Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 24th
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Tasting Away

dining margaritavilleBeautiful inside and out, Margaritaville blends Mexican specialties with Californian originality 

Last year I felt horribly deprived by the relative lack of warm summer days. Earlier this month though, there was enough shirt-sleeve weather to put me in remarkably giddy spirits. After thoroughly enjoying a walk on Capitola's sunny Esplanade in the middle of January, we stopped in at Margaritaville, a restaurant I had not visited in quite some time.
Margaritaville, which opened its doors way back in 1984, claims to be the first so-named restaurant in the world, and has gone on to spawn four siblings. Its menu offers Mexican specialties as well as American favorites. It had been beautifully redecorated since my last visit in light blues and greens, with beautiful tile including mosaics covering the support posts that bring to mind kelp rising to the surface embedded with creatures from its ecosystem. From a seat at the lighted resin-topped bar or the deck outside, you'll enjoy a wonderful view of the multicolored Venetians, Soquel Creek, and the Monterey Bay.

There was a lot of teamwork amongst the staff here; the hostess was cleaning tables, and any available server brought hot dishes from the kitchen. At lunch, enjoy burgers and sandwiches ($10.95 to $14.95), a salad ($10.95 to $18.95), or specialties ($9.95 to $21.95) including fish and chips, roasted chili rellenos, and chili verde.

Crisp tortilla chips were served with a puréed fresh salsa that I found eerily sour, but the a cocktail glass of the house margarita ($6) was cold and refreshing.

Blackened Prawn Skewers ($12.95) featured six large crustaceans, lightly spiced and grilled, and served on a bed of lettuce and grated carrot. The wonderful sweet and spicy Asian chili sauce was not only wonderful on the shrimp, but as a dressing for the greens as well.

As an aromatic plate of Fajitas ($17.95/$26.95) was delivered sizzling from the kitchen, the Fajita Steak Sandwich ($12.95) sounded decidedly perfect. A plump, sourdough French roll was stuffed with bits of smoky, chewy steak with caramelized onions, covered by thick, melted cheese. (We had ordered it without the traditional bell peppers.) It was served with thick, lightly battered onion rings which were sweet and perfectly crisp.

Enchiladas Vera Cruz ($19.95) featured finely shredded crab and sautéed tomatoes stuffed into a soft, fresh corn tortilla. The thin green sauce was tart with tomatillo. The tender black beans were a nice break from refried, and the side of guacamole ($.75) included bits of onion and cilantro.

The dinner menu is similar to lunch, but with the addition of specialties such as Drunken Chicken with tequila-lime glaze and BBQ ribs. Sunday Brunch adds five items ($9.95 to $10.95) including Huevos Rancheros and a Spanish omelet.

Weekday specials at the 'ville include $5 drink or dinner specials on Wednesdays and Fridays, Happy Hour all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 'kids eat free' on Mondays.

Margaritaville, 231 Esplanade, Capitola, 9476-2263. Full bar. Open for Sunday Brunch 9 to 11 a.m., and daily for lunch from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Visit
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