A Guide to The Best Dog Friendly Restaurants and Cafes in Santa Cruz, California

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Last Updated on October 26, 2021 by Paroma

A guide to the best dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz , the tiny seaside town 1.5 hours south of San Francisco is one of the best small towns in Northern California to visit with your dog. Beside the beaches and hikes in this Northern California coastal town, it is also great place to dine out with your pup, since there are plenty of dog friendly restaurants, cafes and bistros with outdoor seating that welcome your pet. Most dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz even have bowls of water placed outside for the thirsty fur babies.


We were incredibly spoilt for choice during our multiple trips there where we found some of the best places to dine in Santa Cruz with our dog.  The variety of cuisine offered at these restaurants was as diverse as possible and the quality of service was topnotch. So without further ado, here is the highly recommended, tried and tested list of all the pet friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz, aka one of the best winter destinations in California.

dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz, California

where to eat with your dog, pet friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz



Dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz: The Jerk House 

We started off with some lip-smacking Jamaican fare at The Jerk House  restaurant on Soquel Drive that comes with a great outdoor patio and is dog friendly. The menu, like any other island cuisine, heavily leaned towards fish and meat, but there were quite a few options for vegetarians/vegans including the yummy sides.


I settled for a curried chicken patty (filled puff pastry) that came with cabbage slaw, jicama-cucumber-mango salad, rice with black eyed peas and plantains while S chose veggies stir-fried with coconut milk and served with the same sides (all entrees have those staple sides). Finally I got some tropical fruit punch to wash down that delicious grub.


Service was good at the restaurant (the place was not too crowded) and our food tasted great! I especially loved the spicy patty which reminded me of the  patties that I had in Kolkata while growing up.

dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz, The Jerk house has outdoor pet friendly dining



Dog friendly Ice cream shop in downtown Santa Cruz: Penny’s Ice Creamery

No trip to downtown Santa Cruz is complete without stopping by Penny’s Ice Creamery, the city’s only ice-cream spot that boasts of making everything from scratch! It is also dog-friendly and has a small outdoor seating place.


This is a very popular place so be prepared to stand in line for their ice creams, with a roasted marshmallow on top as an added twist! The ice-cream shop is on Cedar Avenue but they also have a kiosk on Pacific Ave, the main street in downtown.

Penny ice creamery Santa Cruz
dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz travel pets




Dog friendly places to eat in Santa Cruz: Woodstock Pizza

Woodstock Pizza on Front Street is a great dog friendly restaurant (with a heated patio) and they also provide water for your pup. We settled for a medium pesto pie (they also have options for customized pies on white or wheat crust) with pesto, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and roasted garlic. Babu made a few friends while we munched on our delicious pie!

dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz travel pets
dog friendly pizza parlor in Santa Cruz




Dog friendly bakeries in Santa Cruz: The Buttery & Kelly’s French Bakery

The Buttery is an utterly delicious bakery that is a must visit if you are looking for a solid dog friendly breakfast place to start your day. The bakery has ample outdoor space for dog parents to dine under the sun. Besides pastries, cakes, cupcakes and baked goods, they also have a self service coffee/beverage stand to order your morning joe from.

Kelly's French bakery is a dog friendly restaurant in Santa Cruz



The second place to stop by for either breakfast or an afternoon pick me up is the charming French bakery Kelly’s. They have good Chai and lots of tasty French treats for an afternoon of sugar rush. Kelly’s is located in an outdoor shopping enclave with lots of local shops, much like Barlow in Sebastopol,  and these are all dog friendly as well.




Dog friendly breakfast/brunch spot in Santa Cruz: Cafe Brasil

Cafe Brasil is that uber popular breakfast/brunch spot in Santa Cruz for which vegetarians and vegans go nuts! Most eggy breakfast items can be remade with tofu as substitution and the portions are pretty big and hearty.


As the name suggests, this is a Brazilian restaurant (the decor colors are pretty much an ode to the flag as well) and so there are quite a few Brazilian dishes featured on the menu. They do have a dog friendly patio but it opens only at 10AM, two hours after the restaurant opens for business.


Arrive as early as possibly for outdoor dining with your dog and remember to order one of their fruit juices or smoothies!  

Cafe Brasil is a Santa Cruz restaurant that welcomes dogs




Where to eat with your dog in Santa Cruz: Gabriella Cafe

The quiet, beautiful Gabriella Cafe, a slice of Tuscany in the heart of Santa Cruz, is considered to be the most romantic spot in town and is also welcoming to dogs. we enjoyed a quiet dinner with pasta and wine here on the last night of our first trip to Santa Cruz.


