Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 16th
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North and South

dining_capitoladinerchickenCapitola Diner serves breakfast all day and mixes it up with Mexican specialties

The family-owned Capitola Diner aims to create a relaxed beach house atmosphere, and boasts a large menu that combines American diner standards with Mexican-influenced dishes and seafood specials.

For brunch, I enjoyed a tasty Santa Fe Skillet ($8.99) served in a long-handled casserole. Softly scrambled eggs with melting cheese, tender pieces of bacon, and cubes of creamy avocado were topped with a gentle house-made salsa, a touch of sour cream, and plenty of sliced green onions. Underneath were nicely cooked, but mildly seasoned red-skinned potatoes; nothing a little Tapatio hot sauce couldn’t remedy. Breakfasts are served with a choice of toast, biscuits or pancakes. The latter were thick, chewy and filling.

Sandwiches are served with unlimited fries or potato salad, although cole slaw and fresh fruit were also available. Make it a meal with soup, garden salad or Caesar salad for $2.99.

In the Monterey Chicken Sandwich ($9.99), a tower of ingredients was sandwiched between halves of a plump wheat bun. A large breast of chicken was covered with melted jack cheese and topped with strips of softly cooked bacon and slippery slices of ripe avocado. Thick slices of red onion and tomato sat on a generous pile of crisp lettuce. The efficient waiter offered mustard and returned with Grey Poupon.

On Tuesdays the diner turns into Peter’s Cantina from 11 a.m. until close. A free appetizer (nachos, wings, cheese quesadilla or ceviche) is served with a four-bottle bucket of beers ($10), or enjoy shots of any tequila ($4.99).

Arriving for dinner, I found the dining room awash with light from the late afternoon sun heading west toward the Capitola mall. A sizeable Caesar salad ($2.99) was served quickly, and presented traditionally with airy herbed croutons, cheese and a creamy lemony-tart dressing.

On the list of lunch and dinner specials, which are served from 11 a.m., I was torn between the Shrimp Enchiladas ($14.99) with tomatillo sauce, and Chili Rellenos ($11.99). The latter featured two large, dark green pasilla chilies, stuffed with cheeses and coated in fluffy egg batter, then fried and smothered by more melted cheese. Gratings of cheese also melted atop a bowl of creamy refried beans. Individual grains of reddish rice were pleasantly seasoned.

A slice of Carrot Cake ($4.99) was served on a glass plate crosshatched with drizzles of caramel. Although I noticed neither coconut nor walnuts in the tender layer cake, it was generously frosted with sweetened cream cheese.

Capitola Diner, 1900 41st Ave., Capitola, 477-9076. Full bar. Open daily from 6 a.m., until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday.


Celebrate autumn at Manresa in Los Gatos for Chef David Kinch’s Tomato Modernista Dinner on Oct.1 or 2. More than 60 varieties of heirloom tomatoes from Love Apple Farm’s biodynamic garden will be featured in this 10-course meal ($195 per person).

Seating begins at 5:30 and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant or at

Manresa, 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, (408) 354-4330. Full Bar. Visit

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Mac, September 19, 2011
Capitola Diner rocks!! Great staff, great food, great prices. We are there at least once a week and have neer been disappointed.

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