.Complete Guide to Santa Cruz Burger Week 2.0

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f there’s one thing I’ve learned from tracking down and talking to the chefs, owners, general managers, bartenders, and servers of the 23 restaurants involved in Santa Cruz Burger Week, it’s that Santa Cruz County is crazy about burgers. Like, nuts. Santa Cruz has truly become a burger town, and my “five minute” interviews quickly became half-hour dissertations on burger philosophy—not to mention Santa Cruz food culture, the restaurant industry, and even Bitcoin. I’ve focused on the burger parts in the write-ups below, in an attempt to get readers fully prepped.

What you’ll discover is that Santa Cruz County restaurants will be pulling out all the stops for this Burger Week, which runs Feb. 21-27, offering affordable $7-$10 bits of meaty (and non-meaty) goodness you won’t find anywhere else. Our first Burger Week, held last July, was a smashing success, attracting so many burger fanatics that some restaurants had to turn people away. This time around, with the event moved by popular request to the off-season, the restaurant staff I talked to say that they’re ready for the burger blitz. Read on, and you’ll see that the passion, energy and wizardry that the participating restaurants put into this Burger Week is absolutely astounding.

Go to SantaCruzBurgerWeek.com to view all the special menus.


99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

110 Walnut St., Santa Cruz, 459-9999, 99bottles.com

“We’re going to serve a delicious burger all week long to Santa Cruz County, and we’re super excited about it. Our burgers are straight-up fantastic and we have a selection of over 250 beers to go along with them. Our veggie burger is awesome, and is helping to save the planet, too.”

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— Avatar White, Bartender


1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 824-6100, assembly.restaurant

“We’re happy to put our burger in the mix with all the outstanding burgers around town. Our menu is rustic Californian cuisine and a burger definitely fits that category. We pile stuff on, and local sourcing is key for us. The bun that we use is a brioche bun made by one of our employees, Jasmine. That’s a fantastic thing that sets us apart. A bun can be forgettable but we make it memorable.”

— Zach Davis, Co-owner

Betty Burgers and Betty’s Eat Inn

1000 41st Ave., Capitola, 475-5901; 505 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-8190; 1222 Pacific Ave., Downtown Santa Cruz, 600-7056; bettyburgers.com

“For Burger Week this year, we’re offering three different options: the $7 “Lil’ Shroomie” and the $10 “Loaded” and “Cha Cha Cha” burgers. The specials we’ve chosen are inventive, but not too crazy. Between the three of them there is something for everyone. We are the best burger in Santa Cruz, and we provide a dining experience beyond most counter-service restaurants. We do everything in-house—we season our meat and make our own patties. We use the freshest ingredients and don’t use any premade patties.”

—    Lauri Negro, Owner

Bruno’s Bar and Grill

230 Mount Hermon Road, Scotts Valley, 438-2227, brunosbarandgrill.com

“Under new ownership and boasting a [slightly] new name, Bruno’s Bar and Grill has created the ‘Bad Boy Burger’ for you! The Bad Boy is a juicy prime burger topped with smoked gouda, bourbon bacon jam, grilled onions, Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and our Bruno’s naughty sauce. The homemade bourbon bacon jam/glaze is a thick, flavorful sauce. My husband kept on trying different things until he got it perfect. Our house ‘naughty sauce’ has a kick to it, too. All of the flavors of the burger work and play off of each other, and the fries we serve are a perfect accompaniment.”

— Joanne Guzman, Owner

The Buttery

702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-3020, butterybakery.com

Santa Cruz Burger Week 2018 Betty Burger
Betty Burger

“The Buttery is serving French fries for the first time in its history! We’re definitely excited about it. We’re offering two burgers: a $7 “normal” Signature Burger and a $10 “meatier, more interesting” Bacon Gorgonzola Burger. Both will be served on our housemade sesame brioche buns, and come with homemade fries and hot pepper jack cheese dipping sauce. We’re trying to meet everyone’s needs, and we certainly didn’t forgot about our area’s vegetarians—we’ll happily be serving an equally delicious veggie burger as well.”

— Tommy Park, General Manager

The Cremer House

6256 Hwy. 9, Felton, 335-3976, cremerhouse.com

“The main thing I want to emphasize is the quality of our Cremer Burger—it’s simple and fresh, with one half-pound of grass-fed ground beef and a Sunflower Bakery bun. We want to showcase what we’re doing up in Felton at The Cremer House; while folks enjoy a great burger, they can see what else our restaurant has to offer.”

— Mike Goss, Restaurant Manager

East End Gastropub

1501 41st Ave., Capitola, 475.8010, eastendpub.com

“We really take our burger seriously here. We put a lot of attention into it. And this is our time to get creative with it. We thought it would be a cool spin to put a pastrami sandwich on a burger. We’re using grass-fed beef; our house stout in nitro, to make a delicious beer mustard; beef belly pastrami; really fresh, crisp sauerkraut; and traditional Swiss cheese on a brioche bun. Burger Week is a chance for us to show off a top-quality burger with our own creative spin.”

