Santa Cruz Good Times

Dec 22nd
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Best of Santa Cruz Food and Drink

best food1

Best Brunch

Harbor Cafe

The Harbor Café has been a Santa Cruz institution for more than 50 years.

Running Themes Harbor Café’s theme days include Mary Mondays (Bloody Marys), Banana Pancake Tuesdays, Taco Thursdays and Mimosa Fridays.
What do you do with a hungry sailor?
This Santa Cruz brunch mecca started as a neighborhood hangout for sailors and fishermen in the 1960s.
You’ll need a benedictionary Six different kinds of eggs Benedict can be found on the menu, including avocado and seafood varieties. | Leslie Patrick

Best Beer Selection, Sports Bar

best food299 Bottles
Slew of brews
In the last year, 99 Bottles sold more than 30,000 bottled beers and more than 120,000 draft beers.
Bubble Buddies Co-owners Dave and Mia Bossie have a combined 30 years of homebrewing experience and are two of the founding members of the Central Coast Zymurgeeks homebrew club. This is their first restaurant work.
Hop to It When Dave and Mia took over a year and a half ago, they ramped up the beer selection, which is currently at around 200 varieties. The previous owners often had trouble reaching and maintaining 99.
Big Huge Brew The restaurant will take part in the Big Brew, which comes to the Seabright Brewery’s patio May 3. Sponsored by the American Homebrewers Association, the event encourages people all over the world to brew the same recipes on the same day. Dave and Mia will have several homebrew setups and will be answering questions.
Even Bigger Brew? We all know that too much alcohol isn’t good for you. When a London brewery tank ruptured in 1814, it unleashed a 1.2 million-liter flood that destroyed two buildings and killed nine people. | Jacob Pierce

Best Restaurant SLV

best food3Casa Nostra
Our house
Pride of pasquale Chef and co-owner Pasquale Bianco on their most interesting dishes: “They are all interesting—not to be bragging about it.”
Benvenuto! A native of Italy, Bianco came to the United States 18 years ago.
It’s like Scarborough fair in here Bianco on his favorite spices: “Parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, basil. I could keep going and going.  I could keep going forever. Rosemary. Juniper berry, clove. Cinnamon sticks!”
Mozzarella from the source Casa Nostra gets its cheese direct from Italy. | Georgia Perry

Best Boba Tea

best food4Boba Cruz
Bubble Economy
Although no one knows for sure, bubble tea is thought to have originated in Taiwan in the 1980s.
Boba Fete Boba tea has many monikers: pearl milk tea, tapioca tea, boba nai cha, milk tea, bubble drink, momi and QQ—just to name a few.
Gimme Gimme Gimme The owners became addicted to boba tea while living in predominantly Asian communities in the Bay Area.
Natural Selection
While many boba teas can be rife with processed ingredients, in true Santa Cruz form, Boba Cruz uses only natural, organic and locally sourced products. | Leslie Patrick

Best Italian Restaurant

best food5Lillian’s Italian Kitchen
Cozy Quarters The Soquel Avenue restaurant’s seating area takes up just about 750 square feet.
In Homage
Chris and Matt Moreno started the restaurant with the help of their parents, Joe and Charlotte, and named it after their Grandma Lilly, who taught Matt to cook. Many of the recipes are taken right from their grandma’s cookbook.
Where the Heart Is “She was the greatest person ever,” Matt says of Grandma Lilly, who hailed originally from Yonkers, New York. “She would welcome any in the world and make them feel welcome in a minute. They’d probably have food in front of them in five minutes.”
Family Affair
Matt and his father Joe run the front of the house, while head chef Chris runs the kitchen. One of them is almost always there.
Pasta Forever Grandma Lilly died about a year before Lillian’s opened. Says Matt: “We were joking around about opening up a restaurant but she didn’t think we were actually going to do it or name it after her.”
Sure, You Can Stay The original plan was to start a takeout restaurant, but customers started sitting down and asking for water. | Jacob Pierce

Best New Restaurant

best food6WestEnd Tap & kitchen
Westside destination Opened in 2013 in the lavish space formerly home to Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Le Cigare Volant restaurant.
Worldly ways
Though California comfort food is on the menu, chef and co-owner Geoff Hargrave was influenced by both French and Japanese chefs under whom he worked.
Good spirits
Unlike a lot of taprooms, they also have a good wine selection. In addition to an array of beers, they serve almost a dozen different vintages.
Mood music
The Pandora music selections at West End reflect the feel of the night. “Black Keys is very fitting for here. Eric Clapton radio works,” says Hargrave. “Eddie Vedder radio works, a little more folksy. It all depends.” | Jacob Pierce

