Dharma's

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 30 reviews )
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831-462-1717
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4250 Capitola Rd, Capitola, California, USA, 95010

Casual setting, order at the counter. Offers breakfast items until noon, veggieburgers, salads, stir frys, Mexican plates, pasta, and more. Has a children's menu. Gluten free options. Originally known as McDharmas. Open Mon-Sun 8:00am-9:00pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, American, International, Take-out, Catering

Reviews (30)

First Review by Delmar831

Pros & Cons - Edit

I got the Nuclear Bluff on my first visit along with Samurai soup and spring rolls. The spring rolls (and sauce) were amazing. The samurai soup was terrible. I've seen many good reviews for it but it had no flavor! It tasted like noodles with veggies in water. The nuclear bluff was also great which came with chips and salad. The chips were also lacking flavor- just regular tortilla chips with no salsa or dips. The salad had a wonderful vinaigrette dressing (I ordered my nuclear bluff vegan. It was only the second time I ordered that they told me the dressing had honey. The only non-vegan thing I eat is honey, so they got lucky or else my review would be terrible.) I appreciated that the salad wasn't drenched and soggy in the dressing, just a light drizzle. The man at the register was old and grumpy. The second time I went I ordered the same thing (besides the samurai soup). The cashier was kind and was being trained. She forgot one of my items on the order so I had to reorder. The lady that gave me my food didn't even apologize about the inconvenience. Overall, some of the food is good. An okay place, you just have to find the stuff you like. I was almost going to order a strawberry shake but it was $9!! I could make 5 homemade ones for that same price!!

Pros: One friendly cashier, Salads are not soggy, Large portions

Cons: Expensive, Poor customer service , Non-vegan items not marked

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vegans beware - Edit

Used to go to this place for years and enjoyed the food until we found out they use honey in their menu items listed as vegan and do not mention it in the description of food. Found out from the owner and he was super blase about it when I told him it should be disclosed. I do not go there anymore. =[

Cons: not all vegan

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Good place for all tastes - Edit

I went here with my family when visiting my brother in Santa Cruz. I was really impressed with the size of the menu and the size of the location itself. I would go here again if I was ever in the area in the future. The food was good and the portions were substantial.

Pros: Large selection, Good food

Cons: A little greasy

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Definitely worth a visit - Edit

Visiting family in Santa Cruz, we ended up going here two days in a row, once for lunch, then for breakfast.

There's only one thing I don't like about this place, and that's the artwork on the wall by Bruce Harman. I think most patrons will adore this dopey stuff. This is the usual sort of New-Age art, with awesome technical ability weighted down by every imaginable New Age cliché. And the worst part is that everyone is portrayed as Caucasian. With Pele, for example, you see a darker skinned woman with facial features that are not Polynesian at all. Jesus looks very Goyish in several works. Rainbows, auras, blah blah. It's just awful stuff, but again, most of you will eat this up. If you are like me, at least you can distract yourself from the art by playing with the plastic animals sitting around the place.

Aside from the art, Dharma's is great. The food is good. Selection is great. Portions are HUGE. And that leads me to my favorite thing. Dharma's kind of plans for you to have leftovers. They have a leftover station in a corner, with several sizes of to-go containers (all recycled materials of course) and bags and even saran wrap, so you can pack up and take home anything very easily.

Pros: great menu, friendly faces, taking some to go is made super easy

Cons: The awful art (you'll probably adore it)

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Vegan BLT sandwich totally hit the spot - Edit

Upon entering Dharma's in Capitola, CA. I immediately felt comfortable. The walls were covered in beautiful art, there were adorable old plastic animals and dinosaurs around all of the booths for anyone to play with while their food is being prepared, casual cafeteria style seating and pick-up.

The meal was a "BLT", the "B" being Seitan cleverly seasoned to fool even the pickiest of omnivores. I chose to have avocado instead of mayo(they have vegan versions of that as well), the sandwich was filling and came with a side of crispy fries and a delicious crunchy dill pickle spear.

I will most definitely be returning to their restaurant.
Updated from previous review on Saturday February 27, 2016

Pros: Vegetarian and Vegan options galore, Gluten Free Options as well., Delicious food in large portions.

Cons: Can occasionally have sticky tables.

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Lively - Edit

Dharma is a busy, lively and thriving place. Service is fairly quick. The food Menu had a large selection,especially of Mexican cuisine. I had the Mexican Saute, and was pleased with it.

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Good vegetarian/vegan food - Edit

Dharma's offers vegetarian and vegan food. I've often thought that it's pretty pricey for a meal but the portions are generous and I always come home with leftovers.

