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Dining

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

Dining Reviews

Neighborly Noshing

Neighborly Noshing

The Seabreeze Cafe continues to fetch fans with its fresh and hearty homemade cuisine
In Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe, an exceptionally tidy eatery, breakfast is served all day. And that’s a good thing. With three-egg omelets ($7.75 to $8.95), you can choose between potatoes or fruit, and toast or a homemade muffin. From the grill comes French toast and plain, bacon, or almond waffles. Throughout the room, children in high chairs decorated coloring book pages with crayons, anticipating a Mickey Mouse Pancake ($2.25).

 

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Wine Reviews

Vine Hill Winery

Vine Hill WineryVine Hill 2008 Chardonnay
Sharing food and wine with friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For all time, it has been the ultimate demonstration of giving – to empty one’s larder and to drain out one’s wine barrel in the name of hospitality. 

Every year when my husband and I go to Shakespeare Santa Cruz with a group of friends, we get together and share our spoils during a picnic before the performance. We also share what we have left during intermission. And because of the very nature of Shakespeare Santa Cruz – a wonderful laid-back way of seeing great plays and marvelous acting in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Glen – one can also partake of a little libation as the play unfolds.

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Dining Reviews

Fishermen’s Fare

Fishermen’s Fare

Gilda’s popular Friday night Cioppino celebrates our local Italian heritage

In a weekly ritual, seafood lovers seek traditional California sustenance. Braving snaking traffic on Municipal Wharf, they anticipate Gilda’s Friday night special Cioppino ($13.95).

A luscious aroma greeted us in Gilda’s foyer. Eyeing the practically packed house we headed to the cocktail lounge. It is fitting to enjoy this meal in a shared setting, after all: California Cioppino was invented as a potluck of sorts, as fishermen contributed their catch to a communal pot.

Although the views are magical at any table, southwestern-facing swivel-chairs look straight out from the bar upon Steamer Lane and the lighthouse. On the walls of the small room hang photos of the Cottardo Stagnaro family and historic hauls of fisherman from times past.

 

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Dining Reviews

All Aboard! The Train Place Deli

All Aboard! The Train Place DeliModel trains greet guests at the front door of the Train Place Deli, and then chug along tracks over trestles to the rear of the restaurant where they round a mini reproduction of the historic Felton Flume and Lumber Company. The owners know that visitors initially come to see the trains, but believe that they return for the food.
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Dining Reviews

Johnny’s Harborside On the Waterfront

Johnny’s Harborside On the Waterfront

Johnny’s Harborside launches new summer menu
It’s easy to drive past the seafoam green building without noticing the restaurant with an intimate view of harbor life perched upstairs. Head down Lake Avenue on the one way street towards the harbor, make the first right, and you will find quick gourmet lunches, amiable neighborhood happy hours, relaxing weekend brunches, and romantic sunset dinners at Johnny’s Harborside.

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Wine Reviews

Pleasant Valley Zinfandel 2006

Pleasant Valley Zinfandel 2006

Most red wine drinkers love Zinfandel. It’s a grape that grows well in California – producing spicy, jammy wines of varying intensity. I have a hard time steering my husband toward anything else, in fact. If we’re out for dinner, he nearly always orders Zinfandel.

When it comes to locally produced Zin, we are very fortunate. We have wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation making some of the best there is in our Golden State. On a wine-tasting trip to Pleasant Valley Vineyards, I thoroughly enjoyed all of their wines – especially the Austin Craig Zinfandel 2006 ($33). All the typical aromas of Zinfandel are present – lots of raspberry, blackberry, cherry and plum. There’s a spicy pepper in there, too. You just know it’s going to be wonderful from the very first sniff.

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Dining Reviews

Cypress Lounge

Cypress Lounge

It’s summer and stores are stocked with grilling supplies including cedar planks. Cooking meat on wood over fire is an ancient technique perfected by Northwestern Native Americans. But there’s no need to fire up the grill if you head over to Cypress Lounge, where Cedar Plank Salmon ($16.95) headlines the menu.

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Wine Reviews

Bargetto Winery CHARDONNAY 2006

Bargetto Winery CHARDONNAY 2006

The hot days of summer are finally here – the time of year when I gravitate more toward white wines than red. A light and fruity Pinot Grigio for an outdoor lunch, or a crisp Chardonnay for dinner on a warm evening seem so much more appealing than a heavy Pinot Noir or a meaty Merlot. Of course, living on the cool coast as we do, we still get those chilly evenings all through July, August and September – when the aforementioned reds can be just the right libation for one’s evening meal.

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Dining Reviews

Spice Island Specialties

Spice Island Specialties

Pearl of the Ocean serves well-seasoned Sri Lankan cuisine

Sri Lanka, the Resplendent Island, has been called “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” With miles of coastline, it is home to coconut palms, fruit trees, rice paddies, and true cinnamon. Using ingredients such as these, Pearl of the Ocean brings healthy Sri Lankan cuisine to Water Street.

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Dining Reviews

Capitola Crêpes

Capitola CrêpesSweet Pea’s Café offers an alternative to fast food near the Capitola Mall. The younger sister of a downtown Los Gatos establishment, and almost hidden in an office and retail building between Highway 1 and Clares Street (adjacent to Burger King), they serve a freshly prepared medley of wholesome nourishment.
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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

 

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