Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jul 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Dining

Restaurant dining and wine reviews for Santa Cruz County >
Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area.

Wine Reviews

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

Plus Upcoming Wine Events

Rose is fast becoming one of my new favorite wines. And when you find a good one such as Muns Vineyard’s Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2008 Central Coast ($18), then one’s wine-drinking life is most certainly elevated.

I first tasted the Muns Rosé at a food and wine event at Café Cruz in Soquel.  Mary Lindsay, who, along with winemaker Ed Muns, plays a major role in production, public relations, tasting events, and everything else that’s involved with running a successful winery, was pouring that day. She invited me to try the Rosé and I immediately bought a bottle to take home. I often have friends over for wine and cheese get-togethers, and it makes a change to offer Rosé—along with the Merlots and Chardonnays of this world.

Read more...
Dining Reviews

Casual Fare

Casual Fare

The reincarnation of Carniglia's offers a relaxing view, friendly service, and excellent seafood
The news of Carniglia's closing was still reverberating through the community when the cherished wharf restaurant re-opened on February 13. In just 29 long-hour days, new owners and management created a menu and re-staffed in time for Valentine's Day. The partnership of local restaurateurs Germaine Grangerakin and Martin Drobac makes Carniglia's a half sister of Riva Fish House, 515 Kitchen, and Red Restaurant.

On my first visit, proficient, casually attired servers were in awe of their new work environment; the blue bay reflecting warm sun through the expanse of wraparound picture windows. Crayons waited on every paper-covered table with an amazingly functional rock salt and pepper grinder. Silverware was rolled in napkins the color of my spicy Gladiator house Merlot ($5), which was robust for this varietal and bore the appetizing scent of bacon.

 

Read more...
Dining Reviews

Sizzling Hot

Sizzling Hot

At Mexican restaurants it is common to hear, and then smell, the fajitas passing by, sputtering and smoking in their cast iron pan. Who invented these meaty morsels may be in dispute, but from humble beginnings the dish has evolved into numerous delicious entrées.

It is said that vaqueros conceived the recipe in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. These Mexican cowboys would be partially paid with less desirable cuts of meat, including skirt steak, or faja which translates as "belt". These tough little belts were tenderized at length in acids such as lime juice, and cooked over a camp fire. In northern Mexico, a similar dish is called arracheras.

Read more...
Wine Reviews

Ahlgren Vineyard Syrah 2004

Ahlgren Vineyard Syrah 2004

Plus Upcoming Wine Events
Most red wine drinkers love Syrah. It’s bold, meaty, smoky and peppery—a robust brew that pairs extremely well with meat.

The 2004 Syrah, Ventana Vineyards, Monterey—made by Ahlgren Vineyard – is a pretty good wine for around $9 (from Deer Park Wine & Spirits). Winemaker Dexter Ahlgren, who, with his wife Valerie, has operated his vineyard in Boulder Creek for more than three decades, has made a wine here that’s big and bold—and, in this case, unfined and unfiltered. The winemaker’s comments on the label say “Deep and dark, classic Syrah bouquet with bright, spicy flavors.” It’s also rich, complex, a downright bargain—and the perfect wine to take to SmoQe BBQ & Wood Fired Pizza.

Read more...
Dining Reviews

Make Yourself at Home

Make Yourself at Home

The service at Felton's Rockys Cafe is sure to put a smile on your face

In the rear of a vintage mountain home, neighbors enjoyed breakfast and lunch just steps from Highway 9. Relaxing at Rockys in Felton reminded me of cozy roadside meals eaten after a day of Sierra skiing. The lone server, with impeccably manicured nails, wore a smile that could brighten the grayest of mornings.

The restaurant is mostly windowed, with views of young redwoods. On the rustic recycled wood walls hang framed portraits of smiling pooches. The yard may not be as idyllic as it could be, but we came for the food and the service.

Read more...
Dining Reviews

Far from Plastic

Far from Plastic

In the mood for Japanese food, I sauntered into the little Totoro Sushi on Mission Street. Presented with both a lunch and special sushi menu, I knew immediately what I wanted. Something I had first seen, but made of plastic.