— Amy Elliot, General Manager

Gabriella Café

910 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 457-1677

Santa Cruz Burger Week 2018 The Cremer House
The Cremer House

“Our featured burger is special—boasting the highest quality ingredients. The 6-ounce grass-fed beef patty is of the highest quality, and it sits on a homemade bun. Homemade Dijon sauce, caramelized onions, lettuce, and kraut round out the burger. We have sauerkraut on the burger instead of a pickle. I had the idea of using coleslaw with beets, carrot and currants as a side. We also have homemade fresh-cut French fries that are very special. We’re proud of our fresh-cut onion rings that are breaded in panko and fried. The quality of the meat and the homemade bun is really what makes our burger great. We’re happy to be a part of Burger Week. It’s a fun week and is extremely popular.”

—    Paul Cocking, Owner

Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room

221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 426-4852, hulastiki.com

“Our burgers have hand-made patties from grass-fed beef and are grilled over an open flame. You can’t beat them. I think the most unique burger that we are offering for Burger Week is our ‘Impossible Burger.’ It tastes just like beef, but it’s made with all plant proteins. It’s a great option for the environmentally, animal conscious burger eater, or for anyone who is looking for a great substitute for beef.”

— Hollis Oatey, General Manager

Michael’s On Main

2591 S. Main St., Soquel, 479-9777, michaelsonmain.com

“Last year, we were a bit underprepared for how popular Burger Week would be, but this year we’re totally ready. Our ‘Americana Burger’ has a large 7-ounce patty with top-quality Angus beef from Harris Ranch in California. We offer a vegan burger and a vegetarian garden option, too.”

— Michael Harrison, Owner


110 Church St., Santa Cruz, 454-8663, mozaicsantacuz.com

“I love the idea of Burger Week. It’s totally accessible and allows people to try new things and dine on affordable, quality cuisine. We’re proud of our Mozaic Burger. At half a pound, it’s large, juicy, charbroiled, and topped with caramelized onions. It comes with fries or our Greek salad. Guests will love our juicy Wild Salmon Burger served with caramelized onions and our homemade honey Dijon sauce. Santa Cruz’s vegetarians will appreciate the ‘Opa Burger’ and many other things on our extensive menu.”

— Jay Dib, Owner

Parish Publick House

841-A Almar Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-0507, theparishpublickhouse.com

“We have the best burgers in town. We don’t skimp on quality or size. We’re doing three burgers for Burger Week. The Fried Green Tomato Burger is what I’m most excited about. Fried green tomatoes, a fried egg, bacon, ghost pepper jack cheese, and Thousand Island dressing are sandwiched between a pretzel bun. Each of our burgers are $10, and will be served with homemade barbecue chips. We buy high-end beef, and our French fries are cut in house.”

— Dave, Kitchen Manager

Red Restaurant and Bar

200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 429-1913, redrestaurantandbar.com

Santa Cruz Burger Week 2018 Water Street Grille
Water Street Grille

“This is an opportunity for the Red to show off and get creative. And with the ‘Burger on the Cusp,’ we did. Our chef likes what he does and wants to showcase his talents and abilities. His creation, Burger on the Cusp, is a pistachio-encrusted crab patty with arugula, heirloom tomato, and a chipotle-lemon aioli on a brioche bun. Served with truffle rosemary fries. We hope that all of our loyal customers (and their friends) enjoy it.”

— Jessica, Bartender

Saturn Café

145 Laurel St., Santa Cruz, 429-8505, santacruz.saturncafe.com

“This is a huge opportunity for Saturn Café. During Burger Week, we want to let everyone know that as a 100-percent vegetarian restaurant, we serve amazing, delicious burgers. People can come test drive the ‘Space Cowboy’ burger—a vegetarian ‘Saturn Patty’ with ‘bacon,’ onion strings, and jack cheese topped with lettuce, tomato, and homemade vegan mayo and barbecue sauce. We buy our fresh gluten-free burger buns from a local company. Space Cowboy is an awesome burger and it comes with a choice of sides.”

— Humberto Olivera, General Manager


7500 Old Dominion Court, Aptos, 688-8987, seacliffinn.com

We’re about offering an affordable burger, and wanted to make sure it was high-quality with fresh ingredients. The Sev’s Burger is encased in a delicious potato bun, which completes this rendition, while caramelized onions and blue cheese crumbles lend sweetness and saltiness. But it’s our beloved seasoned grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and lamb patty, which we grind and shape daily, that lingers longest on the palate and memory bank.”

