Top 10 Healthy Fast Food Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is known for its casual, surf-city vibe but also for its propensity for healthy, natural and ‘clean’ food. There are numerous “fast food” eateries in Santa Cruz that offer unique, flavorful, and local dishes for foodies of all types. Whether you are vegan or vegetarian, gluten or dairy free, or are simply looking to incorporate more local, fresh, farm-to-table food into your diet, Santa Cruz has a multitude of unique dining choices sure to appeal to everyone’s taste buds.
Below are ten of the best healthy, fast food restaurants in Santa Cruz.
381 Soquel Avenue
Serving organic, non-GMO and gluten free sandwiches, pizza, baked goods and other items, the incredible variety makes choosing what to eat a serious conundrum. From burgers to salads bursting with “a week’s worth of veggies,” Earthbelly serves up ample portions of fresh, delicious food that will have you coming back for more.
103 Lincoln Street
Just steps from Pacific Avenue, Café Gratitude is a “vegan wonderland” yet will appeal to even those most diehard ‘meat and potatoes’ person. Good food, good service, good vibes are what embody this innovative eatery. Their menu includes smoothies, bowls and salads to name but a few. They focus on organic, clean food much of which is gluten and/or dairy free.
125 Beach Street
The Picnic Basket is one of Santa Cruz’s premiere breakfast and brunch locations. Owned by the same people who operate Penny Ice Creamery, the food is fresh, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create their “inventive flavor combinations.” On a warm day, the outdoor patio is the perfect place to enjoy a steaming cup of Verve coffee, breakfast burrito, sandwich or salad. Vegetarians and vegans will also find food to their liking at this charming café. With a view of the beach and Santa Cruz Boardwalk, The Picnic Basket serves great food with a side of people watching.
736 Water Street
Flavorful, unique, exotic and wholesome, Pearl of the Ocean creates some of the best Sri Lankan food around. Organic and locally sourced from farmers markets, Pearl has options for vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Their curries and daals are innovative and fresh with a kick of spice. (Ask for mild if you prefer less heat!)
1003 Cedar Street
A few streets west of downtown Santa Cruz, Planet Fresh Gourmet Burritos isn’t your typical Mexican taqueria. Their burritos are nothing short of inspirational. From Thai to Mediterranean, Pacific Rim to Surf n Turf, they have it all wrapped up in an equally incredible tortilla. Other favorites include their nachos and quesadillas, all at reasonable prices and abundant serving sizes.
120 Union Street
With an Aloha vibe and a menu to match, Pono Hawaiian Grill brings a touch of the islands to Santa Cruz. The décor, open air dining and live music add to the dining experience. You can’t go wrong with the Teriyaki bowls and Kahlua pork fries. Bring a group and share the generous portions!
7. Café Brasil
1410 Mission Street
Three words sum up a visit to Café Brasil: Worth the wait. Though the lines can sometimes be long, grab a cup of their strong Brazilian coffee and hang in there. Renown for their “out of this world” Acai bowl, Café Brasil serves healthy, hearty breakfast and brunch items, including indulgently delicious banana pancakes, creamy polenta bowls and healthful smoothies.
1130 Pacific Avenue
Café Campesino is a small kiosk set along the sidewalk of downtown Santa Cruz. Their menu is a blend of vegetarian and vegan farm to table food that varies based on seasonal ingredients. Order at the kiosk, then grab a table outside. People watch until your meal arrives. Be prepared to channel the European way of eating as each meal is made to order. Café Campesino is all about consistent, high quality food worth savoring.
1141 Soquel Avenue
Known for its Asian Fusion street food, Charlie Hong Kong creates delectable dishes using organic, local ingredients. Vegetarians and vegans as well as meat eaters will appreciate the menu of bowls, noodle dishes and sandwiches, many of which can be made gluten free. A variety of meat toppings are available as add-ons and specials focus on seasonal vegetables, like spicy green beans or butternut squash soup.
10. Lalli Restaurant
101B Cooper Street
With a menu bursting with Mediterranean and Afghan food, Lalli offers both healthy vegetarian options alongside hearty entrees. The casual atmosphere near downtown and the enchanting courtyard garden make it a popular place to dine, so reservations are recommended. The complementary naan is served warm and the kabob plates are one of the most popular dishes.