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“You have to know what to order!”

Las Olitas Cantina & Grill
Ranked #48 of 374 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Cuisines: Mexican
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed June 17, 2014

OK.... as a local, a foodie and a chef by profession I am giving five stars. I have put off reviewing this place for years because I JUST WASN'T SURE how I truly felt..... But last night's meal was the third in a row for SURPRISINGLY DIFFERENT AND INTERESTING AND FLAVORFUL FOOD that I have found anywhere in SC.

I ordered the seared scallops with the house made squid ink pasta. I am Italian. I ordered it for the noodles, let's just be honest. Same reason I ordered the red chili risotto on my last visit. That, was great. THIS... I won't lie... I cried a little. These noodles could not have been made or cooked more perfectly. The sauce, very light... a viscous broth of shitakes and leeks. The pasta... JET BLACK. Beautiful. Chewy. Thick. No eggy or fishy taste AT ALL. Perfection. And I do not claim to be any expert, but I do have a $15k culinary education and have eaten noodles in all parts of Italy and do get paid daily for my skills and knowledge. These guys or girls, whomever is in that kitchen... can make pasta! (So, slightly biased...yeah, I'll admit it.)

It was Friday night in February. Surprisingly packed inside. We had resos and specified one of the only three booths in the place. (I like to relax, lay back, chill. I despise tables/chairs if there is ANY OTHER OPTION.) They were surprisingly accommodating with the booth even though we were only a party of two. There were quite a few BIG groups while we were there. Like, eight plus people all around us. And, to be honest, none of which were even remotely kind, courteous or patient with the wait staff. (grrrr...)

Our server, though clearly working at the top end of his patience level, was thorough, precise and honest about everything we inquired about and ordered. (I truly appreciate an honest waitperson. If I ask you "Is this good?" I expect you to treat me like a buddy and tell me the truth. I would... you should too. And I do, in turn, tip you accordingly.) He rocked-I do not. (I didn't get your name, d'oh. SORRY!)

Yep, it was loud. It was crowded (with *clears throat* a lot of id-E-ots, spring break type id-E-ots, and tourist... bless their impatient rude little hearts.) No, it is not cheap. It is not "authentic" Mexican (thank god). Yes, I do believe you have to KNOW what to order. (I have tasted other dining companions' meals in the past and not been impressed.)

-Order the Lobster Quesadilla. Yes, it's twenty bucks.... wait for it.
-If there is ANY house made pasta on the menu... JUST.ORDER.IT
-TIP YOUR SERVER WELL. This is a very touristy location. Us locals very much appreciate good food and it is almost impossible to get at any of the "regular" tourist joints. Tourists are notoriously bad tippers, they just are. These people are working their behinds off to make your tired, sunburnt, Prius driving behind happy. TIP APPROPRIATELY.

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Thank Whisk-Chef
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (148)
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93 - 97 of 148 reviews

Reviewed June 17, 2014

I went to Las Olitas on a busy night in Santa Cruz - during UCSC graduation weekend. Even with the 'busy-ness', Las Olitas did a great job.The salsa and chips were solidly good, the margaritas were very good (although it took a tad long to get them - but it was a busy night), the oysters were really good and the fish tacos were both really good and a pretty substantial meal (I couldn't finish all 3). The view of the sunset on one side and the boardwalk rides on the other was very nice. The service was quick and friendly. I would go again!

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Thank jeffreyjfred
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 27, 2014

By far the best restaurant in Santa Cruz with wonderful specials and delightful sauces. The owner is a classically trained French Chef and his innovative menu never fails to please. Great service, great drinks and fantastic food!!!!!

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Thank spicysuzanne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2014

The views are triumphant, the drinks are cold, and the dinner was sub-par. From the reviews, and our local guides' recommendation, this place must be very hit or miss. When
i was there, it was a miss. The fish tacos were spicy (good), but dry. I suspect if I threw them into the ocean, it would have lost some depth.

In fairness one of our guests had seared tuna and she enjoyed it. The chile rellenos that he enjoyed.

Drinks? The beer list was terrible. All that good beer available fresh and they had swill. I settled for a local bottle, but I can get that all the way across the country.

Importantly, the views. They are honestly great. I wold not go back as there are plenty of other choices. Perhaps I fell into that trap made for tourists (it was rather full, and many people seemed to be familiar to the place, si it might have just been a bad night).

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Thank thephan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Although the sunset is over land instead of the ocean, it's still a pleasant evening. I went twice in one week during off season and had a very good Siete Mares (seafood platter).

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Thank Michael G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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