El Palomar - Santa Cruz
El Palomar - Santa Cruz

El Palomar - Santa Cruz

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.elpalomarsantacruz.com/
  • Phone: 8314257575x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Monday - Thursday: 11:00am - 3:00pm, Friday: 11:00am - 3:30pm; Brunch: Saturday - Sunday: 10:00am - 3:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Tuesday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Wednesday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm, Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 3:30pm - 10:30pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Regional Mexican, Mexican, Contemporary Mexican
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch
  • Catering: We offer on-site catering services featuring a taco bar complete with handmade tortillas made to order at event, as well as a buffet option featuring an array of our most popular and signature dishes. Please inquire with manager for more details. (Note: Our catering services are for a minimum of 50 guests only.)
    We also offer many of our menu items in large to-go portions to create your own event at home, please contact us for more info.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Soquel Avenue
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Parking Details: Public garage located at Soquel/Front
A word from El Palomar - Santa Cruz
El Palomar has set a new standard in Mexican cuisine by combining authentic, homemade recipes from the sunny state of Michoacán in southern Mexico, with the unique abundance of locally grown produce and freshly caught seafood available in the Monterey Bay.
We use only the finest ingredients in our specialty dishes, salsas and corn tortillas - all made fresh daily. All our recipes have been handed down from generation to generation in the Espinoza Family, and reflect the pride of genuine family-style home cooking. Enjoy a meal in our historic dining room, cocktails and savory appetizers in the Cantina, or a quick bite from our award winning Taco Bar before you catch a movie or show!
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El Palomar - Santa Cruz reviews from OpenTable diners
14 reviews since May 1, 2014
Overall Rating4.1
  • Food4.2
    Service3.9
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelModerate
85% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
kid-friendly (7)good for groups (7)neighborhood gem (5)great for lunch (4)fit for foodies (3)special occasion (3)hot spot (2)romantic (2)great for brunch (2)vibrant bar scene (2)great for outdoor dining (1)Show More
  • Jennifer
    Stephanie
    Dined on 8/10/2014
    We arrived at the specified time and were seated promptly. Our hostess dropped by the menus, telling us someone would be by later, the chips and salsa were dropped by promptly, some time passed 5-8 mins. before our waitress was free to stop by. She took our drink order, we also requested water for the table. The bar drinks came by first eventually the water arrived, this was finished quickly as it had been a hot day, waited a long time for refills of water, after our meal arrived. The food was tasty but cool. We said nothing as time on the metered parking was ticking. All in all, more wait staff would be useful as well as more service staff. The cook should take the temperature of each dish they send out. We did have a nice visit.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent Eats
    SCgirl
    Dined on 8/5/2014
    The dining and atmosphere is fun, casual but perfect for an evening out with a good friend, family or work group. The meal was delivered promptly and our glasses were rarely empty. The server was very attentive at appropriate times and allowed for time to enjoy our meal and converstion. A dining experience at Palomar is a must!
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Food Always
    Susan
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    We enjoy coming to this restaurant anytime. It is always a favorite. We use it for all graduations, birthdays, out of town guests, and just us.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, good for groups, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Lunch meeting
    Mark
    Dined on 6/11/2014
    Quick reliably quality lunch at a good price options
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food
    NonicknameVIP
    Dined on 5/23/2014
    We went to the outdoor bar area. It's got a nice area to sit in a semi outside feel to it. Food was plentiful, reasonably priced but service from the bartender for food order was sooooo slow. We ordered guacamole and he finally attempted to bring it with our lunch instead of as an appetizer, we turned it diwn at that point.he took a long time to even get us a drink, never brought us water never refilled our chips, never asked us how our lunch was etc. it's was very quiet there but he was busy chatting behind the bar. However chimichanga was huge and delish. Margarita was good
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 9 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 1, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.1
    • Food4.2
    • Ambiance3.9
    • Service3.9
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 126 reviews are from the El Palomar - Santa Cruz reviews archive.
  • Great Mexican dining.
    Jimvegetariandiner
    Dined on 3/30/2014
    We love El Palomar, Santa Cruz. The building is worth the price of admission, and the food and service are first rate.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Almost Forgot About this Place
    rccb
    Dined on 3/26/2014
    I had not been to El Palomar in Downtown Santa Cruz for several years and almost forgot about it as a choice for Mexican food. I was pleasantly surprised that a friend and I got in very quickly with our reservations made on Open Table even though we were 15 minutes late. We were seated quickly and had a delicious meal and drinks. I'll put this place back on my list for sure.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Birthday Celebration.
    LisaP
    Dined on 3/23/2014
    We had a nice time there for a small party, celebrating a birthday. The restaurant itself seemed a little tired, but the menu was nice and the portion were good.
