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Jul 22nd
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Boldly Bantam

Boldly Bantam

New hotspot brings wood-fired pizza and a whole lot more to the Westside

Seeking to satisfy Santa Cruz’s seemingly insatiable desire for pizza, Bantam has fired up its wood-burning oven on the Westside, just across Fair Avenue from New Leaf Market.
An hour before closing we were shown to a recently vacated table, and the only available table. The atmosphere was warm as neighbors lingered over the last of their beverages. Lively ’80s rock music and jovial banter shared the air with savory aromas. Our server Dan was welcoming, and shared in-depth knowledge of ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Foodies on Parade

Foodies on Parade

Dishcrawl Santa Cruz creates restaurant-centric camaraderie

At Pono Hawaiian Grill, a sellout group of forty curious foodophiles was donning name tags, ordering beverages and mingling; anxious for the mystery that was Santa Cruz’s first Dishcrawl ($45) to unfold. Finally, an organizer announced that the buffet was open and we lined up to partake in the food at our first of four restaurant stops.

Dishcrawl founder Tracy Lee enjoyed taking groups of friends to sample the food at various San Jose-area restaurants, and saw the potential of turning the joy of shared culinary experiences into a business.  The company’s first expansion was into Montreal, and there are now organizations in 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Fandango Fascinates

Fandango Fascinates

Revered Central Coast culinary portal offers one-of-a-kind dining experience

Anniversaries are a lovely thing and even better when you can make them downright delicious. Such is the case this year as Pacific Grove’s eminent Fandango Restaurant celebrates its 30th anniversary.  Never one to lose sight of what matters most—the meal, its preparation and the people who will eventually enjoy it—owners Pierre and Marietta Bain continue to surprise diners with an inventive blend of old-world charm and classic culinary competence.

The creative appetizer to Fandango’s current triumphs stem back to 1983 when Walter Georis had the idea to transform a unique home in Pacific Grove into a bona fide restaurant.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Fish in the Woods

Fish in the Woods

Boulder Creek’s Edo Sushi offers some nice Japanese dishes

I can pass on potatoes except when it comes to a Japanese Koroke, a snack that takes tater tots to a gourmet level of texture and comfort. Pronounced ko’-row-kay, which when spoken quickly, resembles the French food croquettes for which they are named.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Crisp and Filling

Crisp and Filling

It was Mrs. Torres who taught my mom how to make tacos, which quickly became a family favorite. She would fold and fry corn tortillas in corn oil, stuff with ground beef sautéed with onions, top with cheese, iceberg lettuce and pico de gallo made with tomatoes, green onions, dill pickles, radishes and peperoncinis.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

In and around the Lake

In and around the Lake

Live Oak’s Lago di Como wows diners with its Italian specialties

I have heard nothing but praise for Lago di Como since it opened in December, so I made time to visit before its grand opening on Jan. 28 (5 to 9 p.m.). Once the word gets out about the authentic Italian cuisine, courtesy of Italian-born Chef Giovanni Spanu, reservations may become scarce.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Court Food

Court Food

Prior to the first Santa Cruz Warriors game, the only thing I worried about was food and beverage service, which sounds silly unless you know me. Turns out that when it comes to edibles, local flair is everywhere.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Simply Fresh

Simply Fresh

Local ingredients and real smoke make magic in the Wood Fire Woodie oven

Wood Fire Woodie came to be in 2007, selling pizzas out of the back of a truck. Last month, the husband-and-wife team of Pat and Mariah Flanagan settled down, opening a restaurant in Scotts Valley’s Camp Evers center.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Griddled, not Fried

Griddled, not Fried

Tucked in at the back of an alleyway in the Rancho del Mar shopping center is a little taqueria called Sofia’s. The staff is friendly, the menu is hand-written on a white board, and they have my vote for the best chimichanga ever eaten. 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Keeping it Real

Keeping it Real

Real Thai Kitchen updates both its look and its menu

The Seabright neighborhood’s Real Thai Kitchen, which is on my short list of Thai restaurants, has seen three owners in a year and a half. The current proprietor Ratana Bowden has made some changes, one of which is fortunately not the chef, who has dazzled me with her dishes since my first visit. There is, however, a new menu and interior.

 

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A Year of Creative Self-Expression

Wednesday, after a year in Cancer’s nourishing waters, Jupiter enters fiery Leo. Next Tuesday, the sun joins Jupiter in Leo. Leo is the sign of the three fires of life, of seeking our individuality, our gifts and talents. Life for the next year will be quite dramatic, expressive, creative and generous. Jupiter, the heart of Aquarius, is the planet of expansion and truth, distributing Ray 2 of Love and Wisdom.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 18

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Art Files: Opposites Attract

Using found objects, Victoria May seeks beauty in dichotomy and tension, the creepy and absurd
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Desserts at Seabright’s La Posta, a pop-up breakfast, local ethnic cuisine, and a long-lost varietal 

 

What is the most outrageous thing you did as a kid?

Santa Cruz | Retired

 

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

 

Loma Prieta’s Pinotage

Although drinking alone is not half as much fun as drinking with others, after a busy day of dashing around, I came home and poured myself a glass or two of Loma Prieta’s Pinotage 2010 (saving a bit for my husband). There’s something about taking that first sip of a worthy wine that gives one an all-over glow.