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How to Save and Splurge in Santa Cruz

From Manila clams to deep-fried PB&Js, here’s how to balance your budget in this California city.



Verve (Photo: Verve Coffee Roasters)

Verve ($$$)
This hometown roaster serves their premium blends in many forms, including the Missile  – iced coffee with half-and-half and organic simple syrup. Couple yours with a bite from acclaimed baker Avery Ruzicka of Manresa Bread, who’s teamed up with Verve to serve such creations as flaky kouign amann.


Cat & Cloud Downtown ($)
Farmers’ market favourite Companion Bakeshop has united with popular coffee joint Cat & Cloud for this new café. Take your latte and banana-date-walnut teacake to go and explore the surrounding Abbott Square, opened this year next to the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, with restaurants and a performance space.



Soif (Photo: Alyssa Twelker)

Soif ($$$)
With a wine list championing small vintners, this beloved bistro keeps locals returning for its pro pairings. Each menu item is listed with a wine suggestion, like Manila clams and linguiça with Ronco del Gnemiz sauvignon blanc. Bonus: If you like what you sipped, pick up a bottle at their adjacent wine shop.


Charlie Hong Kong ($)
Home of the seven-dollar bowl, this unassuming Asian restaurant housed in a 1950s ice-cream shop uses only rice-bran oil, sources mostly organic ingredients and refuses to serve sugary sodas. Try the Laughing Red Curry Phoenix, with organic yams and daikon in a tomato-coconut curry served atop jasmine rice.

Sweet ending

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (Photo: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk)

The Penny Ice Creamery ($$$)
The cult ice-cream parlour turns locally farmed ingredients into memorable scoops, like zucchini-nut bread and blackberry-sweet corn. Flavours change based on what’s in season, but topping your cone with toasted-to-order marshmallow fluff is always an option (and it’s well worth the extra dollar).


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk ($)
The waterside promenade lined with carnival rides stays open on weekends in winter, and its many snack stalls sweeten the experience. Create your own sugar rush by picking up made-to-order crepes, funnel cake or a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich (just don’t ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster after).



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