Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 19th
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Light Bites

dining_michaelsAround 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.

My husband dug into the Garlic Pepper Chicken Wings ($6). Served traditionally with sticks of carrot and celery, the mound of crisp-skinned drumettes was sprinkled with finely-minced garlic. I fell in love with the blue cheese dressing; thick and creamy with noticeable crumbles of rich cheese.
Michael's on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel, 479-9777. Full bar. Serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m., and from 11 a.m. on weekends. Happy hour 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Visit ★★★

A sea of sofas welcomed me upstairs at Red Restaurant and Bar. After untangling my wheelchair from furniture stacked by the elevator, I lounged comfortably with a menu that held many inspired choices.

The daily happy hour includes numerous craft draft beers ($3), Belgians ($5), and well drinks ($3).

The Cheese Plate ($5) featured two soft-ripening cheeses, each at their perfect peak of creaminess; brie and luscious, strongly-flavored Pierre-Robert triple-crème. They were served with water crackers, crostini, and pretty fans of thinly-sliced pear and apple.

Three Thai Chicken Skewers ($5) were drizzled with a thin sauce that almost tasted like peanuts. The skillfully-grilled nuggets of white meat were smoky and juicy.

Two bundles of asparagus ($5), wrapped thickly with prosciutto, were grilled until hot but still crisp, and drizzled with thick balsamic reduction.

Red Restaurant and Bar, 1003 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 425-1913. Full Bar. Serving dinner daily from 4 p.m. Happy hour daily 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visit ★★★

I was early for happy hour at Severino's Grill  for Tasty Tuesday—when the bar menu is at happy hour prices all day. Choose from sandwiches, salads, or snacks, like a local Artichoke ($3.50) with roasted garlic aioli or the Cheese Board ($6) with roasted garlic.

The plate of Chicken Strips ($4.50) held five large, thin breast fillets, lightly battered, crisply fried, and served with a buttercup-yellow honey-mustard dipping sauce.

In addition to food discounts, happy hour includes pints ($2) and well drinks ($3). Burger and hot dog specials are available during Sunday and Monday night football.

Severino's Grill, 7500 Old Dominion Ct., off of State Park Drive, Aptos, 688-7300. Full Bar. Serving Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Happy hour Monday through Friday 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and all night on Wednesdays. Visit


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