my one pathetic year of college was spent up at UC santa cruz, and i spent more time in town than i did in class. i still go up there fairly often and make a point to visit some of my favorite spots. ive been vegetarian for 9 years, so these all have to cater to my diet
all vegan Sri Lankan food and possibly my favorite restaurant on the planet. it used to be two restaurants, asian rose, which was strictly lunch, almost lunch counter style place where you could get stuffed for 6 bucks on things like deviled soy nuggets, singapore noodles, spicy red potatoes, coconut kale, and more that are so packed with flavor its impossible to stop eating. you pick the number of dishes you want and they pile it all on one big bown over rise with yellow sauce. malabar was owned by the same people and did dinner only and was a more upscale version of asian rose. they are now combined and on front street in downtown santa cruz. i would reccomend this to anyone.
PIZZA MY HEART
pretty hyped place, but worth it. when i was vegan i tortured myself walking by this place. good thin-crust pizza, served by the slice, crispy crust, great tasting sauce and not too much cheese(a lot of pizza places make the mistake of too much cheese IMO)
vegetarian-friendly taqueria that isnt necessarily out of this world, but damn tasty, use whole beans, serve big portions and is relatively cheap.
in berkeley, after shows at Gilman St. id often go to lanesplitter nearby, which had decent pizza, but when i was eating vegan, they had a french bread pizza with a tofu pesto spread on top that was really tasty and just as good cold while on the 5 freeway near bakersfield driving back home at 4 in the morning.
i only ate at Herbivore in SF once and it was absolutely fantastic. had a tofu pai thai with peanut sauce(it was like, all peanut sauce) that was amazing.