The Tastiest Mexican Food in Santa Cruz

Are you looking for the best Mexican food in Santa Cruz? There are plenty of tacos and burritos made with fresh corn tortillas in the local area, and Santa Cruz is known for its authentic Mexican food.

If you are looking for the best Mexican restaurant in Santa Cruz, take a look at a few of the options below. Remember that you may want to make a reservation if you want to guarantee yourself a table.

1. Cafe El Palomar

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Price: $$
Address: 2222 E Cliff Dr STE 100, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Cafe El Palomar is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Santa Cruz you need to try. They have everything from quesadillas to Ceviche, and they have plenty of happy hour specials from time to time. You can also order your food to go. On the weekends, this is also a great place to go for brunch. If you want to figure out why the locals love this restaurant so much, you should swing by to visit.

2. Taqueria Los Pericos

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Price: $
Address: 139 Water St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

If you are in search of an authentic taqueria in the local area, you will definitely want to visit Taqueria Los Pericos. This is a laid-back location that will serve you Mexican staples directly from the counter. You can watch them make the food right in front of you, and you can dig into delicious fresh tacos. Do not forget to order the carne asada steak or the chile verde. These are some of the best Mexican dishes in the local area, and you will not regret your decision! This spot is definitely a hidden gem.

3. Restaurante Los Pinos

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Price: $
Address: 2019 N Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

If you are looking for a bit of a low-key eatery, then you should consider checking out Los Pinos, which you can find located in the Leaf and Vine shopping complex. This is a restaurant that is known for its delicious tacos and burritos. They also have a number of specials that make it on the menu from time to time, so you may want to ask the staff for a few recommendations. Do not forget to see if they have any micheladas on the menu, as they make an occasional appearance!

4. El Jardin Restaurant

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Price: $$
Address: 655 Capitola Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

If you are looking for a relaxed Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, consider swinging by El Jardin. This is a restaurant that makes all of its food with local ingredients, and they have plenty of authentic Mexican options on the menu. Ranging from fajitas to burritos and from chimichangas to tacos, this restaurant has everything you could possibly desire. It does get busy, so you may want to consider calling ahead to see if you can make a reservation.

5. Las Palmas Taco Bar

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Price: $
Address: 55 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

If you are looking for a restaurant that has amazing tacos, you will definitely want to visit Las Palmas. This is a restaurant that does nothing but tacos, but you can choose from hard tacos and soft tacos. They have plenty of unique twists that you may want to try as well. You can also enjoy your tacos outside on the patio, which will give you a nice view of the surrounding area.

6. Taqueria Agave

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Price: $
Address: 1836 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

If you are looking for one of the best Santa Cruz restaurants, you should check out Taqueria Agave. This is a popular restaurant that has some amazing Mexican food. It is the sauce that sets this restaurant apart, particularly the ones that pack a punch. If you are looking for some spicy food, this is definitely the place to go! Do not forget to ask about their margaritas during happy hour, as this is a great way to have some fun with some family members and friends.

7. El Chino Mexican Restaurant 

Photo by Rafael

Price: $$
2525 Soquel Dr STE A, Santa Cruz, CA 95065

A community staple, El Chino Mexican Restaurant has been serving up fresh and tasty Mexican classics for years in Santa Cruz. While we really love the Huevos Rancheros, you can’t go wrong with anything on the meal. The meals are no frills and focus 100% on the food, which is exactly why you came to this spot in the first place. Open from 11am until 8pm, you can enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner here.

8. El Hermoso Mar

Photo by Photo Studio

Price: $
313 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Located just steps away from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, this cozy Mexican bistro is sure to please. Dine outside to enjoy the fresh air or choose an indoor seat to soak up the laidback ambiance. What sets this option apart from the rest, other than the great location, is its blend of Mexican classics with fresh seafood. If you’re craving things like fish tacos or ceviche, be sure to visit El Hermoso Mar.

9. Tacos Morenos 

Photo by studio

Price: $
1053 Water St, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Tacos Morenos is taking you back to the basics. This cash-only spot has been a local favorite since the 80s in Santa Cruz. While you most likely wouldn’t stumble upon it on your own, we’re happy to let you in on the local secret. Although the restaurant isn’t super large, you can still dine in or ask for take out and eat your meal back in the comfort of your Santa Cruz vacation rental home.

Find the Best Mexican Cuisine in Santa Cruz

While there are so many other great restaurants in Santa Cruz, if you are looking for good Mexican food, these are just a few of the numerous options you should try. There are plenty of good Mexican restaurants located on the Westside, and many of these restaurants have vegetarian options as well.

Even though you can always swing by Chipotle Mexican Grill, you may want to visit a few of these restaurants if you are looking for authentic enchiladas. Some of them even qualify as fast food! If you want to add a bit of a kick to your dishes, you may want to consider asking for some extra jalapenos as well!