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El Palomar - Santa Cruz

4.1
4.1
120 Reviews
$30 and under
Mexican
Join us for lunch, dinner, weekend brunch or our weekday happy hour specials. Since El Palomar's opening in 1983, Jose and Amelia Espinoza have been serving Santa Cruz unique and fresh Mexican cuisine inspired by authentic family recipes. Our commitment to excellence has continuously earned El Palomar the award of "Best Mexican Restaurant in Santa Cruz." El Palomar boasts a full bar with an extensive, hand-picked tequila selection. Join us every Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 pm for happy hour specials on our house margaritas and 100% agave margaritas. You can also enjoy our beer on tap. We also feature a Taco Bar for those on the go, as well as banquet and catering services to bring the experience to any event or location.

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Unfortunately, this restaurant is not on the OpenTable reservation network.

If you like, we'll notify you by email if this restaurant joins.


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Additional information

  • Dining style

    Casual Dining

  • Cuisines

    Mexican

  • Hours of operation

    Mon–Thu, Sun 11:30 am–9:00 pm Fri, Sat 11:30 am–10:00 pm

  • Phone number

    (831) 425-7575

  • Payment options

    AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

  • Dress code

    Business Casual

  • 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.)<br />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.

  • Private party facilities

    We can accommodate up to 35 guests for a seated event and up to 55 guests for an appetizer/cocktail event. Please inquire with manager via email or restaurant's reservation phone for more details.

  • Neighborhood

    Santa Cruz

  • Cross street

    Soquel Avenue

  • Parking details

    Public garage located at Soquel/Front

  • Additional

    Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch

What 120 people are saying

Overall ratings and reviews

4.1
4.1 based on all time ratings
  • 4.1Food
  • 4.1Service
  • 3.9Ambience

NoiseEnergetic

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Filters

  1. SC

    SantaCruzie

    Vancouver

    2 reviews

    4.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on June 21, 2015

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    The restaurant is dark for dinner (had a hard time reading the menu) so it's perfect for couples. The bar is brighter with skylights and lots of young people and drink specials. Also great for lunch - good specials and fresh Mexican fare.
  2. TR

    TassiR

    Los Angeles

    14 reviews

    vip
    3.0

    14 reviews

    Dined on June 14, 2015

    overall3food5service2ambience1
    The food was great! The problem we had was with the seating staff and the waiter. First, they refused to seat us, then they changed their mind. And mind you, the restaurant was almost completely empty. Once we got seated, the waitress was kind of in lala land. She was nice, but did not cater to our needs. Instead, the bus boy was more attentive, providing us with refills and more chips and salsa.
  3. AH

    AHTONY

    San Francisco

    3 reviews

    4.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on April 19, 2015

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    Carne asada melt in your mouth delicious. Beans blah.
  4. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Salt Lake City

    9 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    9 reviews

    Dined on April 2, 2015

    overall4food4service5ambience3
    The restaurant has quite large servings. We ordered chips salsa and guacamole and by the time the food had arrived everyone was already full. Other than that it was great! Their special pork tamales are delicious.
  5. C

    Crc2

    Central Coast

    3 reviews

    4.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on January 18, 2015

    overall4food4service4ambience4
    Good food and good service. Try to make it on Friday if you can, it's the only day you can score carnitas mmmmmmm. Decent cocktails also :)
  6. T

    Travelwise

    San Francisco

    32 reviews

    4.0

    32 reviews

    Dined on January 8, 2015

    overall4food4service4ambience2
    Was a nice time for all, waitress was very good, the guacamole was on the thin side wouldn't order again. There were 2 bills and somehow I got charged for both on my credit card althought the other person paid cash. Ultimately the confusion was redolved yhe next day, so yhank you management.
  7. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    San Francisco

    27 reviews

    vip
    3.0

    27 reviews

    Dined on December 29, 2014

    overall3food3service5ambience2
    It's down town Santa Cruz; not Palm Springs. Don't expect much and you'll be happy. It's walking distance from the movie house; that's the "Great" thing. If you have time drive to the wharf's pier where they're better restaurants.
  8. S

    Susan

    Central Coast

    8 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    8 reviews

    Dined on December 10, 2014

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great Food, good service, always a place to bring company.
  9. M

    Madam1

    San Francisco

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on October 19, 2014

    overall3food2service4ambience4
    We were shocked to see the new menu at this Santa Cruz staple. $18 for my burrito and they no longer include the delicious tortillas they're famous for. Way too expensive for Mexican food. Sorry Palomar this is our last time eating at your far too overpriced restaurant.
  10. CK

    CKP59

    San Francisco

    48 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    48 reviews

    Dined on October 12, 2014

    overall4food5service3ambience4
    Restaurant is in the lobby of the El Palomar Hotel. Beautiful old building, very casual feel. Everything we tried was excellent. My wife is a cook and comes from a Mexican family. She was pleased so I think others will be, too.
  11. S

    Steven

    Palm Springs

    39 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    39 reviews

    Dined on September 18, 2014

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    El Palomar offer bedsides the standard Tex/Mex menu of most Mexican restaurants, a varied and imaginative offerings of well prepared, tasty dishes.
  12. S

    Stephanie

    Sacramento

    5 reviews

    4.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on August 10, 2014

    overall4food3service4ambience4
    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.
  13. SC

    SCgirl

    San Francisco

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 5, 2014

    overall5food5service4ambience4
    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!
  14. S

    Susan

    Central Coast

    8 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    8 reviews

    Dined on June 14, 2014

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    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.
  15. M