They often offer Groupons and if you sign up for their emails they send weekly $6 coupons to be used on orders over $25.

We ate their last night. I had the Bo Thai with brown rice noodles. It has a mildy spicy peanut sauce over noodles and loads of veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage and carrots). It was tasty.

My son had the Portobello-Artichoke sandwich which included a side salad. They were happy to substitute vegan cheese for the dairy cheese.

We brought two omni friends who enjoyed their meals of the Brahma Burger and Greek Pasta.

They have toy dinosaurs around the place for kids to play with which is fun.

The atmosphere isn't much to speak of but the food is tasty.

Pros: Huge menu, Large portions

Cons: Kind of pricey, Atmosphere so-so

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Yummm! Something for everyone :) - Edit

I've come here with friends that are stuck in their unhealthy eating ways, and loved the food here. I've had friends tell me many times that they have returned once I took them. Menu is a little overwhelming (lots of choices) limited if you are a Gluten Free Vegan unfortunately. Portions have gotten smaller and smaller over time but yet are still very filling (just no left overs to take home any more). Even the house salad can fill a grown man so its worth the pretty penny. Staff can be awkward, their attitudes are rotten some days and unpleasant to deal with. You gotta over look it and just get excited for the food to come, haha. It can be really relaxing or REALLY LOUD. So sit outside (if there is room) if it gets to loud for you.

Enjoy :)

Update June, 8, 2015.
Hadn't been in awhile but the quality of the food has gone down even more. Spent $13+ for one dish that was literally ONLY rice, steamed veggies and a side of salsa. The menu said the veggies would be sautéed in salsa put on a bed of rice.. very misleading! Bummer that the quality of food is going down :(

Pros: a lot of dishes to choose from, fills up the tummy, vegan gluten free options

Cons: quality of food, staff, cleanliness in dining area

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Great, friendly, casual eatery. - Edit

Dharma's is a great place to take people who aren't technically a fan of vegetarian/vegan options. Its menu includes comfort food, familiar classics that have been made vegetarian, and also has gluten free options as well. It is a good place to go with a group as well as you can pay separately at the counter, or all together. One of the only places in Santa Cruz where you can always get kitchari soup, an Ayuvedic cleansing digestive-friendly soup, as well as the best salad and lemon-tahini dressing in town. The tempeh reuben is a delight, as well as their tofu scrambles. The pancakes (vegan version uses corn) are as big as your head, or a dinner plate. Be sure to bus your own tables!! Also has a delightful vegan shortbread tart with raspberry jam. Hard to find vegan shortbread!

Pros: huge options, casual vibe, great food

Cons: not too many raw options

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I eat here way too much - Edit

Love everything I've tried on the menu. Favorites being Bo Thai, vegan pesto pizza, the BBQ bluff, and Sichuan tofu . The specials are often awesome as well - "the beast" was my favorite (I wish it was a regular thing on the menu)

Pros: good food, nice staff, lots of vegan stuff

Cons: some things can't be made vegan

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California Adventure - Edit

The curry tofu scramble might be the best thing I have ever eaten. EVER. We visited Dharma's five months ago and I am still dreaming about the tofu scramble. Portions are ginormous-the kids had huge pancakes. So much good food.

Pros: good food, friendly staff, large portions

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Mostly Vegetarian

  Contributions +22

Yummy Yummy in my Tummy - Edit

We are 3 teens and a meatavore mom. These are our House favorites: Kitcheree soup with salad, house dressing.
Tofu Ranchero. Greek mac-n cheese. Veggie lasagna.

Yummy food in informal restaurant. We usually just call in an order to pick up and eat at home.

Pros: Yummy food, Not too expensive, Repeatable dishes

Cons: conspicuous lack of atmosphere, hard to understand microphone, massive portions

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Good stuff.. - Edit

Just went here for the first time, and thought it was great. Yellow curry tofu scramble was delicious. Prices are decent, the breakfast portions are large, the and staff was friendly. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area..

Pros: Tasty, Large Portions, Good Value

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in my top 3! :) - Edit

This cute little place is at the top of my list of favorite places in ca to get delicious vegan food. prices are moderate, setting is laid back/hippyish which i like, and the food is sooo good, and generous size portions. I'd list my favorites but then id be here all day. love this place!

