The 16 Most Delicious Capitola Restaurants

Tucked next to Santa Cruz, Capitola is a relatively small town with a big city feel. Although it’s not close to Los Angeles or San Francisco, there’s a lot to do in Capitola Village, including eating. There are some world-class restaurants here, and they offer delicious dishes that will make you and your family happy.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 16 restaurants in the city, and we’ve arranged them by price so you can make an informed decision. Let’s get eating!

Capitola Diner

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1900 41st Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

As a diner, you know what to expect from this restaurant. You can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, and the bar offers a wide selection of draught beers and wine. Even better, the diner hosts a happy hour every day from 3 to 6 pm. You can get discounted beers and low-cost appetizers like guacamole, nachos, and shrimp tacos.

The main menu offers something for everyone, including salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, seafood, and meat dishes. On the weekends, you can enjoy brunch with your besties or family.

The Cook House

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706 Capitola Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

If you’re a breakfast lover, check out The Cook House. This American estaurant is a down-home greasy spoon breakfast diner where you can fill your belly and start the day off right. Highlights from the menu include egg dishes, waffles, pancakes, and French Toast.

Once lunch rolls around, you can sample some decadent sandwiches or salads. But, the place closes at 2:15 pm daily, so you have to plan your meal accordingly.

Roux Dat Cajun Creole

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3555 Clares St Suite G, Capitola, CA 95010

Although you’re in California, you can travel the world by dining on dishes from different states and countries. Roux Dat is a Louisiana-inspired restaurant that offers southern comfort food. Here you can get classic dishes like hush puppies, fried catfish, jambalaya, gumbo, and even freshly baked beignets.

You’ll swear you’re on Bourbon Street!

El Toro Bravo

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123 Monterey Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

We’re going from New Orleans to South of the Border. El Toro is a quintessential Mexican restaurant and taqueria, but because it’s California, it has a regular and vegan menu to accommodate its guests.

The dishes are traditional but with a SoCal twist. For example, you can get crab or prawn quesadillas, cocktails, or tostadas. El Toro also offers tacos, burritos, and tamales in meals or a la carte.

Dharma’s Restaurant

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4250 Capitola Rd, Capitola, CA 95010

Although El Toro has a vegan menu, it’s pretty limited. So, if you’re more interested in vegan or vegetarian food, you’ll want to check out Dharma’s. The entire menu is meat-free, so you can feel good about everything you order.

Dharma’s offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so feel free to go anytime during the day. Some notable dishes include a Brahma burger, a vegetarian Dharma dog, and a BBQ bluff sandwich.

The flavors may trick you into thinking you’re eating meat, but it’s all vegetarian.

East End Gastropub

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1501 41st Ave Suite I, Capitola, CA 95010

Gastropubs have become pretty popular in recent years, and East End is the top hangout place for most people in Capitola. East End is the spot to visit when you want to have a few drinks after work or visit with friends.

While you might come for the beer, you should stay for the food. Highlights include pork belly bao buns, locally caught mussels, or braised beef cannelloni. Weekends are also for brunch, including fried chicken, michelada mussels, or shrimp toast.

Fish Lady

700 Bay Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

Since Capitola is next to Monterey Bay, you may want to eat some freshly-caught seafood. Although there are fancier places to get your fix (which we’ll see on this list), Fish Lady offers the same dishes in a low-key environment. This dining experience is much more casual and laid back so that you can focus on the taste of your food.

Here you can get salmon, seabass, sole and tuna. For shellfish, you can buy prawns, scallops, and mussels. You can even get steak and chicken if you’re not feeling seafood.

Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria

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504 Bay Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

One of the best things about the best Capitola restaurants is that they’re committed to locally-sourced ingredients and sustainable cooking practices. Gayle’s takes these ideas to the next level by creating from-scratch menus one week at a time.

Every week it’s different, so you have to check the website often to see what’s in store. Gayle’s also offers blue plate dinners that regularly rotate, such as flank steak, pan-seared halibut, and chicken Marbella.

Paradise Beach Grille

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215 Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010

Soquel Creek runs up into Capitola from the bay, making it prime real estate for various restaurants. There are several top-tier choices between Stockton Ave and the bay, including Paradise Beach Grille.

Although the waterfront views are spectacular, you should also indulge in some excellent seafood, including fish tacos, coconut prawns, and linguini with clams.

Pono Hawaiian Kitchen and Tap

3744 Capitola Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Hawaiian food is always a delicious dining experience, whether you’re getting barbecue fast food or something a bit more handcrafted like the dishes at Pono.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Hawaiian language, Pono means “righteousness,” and it’s an apt descriptor for the food.

Here you can find all your favorites like Spam musubi, loco moco, kalua pork, chicken katsu, and a wide assortment of poke bowls. Pono also has tons of beer options from Maui and the mainland.

The Sand Bar

211 Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010

This seafood restaurant is next to Paradise Beach Grille, and it offers an excellent food selection with a laid-back and breezy atmosphere. The Sand Bar is a great hangout place, but the dishes are good enough to come for a special occasion.

Here you can choose from burgers, salads, and fried dishes, depending on your mood. We highly recommend the Hawaiian teriyaki burger or the Mahi Mahi sandwich.

Sushi Garden Capitola

820 Bay Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

There aren’t too many authentic Japanese restaurant options in Capitola, so if you’re in the mood for world-class sushi, noodles, and tempura, Sushi Garden is the place to visit. The sushi selection is incredible, with tons of unique rolls and sashimi for you to choose from.

Beyond the fish, Sushi Garden also sells grilled meats, katsu dishes (Japanese fried meats), and tempura plates. If you’re in the mood for noodles, you can choose between ramen or udon.

Wharf House Restaurant

1400 Wharf Rd, Capitola, CA 95010

If you want to eat on the water, you can’t get much better than the Wharf House. This is the only restaurant on the pier, and you get nearly 360-degree views of Monterey Bay.

This place is the quintessential beach restaurant, complete with hearty breakfasts and lots of locally-caught seafood.

We highly recommend the catch of the day, or you can get your favorite seafood served with a bed of fries. Options include cod, calamari, prawns, or clams.

Zelda’s On the Beach

203 Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010

As the name suggests, Zelda’s is right on the beach, so you get the best views to accompany your meal. You can get even closer by opting for their outdoor seating. There’s something so satisfying about watching the waves crash into the sand while eating your favorite dish.

Zelda’s specializes in all kinds of seafood, from American to Italian to Mediterranean. You can get oysters on the half shell, sauteed Mahi Mahi, or seafood fettuccine. There are also land-based meats and vegetarian dishes.

Shadowbrook Restaurant

1750 Wharf Rd, Capitola, CA 95010

Now we’re getting into the fancier side of the best restaurants in Capitola. Shadowbrook is also along Soquel Creek, but it’s far away from the touristy hustle of Capitola beach and the pier.

This place is the type of establishment where you can order a swordfish steak, a baked brie appetizer, a bottle of Bordeaux, and a Jack Daniel’s mud pie for dessert. Or, if you’re not into seafood, you can try the filet mignon or blackened prime rib.

Trestles Restaurant

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316 Capitola Ave, Capitola, CA 95010

While Shadowbrook offers traditional pomp and class, Trestles is focused on fresh, sustainable ingredients and cooking methods. So, you’re paying extra for the work and passion that goes into each dish.

Here you can find unique items like Ahi tuna carpaccio, tuna tartare tacos, roasted duck breast, and trumpet mushrooms. The wine and cocktail list are also extensive, so you’re sure to find something to drink with your meal.