The bright colors of lightly cooked vegetables sparkle in Sawasdee's uniquely flavored dishes
We occasionally visit Soquel on our errands day. It's either the dentist, stylist or CPA that brings us into the town, and even though my husband and I differ wildly on Scoville index tolerance levels, Sawasdee Thai Cuisine's huge menu satisfies us both.
Sawasdee's home is bright and cheerful, with lavender, white and paprika walls and an occasional fanciful carving. Gilded pottery lined the counter, which was busy with take-out orders, and colorful woven runners gleamed from under glass tabletops.
Outside it was gray and drizzly, but to enter Cafe Sparrow at lunchtime was like stepping into spring in Provence. Pastel sponge-painted chairs surrounded tables draped with colorful cloths and lace, protected with glass tops and paper doily placemats.
Sourdough bread with chewy crusts and soft centers was served with fresh butter. The Iced Tea ($3.50) was playfully flavored with black currants.
Two crisply browned Crab Cakes ($11.50), soft and moist in the middles, lusciously fell apart. The delicate crab flavor peeked out between tiny bits of red pepper.
Betty Burgers Eat Inn on Pacific storms out of the gate with dynamite menu additions and a full bar
When Betty Burgers' sister restaurant Vida left town, Betty moved right in to the space on Pacific Avenue, leaving her shiny old Airstream trailer right on the new patio. Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits and mashed potatoes with gravy are just a taste of the down-home-style comfort food that Betty's slingin' at her new Eat Inn.
The restaurant was packed on opening weekend, and a week later during a mid-week late lunch it was almost at capacity. The smiling, energetic staff was still learning the ropes – there was no service on the patio for ten minutes and then we were double-covered. A few days later, service was perfect on a very busy dinner shift.
A taco bar named Leo's sounds less than authentic but it was co-founded by Leonel Espinoza and Maria E. Valencia whose names are associated with La Mission and Cafe el Palomar. The kitchen is larger than the restaurant in this Live Oak establishment, and what it creates is remarkable.
A charbroiled salmon taco ($4) was so loaded with chunks of fish I ate half of it with a fork before I could pick it up. It was topped with fire-roasted salsa, cabbage, cilantro and tomatoes. The Carne Asada Taco ($2.25) was just as large. The pieces of steak were tender, smoky and charred as if barbecued in the traditional manner.
New menu and seating sets the stage for fun at Coldwater Bar and Grill
The Coldwater Bar and Grill has replaced Hawg's Seafood, and although the ownership hasn't changed, the restaurant's interior and menu are substantially different.
Most of the booths have been replaced by tall, freestanding tables attaining a networking, neighborly ambiance. Eight booths remain for the benefit of people with little ones, those who'd like a more secluded, romantic experience, or me, to clandestinely take notes and snap photos. The front patio now holds a pingpong table, and with five flat screen televisions Coldwater is the local baseball clubhouse.
When my mom once ordered cheesecake, all I knew about cheese was that it was hard and orange. At 5 years-old I didn't know the word oxymoron, but I knew at that moment what it felt like. At that age I expected sugary desserts and didn't come to appreciate the sour tang of her creamy indulgence for many years.Learning that Cherry Cheesecake day is celebrated this month when the cherry trees are blooming, I remembered my first cherry cheesecake with canned pie filling, and it made perfect sense.
From fried appetizers to fresh salads and giant burgers, Rocco's 503 is fresh
I have great respect for restaurateurs. It's a time-consuming profession, and in Santa Cruz, includes a seasonal risk. The odds of surviving a year in this business are small, but for Peter Rinaldi, owner of Rocco's 503, it was time to take the leap.
Rinaldi's Italian grandfather, and then his father, grew Brussels sprouts on the north coast. All of his cousins and their children still farm throughout the county.
"It just wasn't for me," Rinaldi says, "I always wanted to do something a little more social. I wanted to make my own path."