    Mark

    San Francisco

    4 reviews

    4.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on June 11, 2014

    overall4food4service5ambience3
    Quick reliably quality lunch at a good price options
  16. N

    Nonickname

    Seattle

    71 reviews

    vip
    3.0

    71 reviews

    Dined on May 23, 2014

    overall3food4service2ambience4
    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
  17. FO

    FOODIEDIVA

    New York Area

    27 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    27 reviews

    Dined on April 5, 2014

    overall4food4service4ambience4
    Great food cool building and friendly service
  18. r

    rccb

    San Francisco

    6 reviews

    4.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on March 26, 2014

    overall4food4service5ambience5
    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.
  19. LP

    LisaP

    Los Angeles

    30 reviews

    3.0

    30 reviews

    Dined on March 23, 2014

    overall3food3service3ambience3
    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.
  20. F

    Foodlover

    Sacramento

    6 reviews

    5.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on March 21, 2014

    overall5food5service4ambience4
    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.
  21. v

    valbee

    San Francisco

    31 reviews

    3.0

    31 reviews

    Dined on March 14, 2014

    overall3food3service4ambience3
    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.
  22. P

    Pateena

    San Francisco

    8 reviews

    5.0

    8 reviews

    Dined on March 14, 2014

    overall5food4service5ambience3
    This is our go-to place for Friday night. The carnitas is outstanding and the servers are fabulous!
  23. JL

    JessLovestoDineOut

    San Francisco

    171 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    171 reviews

    Dined on March 6, 2014

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    Can't go wrong the beautiful restaurant. Food is good, best chips of anyplace, service is professional and overall fun!
  24. KP

    KatharineP

    San Francisco

    10 reviews

    3.0

    10 reviews

    Dined on January 24, 2014

    overall3food3service4ambience3
    Server was great. Good p,ace to go before dancing. Big tables and reasonably priced food.
  25. SC

    SantaCruzin

    San Francisco

    5 reviews

    4.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on January 12, 2014

    overall4food4service4ambience4
    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.
  26. P

    Pateena

    San Francisco

    8 reviews

    5.0

    8 reviews

    Dined on December 13, 2013

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    We always go to the Friday night carnitas. THE BEST!
  27. E

    Empi

    New York Area

    11 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on November 30, 2013

    overall4food4service4ambience4
    the seafood pozole was very good.
  28. SC

    SantaCruzLady

    San Francisco

    47 reviews

    vip
    3.0

    47 reviews

    Dined on November 16, 2013

    overall3food3service3ambience2
    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!
  29. g

    gmansc

    San Francisco

    10 reviews

    3.0

    10 reviews

    Dined on November 10, 2013

    overall3food4service2ambience4
    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.
  30. E

    Empi

    New York Area

    11 reviews

    vip
    4.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on October 12, 2013

    overall4food4service4ambience4
    Was looking for Mexican food and ended up there. Very good food and friendly service.
  31. NC

    NCris

    San Francisco

    17 reviews

    4.0

    17 reviews

    Dined on October 11, 2013

    overall4food4service4ambience3
    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.
  32. TW

    TWEED

    Orange County

    43 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    43 reviews

    Dined on September 29, 2013

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    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.
  33. E

    Excellent

    Baltimore

    61 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    61 reviews

    Dined on August 30, 2013

    overall5food5service2ambience4
    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.
  34. K

    Kira

    San Francisco

    19 reviews

    4.0

    19 reviews

    Dined on August 24, 2013

    overall4food3service4ambience3
    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.
  35. c

    cody

    San Francisco

    6 reviews

    vip
    3.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on August 18, 2013

    overall3food4service2ambience4
    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 :(
  36. G

    Gynger

    Los Angeles

    26 reviews

    4.0

    26 reviews

    Dined on August 8, 2013

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    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
  37. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    San Francisco

    11 reviews

    4.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on August 3, 2013

    overall4food5service2ambience2
    Fantastic food, but definitely loud in the dining area. They may want to close the doors to the bar.
  38. d

    dcschorr

    San Francisco

    14 reviews

    4.0

    14 reviews

    Dined on August 3, 2013

    overall4food4service3ambience3
    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.
  39. H

    Heidi

    New England

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 13, 2013

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    The service was top notch. People seem very happy to be working there. And the food and margaritas were delicious.
  40. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    San Francisco

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 12, 2013

    overall4food4service4ambience3
    The food is good, but the chips and salsa are amazing!

FAQs

El Palomar - Santa Cruz offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (831) 425-7575.

El Palomar - Santa Cruz is rated 4.1 stars by 120 OpenTable diners.

Not available on OpenTable

Unfortunately, this restaurant is not on the OpenTable reservation network.

If you like, we'll notify you by email if this restaurant joins.


Is this your restaurant?
Claim this listing

Additional information

  • Cross street

    Soquel Avenue

  • Neighborhood

    Santa Cruz

  • Hours of operation

    Mon–Thu, Sun 11:30 am–9:00 pm Fri, Sat 11:30 am–10:00 pm

  • Cuisines

    Mexican

  • Dining style

    Casual Dining

  • Dress code

    Business Casual

  • Parking details

    Public garage located at Soquel/Front

  • Payment options

    AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

  • Additional

    Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch

  • Phone number

    (831) 425-7575

  • 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.)<br />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.

  • Private party facilities

    We can accommodate up to 35 guests for a seated event and up to 55 guests for an appetizer/cocktail event. Please inquire with manager via email or restaurant's reservation phone for more details.

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