Best Deli

best food7Zoccoli’s Delicatessen 
Changes in store In 1948, Zoccoli’s opened for business, as a grocery store.
Counter measures
It wasn’t until the ’70s that Zoccoli’s started making the sandwiches that they are known for today.
All in the family
Zoccoli’s has survived earthquakes and trends to become one of the oldest family-run businesses in Santa Cruz, now operated by the third generation of Zoccolis.
After the rain
When downtown Santa Cruz flooded in 1955, the basement of Zoccoli’s was flooded with more than 2 feet of water.  | Leslie Patrick

Best Farmers’ Market

best food8Aptos Farmes Market at Cabrillo College
Like us in real life In 2011 and 2012, the Aptos Farmers’ Market was voted “America’s Favorite Farmers’ Market in California.”
One stop shopping The
market sells more than just fruits and vegetables, including fresh oysters, handmade sauerkraut and locally produced olive oil.
Look, sharp!
Need your knives, scissors or garden tools sharpened? There’s a booth for that.
That is so cheesy
The farmers’ market’s most cleverly named cheese: East of Edam. | Leslie Patrick


Best Cheese Selection

best food10New Leaf
Growing Family New Leaf has five locations in Santa Cruz County, one in San Mateo County, one in Santa Clara County and one in Alameda County.
Cheesy Comestibles North Coast Cheese is New Leaf’s own line of cheeses that are produced especially for their stores, and all their cheeses are rBST-free.
B Good
New Leaf is one of only two grocery stores in the world to achieve B Corporation Certification. This means that New Leaf has agreed to operate under the highest ethical standards, and is legally required to consider the impact their business decisions have on employees, suppliers, community, consumers and the environment. | Leslie Patrick

Best Teahouse

best food9Hidden peak teahouse
Owners David and Marilee Wright have been selling tea since 1999, when they started traveling to fairs and festivals as vendors. They opened Chaikhana Tea Culture in Santa Cruz in 2003, followed by Hidden Peak Teahouse in 2012.
Interior Decorating Serious thought went into every single thing that is in the teahouse. Noteworthy items include a 100-plus-year-old fence from a farm in China that a friend of the Wrights’ exported to the United States. They cleaned and stained it, and the beautiful wood fence is now used around the shop to tie the space together. “We’re really into remembering what it’s like to be surrounded by things made by human beings, not machines,” says David, who describes the teahouse’s style as “rustic refined.” One table is made from the shipwrecked remains of a boat that sank near China 300 years ago. “The cell structure has changed,” says David. “It’s not petrified, but it’s similar—it’s very dense.”
A Pupil’s Journey David (pictured) studies tea with an expert from China’a Yunnan Province named Master Wang. The Yunnan Province is home to puerh tea, the variety that Hidden Peak specializes in.
Keeping it Clean David says the lineage of tea he studies—and that the store focuses on—can be called “beyond organic.” It’s organically grown from seeds (not clones) in sustainable garden ecology settings, handmade, hand processed, and stored by the people who make it. “Storage makes or breaks a puerh,” says David.
Vintage Variety Hidden Peak currently offers upward of 50 vintages of puerh, as well as a variety of other teas.
Tea Here Now It’s a digital-free environment, and encourages people to return to a time when tea drinking was a time of relaxation and reflection. “We are so pleased to see that people are relying on us as a tranquil place to go and just be—to let go of your electronic devices [and] your to-do list,” says David Wright. | Elizabeth Limbach

Category Winners & Runners-Ups

AÇai Bowl

Café Brasil 1410 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 429-1855,
Samba Rock


Hula’s Island Grill 221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 426-4852,
Paradise Beach Grille, Crow’s Nest


Bagelry 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 429-8049; 1636 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-8550; 4763 Soquel Drive, Soquel, 462-9888.
Runners-Up Firefly, Main St. Bagels


The Buttery 702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-3020,
Runners-Up Gayle’s, Emily’s


Red Restaurant and Bar 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913,
The 515, Paradise Beach Grille

Sports Bar

99 Bottles 110 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 459-9999,
 Seabright Brewery, Britannia Arms


Aptos st. BBQ 8059 Aptos St., Aptos, 662-1721,
Runners-Up Cole’s, Sid’s Smokehouse

Beer Selection

99 Bottles 110 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 459-9999,
Runners-Up burger., West End Tap & Kitchen

Bloody Mary

Red Restaurant and Bar 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913,
Runners-Up Harbor Café, Coaster’s Bar + Grill

Boba Tea

Boba Cruz 1101 Pacific Ave., Ste. C, Santa Cruz, 713-5363,
 Pacific Thai, Café Lena