In Japan it is common to see plastic food samples in an eatery's windows. The idea for these replica foods materialized in the 1920s when a young entrepreneur made wax molds to help restaurants show customers how new western dishes appeared. Faux food has since grown into a huge industry. Each dish is custom made, based on photographs and sketches of a chef's dish. A silicon mold is taken of the actual food, and expert artists make plastic sauces, condiments and garnishes. Sometimes, the replica appears more appetizing than the original.

Read more...
Wine Reviews

Bartolo 2007 Cioppino Rosso

Bartolo 2007 Cioppino Rosso

Plus Upcoming Wine Events
Barry Jackson, winemaker at Equinox, not only makes a fine sparkling wine, made in the methode champenoise style, but he also directs his talents to another of his labels—Bartolo—in the form of a fine red wine called Cioppino Rosso, a blend of 61 percent Syrah, 20 percent Chardonnay and 19 percent Mourvedre. “I call it Cioppino,” says Jackson, laughing, “because I throw all these leftovers in a pot.” He’s referring, of course, to the famous fish stew—first made by Italian immigrants. Jackson is not without a sense of humor—although the bottom line is he takes his winemaking very seriously. But the label spills the beans on what Cioppino’s all about. It says, “An eclectic blend of ever-changing varietals, Cioppino Rosso, as its culinary namesake, is composed of odd bits and wines nobody else wanted.” I can’t think of another winemaker who would—tongue in cheek— describe their wine as being made from “odd bits.” The label continues with “The wine pairs well with a broad range of foods and is, of course, fabulous with Cioppino.”

Read more...
Dining Reviews

Long Live the Linguini

Long Live the Linguini

Celebrating 30 years, Ristorante Italiano's bright flavors and generous portions ensure its distinction as a local favorite

I'm fortunate to occasionally work in Branciforte Plaza, where the aroma of Ristorante Italiano's roasting garlic wafts across the parking lot. Many reasonably priced specials grace the lunch menu, which I happily order to savor in the office. One day, as the sun set, waves of laughter emanate from the heated patio deck, where groups gather to relax after work, and families celebrate birthdays. On the building's exterior, an extraordinary three-story mural depicting an Italian avenue adds a whimsical touch.

In the restaurant's main dining area, where ceiling joists are painted a lively green and autographed straw-encased Chianti bottles commemorate dinners of the past, subdued lighting and romantic booths set the stage for the spectacle of Italian specialties. A ceiling fan turned slowly, barely rustling the thin leaves of a tall parlor palm in the solarium-like front room.

Read more...
Dining Reviews

All Sauced Up

All Sauced Up

On an unassuming stretch of Soquel Drive, El Chino Mexican Deli Restaurant occupies a narrow storefront.

Inside, lively fiesta music plays on the stereo, decorative eaves with clay tiles jut from the walls, and healthy live plants crawl across rafters, creating the comfortable illusion of dining in a sidewalk cantina.

The list of weekday lunch specials ($5.85 to $7.50) includes avocado-chicken salad, enchiladas, chili rellenos and carne azada burritos. We were drawn to the generously plated house specialties, each of which occupied half of their oval pottery platters.

Read more...
Dining Reviews

Two Sweet for Words

Two Sweet for WordsBehold the beautifully luscious treats of local chocolatiers, Richard Donnelly and Ian and Mary Rose Mackenzie
Behind an attractive storefront on Mission Street in Santa Cruz, Richard Donnelly makes internationally award-winning chocolates and truffles. At the front door, customers gather in the small retail space. Bookshelves and tables hold pre-packaged sweets, and a glass cabinet displays available truffle flavors. In the open kitchen, chocolate is being mixed and candies are laid out for packaging. Much of the work here is done by hand—the hand of a master.
Read more...
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Roger That

The late film critic Robert Ebert profiled in lively doc, ‘Life Itself’

 

The Maestra Returns

Cabrillo Festival’s Marin Alsop is back to ‘rock the boat of tradition’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Time is Ripe

Local fruit harvests hit markets, Storrs Winery celebrates ‘Best White’, and a salt fix from heaven

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Hunter Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Smooth with soft tannins, this velvety crimson Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is delicious and very drinkable.