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  • Writer's pictureCouples Adventures

Top 5 Seafood Restaurants in Santa Cruz California

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Embark on a delectable adventure for two! Dive into romance at Santa Cruz's top 5 seafood restaurants, where love and flavors come together.

Santa Cruz, nestled along the picturesque coastline of California, is a vibrant and charming coastal town known for its idyllic beaches, lush redwood forests, and a laid-back, bohemian atmosphere. With its iconic Beach Boardwalk, a historic amusement park overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Santa Cruz offers a unique blend of nostalgic charm and modern recreational opportunities. Surfers, sun-seekers, and nature enthusiasts flock to its pristine beaches and nearby state parks, such as Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where towering ancient trees create a serene oasis. The town's diverse community embraces a love for art, music, and sustainability, making it a haven for artists and free spirits. Santa Cruz's welcoming spirit and stunning natural beauty make it a beloved destination on California's central coast.

Colorful houses on beach waterfront

Santa Cruz is a paradise for adventurers and explorers seeking the perfect blend of sun, surf, and stunning landscapes. With its picturesque beaches, towering redwood forests, and a vibrant coastal culture, this coastal gem has something for everyone who craves an adventurous escape. Because of the variety of culture, there are many restaurants that reflect this. From the seafood-mexican food fusion of Olitas Cantina to the islander flavors of Makai Island Kitchen, you can find your favorite combinations of flavor. If you're a couple in search of romantic restaurants right on the coastline, Santa Cruz is the quintessential destination to find these seafood masterpieces!

#1- Riva Fish House

#2- Olitas Cantina & Grille

#4- Aldo's Harbor Restaurant

#5- Makai Island Kitchen & Groggery


#1- Riva Fish house

Riva Fish house front sign is lit up in orange

Sitting on one of the most gorgeous wharfs in California, Riva Fish House is a culinary haven that has won the hearts of seafood enthusiasts far and wide. For a couple seeking a romantic dining experience, you couldn't have asked for a better choice. The cozy ambiance of the restaurant, with its dimmed lighting and soothing coastal decor, provided an intimate setting for an evening out on the wharf. This restaurant is a top pick when it comes to food as well! So, do yourself a favor and embark on a culinary journey to Riva Fish House – you won't be disappointed.

Here's a link to view their menu!

#2 Olitas Cantina & Grille

Olitas sign on the front of restaurant building

Also sitting on the Municipal Wharf, Olitas Mexican Cantina and Grille is said to be a local favorite! As a couple in search of a memorable dining experience, you can find the atmosphere to be both inviting and romantic. With its warm lighting, nautical decor, and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, it was the perfect setting for an evening filled with culinary delights and heartfelt conversations. This restaurant features classic Mexican cuisine blended with varieties of seafood. Try their mariscos enchilada and fish tacos!

Here's a link to their menu!

#3- Johnny's Harborside

partial building with boats in the background

Tucked along the picturesque Santa Cruz Harbor, Johnny's Harborside is a culinary adventure that beckons seafood lovers and enthusiasts of fine dining. With a reputation for serving some of the freshest and most delectable seafood dishes on California's central coast, this restaurant is a must-visit for anyone seeking an unforgettable culinary experience. Johnny's Harborside is renowned for its commitment to showcasing the ocean's bounty in the most exquisite way. The menu is a testament to this devotion, offering a range of seafood options that are bound to impress even the most discerning palates.

Here's a link to their menu!

#4- Aldo's Harbor Restaurant

people sitting under umbrellas outside of Aldo's restaurant

Aldo's Harbor Restaurant emerges as a gem on the scenic Santa Cruz coast. Tucked away along the picturesque harbor, Aldo's is more than just a restaurant; it's an intimate escape where love is celebrated through fresh seafood, breathtaking views, and a romantic air.

Located in the heart of Santa Cruz, California, offers a delectable dinner menu that captures the essence of coastal dining. With a focus on fresh seafood and a relaxed waterfront ambiance, Aldo's invites guests to savor the flavors of the sea. The menu boasts an array of mouthwatering options, from succulent grilled local catches to indulgent seafood pasta dishes. You can enjoy the catch of the day prepared with an exquisite blend of herbs and spices, or opt for a classic surf and turf experience. For those seeking alternatives, the menu also features delightful non-seafood selections. Whether you're looking to enjoy a romantic evening overlooking the picturesque harbor or gather with friends and family, Aldo's Harbor Restaurant's dinner menu promises a memorable culinary experience in Santa Cruz.

Not only is this a family owned seafood restaurant but it is also a bakery and cafe that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner! Aldo's Harbor Restaurant offers a delightful bakery menu that adds a sweet touch to the dining experience. Their bakery selection features an array of freshly baked treats that cater to a variety of tastes. From flaky, buttery pastries and artisanal bread to decadent desserts like house-made pies and cakes, the bakery menu provides the perfect ending to a delectable meal or a delightful midday indulgence. Their talented bakers craft everything with precision and care, ensuring that each bite is a delightful symphony of flavors and textures. Whether you're in the mood for a morning pastry or a post-dinner dessert, Aldo's bakery menu offers a tempting array of options that make any visit to this seaside gem in Santa Cruz a truly satisfying culinary experience. Aldo's Harbor Restaurant is the ideal destination for couples seeking an unforgettable dining experience for all times of day.

Click here to view the menu!

#5- Makai Island Kitchen & Groggery

Bartender tending circular bar in restaurant

Surrounded by water on the Municipal Wharf, Makai's Island Kitchen and Groggery is a great way to end you adventurous day! The island themed decor, array of surf-and-turf food, and comfortable environment makes this restaurant one of the most romantic destinations of Santa Cruz. Featuring many Polynesian dishes, such as Ahi Sliders and Hawaiian Mochiko Fried Chicken, there is guaranteed something for both of you to enjoy.

View the menu here!

In the vibrant coastal town of Santa Cruz, where the rhythm of the waves and the briny breeze set the stage, the seafood dining scene is nothing short of extraordinary. Whether you're indulging in the freshness of the catch of the day, savoring unique seafood creations, or simply sharing a romantic meal with your loved one, Santa Cruz's seafood restaurants offer an unforgettable experience for all. So, as the sun sets over the Pacific and the seagulls sing their evening serenade, we invite you to explore this coastal paradise and savor the treasures of the sea in Santa Cruz, where every bite is a taste of the ocean's embrace. I hope this has helped in your adventure!

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