edited: the Seacliff Beach campground was destroyed in the January 6, 2023 storm with no reopening date set. But Seacliff is open and the local eateries are multiplying and thriving. Please continue enjoying the beach and supporting our local restaurants!
I talked to a nice family the other day from the Central Valley who were wondering if there was somewhere close they could get a decent cappuccino and some pizza for the kids. They were looking for food. They came camping at Seacliff in a rented RV, hadn’t brought a car, and quickly and discovered the hard way our Uber situation isn’t very robust. For them and all the other and hungry tourists, here’s a complete list of where to eat near Seacliff State Beach, all in easy walking distance.
You’ll find a big variety of flavors. And Seacliff being Seacliff, there are as many or more locals as there are visitors. Check the websites or call for more information on menus and hours.
Walk to the Rio Flats Area
(click for beach webcam courtesy of Pixie Good Eats)
There are a few nice choices of places to eat near Seacliff State Beach if you walk east along the beach, past the Visitor’s Center, past the Cement Ship, across the Aptos Creek bridge. There’s one market, one breakfast and lunch deli, a dinner-only spot. On your way back from coffee or your meal, walk around the Aptos Creek for some high-quality bird watching.
Venus Spirits Cocktails and Kitchen Beachside is a new arrival here on the Rio Flats and has recently reopened after an extensive remodel, after taking over the old Cafe Rio. Vegan poke, crispy Brussels sprouts, and seafood chowder are menu highlights, and you can also enjoy their addition to the Venus burger, Caesar salad or chips with French onion dip. VSCK Beachside is open Wednesday – Friday from 5PM – 9PM and Saturday-Sunday 4PM-9PM. 131 Esplanade, Aptos. Phone 831.688.8917.
Venus Pie Trap is the sister restaurant, a coffee shop serving up 11th Hour Coffee, Companion Bakery pastries, and their own wood-fired oven pizza. Open Monday-Thursday 7-3 and Friday-Sunday 7-5. 113 Esplanade, Aptos.
Pixie Good Eats for breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and pastries from their sister location The Farm Bakery. The BLTs and rotisserie chicken meals are amazing, and they do a crisp hot thin cut french fry. My sister-in-law loves their French toast. Know that the portions are quite generous, especially the breakfast burritos. Open from 9AM-4PM. 111 Venetian Road, Aptos. Phone 831-688-1115.
Rio Liquor & Market has a little bit of everything for sale, not just snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine, liquor, and lottery tickets. You can also pick up boogie board, sand toys, and flops, firewood, even dog waste bags. Open from 8AM -10PM weekdays and until11PM Friday and Saturday nights. 139 Esplanade, Aptos. Phone 831-688-4017.
State Park Drive and Center Streets:
There are many choices of places to eat near Seacliff State Beach if you walk back up the hill the way you drove into the state park. You’ve got a couple of choices straight ahead on State Park and several more if you turn right on Center Ave.:
Walk to State Park:
Ambrosia Indian Bistro Ambrosia offers a variety of Indian food with a focus of fresh ingredients. My son is a huge fan of their josh rogan, and I’m partial to the saag paneer with garlic naan. It’s all delicious, though. They are open for lunch and dinner everyday but closed between 2:30 and 4:00PM. 207 Sea Ridge Road, Aptos. Phone 831-685-0610.
Seacliff Plaza Store for groceries, sundries, lotto tickets, liquor, beer and wine, single serve ice cream confections, and more. Open 6AM-midnight. 219 State Park Drive, Aptos. Phone 831-688-3074
Sno-White Drive In is your diner by the sea with a little something for everyone, heavy on the griddle and fry basket. You can get big American-style breakfasts, burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, soft serve ice cream, and more. The retro sign is a beloved local landmark. Open 6AM-9PM. 223 State Park Drive, Aptos. Phone 831-688-4747.
Walk to Center Street:
Casa Rossy is a great choice for Mexican food that’s got a small storefront with huge taste. It’s worth seeking out. You can get chilaquiles or huevos rancheros and delicious gourmet tamales. Meat options include birria and chiccaroon, and you can find vegetarian and seafood options. We are huge fans of their to go tamales. Open 9AM-8PM. 257 Center Ave., Aptos. Phone 831-661-5736.
Manuels Manuels is a large, popular local standby that’s been serving northern Mexican cuisine since 1965. They have a full bar and a sweet outdoor patio behind the restaurant in the middle of a dahlia garden. Even if you don’t get a chance to eat there, it’s worth stopping by to buy a jar of their house made salsa to take home as a tasty souvenir of your Seacliff vacation. 261 Center Ave., Aptos. Phone 831-688-4848.
Marianne’s Ice Cream Santa Cruz-made Marianne’s Ice Cream also offers sherbets, sorbets, yogurt, and sugar-free desserts along with coffee drinks. I like their chai with a scoop of vanilla, and if I bring my dog, he gets a complementary scoop. They make great coffee drinks as well, featuring Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company beans. Open 10AM-10PM. 218 State Park Drive, Aptos. Phone 831-713-4746.
Pizza 1 Home of the sourdough pizza crust, made from scratch daily. You can get whole pies, slices, salads, beer, and wine. This is my brother’s favorite local pizza when he and his family are in town visiting. The Castroville is a personal favorite with pesto, feta, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and fresh tomato and spinach. Takeout and curbside service only during COVID. Open 11AM-9PM. 253 Center Ave., Aptos. Phone 831-684-1110.
The Mediterranean – The Med is the single neighborhood dive-bar-turned-sports bar that’s been open for over 40 years. Play pool, darts, or catch a football game with the locals. Open from 8AM-2AM. 265 Center Ave., Aptos. Phone 831-688-7004.