Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Food
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is synonymous with carnival food as it is the rides that silhouette it's skyline. One of the first things visitors to Santa Cruz do when landing upon the coastal California town is head to the Boardwalk and the first thing they do when they get there is grab a tasty treat to sustain them for at least an hour before shelling out their dollars for arcade games and high flying rides. The hard part about eating on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the same thing that makes it so fun - variety. With so many sweet, salty, gooey, crunchy, and deep-fried to glory goodies within a relatively small square footage narrowing down which ones you should try is a daunting task. You don't want to mess up because after only one or two of the diet corrupting snacks you'll likely have no room in your belly for more. Take that "risk" out of the equation and sample from our suggestions instead. We've bypassed the "restaurants" on the Boardwalk for this list to focus on the tasty carnival snacks. You don't go home to tell your friends about the pasta primavera that you had on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, you tell them about the out-of-this-world treats instead.
Here are our picks - Best Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Food!
CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON
Marini's at the Beach - Casino Arcade & Entrance 5
The Chocolate Covered Bacon from Marini's at the Beach on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is without question our number one pick for the Best of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Food. Vegans better run for cover because this is boardwalk food at its best. It may not be deep fried (as with most boardwalk food recommendations) but it is artery clogging goodness laid out in a tray beckoning every passing tourist and local. We've seen practically every chocolate and bacon combination on our travels throughout North America - from donuts to ice cream - but the simple yet genius concept of dipping bacon in chocolate is what makes this sweet and salty treat so epic. This is the ultimate in carny cuisine.
Funnel Cake Stand - Whiting's Foods - Across from The Big Dipper
Funnel cakes are one of the most common fair, festival, and boardwalk foods around. What's not love about a big round mass of batter whipped up in a circular motion and deep fried to a crispy surface? Factor in a diner's choice of powdered sugar, cinnamon, whipped cream, ice cream, or fruit toppings and it's no wonder that this mouth watering mound of pastry is a favorite on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Whiting's Foods is behind the Funnel Cakes served at the Boardwalk and they've been satisfying salivating customers for decades with their calorically built beasts. Some may protest that the funnel cakes are a little more doughy than ones found at some other carnival type places but honestly that's a part of what makes their Funnel Cakes so good - a little chewy texture with a slight crisp so it goes down more like a satisfying doughnut as opposed to a fleeting crispness that is consumed as fast as flavored air. The Funnel Cakes at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk are some of the best served at America's fairs and festivals and are a part of the official history of this coastal California landmark.
DOLE PINEAPPLE WHIP
Dole Pineapple Whip - Express Tiki Hut - Entrance 2
Unlike the other items on this list that are either fried, deep fried, or chocolate dipped the Dole Pineapple Whip from the Express tiki themed hut is a refreshing break from the weighty boardwalk foods you may be accustomed to. This treat was born on the Dole Plantation on Oahu where tourists flock to taste the sweet flavor of pineapple whipped up into a creamy frozen yogurt styled delicacy. It's popularity sparked Dole to begin doling out Dole Whip on mainland America and where better than the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? When the summer sun starts beating down mid-day in Santa Cruz there is nothing better to sample from the boardwalk than Dole Pineapple Whip.
Dipper Diner - Near Giant Dipper Entrance
The Dipper Diner serves up juicy charbroiled cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, corn dogs, popcorn chicken, and other tasty boardwalk foods but this location is best known for their famous Dipper Diner deep-fried cheesecake. Just hearing the beautiful string of words that form the phrase deep-fried cheesecake would have anyone at "hello" but add the description that the deep fry is applied to a tightly wrapped crispy sweet tortilla containing creamy cheesecake filling and a strawberry inner layer and you've got the next best deep-fried ingredient since the Twinkie. We've actually sampled deep-fried cheesecake in gourmet comfort food style eateries (all the rage) but the simple grab and go cheap and yummy fix of the Dipper Diner deep-fried cheesecake on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will have you smacking your lips and on your way without the wait - exactly how a food experience like this should be.
FRESH DIPPED CORN DOGS
Surf City Grill Corn Dogs - At the Loof Carousel
Armed with a recipe that has been handed down for generations, the corn dogs at the Surf City Grill are known to be among the best served in the entirety of North American amusement parks. That is a bold statement but one that is backed up time and time again. There is something special in the batter used to dip a Surf City Grill corn dog and when they say it's an age old recipe you don't doubt it. There is just something different about their corn dogs that defy comparison to others in the country. Whether you order a traditional or spicy variety, the crisp surface gives way to a nice thick doughy sheath when you bite in and the beefy dog inside bursts with flavor. They also serve up a vegetarian corn dog for those averse to America's ballpark mainstay. We honestly tried not to include a corn dog recommendation in our Best Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Foods list (a little too typical) but when we sampled a Surf City Grill corn dog we were left with no choice.
DEEP FRIED SMUCKER'S PB&J SANDWICHES
Deed Fried Twinkies Stand - At Sky Glider
As this article goes to print (online) the fate of the Twinkie is still unsure but no matter what you can rest easy knowing that the Deep Fried Snack Stand at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk will stay strong, especially when they continue to come up with inventive ways to throw sugary goodies into the fryer. With or without Twinkies, the most rich and gooey of the deep fried snacks at this particular Boardwalk eatery are the Deep Fried Smucker's Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches. The name alone requires no follow-up description - we're pretty sure you can imagine the epiphany that takes place when you bite into one.
More coming soon! YAHglobal continues to comb the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for tasty new amusement park treats. Expect new additions as the 2013 summer season concludes.
Until then, please visit our Santa Cruz Dining page for more good eats!