firefly’s menu is quite small, their bagels are all you need for brunch. Their bagel sandwiches include: homemade cream cheese, egg, and whatever other toppings you want, although the tomato and herb bagel is the best choice. Seating is limited, so consider taking these bagels to go. Coffee drinks are also something quite special, so make sure to try from all parts of the menu. Make sure to try this local and humble favorite in town.

Firefly Coffeehouse, 131 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA, USA

The Buttery

Bakery, Pastries, French, American, Venezuelan, Vegan, $$$
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Acai bowl
Acai bowl | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Known for their bakery and delectable sweets, The Buttery has only recently started serving brunch. Voted the best bakery in Santa Cruz, their breads make their sandwiches something truly special. Only the freshest ingredients are used, and hopefully you can catch them on a day when their curry chicken salad is on the menu. Their savory flavors have a refreshing twist, but make sure to grab some pecan sandies from their bakery on your way out. Outside seating is a must, and parking is super easy in their private lot in the back. Keep in mind that ordering at the front and waiting at your table might slow things down, but the patio furniture is beautiful and dog-watching is always fun.

Samba Rock

Cafe, Tea , Brazilian, American
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Samba Rock Acai Cafe, Santa Cruz
Samba Rock Acai Cafe, Santa Cruz | Courtesy of The Picnic Basket
Samba Rock is perfect for all the health nuts out there. This is the only place in town that strictly serves açai. Every açai bowl is named after a Brazilian celebrity. No bowl is a bad bowl. Mixings like coconut, peanut butter, granola, kiwi, and matcha powder; there are endless combinations to energize you. Try the bike ride over the San Lorenzo River and park your bike inside.

The Picnic Basket

After you’re done visiting the boardwalk, cross over to The Picnic Basket where all your midday cravings are to be satisfied. Beans roasted from local favorite Verve Coffee Roasters make for the perfect addition to your classic brunch favorites. Enjoy the sea breeze and people-watching from the outside seating. Keep in mind that weekends have the boardwalk and pier attracting a lot of people, so the lines might be long but the atmosphere is great and sure to keep you in relaxed vacation-mode for a while. Parking is difficult on the boardwalk, but just a few blocks over you will find residential parking.

The Picnic Basket, 125 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA, USA +1 831 427 9946

Lulu Carpenter’s

Cafe, Coffee Shop, American, Tea , Pastries, Fast Food, $$$
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Lulu Carpenter's, Santa Cruz
Lulu Carpenter's, Santa Cruz | Courtesy of Taqueria Los Pericos
Lulu Carpenter’s is a part of history right at your fingertips in downtown Santa Cruz. Locals will tell you they used to know that one brick building at the end of the block as the neighborhood bar, but students at the university will tell you that this is where they study and drink bottomless amounts of coffee. Lulu’s currently roasts for all of Santa Cruz, and has been the go-to coffee shop for years. Now, on the weekends, you can enjoy brunch at Lulu’s. A short and sweet menu makes for the freshest dishes, and a beautifully green back patio will leave you breathless. Take a stroll through Pacific Avenue after you are done and enjoy local boutiques and street entertainment.

Taqueria Los Pericos

Bakery, Restaurant, Mexican, Fast Food
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Fruit tart
Fruit tart | © Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Los Pericos is one of the best taquerias along the coast. With crispy carnitas and heavenly horchata, it is no surprise their breakfast burrito is the best in the business. They have three types of breakfast burritos, but make sure to try the chorizo one first. Packed with egg and potatoes, the chorizo has the perfect amount of spice to soak up any bad vibes from the night before. Good meat, good salsa, and good people. Los Pericos gives you quality while keeping the quantity in your wallet.

Kelly’s French Bakery

Bakery, French, Ice Cream, Pastries
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Kelly’s French Bakery is nestled away on the west side of Santa Cruz, within a nice little plaza of lavish shopping, hidden among the more industrial parts of the town. Have your kids play around while you sit outside and enjoy small café bites for brunch. This is the perfect place to lounge on a lazy Sunday. With an endless case of sweets, they also have a full service menu, complete with pancakes and eggs Benedict. With such a warm and welcoming environment, you won’t want to leave. Not to mention they even have a fireplace in the corner of the bakery. The line is almost always long for Kelly’s, but service is fast and you will find the stores nearby are special.

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