Bars in Santa Cruz

Select Local Merchants

Winner of the Santa Cruz Weekly 2013 Gold Award for Best Dance Club and Best Fancy Cocktails, Motiv expertly slings tapas-style eats and a wide selection of drinks in a lively lounge space. Tucked along Pacific Avenue and Pearl Alley in a stucco building with a corrugated-tin roof and flowering window boxes, Motiv’s serene Old World–exterior belies its energetic dance floor, sleek wooden bar downstairs, and intimate restaurant-lounge upstairs. Half pound grass-fed burgers, skirt steak dinners and Jorge's famous tacos populate the shareable menu, and top-shelf liquors are mixed into specialty cocktails. Nightly live music delivered by a stable of DJs encourages diners to extend evenings by shaking a leg or showing off neon puffy-paint monograms under the colorful disco lights.

1209 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

Think of Red Restaurant and Bar's menu as Picture Day for pub food. Injecting an upscale elegance into classic bar bites, executive chef Herb Kettleson flavors potato soup with beer and pairs summer succotash with diver scallops. Since he depends on seasonal offerings from local farmers' markets, his dinnertime options change from week to week. The lounge menu, however, sticks to consistent?and wildly popular?dishes such as bacon-wrapped hot dogs and pork green chili fries.

Available until 1 a.m. every night, Kettleson's edibles pair perfectly with the bar's massive selection of craft beer, as well as wines hailing from California and Europe. For something with more of a kick, try the Bruce Lee's combination of habanero tequila, organic basil, and juice from a pineapple that the bartender karate-chops himself.

200 Locust St
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

Rosie McCann's specializes in twists on traditional Irish fare, tweaking classic Celtic dishes and drinks in a traditional pub setting. The menu showcases plates of irish nachos, sliced spuds slathered in jack and cheddar cheeses, olives, fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and jalape?os. The Americanized version of shepherd's pie simmers grass-fed Humboldt beef and vegetables in a rich irish stock before adding a helmet of mashed potatoes au gratin. Heftier appetites can get satisfaction with bangers & mash, a Celtic take on the English classic, that douses irish sausages and garlic mashed potatoes in Guinness gravy. 10 premium imports or 4 microbrews stand ready on tap, and malt mixologists also pour specialty beer drinks such as the Black Velvet, a whistle-whetting blend of Blackthorn hard apple cider and Guinness.

The dining room echoes the colors of the Irish flag, with burnt-red walls and bright-green stained-glass windows. Guests can cozy up in plush booth seats bedecked in plaid and gaze at glass chandeliers that hang from the ceilings as they sip on mimosas or savor lunch and brunch fare.

1220 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US

Since 1994, Wingstop's franchise locations—more than 600 currently operating or in the works—have cooked up and served more than 2 billion wings, and amassed a considerable following. Whether regular or boneless, these modern-day game-day staples come in one of the shop's 10 signature flavors: Louisiana rub and hickory-smoked barbecue have a classic spicy kick, whereas tanginess prevails in the lemon pepper, Hawaiian, and teriyaki.

Because the wings are always made to order, they derive their heat from their seasonings and their recent stay inside the fryer, rather than from heat lamps or tiny, individual Snuggies. The same amount of care goes into the Wingstop's housemade sides, which range from fries that are cut daily at each shop to the bourbon baked beans. Even the honey mustard, blue cheese, and ranch dipping sauces are mixed onsite.

845 Almar Ave
Santa Cruz,
CA
US