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Best Vegan Breakfast/Brunch in Cali! - Edit

I really love the food here and even my skeptical partner was baffled and awed by his brunch this weekend. By far the best veg brunch I have ever had and I go to lots of veg places around the state. The tofu scramble is a must. I always get the ranchero (wow) but my partner was more adventurous and ordered the thai scramble. OMG! Amazing! Please also order a side of the potatoes--you'll thank me later. Extra large portions means you'll have lots of leftovers, which equals good value for great ingredients. The decor is depressing cafeteria with some new-age touches, but if you can get past the ugly flooring, tables, and chairs, then you will have a great meal. Also, the man at the counter was indifferent and almost rude, but who cares? YUM! However, if the food wasn't so good, I'd give it a much lower rating.

Pros: best tofu scramble, lots of vegan options, new-age touches

Cons: ugly strip mall, depressing cafeteria decor, self-serve cafeteria

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Good Food - Great Prices - 100% VEGETARIAN - Edit

I've been going here for years. Food is great and 100% vegetarian. Fast, friendly service - and inexpensive, large proportions. Great for large groups and parties. We usually take home an entire extra meal as leftovers. They even cater to food sensitivities.
Desserts are absolutely fantastic! Some of the best are raw and vegan.
Cons: Avoid the coffee, if you are a coffee "snob" as it is marginal. Pizzas are ok for kids, but not very tasty for adults. Fairly busy atmosphere...look for the seating on the left side behind the wall if you want a more relaxing meal.
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HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pros: 100% VEGETARIAN, Great variety of food, Great price

Cons: Loud - not a place for romantic dinners, Specials aren't much different than menu, coffee and pizza are marginal

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One long time staple for local vegetarians - Edit

Formerly McDharmas, but McDonalds sued and when you are a big fat bully, you usually get your way. When you eat a lot of Big Macs, you will more likely be a big fat bully than the gentle folks who eat at Dharmas where there is a highly diverse menu, always good.

Pros: variety, quality

Cons: stand, order and wait, crowded at times

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Vegan

  Contributions +79

Cozy Spot in Capitola - Edit

I'll just add to the "dharma's is tasty" reviews. It is. I like the wall heading towards the rear of the store loaded with staff/family photos. This is really the place to go if everyone in your group is jonesing for something different. There is a wide array of foods at any given time. Bring a newspaper and kick back while you enjoy your meal. The vibe here is casual, local and established.
Updated from previous review on Wednesday April 20, 2011

Pros: Variety of Food, Vegan Dessert, Family Friendly

Cons: Not 100% Vegan, Can Get Pricey

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Been a fave for years... - Edit

When I used to live in Santa Cruz, I went here all the time and loved it, but although still pretty good, the quality and attention has slipped a bit. I really miss the air fries, and regular sunflower sprouts.

Pros: Quality food, Good selection, Happy, peaceful ambience

Cons: Air fries gone ;'(, Sunflower sprouts not always there

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To the point - Edit

Ok, I've lived around the world and I spent 3 years in Santa Cruz. Dharma's is, hands-down, the only mostly vegan (entirely vegetarian) restaurant I've *ever* visited that has many dishes it does quite well (not all are terrific: I would recommend the "Asian-style" dishes for vegan Pad Thai and I LOVE the dan dan noodles, but I was only so-so on the vegan pizza). The Mexican entrees and Italian ones aren't bad either, but I was most impressed with the Asian-style and the salads. The salads are not just fresh and very green, but have a variety of ingredients in them so you won't get bored. :)

But here's the best thing this restaurant has: dairy-free 'milk'shakes with about 8-12 different flavors!!! It may cost a lot (I think $5+) for the shake, but you get a pint glass of dairy-free heaven, I am not kidding you I have travelled to Dharma's just for the mint chocolate chip shake, and I've even just ordered a single slice of pizza or small salad in order to save room for it.

The other big item on the dessert menu are any of the cakes they have that day made my Black China bakery - vegan double chocolate, vegan German chocolate ETC. You won't be disappointed. I tasted BC here and then called the company to order my wedding cake.

The major problem with Dharma's is that it's too expensive (please charge me half the cost and give me half the food!) and it's out of the way for those without cars. I lived in downtown Santa Cruz with a bike and no car, and public transport is kind of backwards (often inconvenient and behind schedule), so I wished it had been closer. It makes for a nice afternoon bike ride, but it's definitely not the kind of place you want to be traveling to in the dark on a foggy or cold night in SC (which is often).

Still, I have to say, I have yet to find its match anywhere else I've been or lived (several places in Europe and East Asia).

Note to gluten-free people: they have vegan, gluten-free pizza on the menu.