Burger & Fries

Betty Burgers 505 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-8190,
burger., Jack’s


Planet Fresh 1003 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 423-9799
 Taqueria Vallarta, Tacos Morenos

Bread (local/handmade)

Gayle’s 504 Bay Ave., Capitola, 462-1200,
 Companion, Kelly’s


Zachary’s 819 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-0646
 Walnut Avenue Café, Harbor Café


Seabright Brewery 519 Seabright Ave. #107, Santa Cruz, 426-2739,
 Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing


Harbor Café 535 7th Ave., Santa Cruz, 475-4948,
 Chaminade, Café Brasil


Crow’s Nest 2218 E Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 476-4560,
 Shadowbrook Restaurant, West End Tap & Kitchen

Personal Chef

Zachary Mazi, 888-643-7941,
Runners-Up Mark Gallagher at Affordable Chef Services, Tabitha Stroup at Friend in Cheeses Jam Co.

Cheese Selection

New Leaf 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-1306,
 Shopper’s Corner, Deluxe Foods

Chinese Restaurant

Yan Flower 617 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-2574,
Runners-Up Golden City, Canton

Chips and Salsa

El Palomar 1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-7575,
Runners-Up Manuel’s, Little Tampico/Taqueria Vallarta

Clam Chowder

Stagnaro Brothers 59 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 423-2180,
 Paradise Beach Grille, Riva’s


Red Restaurant and Bar 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913,
 515 Kitchen & Cocktails, Hula’s Tiki Lounge


Verve 1540 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; 816 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 475-7776; 104 Bronson St., Santa Cruz,
 Firefly, Coffeetopia

Comfort Food

Saturn Café 145 Laurel St., Santa Cruz, 429-8505,
 Rosie McCann’s, West End Tap & Kitchen


Pacific Cookie Company 303 Potrero St. #40a, Santa Cruz, 429-9709,
 The Buttery, Gayle’s

California Cuisine

Café Cruz 2621 41st Ave., Soquel, 476-3801,
 Paradise Beach Grille, Shadowbrook Restaurant


Buttercup cakes & farm house frosting 109 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 466-0373,
 Roc’s Cupcakes, The Buttery


Zoccoli’s 1534 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-1711,
 Erik’s, Garden Liquor and Deli


The Buttery 702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-3020,
 Chocolate/Gayle’s, Shadowbrook Restaurant


Santa Cruz Diner 909 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 426-7151,
 Saturn Café, Jeffery’s


Shadowbrook Restaurant 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola, 475-1511
 Paradise Beach Grille, Café Cruz

Dive Bar

The Redroom Cocktail Lounge 1003 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 425-2994
Runners-Up Brady’s Yacht Club

Exotic Drinks

Hula’s Tiki Lounge 221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 426-4852,
 The Red Restaurant and Bar, 515 Kitchen and Cocktails


Falafel of Santa Cruz 1501 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 459-0486,
 Falafel Hut, Falafel House

Farmers’ Market

Aptos farmers’ market Cabrillo College 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 728-5060,
 Santa Cruz Downtown,Santa Cruz Westside

Frozen Yogurt

Top-A-Lot 738 Water St., Santa Cruz, 426-1375,
 Froyo, Layla’s World Yogurt

Greek Restaurant

The Greek 435 Front St., Santa Cruz, 466-9990,
Runners-Up Vasili’s, Zameen

Grocery Store

Shopper’s Corner 622 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-1398,
 New Leaf, Staff of Life

Happy Hour

Red Restaurant and Bar 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913,
Hula’s Tiki Lounge, Crow’s Nest

Hawaiian Food

Hula’s Tiki Lounge 221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 426-4852,
 Pono, Aloha Island Grill

Hot Dog

Snappy 930 Almar Ave., Santa Cruz, 295-3610
 Lucy’s Hot Dogs, Taylor’s

Ice Cream

Penny Ice Creamery 913 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 204-2523,
 Marianne’s, Mission Hill Creamery

Indian Food

Malabar 514 Front St., Santa Cruz, 458-3023, Find Malabar Restaurant on Facebook
 Sitar, Ambrosia

Italian Restaurant

Lillian’s1116 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, 425-2288,
 Ristorante Italiano, Avanti

Japanese Restaurant

Mobo 105 S River St., Santa Cruz, 425-1700,
Runners-Up Takara, Shogun

Kid-Friendly Restaurant

Kiantis 1100 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 469-4400,
 Pono Hawaiian Grill, Carpo’s