— Chef Antonio, Severino’s Bar and Grill

Sid’s Smokehouse

10110 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 662-2227, sidssmokehouse.com

“Burger Week allows us to showcase the different types of meats we have. With our 50-50 Bulldog Burger, we get to combine smoked meats with Angus—it’s a half Angus beef and half bacon patty. We also offer things like brisket on top of a hamburger, and pulled pork on top of a burger, too. These are things that you really can’t find anywhere else. You’ve really got to try our Western BBQ Burger–it’s piled high like a volcano. We know how to do meats—and burgers.”

— John Siddall, Owner


49 Municipal Wharf A, Santa Cruz 466-9766, splashonthewharf.com

“I’m most excited about the Bacon Mac ’n’ Cheese Burger. It’s sautéed onions on top of bacon on top of mac ’n’ cheese, on top of a half-pound burger. Seafood lovers will enjoy our Crab Cake Burger and vegetarians can order our Portobello Mushroom Burger—complete with gruyere cheese and black truffle aioli on a sesame bun. We are absolutely excited about Burger Week and having locals come to sample our menu.”

— Ivan Chable, Manager

Surf City Sandwich

4101 Soquel Drive, Soquel, 346-6952, surfcitysandwich.com

“Last year during Burger Week we thought out of the box, and this year we’re offering the best $7 burger money can buy. The Surf City Burger boasts an Angus beef patty, kosher pickles, caramelized onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a brioche sesame bun. We use Angus beef and cook it in its own fat any way you like. Best cooked medium, the burger comes with our perfectly salty housemade chips. It’s a good-sized burger—perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

— Paul Figliomeni, Owner

U.S. Meal

21505 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz 475-1982, facebook.com/US-Meal

Santa Cruz Burger Week 2018 Your Place
Your Place

“We’re really upping it for Burger Week with our Western Burger. It usually doesn’t have bacon or avocado on it, or come with French fries, but we’re pulling out all the stops. Our burgers are unique. We make the Angus beef patties ourselves each day, and all of our garnishes—like onions and tomatoes—are cut fresh each morning. Everything is fresh here. The best thing I can tell anyone about Burger Week: try the burgers and give local businesses the support they need. Try to go to them all.”

— Desiree Voorhees-Frahn, Owner  

Water Street Grill

503 Water St., Santa Cruz, 332-6122, thewaterstreetgrill.com

“Everything at the Water Street Grill is made from scratch. We have a lot of burgers that are not offered anywhere else, and we’re proud to introduce them to Santa Cruz County. Our cheeseburger temple is stacked high with organic greens, tomato, red onions, melted cheddar and jack cheese, and two 5-ounce grass-fed Angus beef patties. We use locally baked bread and everything on our burgers is homemade. We make our own Thousand Island sauce and use local-sourced produce in everything we do. We’re big proponents of the farm-to-table movement, and even our French fries are made from scratch in our kitchen daily.”

— John Degeneres, Owner and Manager

West End Tap and Kitchen

334-D Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 471-8115 westendtap.com

“Our burger is one of the best in town. We call it the Cherry Bomb Burger. It’s a grass-fed and pasture-raised patty with Fresno peppers, smoked mozzarella, and roasted cherry tomatoes on a challah bun. I’m excited to see people’s responses to all the burgers in town. It’s a very local, community vibe over here. We want to continue being experimental and trying new things.”

— Jeremy McCarthy, General Manager

Your Place Farm to Table

1719 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 426-3564, yourplacesc.com

“For Burger Week, we’re doing something that nobody’s seen before. The Monte Cristo Burger is French toast with a burger and cheese inside. You can have it with syrup or eat it how it is. It’s absolutely amazing—completely different, weird and awesome. Our other burgers are awesome, too. ‘Get in My Mouth’ is insane, fun and delicious. For our ‘Monster’ burger we use eggs fresh from our yard. The eggs are from our chickens—we run around our whole yard trying to find the stars of the burger. We are as homegrown as it gets.”

— Staff


819 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-0646, zacharyssantacruz.com

“We’re mostly known for our breakfast, so it’s great to showcase our burger. Our burger is 100-percent homemade, and we use the same sourdough as our toast, shaped into a burger bun. We’ll use our homemade barbecue sauce on the burger itself, and herb garlic butter on the bun that gives it a unique flavor. We’ll use roasted Anaheim chilies on our Green Chili and Pepper Jack Burger—as well as grilled yellow onions, spicy pepper jack cheese, and a delicious homemade chipotle mayonnaise.”

— Cathy Kriege, Owner



  1. Most of these burgers will turn out as dry, overcooked average grade meat patties. It is very expensive to make a good burger, to make a profit the meat is simply Average. The cook who prepares the burger usually is clueless, ie pressing down on the meat as it cooks and cooking it to a black piece of charcoal.


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