The Best Breakfast Spots in Santa Cruz, CA

Because Santa Cruz is a beachside city, most people would assume that it’s an excellent place for high-quality seafood restaurants (and they’d be right). However, Santa Cruz is a culinary hotspot for more than just fish and shrimp dishes – it’s also a haven for the best breakfast locales.

So, if you’re into waking up early and scarfing down some French toast, eggs Benedict, or waffles, you’ve come to the right city. Let’s dive into the top Santa Cruz breakfast restaurants.

The Crepe Place 

Photo by Noseek

1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Get your fill of sweet or savory crepes at The Crepe Place. They’ve been serving crepes to Santa Cruz residents and visitors since the 1970s. Although no longer in their tiny original location, they moved only to be able to serve more customers as word spread about their delicious crepes. Now houses in a beautiful Victorian home, the welcoming and eclectic ambiance is as special as the food itself.

During the day, The Crepe Place is the perfect place to sit back with a filling brunch in their peaceful garden. At night though, live music tends to fill the rooms as people hit the bar and make for a lively night out. Though made famous by their crepes, their menu now offers a wide variety of breakfast plates, salads, and desserts to choose from.

Mad Yolks

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1411 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

As the name suggests, this is the spot to go if you want a variety of egg dishes to choose from. The craft and creativity that has gone into crafting this delicious menu is seriously unique. While they’re well known for their long list of egg sandwiches, if you want to try something different, the Dirty Tots is pure gluttony.

Not only does Mad Yolks deliver great food, they also serve up great vibes. This is the perfect place to go with a group of friends for a casual brunch. Plus, they’re adamant about serving only the freshest ingredients so you can rest easy knowing that what you eat is locally sourced.

The Bagelry

Photo by Hofacker

320 Cedar St # A, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

The Bagelry actually has 3 locations surrounding Santa Cruz: one in Santa Cruz proper, another in Seabright, and the third in Soquel. That gives you 3 chances to try one of these freshly made bagels. Trust us, after one, you’ll be wishing their was a fourth location near you back home!

Made from scratch each day, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better bagel. Pop in for a bagel sandwich to start your day off right or order a dozen to have at your vacation rental during your trip to Santa Cruz. That way you can enjoy slow mornings enjoying your rental while still eating a great, local breakfast.

Cafe Brasil

Photo Credit: Bill Bender, fcsi – ssa incorporated via Facebook

1410 Mission St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Kicking things off is an exotic location that works well for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. Cafe Brasil has been in California for over 25 years, helping residents and tourists wake up in the best way possible.

Because this is a Brazilian restaurant, you’re sure to tickle your tastebuds with delicious offerings like a Brazilian omelet (complete with chicken and mozzarella cheese), beef a cavalo (two eggs over a sizzling steak), or a crab meat frittata.

If you’re in the mood for something traditional, the cafe still has you covered since you can get practically any combination of eggs, meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Be sure to come back for lunch, too, as the churrasco sandwich is fantastic.

Harbor Cafe

Photo Credit: visitsantacruz via Instagram

535 7th Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

So far, we’ve mostly seen breakfast diners that specialize in standard morning fare. If you want to kick things up a notch, the Harbor Cafe offers some classier versions of the classic hits. Plus, the place is well-known for its killer seafood and tableside views, so you’re getting an elegant culinary experience.

Some notable items from the menu include their breakfast burrito (stuffed with avocado, salsa, and hash browns), huevos rancheros, carnitas omelet, and a tofu scramble. If you have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend either the Nutella French toast or the churro-style Belgian waffle. Both dishes are enough to give your dentist a heart attack.

Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe

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542 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

One of the best reasons to go out for breakfast is eating at a nice little restaurant that feels like a part of home. Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe is one of those local spots that makes you want to come in every morning, even if it’s just for a side of granola.

The menu here isn’t extensive, but the chefs make everything with a dash of love. Better yet, if you’re vegetarian, you can sample plenty of items, including the Florentine omelet, the Hearts Ahoy burrito, or the tofu curry. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, these dishes rock and are worth waking up early for.

The Picnic Basket

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125 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Technically speaking, the Picnic Basket is more of a lunch restaurant, but the breakfast specials are pretty tasty as well. The menu is pretty lean, but that just means that everything is a winner. We highly recommend the breakfast burrito or the frittata panini. Otherwise, the place serves lighter fare like a homemade yogurt parfait, a scone, or a ham and cheese croissant.

Then, when you’re ready for lunch, be sure to come back and try one of the Picnic Basket’s signature sandwiches. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the Reuben, but we also like their grilled cheese or ham and blue brie baguette. The place also serves ice cream for those hot Santa Cruz afternoons.

Santa Cruz Diner

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909 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Since we featured the Capitola Diner, it’s only fitting that we also recommend the Santa Cruz Diner. According to the owners, this place is where the East Coast meets Asian fusion, which is odd considering the restaurant is on the West Coast. Despite this culture clash, the dishes here are eclectic and delicious.

Some of our favorite breakfast options include the country scramble, the breakfast quesadilla, or the avocado eggs Benedict. You can also try some incredible omelets, such as the Monterrey (with avocado, Monterey jack cheese, and mushroom) or the Hawaiian omelet (ham, pineapple, and jack cheese). Finally, if you want something slightly different but still familiar, the potato pancakes are also pretty yummy.

The Walnut Ave Cafe

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106 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

As you can see, there are quite a few cafes in Santa Cruz that specialize in breakfast dishes. According to the Walnut Ave Cafe, the egg is king (at least, based on its mascot). It’s easy to see why the owners revere the incredible edible egg, considering that the restaurant offers a wide array of scrambles to suit any mood.

Another running theme of Santa Cruz breakfast spots is the addition of Mexican dishes. Here, you can sample chilaquiles (tortilla chips with eggs and sauce), huevos rancheros, and a chorizo and egg scramble. We also recommend coming for brunch if you’re in town on the weekend.

Windmill Cafe

Photo Credit: Windmill Cafe Santa Cruz via Facebook

21231 E Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

As with other breakfast-friendly restaurants, the Windmill Cafe is only open for morning and afternoon meals. However, this place is more of a vibe than an eatery. Yes, you can buy breakfast foods, but it’s not a diner, and the menu is pretty limited. Still, you come to the Windmill to catch up on the town gossip or to see some old friends – not to get stuffed to the gills.

This place focuses on locally-sourced ingredients and vegetarian-friendly options. Some highlights include tofu tacos, a tofurrito, and a tofu scramble. You can also get vegan bacon if you love the taste but want to avoid the calories. Once lunchtime arrives, the Windmill becomes an Asian restaurant with noodle dishes and stir fry.

Zachary’s Restaurant

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819 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Brunch has become much more popular in recent years as younger generations love the idea of eating breakfast foods with friends in the late morning and early afternoon. Zachary’s is an excellent brunch spot, but be prepared to come hungry, as the portions are generous.

Some highlights from the menu include the “Mike’s Mess” (with eggs, bacon, mushrooms, and home fries mixed together), the corned beef hash and eggs, or the pesto scramble if you’re feeling fancy. Zachary’s also has an avocado frittata and tofu scrambles for those who prefer a healthy brunch menu.