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Santa Cruz


liamdc
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I'll be starting a new job, based in Santa Cruz, next month. While I'll continue to live in the Midwest, I'll be in town regularly.

I didn't see a general thread on eGullet about Santa Cruz restaurants in general, so I'm starting one. What's good out there, from taquerias to high-end dining?

I was in Santa Cruz for the first time on Sunday & Monday and had a very nice meal at Soif Wine Bar. The pork belly on a bed of avocado was marvelous.

Thanks!

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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there are lots of fun places in Santa Cruz. Soif is great. there is also Avanti Ristorante on Mission Street, a local fixture, with honest food from local ingredients and a good wine list. Oswald is really good also, maybe the best of the bunch. Don't forget to explore Wastonville for Mexican food.

You will be amazed.

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Don't forget to explore Wastonville for Mexican food.

You will be amazed.

Are there any particular ones you have been to? We will be camping at the Sunset Beach SP in the summer and that would be a great place to have dinner.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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We happen to have a number of discussions on Santa Cruz of which I am particularly fond because I visit there often. My daughter lives in Santa Cruz and the dining is one of the things to which I look forward when I am visiting her!

Santa Cruz is incredibly foodie-friendly! :biggrin:

an excellent new website with all of the downtown dining options among which you will find Oswald, one of my very favorite:

Santa Cruz's version of famed Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. This intimate California-French Bistro consistently serves some of the best meals in Santa Cruz. Wonderful wine list and attentive service in the courtyard at 1547 Pacific where Pacific and Front come together in a triangle. Follow the brick paving stones to the little ivy covered cottage on the left. Dinner only.

and then there is my favorite breakfast served at :

Zachary's Restaurant (831)427-0646

The classic California breakfast house featuring huge omelets, home fries, and homemade pancakes. The coffee cake changes daily and is worth the upgrade with your omelet. Get there early on the weekends if you want a table. A downtown tradition, and for good reason. Located at 819 Pacific Avenue between Laurel and Maple.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Welcome to Santa Cruz, Liam.

Finer/European Food:

Well IMO you've allready found the best food at Soif. They have the most creative menu and the best and most consistent execution

Avanti- as mentioned this is a long standing fixture on the SC scene. Located on Mission on teh west side they do a mix of italian and cal-italian food. They are just hitting their stride under their newish chef. Food is fairly consistent and though their loyal customers keep some menu items on theat should have been killed off years ago, the new chef has been adding some new things. They always have interesting specials and use good quality local seasonal produce. They also run a nice cheese and wine program.

Oswald- I have not been in some time and have been scared away by some negative reports. They are going to lose their space soon so perhaps they will get reinvigorated if they move.

Sestri- Italian on 7th/Capitola. Was good when it started but a recent visit was a touch lower in quality. Now they switched chefs and I have not been in to see how things are but worth a try. http://www.sestrisantacruz.com/

Red- located downtown and trying to put a bit of a hip urban place in SC which is ammusing. The menu is way too large and execution can range from very good to how the hell did they screw that up so badly. Stick to simpler items and it can be fun plus one of the few late-nite options.

Asian Food:

Get your asian food fix before you come or get used to driving over to San Jose which is a food wonderland.

Japanese- everywhere pretty much sucks unless you are into tofu macademia rolls. Your best bet is shogun downtown.

Chinese- another mess. People will claim the wonders of O'mei and you can get a decent meal if you order very carefully for twice the price of a real chinese meal- worth a try.

Indian- one place in town and a bit dreary. Fills the need if you are desperate though. Their is also a new place downtown but it is vegetarian indian in a sc hippie way not a real veg. indian way and I've heard they have veryy forgettable dosas.

Thai- most of the places are about the same. Sabieng on Mission on the west side is popular with the UC crowd for being a touch fresher than some. FOr quality, I think Sawasdee in Soquel is the best with slightly stronger flavors and they tend to have better duck and a decent catfish dish.

Viet- none :sad:

Mexican- Here is a category with lots of options.

The two strongest taquerias with locals are Tacos Morenos on Water on the East Side and the Vallarta mini-chain. (Soquel, 41st avenue and downtown). I was always a Vallarta fan but recently I have become very loyal to my local La Cabana (Mission near hwy 1 N) I almost hate to share this tip since it is becoming too crowded but they offer great tacos. Try the desebrada.

65136202-O.jpg

Sitdown mex- Palomar downtown is very popular but I find the food sort of boring. The pozole is ok though it does not make up for the worst chips in any mexican restaurant in CA I have dined in. They do make their own tortillas though which is rare in SC. For nostalgia, I also like the traditional Cal-Mex food at El Chino on Soquel in Live Oak. A bit run down, it looks and feels and tastes like the kind of 'mexican' comfort food I grew up eating in SC. Of course, the real goods are down in Watsonville.

I am also a huge fan of El Paisanos by the boardwalk. Every other food obsessed person (including those that really know mexican food) have not cared for it. Their tamales are my benchmark- small dense and packed with lard and chile flavor. My typical lunch, and the only one I have ordered over almost 30 years of business, is a chile verde burrito and a tamale. The burrito is just chile verde in a flour tortilla. They also have tacos, plates, menudo, new burrito selections copying th emodern CA burrito but I can't reccomend them as I don't see any need to try them. They also sell tamales to go by the dozen and this is my source for Christmas tamales.

Thats a start for you. Do you cook? I can give you some tips on markets as well if that is valuable.

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You may also want to consider timing your trips to SC to concide with the (Wednesday?) farmer's market. Based on my experience there I'd say it's well worth the hassle of filling an empty beer case with extraordinary produce and tucking it gently into the the overhead bin, even if you have a pretty good market back home. Good bread, too.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Chinese- another mess.  People will claim the wonders of O'mei and you can get a decent meal if you order very carefully for twice the price of a real chinese meal- worth a try.

Having had a number of good meals at O'mei, I can agree that it is pricey but rather interesting ... good menu, creatively prepared, and excellent service.

As far as Chinese, I really love going to Red Lantern! Metroactive review is here

and on Highway 1 slightly south of Santa Cruz, is my very favorite: Bittersweet Bistro

The Wednesday Market in downtown SC is a treasure where my daughter buys incredible produce picked at local farms that day.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Thanks for the recommendations. They will come in handy over the next few months. I've also heard that Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos is very worth checking out.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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I've also heard that Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos is very worth checking out.

Manresa is glorious and one of the best tasting menus I have yet to experience! Here is a very long, but highly interesting, thread on Manresa in all its splendor :wink:

from Flickr .. pictures by Pim ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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