University Center Bistro now open for weekday lunch service

Offering weekday lunch service from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

University Center Bistro has opened its doors for lunch Monday through Friday above the College Nine/John R. Lewis dining hall, giving faculty, staff, and students a new dining experience to enjoy on campus this fall. Helmed by chef Diego Leiva, the bustling kitchen is turning out entrees like pan-seared salmon with mango Calabrian chili salsa and black rice, and grilled top sirloin steak with gremolata. 

A lifelong foodie with roots in El Salvador, Leiva has been a Santa Cruz local since 2011, and brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience from his years working on the UC Santa Cruz Dining team. The menu reflects his love of combining food cultures, and the vibe is upscale casual. 

In addition to entrees, expect to see a selection of salads, soups, starters, gourmet pizzas and burgers, and several vegan options. Finish your meal with a delectable dessert like caramel cheesecake, tiramisu, or sorbet.

The Bistro uses a hybrid service model for a streamlined experience. After ordering and paying at the counter, hosts seat customers and servers bring customers their meals. As a venue managed by UCSC Dining, the Bistro does not serve alcoholic beverages, and staff do not accept tips. Bistro servers are students who gain real-world work experience, strengthening their skills in communication, customer service, and teamwork.

University Center already serves as a hub of activity at UC Santa Cruz, with its spectacular setting among tall redwood trees, elegant rotunda, meeting rooms, and cozy fireplace. With University Center Bistro now open, there is even more reason to visit. 

Hours and Reservation Information

University Center Bistro lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and reservations available to book online. Reservations are recommended for parties of 5 or more. 

  • To book a reservation for groups of 11 or more, please call (831) 459-2689 and allow at least one day notice. 
  • A separate room may be booked for larger parties for an additional fee.

Slug Points, Banana Bucks, Flexi Dollars, credit cards, and Entertainment Reporting Forms (ERF) are accepted. Get 10% off when you pay with Slug Points, Banana Bucks, or Flexi$.

University Center Cafe, located adjacent to the Bistro, serves espresso, coffee, tea, baked goods, and a selection of ready-made sandwiches, salads, and more. The Cafe is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.