Over the last few months outdoor seating has surprisingly (or not) become incredibly important to me in choosing a place to eat with my beau. It’s funny, if you’ve eaten with me you know I hate being in direct sun and almost always prefer sitting indoors (especially if it’s over 70 outside). Enter Pico, our five month old French Bulldog, and the reason we’re obsessed with outdoor seating. Apparently our world revolves around him. We know it. He knows it. Which makes finding outdoor seating  non-negotiable.

After taking him for his first ever beach day in Santa Cruz (where he dug, ate sand, chased birds and ran from the water) we decided it’d be better to stop for a bite before hitting the road.

We remembered we’d been on one prior visit, and settled on US Meal. We couldn’t even remember if they had outdoor seating. Luckily it was nearby so we figured if we gave it a shot and if it didn’t work out we’d figure out something else.

Karma must have been on our side because as luck would have it, they happened to have a really well lush outdoor seating area with picnic tables, umbrellas (yay shade!) adjacent to the restaurant.

We tied our furry son to the tables, grabbed a menu, ordered our food and chatted away about the mornings activities and our plans for later that evening.

My burger, a Jalapeño & Guacamole burger was perfectly medium rare, and jam packed with flavor. What US Meal lacks in fancy burgers, they make up for in charm and quality.

Instead of sharing a basket of fries, we opted for a more indulgent side, fried pickles, which were probably in the top 5 of best fried pickles I’ve eaten. Typically I find myself disappointed, they’re either too soggy, too batter-y or not pickle-y enough. But these ones had an ideal ration of batter:pickle.

My better half enjoyed his Maui burger,  complimented them on the savory teriyaki sauce that was perfectly balanced by the juicy slice of pineapple inside.

If you’re looking to get off the boardwalk and more into the heart of Santa Cruz, US Meal is in a weird shopping mall, but near enough to Pleasure Point for views. If you’re looking to make an afternoon of it, there’s also a brewery around the corner 😉


Additional details:

Location: Santa Cruz, California

Cuisine: Burgers, Comfort Food

Occasion: Casual

Price: $5 – $12

Phone: (831) 475-1982

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