Pros: lots of variety, fresh ingredients, can share big portions, the dairy-free shakes

Cons: the prices, location

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The best resturant ever in the world - Edit

I tell my friend im visiting him in Santa Cruz but really im going there to eat here. All of the breakfast and lunch items are amazing.

Pros: good tasting healthy food

Cons: expensive but well worth it

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Awesome food in a friendly, family atmospere - Edit

The food here is quality and consistent. Dharmas is a cafeteria style restaurant with a great selection of different foods and tons of good vibes. Food is on the pricier side but the servings usually yield two meals. The sandwiches are DELICIOUS!!! They also have an extensive gluten free menu and will sub in vegan options for no additional charge which is kind of a rarity. There is art on the walls, warm lighting, and great folk working there.
Try the artichoke portabella sandwich or the tempeh ruben. The raw vegan cheesecake is expensive but so worth it.
Dharmas is one of my absolute favorites in Santa cruz

Pros: Good Food, Great Service, Family atmosphere

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i - Edit

Dharmas is really good. All their food is delicious.

Pros: healthy, vegan-friendly, nice people

Cons: nothing bad to say

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Something for everyone - Edit

Dharmas used to be called McDharma's but McDonalds sued them and they changed the name. This restaraunt always has something for every taste from mexican to asian to italian inspired dishes. The food is very good and the portions are gigantic. The atmosphere is really relaxed but it is important to know that they don't allow use of cell phones inside the restaraunt.
The only downside are the prices which can be really high.

Pros: variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes

Cons: Pricey

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Capitola classic - Edit

Yeah, Dharma's.

Everybody (from around here) knows about Dharma's. It's been here since 1981. It's an institution.

So it is not surprising that on a Monday night, I found a line for dinner when I went in. Neither should it be surprising that parents are bringing in their toddlers, who of course, were running amok.

Yet, cell phones are forbidden. You can't miss the signs; they're all over the place.

As one who brings neither form of annoyance, I was bemused by the preference. I also noticed the menu seemed to favor lunch and breakfast items over dinner items.

So I came back on a Tuesday afternoon and had a Brahma burger. At this writing, there's a salmonella scare on tomatoes; the burger came with only lettuce and a bun, accompanied by what appeared to be boiled potato wedges. There was still a line, but it wasn't as long, and this time, the toddlers were no where in sight. This was a much more pleasant experience, but the burger seemed dry--I really missed the tomatoes.

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Extensive menu, huge portions, lacks ambiance - Edit

Dharma's has a huge menu with tons of veggie options to suit anyone's mood, great if you're in the mood for thai, your boyfriend's in the mood for a veggie burger and your friend wants mexican. . . all will be satisfied here. I usually get the brown rice, veggies, tofu+ tahini sauce. I would prefer cheaper prices and smaller portions, but you come here and take half the meal home. Also the ambiance is cafeteria-like.

Pros: Options/ Menu, Value

Cons: ambiance

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Consistently Delicious :-) - Edit

Dharma's has a large selection of food choices, about 95% of which are already vegan or an be made vegan upon request. Their food is not gourmet, but consistently delicious home/deli-style cooking. I've eaten here more times than I can count, and never had anything that was less than 3 stars on a 5 star scale. Most items are 4 or 5 stars. A worker there told me 95% of ingredients are organic.

Menu categories are Burgers & Dogs, Sandwiches, Mexican Naturals, Salads, Soups, Side Orders, Pasta, International Saute's, Breakfast, Beverages (over 30 choices), Desserts, and New Items. In addition, there are always specials on the board. I especially like their blueberry pancakes, pestoroni (pesto-vegan pepperoni) pizza (a special), bo thai saute, aloha burger, and any salad with tahini lemon dressing. Salad ingredients are always quite fresh. I'd give their soy mint chocolate shake 3 stars, and their Mexican corn bread about 3 1/2.

You wait in line, order at the counter, and pick up your meal when your name is called. At prime meal times, the line can be long. There are lots more seats than a typical vegetarian restaurant, and some outdoor seating where people often eat with their dogs along. Non-sandwich meals often cost in the $10 to $12, but portion sizes are HUGE. I can easily split meals here with my 6'5", 250 lb partner, and we both get plenty to eat. Order takers have never messed up my order.

I really don't have any complaints about this Dharmas. My suggestions are: add some raw foods items, expand the dessert menu to include some vegan chocolate mousse and fruit pies other than just apple, make the nacho's vegan, and expand the fresh juice options.

Pros: Lots of delicious vegan choices, 95% organic, Lots of parking

Cons: Nacho's can't be made vegan, Sometimes a long line, wait

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