Road Journals Blog—I can justify eating a big breakfast: I have all day to wear it off. And what better place to wear off cinnamon rolls, home fries, eggs Benedicts, a gallon of coffee with honey, and polenta fries than the beach town, surfer haven of Santa Cruz? Area code is 831.
You can dine on the outdoor deck above the water or stay inside. Have a sweet tooth? Try the banana walnut waffle. Get hearty with huevos rancheros or healthy with an artichoke-heart scramble with feta and tomatoes. Lucky you: Bread choices include raisin bread and fugassa. While you eat, watch kayakers, sailors, and paddleboarders in the Santa Cruz Harbor; afterward, walk out to the harbor lighthouse or take a short spin around the harbor on the free water taxi. 616 Atlantic Ave., 426-3736, aldos-cruz.com .
A giant marlin and a ship’s figurehead of a red-bodiced wench decorate this local joint. Dine beneath a bamboo-mat ceiling or outside at a picnic table on some of the best home fries in town. The poached eggs look like art on a plate in the Cali Bene, which is served on a croissant with bacon and avocado. Polenta fries for breakfast? Why not? 535 Seventh Ave., 475-4948, harborcafesantacruz.com .
A recent star of Restaurant Impossible, a reality show in which a struggling restaurant gets a two-day makeover, this downtown destination welcomes you with a light and crumbly complimentary scone while you peruse the menu. This is a place that understands I-just-woke-up hungry. Even better—it has fabulous service. Slide into a booth and try one of the specials, such as a peach waffle or any of the regular egg dishes with tasty home fries. 1102 Pacific Ave., 420-0135, hoffmanssantacruz.com .
Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe
Homemade, heavenly cinnamon rolls! You could stop right there as a recommendation, but don’t: The specials board may tout orange poppy seed pancakes and grilled Pacific swordfish with eggs. A menu that offers Mickey Mouse pancakes for the kids, a brown rice option in place of potatoes, a cup of chai, and classic egg dishes should please anyone you bring. The line starts around 9 a.m., but a pot of help-yourself coffee on the side porch welcomes those waiting. (No credit cards.) 542 Seabright Ave., 427-9713, seabreezecafe.com .
What's your favorite place to have breakfast in Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay?
This blog post was first published in July 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.