Late-night Dining

Saturn Café 145 Laurel St., Santa Cruz, 429-8505, Crepe Place, Santa Cruz Diner


Zoccoli’s 1534 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-1711,
Runners-Up 99 Bottles, Pono Hawaiian Grill


Red Restaurant and Bar 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913,
 Shadowbrook Restaurant, Café Cruz


El Palomar 1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-7575,
Olitas, Tampico

Meal for a Deal

New Leaf
1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-1306,
Runners-Up Staff of Life, Charlie Hong Kong

Mexican Restaurant

El Palomar 1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-7575,
 Manuel’s, Tortilla Flats

Middle Eastern Restaurant

Laili Restaurant 101 Cooper St., Santa Cruz, 423-4545,
 Zameen, India Joze


Red Restaurant and Bar 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913,
 515 Kitchen and Cocktails, El Palomar

Natural Food Store

New Leaf 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-1306,
Runners-Up Aptos Natural Foods, Food Bin

New Restaurant

WestEnd Tap & Kitchen 334 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 471-8115,
 Bantam, Kauboi

Outdoor Dining

Crow’s Nest 2218 E Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 476-4560,
 Paradise Beach Grille, Laili


Pizza My Heart 1116 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-2511,
 Tony and Albas, Kianti’s

Pizza Slice

Pizza My Heart 1116 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-2511,
Pleasure Point Pizza, Rockers

Restaurant Ambiance

Shadowbrook Restaurant 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola, 475-1511
 Red Restaurant and Bar, Paradise Beach Grille

Restaurant (Aptos)

Bittersweet Bistro 787 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Aptos, 662-9799,
 Manuel’s, Café Sparrow

Restaurant (Capitola)

Shadowbrook Restaurant 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola, 475-1511
 Paradise Beach Grille, Suda

Restaurant (Santa Cruz)

WestEnd Tap & Kitchen 334 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 471-8115,
Crow’s Nest, Oswald

Restaurant (San Lorenzo Valley)

Cosa Nostra 9217 Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond, 609-6132,
Cowboy Diner, Oak Tree Restaurant

Restaurant (Scotts Valley)

Jia Tella’s 18 Victor Square, Scotts Valley, 438-5005,
Malone’s, Rumble Fish

Restaurant (Soquel)

Café Cruz 2621 41st Ave, Soquel, 476-3801,
Tortilla Flats, Michael’s On Main

Restaurant (Watsonville)

Cilantro’s1934 Main St., Watsonville,  761-2161,
Miyuki, Jalisco’s

Restaurant of the Year

Paradise Beach Grille 215 Esplanade, Capitola, 476-4900,
Shadowbrook Restaurant, West End Tap & Kitchen


Zoccoli’s 1534 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-1711,
Garden Deli, Erik’s Deli, Deke’s Market


Stagnaro Brothers 59 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 423-2180,
Riva’s, Crow’s Nest

Small Plates

Soif 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-2020,
515 Kitchen & Cocktails, Pono Hawaiian Grill


New Leaf 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-1306,
Café Brasil, Staff of Life


Hindquarter 303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-7770,
Shadowbrook Restaurant, Point Chop House


Shadowbrook Restaurant 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola, 475-1511
Hindquarter, Point Chop House


Mobo 105 S River St., Santa Cruz, 425-1700,
I Love Sushi, Akira


Tacos Moreno 1053 Water St., Santa Cruz, 429-6095,
El Palomar, Olita’s


Hidden Peak 1541 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-4200,
Quail and Thistle

Thai Restaurant

Sabieng Mission Street, Santa Cruz, 425-1020,
Runners-Up Sawasdee, Bangkok West

Vegetarian Cuisine

Dharma’s 4250 Capitola Road, Capitola, 462-1717,
Café Gratitude, Saturn Café

Wine List/Restaurant

Soif 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz,423-2020,
Shadowbrook Restaurant,Paradise Beach Grille

Wine Selection/Store

Shopper’s Corner 622 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz,423-1398,
Soif, Vinocruz

Winery (local)

Alfaro 420 Hames Road, Watsonville, 728-5172,
Hunter Hill, Bargetto, Bonny Doon

Wine bar

Soif 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-2020,
Runners-Up Vinocruz, Vino Prim

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by KCat-M, May 01, 2014
Having been a visitor to Capitola and the Paradise Beach Grille with my family on several occasions, we were never disappointed with the variety and great meals we had. I think being named" Restaurant of the Year " and the many categories Paradise was named "runners up" speaks for itself as to the fine eating establishment you have. Kudos to all that have helped make this honor yours!!!!
written by Pj, April 24, 2014
You SO forgot Otoro's sushi in scotts Valley & Sones Winery !!

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