Fitting regression models for intensity functions of spatial point processes is of great interest in ecological and epidemiological studies of association between spatially referenced events and geographical or environmental covariates. When Cox or cluster process models are used to accommodate clustering not accounted for by the available covariates, likelihood based inference becomes computationally cumbersome due to the complicated nature of the likelihood function and the associated score function. It is therefore of interest to consider alternative more easily computable estimating functions. We derive the optimal estimating function in a class of first-order estimating functions. The optimal estimating function depends on the solution of a certain Fredholm integral equation which in practice is solved numerically. The derivation of the optimal estimating function has close similarities to the derivation of quasi-likelihood for standard data sets. The approximate solution is further equivalent to a quasi-likelihood score for binary spatial data. We therefore use the term quasi-likelihood for our optimal estimating function approach. We demonstrate in a simulation study and a data example that our quasi-likelihood method for spatial point processes is both statistically and computationally efficient.