(Last Updated On: February 5, 2024)

Capitola is an adorable beach village about 6 miles south of Santa Cruz. I have spent more time in Capitola than anyplace else except my own home town. I love it there and want to share my favorite parts so that hopefully you can enjoy them too!

This small town has so many restaurants from which to choose. Here are some of my favorites.


Britannia Arms – British Pub

Britannia Arms is a British Pub with a full bar and a full menu. The thing I like most about “The Brit” is sitting in the outside patio (where dogs are allowed) with a view of the beach!


El Toro Bravo – Mexican Food

Amazing, authentic, award-winning Mexican food since 1967! The enchiladas are especially good! Don’t miss this place on your Capitola visit!


English Ales – Pub

This is a cute little pub which opened in Capitola in 2020. They serve locally brewed beer plus pub food, and they have indoor and outdoor seating A fun feature is their “Mug Club”. Customers can buy their own mug which they reuse each time they visit. The mugs hang from the ceiling awaiting their owners!


Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria

Gayles is legendary in Capitola! It’s been a jewel in Capitola’s tiara since 1978. Delicious baked goods, coffee bar and ala carte meals. There is a covered patio with a fireplace in which you can dine. Prepare to take a number and wait your turn, and be assured it will be worth the wait! Even their mayonnaise is made from scratch!


Margaritaville – Great margaritas, food and view

Margaritaville is always a fun place to go. Just to say you’re going there, you end up singing the song in your head. (or I do at least) There is a seating area inside, but I love sitting out on the deck! They have a large variety of margaritas, and a good menu featuring seafood and Mexican food.


Mr. Toots Coffeehouse – great coffee, pastries and view

Mr. Toots is located on the second floor, above Margaritaville. Great eclectic vibe and awesome if you can get a table on the balcony! Good coffee and pastries too!


Pizza My Heart – Pizza slices to go

Pizza My Heart is on the Esplanade which makes it a great place to grab a few slices before you set up camp on the beach. Great pizza!


Polar Bear Ice Cream

The place to go for a cone on a hot day! Right across the street from Margaritaville.


The Sand Bar – Good breakfasts also live music

I have found The Sand Bar great for breakfast. More reasonably priced than the other beachfront places along the Esplanade. It also has a small balcony, so it’s great when you can luck out and get a table there! The Sand Bar also features live music most nights!


Shadowbrook – Fairytale restaurant!

Shadowbrook is simply enchanting! It is a “special occasion” restaurant, but you must go by for a drink or even just to see the beautiful grounds! It is on the hillside leading down to the Soquel River. You can either walk down the meandering path past a waterfall, through lushly landscaped plumeria-scented wonderment, or you can take the fricking adorable mini Cable Car down!

The restaurant itself is on multiple levels. There is a GreenHouse Room, Fireside Room, Wine Cellar Room, Redwood Room, Rooftop Terrace and the Rock Room bar. You can walk in and get drinks and/or dinner in the Rooftop Terrace or Rock Room. Otherwise be sure to make a reservation.

I always find the food delicious, but that may be partly because I just love the place so much and it feels so magical! 🙂

If you are staying in Capitola (within a 3 mile radius of the restaurant) you can call Shadowbrook and they will pick you up and drive you back after dinner in one of their complimentary old timey taxis!


Zelda’s On The Beach – Great deck with a view

I seem to end up at Zeldas most times I visit Capitola. The food is good, but seeing that deck with umbrellas and twinkle lights and heatlamps on cold days just pulls me right in! Zelda’s also has an indoor dining room with big windows looking out on the beach. Honestly, it’s a little pricy, but for the view and atmosphere I (apparently!) think it’s worth it!

Zelda’s also has a coffee bar, and they sell shirts and sweatshirts with their cute logo. Those make a great Capitola souvenir!

Click here to see shocking photos of Zelda’s from a big storm in early 2023. Amazing evidence of the power of the ocean! The storm broke apart a section of the Capitola Wharf and many of those pieces ended up inside of Zelda’s dining room! Of course, the other nearby restaurants were similarly effected, but all seem back in business now, thankfully!

There are many more good Capitola restaurants! I will keep adding them as I visit. Do you have any favorites I haven’t mentioned yet?

Just let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for reading!


More restaurant recommendations

Check out this cool website for more recommendations of restaurants in Capitola!


Where to Stay

Check out this post for the best places to stay in Capitola Village.


What to Do

This post will answer all of your questions!


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