For inexpensive homestyle cooking, try the fondas at the Crucecita  mercado (market), between Guamuchil and Guanacastle, half a block off the plaza.
The market stalls are good for fresh fruit during daylight hours, as is the Frutería Angelita (just across Guanacastle, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. daily).
Also nearby, the Panadería San Alejandro (at the southeast plaza corner of Flamboyan and Bugambilias, tel. 958/587-0317, 7 a.m.–10:30 p.m. daily) offers mounds of scrumptious baked goodies.
The crowd of satisfied customers will lead you to Crucecita ’s best-bet snack shop, Los Portales Taco and Grill (corner of Guamuchil and Bugambilias, right on the plaza, tel. 958/587-0070, 8 a.m.–2 a.m. daily). Breakfasts ($2–4), a dozen styles of tacos ($2–4), Texas chili (or, as in Mexico, frijoles charros—cowboy beans, $2), and barbecued ribs ($5) are the specialties. Beer is inexpensive, to boot.
For a relaxing drink or a sandwich in Santa Cruz, go to the Cafe Huatulco (at the bandstand in the shady Santa Cruz town plaza, a block west of the marina embarcadero, tel. 958/587-1228, cafehuatulco [at] hotmail [dot] com, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily). The mission of the friendly owner, Salvador López de Toledo, and his wife (who operates the kitchen) is to promote the already well-deserved popularity of Huatulco’s mountain-grown coffee, which they grind fresh daily for their good cappuccinos and café lattes. Furthermore, Salvador is a good source of information on Huatulco coffee and the mountain fincas cafeteleras  (coffee farms) where it’s grown.
The refined sidewalk atmosphere of Cafe Oasis (at the southeast plaza corner, Bugambilias and Flamboyan, tel. 958/587-0045, 8 a.m.– midnight daily) has made it Crucecita ’s plaza-front restaurant of choice. Beneath cooling ceiling fans, customers watch the passing plaza scene while enjoying a full bar and a professionally prepared and served menu of breakfast ($4–6), good espresso, fruit and salads ($2–5), hamburgers ($3–5), Mexican and international specialties ($5–10), and much more.
Lovers of fine Italian cuisine can’t miss enjoying a meal at Crucecita ’s class-act restaurant, El Giardino del Papa (The Pope’s Garden, Flamboyan 204, tel. 958/587-1763, 2 p.m.–midnight daily), brainchild of owner Rossana Pandolfini, of Amalfitano, Italy, and chef Mario Saggese of Salerno. Mario, who was once the pope’s bodyguard, immigrated to Mexico to follow his passion for cooking. Rossana asked Mario to come to Huatulco  because she craved pasta al dente the way it’s “supposed to be” in the old country. Although Mario’s suggestions include calamari criollo ($12), scampi al brandy ($15), insalata Mediterrenea ($5), and spaghetti a la Mario ($12), whatever you get will be tasty. Call for reservations, especially during the winter. Find the restaurant one block west of the plaza’s southwest corner.
Diagonally across the plaza, half a block north of the plaza’s northwest corner, step into the cool, airy interior of Restaurant Terra Cotta (at the Hotel Misión de los Arcos, Gardenia 902, tel. 958/587-0165, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily). Kick back and enjoy the leafy green bay-window view while you choose from a list of tasty breakfasts (eggs any style $3.50, omelets $4, waffles $3), salads (caesar $6), baguettes (barbequed pork loin $7), and Mexican specialties (mole negro on chicken $8, baby back ribs with luscious tamarind sauce $10).
Good, economically priced, local-style food in an open-air, TV-free setting is the specialty of refined but relaxing Restaurant La Crucecita (501 Bugambilias, corner of Chacah, tel. 958/587-0906, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily), one block south of the plaza. A platoon of loyal local customers arrives daily to enjoy the afternoon five-course comida corrida. Pick an entrée (such as guisado de res, costilla en mole verde, or chiles rellenos) and you get bottomless fruit agua (choice of lemon, orange, jamaica, pineapple), soup, rice, cooked veggies or salad, and dessert, all for $5. The comida is served between noon and about 4:30 p.m.
Fine dining in Huatulco  has received a big boost at Restaurant L’Echalote (on Calle Zapateco behind the big Hotel Villablanca in Chahue, tel. 958/587-2480, info [at] edencosta [dot] com, 2–11 p.m. Tue.–Sun.). Although the cooking of owner-chefs Thierry Faivre and his Laotion wife, Tina, derives from an entire world of cuisine experience, their creations invariably come with a French touch. Ask Thierry to put on Edith Piaf and it will be better than Paris. Everything they serve is good, from the soup (caldo camarón $9), salad with goat cheese ($7), and Thai fondue for two ($22). Vive la France! Reservations highly recommended.
Restaurant Austriaco (1:30–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) of chef Manfred Gruber embellishes the growing Huatulco  fine-food tradition. His eclectic and variable menu often includes Grecian- or Tuscan-style salad ($5); gulasch (beef stew), Viennese-style schnitzel (veal or pork cutlet), Asian chicken, filete de mero (sea bass), sauerbraten (sausage with pickled cabbage), rinz roladen (rolled steak), all $6–10; and apple strudel ($3). Yum. Find Austriaco at Plaza Chahue, on the street-front, 100 yards east of high-profile disco Papaya.