Where to Eat the Best Burger in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is located south of San Jose just up the coast from Capitola and is known for its beautiful beaches, eclectic charm, and rich California surf culture. While you’re out having fun and exploring all that this beach town has to offer, you’re likely to get pretty hungry. There’s no shortage of great Santa Cruz restaurants to try out, but sometimes you just want a super-filling classic to curb your cravings.

While you’ll have a fully-stocked kitchen to whip up your own meals at your vacation rental home, you’re on vacation after all. So, take a break from cooking and treat yourself to a delicious meal. And, what better way to fill up than with a burger?

Whether you’re craving a class hamburger, cheeseburger, veggie burger, or something totally extra, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the 10 best burger joints in Santa Cruz according to Yelp (and our very own taste buds):

1. Betty Burgers

Photo Credit: veganquirks via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Fast food
  • Addresses:
    • 505 Seabright Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062
    • 1222 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
    • 1000 41st Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Betty Burgers has three locations in the Santa Cruz Area. All locations offer a full menu and takeout. The Pacific Ave location has the largest dine-in area, and is aptly named “Betty’s Eat Inn”. Both of the other locations do have eat-in options, but because the seating is slim they’re better for takeout.

From day one, the beef served here has been pasture-raised with no hormones or antibiotics. Non-beef burger options available include chicken, salmon, homemade veggie patties, and a Beyond Burger. Enjoy the good burgers with a homemade shake, or try from their small beer selection.

2. Belly Goat Burgers

Photo Credit: alwayz_b_kind via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Sit-down
  • Address: 725 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Belly Goat Burgers offers a delicious selection of gourmet, local, grass-fed beef burgers. When you order a Belly Goat Burger you can get excited about the incredible toppings accompanying the patty, including pickled jalapeno slaw, crispy BBQ pork belly, chimichurri marinated tomatoes and so much more.

You get to call the shots here. Keep it super simple or go wild with your toppings, the choice is yours! Located in Abbot Square Market, Belly Goat offers outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery.

3. Burger Santa Cruz

Photo Credit: chef.pannsui via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Dine-in
  • Address: 1520 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Burger Santa Cruz doesn’t mess around when it comes to burgers or beer bars. When you visit, you have the option of choosing between a whopping 24 burgers. If it’s your first time visiting Santa Cruz, make sure you add this spot to the list. With so many unique burgers to choose from, it’s well worth the visit!

Along with beef patties, Burger Santa Cruz offers veggie, salmon, turkey, and even a homemade mac and cheese patty. Choose from their thoughtful selection of house salads to accompany your burger.

If you’re thirsty, Burger Santa Cruz has 47 beers on draft, giving you plenty of options for the perfect pairing of a burger and a beer. If you’re craving something sweet, they also have milkshakes!

4. Jack’s Hamburgers

Photo Credit: luis7sc via Instagram
  • Price: $
  • Restaurant type: Fast food
  • Address: 202 Lincoln St Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Jack’s Hamburgers is the go-to spot for a delicious fast-food burger. Jack’s has plenty of options for beef alternatives, like salmon, turkey, and veggie. Eat inside or outside, take it away, or have it delivered to your vacation rental.

This classic American fast food chain embodies exactly what you want in a quick American meal. No fancy sides, just a burger and fries. With more than enough variety for toppings, Jack’s will not disappoint for a delicious, made-to-order burger.

5. Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room

Photo Credit: hulastiki via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Dine-in
  • Address: 221 Cathcart St Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Rated as one of the best burgers in the entire US on Tripadvisor, Hula’s Island Grill offers a California twist on Island classics.

Try the classic Hula Burger with special sauce, or opt for the Akua Burger, a vegan, non-GMO patty, created from ocean-farmed kelp, mushrooms, black beans, quinoa, and superfoods.

Enjoy the island-style ambiance while you eat your meal, and don’t miss happy hour every day from 4-6 pm! If you’re looking for a great burger with an exciting ambiance, then Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room is the perfect place to spend your evening.

6. Parish Publick House Westside Santa Cruz

  • Price: $$$
  • Restaurant type: Dine-in
  • Address: 841 Almar Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Parish Publick isn’t strictly a burger joint, but it does have some of the best burgers in the area so we couldn’t miss mentioning it. As well as offering a long list of patties and toppings to choose from, you can also find salads, subs, and a huge selection of beers and other drinks.

These guys also have a location in Aptos if you’re staying out that way.

7. Pretty Good Advice

Photo Credit: letssitdownandeat via Instagram
  • Price: $
  • Restaurant type: Takeout
  • Address: 3070 Porter St Soquel, CA 95073

Pretty Good Advice is a seasonally driven produce takeout joint offering a wide variety of vegetarian foods, including vegetarian burgers!

The menu here changes frequently, depending on the time of year and the local produce that’s available. All of their burgers are vegetarian and can be made vegan. The California Ranch Burger with avocado and American cheese is a fan favorite, and don’t miss ordering a side of sweet potato fries — they are the perfect accompaniment.

Founded with the mission of bringing unique flavors and fresh seasonal ingredients to the community at an incredibly affordable price, this place is pioneering the future of green foods and sustainable meals.

8. Veg on the Edge

Photo Credit: blackfoodiefinder via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Fast-casual
  • Address: 725 Front St Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Located in Abbott Square Market, Veg on the Edge serves 100% vegan cuisine with a West African influence. With an entirely vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and mostly organic menu, this is a perfect option for those looking for a clean meal. Do keep in mind that their burger belongs to the weekend menu.

If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to try their classic beyond patty with a delicious combination of West African flavors. This is a great burger that won’t leave you feeling like you overate.

9. Back Nine Grill and Bar

Photo Credit: backninegrill via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Sports bar
  • Address: 555 Hwy 17 Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Back Nine Grill and Bar offers a stylishly casual dining experience where you can enjoy a freshly ground Angus Beef Burger with a wide selection of toppings. This customizable burger is sure to please, but if meat’s not your thing, try the Green Horn Vegetarian Burger. This spicy vegetarian patty is made with black beans, tomatoes, and both green and red bell peppers, and is one to remember.

10. Jack O’Neill Restaurant & Lounge

Photo Credit: jack_oneill_restaurant via Instagram
  • Price: $$
  • Restaurant type: Dine-in, lounge
  • Address: 175 W Cliff Dr Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Surf. Eat. Repeat. This surf-style high-end lounge and restaurant is located in the Dream Inn and offers locally sourced meals and panoramic ocean views.

Although not technically a burger place, Jack O’Neill’s makes the list because of the Crab Cake Sliders offered in the lounge. What better way to enjoy the ocean views than with a couple of seafood sliders?

Feel free to bring the family along to enjoy a pleasant evening overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while enjoying some fresh seafood. Jack O’Neill’s Crab Cakes are accompanied by avocado, “SC” sauce, and a poppy seed bun.

Enjoy a Delicious Burger in Santa Cruz

There are plenty of great all-American restaurants in Santa Cruz to grab a fat and juicy burger. Whether you’re craving fast food, take-out, or a more formal experience, there is a burger joint for you in Santa Cruz!

If Mexican food’s more you’re thing, check out our list of the best tacos in town, and find out where the locals go for brunch here.