Cheap Restaurants in Santa Cruz


  • Asian
  • Italian
  • American
  • Just because a meal doesn't leave a dent on your pocket book doesn't mean it can't leave an impression on your taste buds. Santa Cruz is home to thousands of college students. Though they don't have a lot of extra spending money, they are anything but starving thanks to the cornucopia of cheap restaurants located within the city limits. Jack's Hamburgers is the perfect place to grab a juicy burger, basket of thick-cut fries, and a frothy milkshake, all under $10. This local hot spot is a Santa Cruz classic and feels like a throwback to burger joints of lore. Each burger is made to order and comes out hot and fast. While they have add-ons like chili and bacon, you're best bet is to go for a plain ol' hamburger or cheeseburger and a serving of crispy fries. Saddle up to an outside table and hunker down with a burger from the eatery that takes the Number One spoke on this cheap eats list. Tacos Moreno, tucked away in Merrill College on the campus of UC Santa Cruz, isn't fancy, but they whip up a mean quesadilla, soft shell taco, and burrito. Catering to the students going to and fro classes, travelers of all ages are welcome at this surprisingly cozy taqueria. Thanks to its delicious food, amicable ambiance, and affordable prices, Tacos Moreno snags the Number Three spot. Many restaurants feature dollar-friendly menus, including Little Shanghai Chinese restaurant, which serves a $5 lunch buffet Monday through Friday. Sitar India Cuisine on Pacific Ave. also offers a $5 lunch buffet. This one is unlimited and comes with large slices of naan bread and white rice. While the dishes are vegetarian only, diners can add a meat dish for just a few dollars more. From salad to chutney to curries to dessert, the Sitar India Restaurant offers heaping servings for little, granting them the Number Eight slot.

    Jack's Hamburgers

    202 Lincoln Street

    The Crepe Place

    1134 Soquel Ave
    At Seabright Ave

    Mission Hill Creamery

    1101 Pacific Avenue

    Artisan Ice Cream in Downtown Santa Cruz... read more

    Linda's Seabreeze Cafe

    542 Seabright Avenue

    Great Breakfast in Seabright... read more

    Zachary's Restaurant

    819 Pacific Avenue

    Good breakfast in downtown Santa Cruz... read more

    Betty Burgers

    505 Seabright Avenue

    Betty Burgers in Seabright... read more

    Marianne's Ice Cream

    1020 Ocean Street

    Marianne's Ice Cream is a local icon... read more

    expert pick

    Cafe Gratitude

    103 Lincoln St

    A delicious vegan restaurant serving up positive affirmations... read more

    expert pick

    The Penny Ice Creamery

    913 Cedar Street

    Featuring out-of-the-box ice creams made completely from scratch... read more

    expert pick

    Peachwood's at the Inn at Pasatiempo

    555 Highway 17

    The best steaks in the Monterey Bay Area... read more

    expert pick

    Hoffman's Bistro

    1102 Pacific Ave

    After a visit from the Food Network's restaurant remodel show, Restaurant: Impossible, this Santa Cruz staple has regained it's title as the hottest ticket in town. Serving walloping portions for every course and an extensive selection of beer and wines, Hoffman's is one of Santa Cruz's best restaurants... read more

    Kelly's French Bakery

    402 Ingalls Street

    French bakery with a coastal California flare...
    read more

    Rosie McCann's Irish Pub & Restaurant

    1220 Pacific Ave.

    Oak Tree Ristorante

    5447 Highway 9

    Sabieng Thai Cuisine

    1218 Mission St

    Arguably best Thai in Santa Cruz... read more

    I Love Sushi

    516 Front Street

    Funnest Japanese restaurant in town... read more

    Ideal Bar & Grill

    106 Beach Street

    Local favorite bar and grill... read more

    Lulu Carpenter's

    1545 Pacific Ave

    Local coffee establishment... read more

    Mobo Sushi

    105 South River Street

    Fun Japanese restaurant... read more

    515 Kitchen & Cocktails

    515 Cedar Street

    Ingenious cocktail lounge... read more
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