    Special Features:
    Kid-Friendly, Good for Groups, Romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great Mexican food
    Foodlover
    Dined on 3/21/2014
    We make this a regular stop whenever we come to the area. The service was great and the food was even better! Great variety - loved the carne asada enchilada filling.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Make a reservation on weekend
    valbee
    Dined on 3/14/2014
    Four of us made a reservation on a Friday night and were seated immediately, and there were at least a dozen people waiting for tables. We immediately got chips and salsa, and quickly got glasses of water. Our server was friendly and attentive, and the food came out surprisingly fast after the order was placed, especially fast since the restaurant was packed. Be careful when ordering if you don't like spicy food, because their "house fillings" for various dishes are almost all spicy. I asked our server what the least spicy filling was, and she said the guacamole, and she was right; I had previously ordered the house shredded chicken filling and it was so spicy I couldn't eat it. The food is good and a great value.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Friday night special
    PateenaVIP
    Dined on 3/14/2014
    This is our go-to place for Friday night. The carnitas is outstanding and the servers are fabulous!
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yummm
    fooodie
    Dined on 3/7/2014
    I had a pleasant experience at El Palomar. I had an ahi tuna salad, and though it was a tad pricey (~$17) it was delicious. If I were to alter the salad, I would have added more avocado. The sauce had wasabi which was great! Another time I came here, I had the carne asada tacos, which was a great sized portion because I left with a leftover taco. I would recommend this place, definitely.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Always a fun spot
    NotHard2PleaseVIP
    Dined on 3/6/2014
    Can't go wrong the beautiful restaurant. Food is good, best chips of anyplace, service is professional and overall fun!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mexican food
    kanick
    Dined on 2/16/2014
    I am so happy we had a reservation. The wait looked super long, but due the afore mentioned reservation, we hardly waited at all. It was really good. The nachos are yummy.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Server was great. Good p,ace
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 1/24/2014
    Server was great. Good p,ace to go before dancing. Big tables and reasonably priced food.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • My husband has dined here
    SantaCruzin
    Dined on 1/12/2014
    My husband has dined here before, but this was my first time and was not disappointed. We couldn't stop eating the chips and salsa!! The dinner was great, staff friendly and attentive, wonderful ambiance in a lovely historic building. We will definitely come back.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Friday night special
    PateenaVIP
    Dined on 12/13/2013
    We always go to the Friday night carnitas. THE BEST!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A good choice for downtown
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 11/16/2013
    A good choice for downtown Santa Cruz dining. Great margaritas! Our only complaint is that it was so dark in the dining room that some of us couldn't read the menu!
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Decent Food but Disengaged Service
    gmansc
    Dined on 11/10/2013
    The interior is beautiful and the food is decent. The downside of this place is the service. Our waitress was adequate -- filled the order but not much more. The guys clearing the tables were terrible. One fellow started clearing dishes well before we were all finished eating. Arms and elbows reaching across the table while still in the middle of our dinner. Another guy started clearing our drinks before they were finished, and barked orders about what should be handed to him. I pointed out that I wasn't finished and, after handling my glass, he put it back on the table and walked away. These guys need some serious training. Anyway, we'll go there again for the food and location, and hope that they get their act together.
    Special Features:
    hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very Good
    EmpiVIP
    Dined on 10/12/2013
    Was looking for Mexican food and ended up there. Very good food and friendly service.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Loud but good
    NCris
    Dined on 10/11/2013
    The food here is good, not great. Overall a fun place to dine, the waitstaff is (for the most part) very timely and helpful. If they used fresh rather than frozen prawns that would be a huge improvement. They could also have some more fun with the drink selection. The dining room tends to get quite loud and also is a bit too dimly lit. Nothing that ruins your experience, but area's where the restaurant could improve. The steak seems to be their strong point, I'd avoid prawns and some of the chicken is hit-or-miss.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Not your father's Mexican Eatery
    CustomerVIP
    Dined on 9/29/2013
    El Palomar is in the Palomar Hotel and it took several trips around the block to find the restaurant. Once inside, the restaurant is in a spectacular, high ceiling room with a bar next to it which is quite grand. The menu had the usual Mexican items but featured ceviche, lobster enchiladas and our favorite, Jose's special. Everything was seasoned to have some sense of spice but not with the raw heat that blows off the top of your head. The fish items were done to a turn which the carnea(sp) asada was really unique and worth a special trip. All in all, we were looking for a place to eat while not able to be in our home and found a quite remarkable restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Consistently excellent food!
