Santa Cruz Good Times

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Apr 20th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Light Bites

Light Bites

Around the county, happy hours offer reasonably-priced hunger-crushing snacks

I got to thinking about small plates while reading the book 'Tapas' by Joyce Goldstein. In Spain's early evenings, neighbors visit pubs to socialize and snack on proprietors' unique noshes. Hungry, I set out to sample some happy hour treats.

At Michael's on Main, happy hour beverages included selected draft beers ($3), wine ($4), signature cocktails ($5), and well drinks ($4).

From the half-priced bar menu, we started with Cuban Pulled Pork Sliders ($6). A trio of small sesame seed-studded buns was spread with spicy Mojo aioli, stuffed with cabbage and hunks of sweetly-marinated, fall-apart-tender pork, then skewered with a toothpick securing a slice of pickled jalapeno.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Tip Top Tapas

Tip Top Tapas

Tortilla Flats has been preparing gourmet Mexican cuisine for more than 30 years. The unique dinner menu at this small restaurant in the heart of Soquel Village is augmented by Tapas selections on Mondays and Tuesdays, fusing Spanish and Mexican flavors in small plates.

I was surprised by the size of the Original Margarita. It was served in a husky, multicolored, translucent glass, and flavored with orange liqueur and freshly-squeezed lime juice.

The dishes were served in succession beginning with a pair of hot house-made corn tortillas. Albóndigas ($6), or meatballs, are popular Spanish Tapas fare. Seven dense balls of velvety ground beef and veal were topped with crumbled queso fresco and a salty and spicy dark sauce seasoned with paprika.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Flying South for Brunch

Flying South for BrunchBright and lively describe both the atmosphere and food at Nuevo Southwest Grill

Weekend brunch at Nuevo Southwest Grill offers both creative south-of-the-border-themed entrées and familiar fare as well. Choices ‘From the West’ ($5.95 to $9.50) include smoked salmon served on flatbread. ‘From the South’ ($7.25 to $8.95) you might select the shredded meat Machaca.
A raised platform gives tables farthest from the large windows unobstructed light. There is a free and open feeling here, with high ceilings supported by beams. Contrasting turquoise trim adds a pleasant vibrancy. A covered patio is also available for seating, and a couple of tables by the sidewalk are filled on sunny days.
My glass of tropical iced tea ($1.75) hinted refreshingly of fruit and was always quickly refilled. In the Nuevo Scramble ($8.50), bright multicolored corn tortilla strips were mixed with Cajun sausage, cheese and three scrambled eggs to create a flavorful, but not incendiary combination. An ice cream scoop of chunky, fresh, and unblemished guacamole and salsa fresca with chipotle added a kick and even more color to this filling dish.
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Dining - Dining Reviews

Seabright Sandwiches

Seabright Sandwiches

Many a Madison Avenue Marketeer might marvel at the creatively-crafted slogan, concocted legend, classically-executed artwork, and glitzy website: but it’s the hamburgers at Betty Burgers that steal the show.

The oddly-shaped lot on the corner of Murray and Seabright has seen many businesses come and go, but Betty is blessed frequently with lines of hungry people lingering about her double doors. She also welcomes phone-in orders with a special pick-up and beverage-only line.

Promising “juicy patties and hot buns,” the streamlined menu features an assortment of hot sandwiches, each with pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, and flavored mayonnaise-based sauces called lubes.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Fork in the Road

Fork in the Road

10 Dishes You Need to Know About
Santa Cruz County has plenty of creative diversity. But the same can be said for its culinary offerings, especially ethnic dishes. Take note of 10 that captured our interest.

Pumpkin Red Curry
What It Is: Succulent scallops plus sizeable prawns and chicken pieces are encased in a fragrant, red curry sauce featuring pumpkin and Thai basil. You will swallow any pride and lick up every last drop; like all the restaurant’s dishes, you can taste the freshness. The recipe comes from Thailand native Dee Hongmanee, who co-owns Sawasdee with her husband Bill and creates all the recipes.
Get It Here
: Sawasdee, 5050 Soquel Dr, Soquel, 462-5051

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Storm Watch

Storm Watch

........ In any weather, the view from Paradise Beach Grille complements the marvelously seasoned food and attentive staff

When your business depends on the Internet and the power goes out, you might as well go to lunch and enjoy Mother Nature’s show. This was the justification that brought us to Capitola’s Paradise Beach Grille in the middle of a mid-week afternoon.

The charming hostess led us across the colorful rock mosaic floor to the best seat in the house. Adjacent to the glowing fireplace and overlooking rain-swollen Soquel Creek, we were ushered into autumn by the season’s first storm.

While we were waiting for appetizers, all manner of flotsam floated and bobbed by on Class III rapids, from patio furniture and a hay bale, to branches and whole trees. We had apparently missed sighting a floating dock with attached kayaks in tow. Seagulls facing the wind hung motionless on extended wings until blown backwards by strong gusts.

The bartender delivered a large bowl of Thai-waiian Spicy Black Mussels ($15) accompanied by a mound of sticky sweet rice. The dark broth was scented with coconut and salty, sweet, spicy Thai ingredients.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Let us Eat Cake

Let us Eat Cake

Two little girls perched atop silver stools enjoying an after-school treat. Forks full of frosting, the youngsters were admiring the handiwork of Starz Cupcakes.

Ignore the sign in the window of the bakery’s adjacent neighbor which announces the availability of Goddesswear. All good intentions will be forgotten when you see the pretty cupcake display. Colorful baking papers replace traditional accordion-like baking cups, making the rows of desserts appear as origami butterflies taking flight.

On any given day, 15 of the more than 100 cupcake flavors are available. The regular size is $2.95. All are made from scratch and contain no preservatives. Beverages include coffee drinks, juice, and regular, chocolate and nonfat milk. If you want a fancier cupcake, a variety of sprinkles are available at the counter.

 

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Downtown Oasis

Downtown Oasis

Inside and out, relaxing Center Street Grill dishes up Mediterranean style

It was a perfect October day when I settled on the tree-lined patio for lunch at the Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Although the sun was still warm, the autumn air, perfumed by long, pendant angel trumpet flowers, was comfortably cool. The sound of water trickling from various fountains added a touch of tranquility—just a block away from the bustling downtown.

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, thick with pulp, and just tart enough to jumpstart the day, foreshadowed the freshness of the meals to come and the attention to detail paid by the chefs here. Inside the restaurant, I noticed the walls at sharp angles painted soft taupe and olive separate the dining areas. Cups of crayons awaited children who would doodle on white paper tablecloth covers.

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Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?