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Apr 16th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Song of the South

Song of the South

Having heard that the Cypress Lounge had added Cajun flavors to their streamlined menu, I was keen to check it out. When we arrived just after 7 p.m., instrumental jazz musicians were playing their final song. The music was loud for anyone expecting a subdued dinner, but not for those noshing with friends. We were excited to find the elusive Santa Cruz Aleworks IPA on draft ($2 Tuesday happy hour all night) in all its ultra-hoppy glory.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Sharing the Kitchen

Sharing the KitchenGilbert's on the wharf gets a new look, a new name, and adds a cafe
You can see the difference before you even enter the restaurant, as windows on the sidewalk look into the open kitchen. What was known as Gilbert's on the Wharf is now Gilbert's Firefish Grill, alluding to the new mesquite grill, which brings a unique technique to the Municipal Wharf's culinary repertoire.
You'll still find fried calamari, lightly breaded sand dabs, and Fisherman's Pasta, but the fresh catch can now be grilled. How's that  for healthy?
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Dining - Dining Reviews

The 19th Hole

The 19th Hole

At Hollins House Restaurant, a new chef and menu complement the original vision for Pasatiempo

Marion Hollins, the U.S. Women's Amateur Golf Champion in 1921, was also the only American woman with a handicap in men's polo. In designing the championship golf course at Pasatiempo, her vision was to take advantage of the local topography, and indeed, golfers tee off across canyons, and the seemingly hundreds of bunkers hold more sand than Its Beach. Her home, now Hollins House Restaurant, looks out over the manicured first fairway and sports a new chef who also draws heavily from local and natural sources.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Skewer It

Skewer It

A new Middle Eastern restaurant has opened on Capitola's Esplanade. Mr Kebab and Falafel is the half sister to House of Falafel over the hill, and skewered meats are their specialty.

Fatoosh, the House Salad ($3.99), topped with crunchy deep-fried squares of pita, was served on a large plate, and, as a starter, could feed three people. Strips of romaine were mixed with fresh parsley, cucumber, tomato, and a light lemon juice dressing. The mild mint tasted dried rather than powerfully fresh.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Perfect Palm

Perfect Palm

The Palm Deli features breakfast all day, flavorful sandwiches, and prepared meals for dinner at home
The Glaum family is adored for their locally fresh cage-free eggs. For the past year, these eggs have been served in breakfast burritos and sandwiches at the Glaums’ new deli where Piggie Market has nurtured Redwood Village neighbors for 25 years.

The central, thatched-roof, hexagonal open kitchen mimics the unusual shape of the extensively renovated building. Textured stone flooring winds around the kitchen, leading to an extensive wine selection. From the wall of refrigerators you can still pick up your milk and eggs, as well as beer, numerous brands of beverages, and locally made Massimo gelato.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Smells like Smoke

Smells like Smoke

A huge, horizontal black cylinder puffed smoke in the parking lot, its luscious aroma bringing to mind succulent State Park campfire dinners. It was lunchtime, and a steady stream of customers joined the line at Aptos St. Barbeque.

The menu is simple, and just simply good, filled with smoked meats like St. Louis ribs, tri-tip, pulled pork, chicken and hot links. These basics are served in meals, sandwiches and salads with traditional sides including coleslaw, potato salad and beans. Rainbow chalk on the blackboard reveals the extensive selection of micro-brewed beer which includes some locally made favorites.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Food for all Reasons

Food for all Reasons

Seafood, tequila and merriment are specialties of El Palomar
Whether you're looking for a romantic dinner, a cheap late night snack, or a lively cantina atmosphere, downtown's El Palomar has got you covered. And with upward of 70 tequilas, you're bound to find something you like.

The cantina was brightly lit by the midday sun through translucent corrugated ceiling panels. Lively Latin music and numerous plants, including an agave, gave the space a tropical feel. The thick, warm tortilla chips crunched lightly, laden with smooth and spicy salsa interspersed with minced cilantro and onions. On weekdays you'll find a special lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Two-item combinations ($6.95) include a tostada with beans and shredded lightly seasoned chicken on a crisp corn tortilla topped with cabbage, salsa fresca and sour cream. The Sope is similar, except the ingredients were stuffed inside a puffed-up house-made corn tortilla.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A+ Pho

A+ Pho

Can't decide between Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese food? At Capitola's new Asian Express you can enjoy all three. As an added bonus, they make an exceptional bowl of pho (which approximately rhymes with duhhh), a Vietnamese noodle soup.

At Asian Express, nestled between Starbucks and Togo's in the Ross building of the Capitola Mall, various appetizers, entrées and side dishes wait in warming trays at the counter. Choose from a single entrée and side ($4.50), two entrées ($5.49), or three ($6.39).

The chow mein noodles were mixed with vegetables and pieces of omelet. Rice was fried with peas, carrots and eggs. Chili-flecked beef and carrots in a dark sauce were topped with roasted potatoes, and lollipop chicken drumettes were coated with a sweet, caramelized sauce. Two long Fresh Spring Rolls ($2.95) were stuffed with parsley, mint leaves, lettuce, green onions, noodles and a couple of big shrimps.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Nibble, Savor and Indulge

Nibble, Savor and Indulge

Fresh, flavorful ingredients bring color to the menu at Cafe Limelight
Whatever your appetite, the simple but inventive menu at Cafe Limelight meets numerous needs. A loveseat and plump upholstered chairs surround a coffee table, creating an ideal ambiance for an after-work wind-down with nibbles and a beverage. Local Bargetto Rosso ($6) paired nicely with a Single-cheese Plate ($5.95) and Salami ($4.50). French Comté, called the Gruyère of France, is a classic, hard, flexible cheese with nutty undertones. The earthy, dry Molinari salami was flecked with black peppercorns. The plate included dried cranberries, large kalamata olives, points of crisp, griddle-toasted bread, and glazed cashews encrusted with tiny sesame seeds.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Same, Yet Different

Same, Yet Different

Kickback Coffee House and Eatery slid into the Seabright neighborhood offering free wi-fi, organic coffee, and a mostly familiar menu. A bit of renovation created a comfortable space, where local art is for sale on the cleanly painted walls.

You'll recognize the long list of breakfast burritos from Kickback's predecessor Chill Out Cafe (which still operates its store on 41st Avenue) including numerous vegetarian offerings.

The hefty No.18 Spicy Bird ($7.05) is swaddled in a large, supple flour tortilla. Real cubes of flavorful roasted turkey are combined with scrambled eggs, grated potatoes, tomatoes, tart green chilies, mashed avocado and Swiss cheese with their signature spicy sauce.

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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.