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Sep 01st
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Downtown Turnaround

Downtown Turnaround

Assembly hits Santa Cruz with a promising menu and a delicious event tie-in to boot

A much-anticipated restaurant on the Santa Cruz dining scene is soon to appear on Pacific Avenue in the space that was formerly Aqua Bleu. Named Assembly by co-owners Kendra Baker and Zach Davis, who rose to fame after opening The Penny Ice Creamery and then The Picnic Basket in Santa Cruz, it promises to be the new go-to hot-spot.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Surprises in Scotts Valley

Surprises in Scotts Valley

Stonehouse Bar & Grill’s new chef adds creative flair to the menu

As a busy hotel serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley Hilton caters to business people, travelers, tourists, wedding groups, private parties—you name it. But for locals, too, of course, the hotel’s casual dining room and bar are regular stops.

The Stonehouse Bar & Grill’s informal restaurant has Formica-topped tables and an inviting cozy fireplace that’s welcoming to all, and the friendly full bar is an informal gathering spot to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine or two.  When my husband and I stopped by the Stonehouse recently for dinner, we were impressed by the quality of service we received, especially from our server Michael Beck.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

All in the Family

All in the Family

Home-delivered baked goods are all the rage, thanks to I Rise Bakery

If you were to drive by Redwood Pizzeria in Felton during the middle of the night, you might be surprised to see a person loitering in the empty restaurant. The sheriff certainly was, when he and some of his fellow officers recently confronted the mystery man who appeared to be robbing the business.

But instead of a thief, they found one Gardner Lund, covered up to his elbows in dough.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A Foray into Foraging

A Foray into Foraging

Indulge in a taste of the wild side at the second annual Big Sur Foragers Festival
Web extra: Chanterelle, Honey and Lavender Ice Cream recipe

Big Sur, with its world-famous beauty and rugged wilderness, is no stranger to disaster. In the words of Sharen Carey, locals know “it’s not a matter of if, but when” the next calamity will cause road closures or, worse, evacuations. Case in point: the recent Pfeiffer Fire, which ignited on Dec. 15 and consumed more than 900 acres in Big Sur’s Los Padres National Forest.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Bargetto Winery La Vita 2009

Bargetto Winery La Vita 2009

On the day of Bargetto Winery’s 80th anniversary celebration, Dec. 5, 2013, I headed to their tasting room to give my congratulations—where a celebratory atmosphere was most definitely to be found. There are not many wineries in this country that can boast of 80 years of winemaking, even continuing through the days of Prohibition when wine was permitted to be made only for religious purposes. The Bargetto family has a lot to be proud of—not the least of which is their ability to make fine wines—and their story goes back generations.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Loving Louie’s

Loving Louie’s

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler—Let the Good Times Roll at Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar

If you don’t know the Cajun phrase “laissez bons temps rouler”—let the good times roll—then you soon will when you enter Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar in Downtown Santa Cruz. It’s painted on the vibrant murals that cover the walls of this spacious restaurant. Brightly colored scenes of New Orleans run from one end to the other, adding an abundance of pizzazz and atmosphere.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Taking in Takara

Taking in Takara

Capitola’s Takara Japanese Restaurant adds more zest to its overall creative flavor

Take some sushi, sashimi, tempura, add some hot wasabi and ginger, sip on a little sake, and you will feel like you’re dining in Tokyo. And this is what Takara Japanese Restaurant likes to convey—an authentic experience in a beautiful restaurant decorated in typical Japanese style. Everything hits the spot in Takara. It’s right on target with quality food, exquisite flavors, courteous service and elegant ambiance.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Truffle all the Way

Truffle all the Way

This holiday season, let your taste buds be your guide

Purchasing holiday gifts is so 2012. This year, why not put a smile on your loved ones’ faces with delectable homemade sweets? A treat for both the eyes and the taste buds, edible gift giving is all the rage, and with the expert advice of Love Apple Farms’ Chef Maggie Cattell, you can’t lose.

“I come from a family that believes food is the first priority during the holidays,” Cattell says with a laugh. “I remember the kitchen smelling like homemade stock a week before. Everyone had a part to play.”

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Rendezvous at Rio

Rendezvous at Rio

New menu items and robust spirit invigorate Café Rio

Café Rio has always been one of my favorite places to dine. After moving to the Santa Cruz area and searching out good restaurants, Café Rio was mentioned as a fun place to eat, with sand dabs and swordfish highly recommended. And we can rest assured that these popular items will always be on the menu. When Jeanne Harrison took over the iconic restaurant as owner in 2011, she left the menu pretty much the same, but now feels that the time has come to improve the dining experience even more.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Wild, Wild West

Wild, Wild West

Geoff Hargrave of West End Tap & Kitchen adds intrigue to Santa Cruz’s Westside

The Swift Street Courtyard complex has evolved into a bustling scene where people go to enjoy good food, wine and beer and have a good time, especially on the weekends. Along with about a dozen tasting rooms, a brewery and high-end bakery/eatery can be found as well.

When West End Tap & Kitchen opened in July, this casual “gastropub” added greatly to the vibrant culinary scene. And, along with former University of Colorado friend, co-owner Quinn Cormier, we have executive chef Geoff Hargrave to thank. Hargrave’s menu features the kind of comfort food people are looking for on a casual night out.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.