The restaurant patio, again dog-friendly, was tiny but we got a seat despite not having reservations. Service was incredibly friendly and we were grateful to have been accommodated in that small restaurant.

dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz travel pets

dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz: Gabriella Cafe




Restaurants welcoming dogs in Santa Cruz: Laili 

Laili restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz serves yummy Afghani food and has a beautiful, dog friendly patio to dine in which is surrounded by high walls covered in green ivy. They have lots of vegetarian options and I highly recommend making a reservation to check out this gem of a spot for lunch (or, dinner) after having dined there twice with Babu. Their kabab dishes as well as kadoo borani are super delicious!

dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz





Pet friendly restaurant in Soquel: Pretty Good Advice

It is a pretty good idea to grab lunch in the outdoor patio of Pretty Good Advice, the dog friendly vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Soquel near Santa Cruz. This bistro has killer cajun fries and a good selection of plant based burgers to choose from along with an impressive beer list to wash it all down. Best of all, they are open from 8AM-8PM everyday!

dog friendly restaurants in santa cruz, California





Dog friendly restaurant in Aptos: Bittersweet Bistro

Aptos is a small town right next to Santa Cruz and has several dog friendly restaurants to explore. We had dinner at the delightful Bittersweet Bistro (Aptos), a restaurant with a beautiful heated patio and known to be so welcoming to dogs that they have a separate doggie menu for well behaved pooches! The food is mainly concentrated on local catch with a Mediterranean flair, but there were several vegetarian options on the menu.

dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz, where to eat with your dog in Santa cruz



We started off with some Asparagus and Lemon fries coated in a crunchy sesame crust, and it was out of world delicious. I had a small entree of the Petrale Sole while S settled for a vegan burger. All entrees come in small and entree sized portions. Additionally, the restaurant has themed specials every night, ours being fish-centered.


They have an extensive wine menu and I settled for a Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz mountains. The restaurant is super popular with the locals and was pretty crowded when we arrived; nevertheless we did not see a long line of people waiting and got our seats almost instantaneously despite not making any reservations.


I must warn you that service can be a little slow at the restaurant, but the great food and ambiance (we got a table near a crackling fireplace) more than made up for it.

dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz, Bittersweet Bistro, Aptos
dog friendly restaurants Santa Cruz, pet friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz




This brings me to the end of yet another post on our food adventures as we explored the dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz during our travel, and with Babu in tow everywhere, no less! We have been to several dog-friendly destinations in California and Santa Cruz features on top of the pile because of how incredibly dog friendly the tiny coastal town is with so many pet friendly restaurants to choose from! Thanks so much for reading and get packing for your next adventure with your pooch, now!


Explore other dog friendly Central Coast posts right here:

dog friendly dining in Santa Cruz



Visiting Santa Cruz, California with your dog?Then look no further than this delicious post featuring the best dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz. This article was shared by the Santa Cruz tourism board too! Pin it to your dog friendly travel or California board for reference! #travelwithdogs #dogfriendlyrestaurants #santacruz #californiatravel #foodietravel

Visiting Santa Cruz, California with your dog?Then look no further than this delicious post featuring the best dog friendly restaurants in Santa Cruz. This article was shared by the Santa Cruz tourism board too! Pin it to your dog friendly travel or California board for reference! #travelwithdogs #dogfriendlyrestaurants #santacruz #californiatravel #foodietravel



10 thoughts on “A Guide to The Best Dog Friendly Restaurants and Cafes in Santa Cruz, California”

  1. Even though I don’t have dogs, I would choose a dog friendly restaurant over another one. To me is speaks volumes about the owners’ values and attitudes. Plus I think these establishments should be supported so there can be more of them.

  2. I’m drooling! That pizza looks fabulous and I love that there are so many veggie options. Thanks ‘S’ for sharing what’s available should I ever find myself in this heavenly place. I enjoyed seeing the art, also.

  3. What a lovely restaurant guide. If I was with friends and they had a dog, I would definitely want to go to a place where the pup would be welcome. It’s a restaurant going that extra step to make their customers welcome isn’t it? That matters.

  4. Everything looks delicious and now I’m craving Jamaican food! A restaurant opened up here last year. Finding places with covered, heated patios is always a boon as eating outdoors with the dog is pretty miserable here half the year due to the rain.

  5. I’m always starving after reading your posts! That pizza! I love the menu with the pug on it, too. I have never been to Santa Cruz, but definitely adding it to my list.

  6. Oh my, you have our bellies growling! We have very few dog-friendly restaurants where we live. Mom says if we had more, she’d probably never eat and instead be petting the dogs! lol

  7. Oh my favorite place right off the bat is the Jerk House. That looks so good right now. And pizza and wine? Don’t get me started. You always find the best places for you and your dog. Lucky pup! LOL

  8. You have such great attention to detail! I love how delicious you make everything sound. And I envy you going to so many pet friendly places. I really need to do more of this with my dogs. I love eating and I love taking them to amazing places! Thanks for the inspiration.


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