great family run Mexican restaurant!.
I make it through Santa Cruz once every couple of years and was hooked on the food at El Paisano the first time I visited 15 years ago. The restaurant is right across the street from the SC Boardwalk so does get fairly busy on weekends and some evenings. Going there during the week for lunch you'll almost never have a problem finding a table.
What keeps me coming back are three things. The food, the service and the very unassuming interior that just feels "right" for a home cooked Mexican meal. The food is exactly what you want in this sort of eatery; fresh, flavorful and solid portions. Over the years I've tried almost everything on the menu and have yet to be disappointed. The meats are well seasoned, vegetables fresh and tamales cooked on-site. Similarly the service is wonderful. The staff make you feel at home and are always quick to answer any questions you may have and willing to offer suggestions to the novice Mexican eater. The decor isn't anything special but the restaurant has always been clean with ample service and condiment items.