Top‌ ‌12 ‌Aptos,‌ ‌CA‌ ‌Restaurants‌ ‌

Nestled south of the San Francisco Bay Area, Aptos is a small, quiet town in California. However, while Aptos’ size may be quaint, its dining options are just as eclectic and delicious as other, larger cities. Here you can whet your appetite with a wide variety of dishes, from Chinese and Mediterranean cuisine to casual beachside delis and five-star fine dining. 

With so many great things to do and restaurants to try, there’s no wonder so many people are opting to stay in Aptos in exchange for larger nearby cities.

Even better, we’ve found the best Aptos restaurants to help you get started on your culinary travels. Bon appetit!

Ambrosia Indian Bistro

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Although Aptos doesn’t have a sizable Indian population, many of the residents appreciate the cuisine. Ambrosia is the best place to get Indian dishes like lamb curry, tandoori chicken, and vegetable paneer. In fact, Ambrosia was awarded “Best Indian Restaurant” by Santa Cruz Weekly. This spot is excellent for lunch or dinner, and we highly recommend coming for a pre-fixed menu if you want to expand your palate.

Ambrosia, like many Asian restaurants, is also perfect for vegetarian and vegan dishes. Even if you’re a full-blooded carnivore, these options are so tasty that you don’t even care that there’s no meat inside. The restaurant offers vegan versions of most of the dishes you can find on the menu, making it a hotspot for non-meat eaters.

Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen

Whether you’re looking for dinner and drinks, desserts and coffee, or a killer happy hour, Venus has got you covered. The outdoor patio area is ideal for al fresco dining when the weather is good, and the indoor space is comfortable and well-designed when it’s not.

Mexican food lovers shouldn’t miss taco Wednesdays where tasty fish tacos and potent margaritas are on offer until close!

Aptos St. BBQ

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While Ambrosia works well for meatless dishes, Aptos St. BBQ is perfect for those at the opposite end of the spectrum. Aptos has a couple of high-quality barbecue restaurants, but this one is notable for adding a Californian vibe with its music and concerts. There’s nothing that goes better with some baby back ribs like a live band on stage. So, don’t order takeout here if you can avoid it.

Aptos St. BBQ is so popular that the place regularly sells out of its most popular dishes. So, if you find yourself in the area, you have to plan accordingly. And what are those dishes exactly? They have breakfast tacos, barbecue sandwiches (pulled pork and brisket are our favorites), and St. Louis-style ribs.

Bittersweet Bistro

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Locally regarded as one of the best restaurants in Santa Cruz County, Bittersweet Bistro has been around for over 25 years. Serving American-style food with Mediterranean influence, their menu is unique and delicious. Not only will you enjoy great entrees like juicy hamburgers and crunchy fried chicken sandwiches but they also serve award-winning desserts, so be sure to save some space after your meal!

Another perk of this restaurant is its generous happy hour. From 3 – 6 pm on Wednesday to Friday, they offer discounts on selected drinks and menu items. This offer is valid for indoor dining, sitting on their outdoor patio, and even on to-go orders.

Cafe Sparrow

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  • Website:
  • Address: 8042 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003
  • Opening hours: 11.30 am – 2 pm Monday to Friday plus dinner service 5 pm – close nightly and weekend brunch hours

When it comes to fine dining, French cuisine is often shorthand for ”fancy.” Cafe Sparrow in Aptos Village tries to upend that tradition by providing homestyle eats from the French countryside. The result is a high-class menu with a laid-back atmosphere. Cafe Sparrow is the place that is a casual lunch spot as well as a perfect location for a dinner date or anniversary celebration.

So, what’s on the menu? Try seared scallops, chicken Palermo, fromage baguette (cheese bread), shrimp croissant, and an ahi tuna sandwich. And that’s just the lunch selection. For dinner, you can sink your teeth into succulent crab cakes, a filet mignon, or a full rack of lamb. The cafe also has a fantastic wine bar with a comprehensive wine list to wash your meal down, along with gluten-free and veggie options. Make sure you leave room for their incredible ice cream sundae, too! Ce magnifique!

Erik’s Delicafe

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  • Website:
  • Address: 102 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos California 95003
  • Opening hours: 10 am – 8 pm Monday to Saturday / 10 am – 7 pm Sunday

For freshly made soups, salads, and sandwiches look no further than Erik’s Delicafe. It’s easy to think of this place as a high-end fast-food restaurant. With things quickly made and others a grab-and-go situation, you can be in and out in no time.

