Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 20th
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Pumpkin Pie Chai

dining_jennasuesI awoke recently to the seasonally uncommon sight of dry streets and a cloudless blue sky. Energized, I headed for the redwoods and Jenna Sue's Cafe. With the heater on, the sunroof wide open, and my old-school CD changer recently silenced by a pothole, I drove leisurely up Highway 9 hearing only the occasional swoosh of a passing car, the squawk of a jay, or the gurgling of a hidden waterfall.

Opening in the wee hours of the morning, Jenna Sue's is a commuter's best friend. Five pumper pots of coffee were lined up on a shelf, while breakfast sandwiches waited in the cold case. From the Bagel Bar, they stuff a plain bagel with a number of fast-breaking fillings including hummus, sprouts, cucumber and pesto cream cheese.

Hot oatmeal is perfect for cold mornings, and the cafe offers a wide selection of baked goods from Dessert First. Muffins, pastries, and cupcakes with frosted petals called from behind the glass.

I started with a large Chai ($3.25) served in an enormous and hefty black cup. I sipped through the swirled foamy top and could swear I tasted pumpkin pie. It was complexly spiced and not too sweet. A slice of the day's sugar-topped coffee cake ($2.75) was fluffy and tender and dotted with tart fresh cranberries.

But Jenna Sue's isn't just about carbs and caffeine. Lunch includes soups, sandwiches, and a healthy house salad ($6/$8). A dinner plate of romaine lettuce was topped with an entire produce aisle. Cucumber, tomato, nuts, sprouts and feta were just some of the ingredients. The sweet and tart Asian dressing was light and flavored marvelously with sesame oil. I couldn't resist taking home a double-sized brownie ($3). With the classic shiny top, it was moist, chewy and extremely chocolaty.  | KP

Jenna Sue's Cafe, 13090 Highway 9, Boulder Creek, 338-7008. Open Monday through Friday 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and weekends 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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