Maybe your road trip hasn’t felt enough like an adorable indie travelogue, or maybe your weekend in Santa Cruz could use a little less surf hippy energy and a little more of a trendy academic bent. In either case, Bad Animal is the answer. The combination natural wine bar/bookstore/event space just outside the heart of downtown charges right up to the edge of hipster stereotype without tipping over, thanks to their legitimately excellent tastemaking. The wine list is as perfectly curated as the books, diverse and funky and fun, with local selections and wine from abroad. The food fits the mold too, seasonal and interesting, ranging from a light wine-friendly snack board to a rotating pasta and a hearty vegetarian stew. And regardless of how you feel about the vibe; a new book, a glass of funky red wine, and a ricotta toast with peaches and radicchio is a pretty unbeatable combination in the crisp salty Santa Cruz air.
How to order: Walk-ins only for food and wine; books available through their website.