It’s clear to see that Erik’s is a popular choice given how many restaurants they have near Aptos. With locations in Santa Cruz, Capitola, San Jose, and other nearby neighborhoods, it’s obvious people here love Erik’s. If you’d like something fresh, healthy, and quick, Erik’s is the perfect choice.

The Hideout

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One thing you’ll notice about Aptos restaurants is that there is no shortage of places to hang out, have a beer, and relax with friends. The Hideout is a bar + kitchen setup and is one of the best options. And, if you visit during the summer, the Hideout has excellent outdoor seating that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

The menu here is a bit eclectic, with down-home options alongside fine dining cuisine. Some highlights include wings, smoked gouda mac n’ cheese, truffle fries, a Cuban sandwich, merlot-braised short ribs, and the Corralitos salad with chicken breast, field greens, and apples. Overall, the Hideout is an ideal location for any occasion, whether it’s after-work cocktails or a night on the town. Be sure to check out the extensive cocktail list too.

Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant

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Since most of the dining in Aptos is American or French, it’s nice to have options when you get hungry. Manuel’s restaurant is a classic mainstay of the city, with locals coming here for lunch, dinner, and weekend feasts. Manuel’s has been in Aptos since 1965, so you know that the owners are doing something right with the food.

Speaking of the food, you can find all of your favorites here, including huevos rancheros, enchiladas, tostadas, a burrito, and tacos. Every day has a unique reason to visit the restaurant. For example, you can get enchiladas Mexicanas on Mondays, while on Thursdays, you can indulge in crepas de Pollo. These dishes are only available after 5 pm, and you have to call ahead to book your culinary experience.


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Here we have a fine Italian establishment that will make you want to visit the Riviera. One thing we love about Mentone is that the menu changes seasonally so that you can taste all that Aptos (and other regions) have to offer. During the fall, you can find dishes like fried sardines, citrus-cured salmon, and sea urchin bucatini. During the summer, the menu gets brighter and fresher with tons of delicious fruits and vegetables.

Overall, if you’re looking for giant plates of pasta, you might want to go to Buca di Beppo. However, if you want fresh, from-scratch dishes that highlight a wide variety of ingredients, Mentone is the place to be.

Palapas Restaurant and Cantina

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While Manuels’ Mexican restaurant has been around longer, Palapas is another excellent choice for Mexican dishes. This taqueria is located by Seascape County Park, and you can see the ocean from your table.

As far as the menu goes, many of the dishes incorporate seafood and beach-style seasonings. Be sure to check out the rotating specials as well, as they can often be better than anything you’d find on the regular menu. Once you’re done eating, head over to Rio Del Mar beach to enjoy the sand and surf.

The Parish Publick House

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While the Hideout is a restaurant-slash-pub (i.e., a bar & grill), the Parish is a pub-slash-restaurant. What’s the difference? Here, the food is there to accompany your beer or wine. At the Hideout, it’s the reverse. We’re not here to say whether one version is better than the other, but just know that the Parish has a much more extensive selection of craft brews and local wines.

There are 12 rotating beers on tap, along with a smorgasbord of ciders, IPAs, stouts, and ales. For wine, you can choose from regional favorites, and if you don’t know what’s good, the server is more than happy to guide you through the selection.

As far as food goes, the Parish doesn’t skimp on that, either. Highlights include appetizers like beer-battered artichoke hearts and gouda mac bites. For your meal, chomp down on a roast beef and brie sandwich or one of the massive handcrafted burgers. The restaurant also has a doggie menu if you want to bring your pup along for the ride.


Photo Credit: persephone_restaurant via Instagram

These days, farm-to-table restaurants are becoming much more popular as consumers want greater transparency about the origins of their food. Persephone takes that idea to heart, as everything on the menu is sourced locally in Santa Cruz County as much as possible. If a nearby farm doesn’t offer it, they don’t serve it. Because of this mentality, the menu here changes regularly, which is all the more reason to come back for another bite.

Depending on what’s available, the menu may borrow influences from various regions, including French, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisine. The flavors and aromas are expertly blended by the house chef, who loves to get creative in the kitchen. This dedication to food is what makes Persephone one of the best restaurants in Aptos.

Get Ready to Feast in Aptos

As you can see, there are so many tasty bites and epic meals awaiting you right near by the stunning beaches in Aptos. The only trouble you might have is deciding which spot to visit first!