Local Favorite: Paula's Restaurant
How can you beat a freshly-cooked plate of breakfast staples for $3.99? Popular with Santa Cruz locals, Paula's is a funky little shack on Portola Drive. Simplicity and surf city culture rule here, from the Endless Summer decor to the pared-down menu to the low-key service. Indoor tables won't accomodate more than two or four. A few larger tables exist in the leafy outdoor nook, as well as the fun VW van that's been converted into a seating area.
There's customization available for everything, and plenty more breakfast options beyond the basic b. Think waffles, pancakes, scrambles, eggs benedict, sandwiches, hot dogs, and more at really reasonable prices.
The famous basic breakfast is probably the best hot, fresh breakfast you can get for under $5. Those potatoes aren't fried, and yet there's no problem in them getting gobbled right up. Add some orange juice, a little salt & pepper and ketchup and I'm completely happy with my basic Paula's breakfast. For those who need more of a kick, a trip to the salsa & condiment bar should set you right.
Rules & real tips
NO cell phones. Cash only. Pick up your order (no waiter), bus your own table, etc.
Open 8am to 1:30pm. Limited private and street parking. Pick-up and dine-in.
Often very busy on weekends.