    DebDVIP
    Dined on 8/30/2013
    This is my third visit to El Palomar, and each time the food has been excellent. The service has been generally poor however, but the atmosphere and awesome food overshadows it. The house margaritas are excellent as well. Portions are large, plenty to have for lunch the next day. Some of the bext Mexican food any of us have ever had.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, vibrant bar scene, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Enjoyable meal
    Kira
    Dined on 8/24/2013
    The sopes were quite good, the chili rellenos was heavily breaded, but good. The other meal was a generous portion of seafood stew on top of chili rellenos. It was a satisfying meal, in an impressive environment. The interior is lovely, with an elaborately painted ceiling.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • It did the trick
    codyVIP
    Dined on 8/18/2013
    I was craving salsa and chips along with a solid Marg. Well chips and salsa were on point and the food was great (a bit pricey) but thats what you get in a hotel. The marg was SUPER weak. We ordered two pitchers and between 3 people did not feel a thing. Sad but at least it was good food. Waitress seemed to be over stretched I had to tracked her down :(
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great Mexican Food
    Gynger
    Dined on 8/8/2013
    We had an impromptu family reunion including my 2 year old great-niece. The food was great, like fresh, home made fare. Very kid-friendly
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic food, but definitely
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 8/3/2013
    Fantastic food, but definitely loud in the dining area. They may want to close the doors to the bar.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Tasty Mexican Food
    dcschorr
    Dined on 8/3/2013
    We've been coming to this great downtown location for years and although the service varies, the food is consistently very good. The menu offers great variety and the food tastes homemade. Additionally, vegetarians can feel right at home with more than a half dozen offerings. Also, the dining room location inside a historic building with high ceilings and ornate moldings and a lively bar setting adjacent to the main restaurant gives patrons choices. This is definitely a dependable choice for Mexican food on the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Vibe
    emer
    Dined on 7/20/2013
    My friend and I walked by earlier in the day and thought that Mexican food sounded great. We made a reservation online for that night and were seated within 15 minutes of our reservation time. Great service, very pleasant staff, excellent authentic food, and good drinks! Would definitely come here again!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Service
    Heidi
    Dined on 7/13/2013
    The service was top notch. People seem very happy to be working there. And the food and margaritas were delicious.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The food is good, but the
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 7/12/2013
    The food is good, but the chips and salsa are amazing!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great lunch!
    loveyummyfood
    Dined on 7/3/2013
    Food was tasty and they have GREAT weekday lunch specials! Service was a little slow even though restaurant was pretty empty as we dined on a Wednesday at 1:30pm. Will definitely come back!!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene, hot spot, great for lunch, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Long-time favorite
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 7/2/2013
    It was great to see they take reservations now -- the wait time used to be the one real negative. Good food at a range of prices. Festive but casual atmosphere. Though its not a "family restaurant" its a great place to go with kids.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, special occasion, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Always Good
    gmansc
    Dined on 6/14/2013
    We always enjoy the El Palomar. The food is good, as is the service, and it's a great place to take out of town visitors. The Palomar is unique with its beautiful interior. Because it is in high demand, the food service and wait staff are a bit rushed, but nevertheless decent. The food is good, high quality, but nothing out of the ordinary. Margaritas are decent but, again, nothing special. We go several times a year and always have a good time, and will definitely be back. Festive and fun.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, hot spot, special occasion, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Long Wait, Okay Service, Good Food
    bunkeymutt
    Dined on 6/8/2013
    We had a Reservation for 6:30 and we were seated at 7:15. We selected this restaurant BECAUSE they could accommodate a reservation for 10. I understand that this weekend, in particular, was a busy weekend, but a 45 minute wait on a reservation is really unacceptable especially when the party has small children. . Once seated, the service was barely adequate. On one occasion, the waitress simply walked away because once of the kids was taking a long time to make up their mind on a drink order. When the waitress returned she had forgotten the first half of the drink order, and had to start over. The Drinks were good. The highlight of the meal was the food. and almost made up for the marginal service and long wait.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • I usually sit in the cantina,
    ElizVIP
    Dined on 5/10/2013
    I usually sit in the cantina, but the main dining room was very soothing that day. The salsa is always excellent, but the chips seem prefab (they make the corn tortillas to order, so they probably don't have spare masa to fry). The guacamole taco was much larger than I remembered, and the chile colorado sope was tender and perfectly flavored. The service seemed especially friendly that day.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Simply Amazing
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 4/26/2013
    The food was great, the service was very friendly. It was romantic in the fact that the musicians going around to each table playing for everyone went to our table, it was just me and my prom date and it couldn't have been more perfect, they played a love song and it just made everything magical. Thank you for such an experience!
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, good for groups, kid-friendly, late-night find, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • food took longer that usual.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 3/29/2013
    food took longer that usual. bar drinks seemed weak but expensive. however the food is always delicious and the tortillas homemade so we deal with the rest i suppose. been going there for years!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Food was outstanding. Service
    JillVIP
    Dined on 3/27/2013
    Food was outstanding. Service was great. Visiting from. Chicago and the skirt steak was by far one of the best tasting anywhere. Highly recommend.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Dinner before an event
    NotHard2PleaseVIP
    Dined on 3/8/2013
    Always a good spot before attending an event downtown.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, good for groups, late-night find, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic