A travel journal
to Santa Cruz by Tana B.
Quote: I've lived in Santa Cruz since 1989. It's Eden with traffic jams, heaven with a high cost of living, and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
Maybe you're just young and interested in a spectacularly wide variety of physical sports--in which case you'll be fine here, too. The outdoor lifestyle is endorsed, perhaps prevalent.
Are you interested in eating well, with year-round access to some of the best organic food produced in California, the country, and perhaps the world?
Santa Cruz Metro = the bus line
Info here: http://www.scmtd.com/
Parking is usually really easy to find, except near the beaches on sunny days.
Dishes often incorporate unusual ingredients (Meyer lemon, squid ink, etc.) that dazzle. The chefs know the local farmers and know how to present seasonal items in fresh and imaginative ways.
It's a lovely little bistro, intimate without being claustrophobic. The wine list is succinct and appropriate. Entrées run in the $20-and-up range, though not always so high. There are always pleasing vegetarian options as well.
If you want a romantic dinner with simply perfect food, good service, and ambience, you cannot go wrong with Oswald. It's the essence of what California cuisine is about, with an emphasis on fresh, local, seasonal food. Good folks doing great work.
I love it here, and I wish they had a website.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 29, 2004
1547 East Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Owners Jorge and Araceli Rivas are from Guadalajara. I learned that the food comes from "Antique Mexican Corn Culture Recipes;" the menu offers recipes from all over Mexico. Jorge came to our table to handhold us: having never been there, it was daunting to look at both sides of the 11-inch by 17-inch menu. He was both knowledgeable and courtly.
He made a handful of recommendations, most from the hard-to-find dishes, with one exception: white enchiladas, rendered unique by the presence of squash blossoms. His other recommendations:
• Rose Petal: with cactus fruit, almonds, and rose petals, a recipe from Oaxaca with shrimp or chicken
• Chiludo: Durango style with a combo of shellfish/meats or Guajillo style, which is light, spicy, and highly recommended
• Chiles Nogada: a plate created by Puebla nuns made of poblano peppers filled with ground turkey and seasoned with almonds, pecans, fine herbs, and dried fruits and topped with a walnut sauce
• Achiote: shrimps grilled with onions and pineapple in a mirror of achiote sauce, Yucatan style
Jorge then recommended something off the menu: homemade tamales with poblanos instead of corn husks. I ordered them (at $12.50, one of the most expensive items): "Three tamales wrapped in grilled poblano peppers, filled with Huitlachoche (Mexican black mushrooms), picadillo, and shrimp, mirrored in three different sauces, the Pipians (white, red, greens—these have in common pumpkin seeds but in each change the herbs and peppers)."
Bob ordered Chiles Nogada ($12.50); he was delighted to receive an additional crepe covered with rose petal sauce. Adorning the main course and the crepe were dried cranberries. As Señor Rivas explained, pomegranates are traditional but were not in season.
Our beers came in a galvanized tin bucket with ice. Bob's food arrived first—the tamales take longer, but we were sharing, so it was no biggie. There was probably a 10-minute or longer time span between the arrival of our plates.
The place is small, seating about 50. The walls are filled with Mexican folk art that constitutes a big part of the "fiesta" in their name. Attractive blue-and-white platters are about 16 inches across; they're laden with your entrée, rice, beans, guacamole, salad, and appropriate sauces. This food was out of this world. I've had enough food in Mexico to know that it was prepared with care and knowledge. Too bad you can't smell the aromas.
Short story: this was stellar. I can't wait to take visitors here.
Fiesta Tapa-Sahuayo is on the corner of Riverside (Highway 129) and Main (despite its address on First, it's on the corner of Main and 129!). Plates run from $3 for a regular burrito to $7 to $8 for three-item plates; special plates are $12.50.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 21, 2005
15 First St.
Santa Cruz, California 95076
Don't be fooled; while the menu may read "traditional," it's anything but generic. Biscuits and many baked goods are made in-house. And while the cowboy theme may appear on coffee cups and menus, don't expect burned toast and bitter coffee. The care that goes into each dish is palpable. Home fries are made with rosemary, and the hollandaise fairly sings with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Omelets, scrambles (available with organic tofu), huevos rancheros, pancakes, French toast, and all the typical sides (oatmeal, granola, gravy, bananas, and more) fill out the breakfast half of the menu. On the other side, you'll find lunch items that are standard, but which also include BBQ, teriyaki, quesadillas, and house specials.
On the morning we were there, the specials included Eggs Benedict, chorizo scramble, fresh swordfish or salmon with scrambled eggs, orange poppyseed pancakes, corned beef hash and eggs, skirt steak and eggs, and chicken-fried steak and eggs. Besides coffee or tea, you can get chai, soda, Odwalla juices, Martinelli apple juice, or even a milkshake made with Marianne's (local legend) ice cream. The kids menu is ample, and all soups and desserts are homemade.
Every time we go (it's just a couple of blocks from our house), it's always been worth the wait. Good folks doing good business, the right way: consistently, cheerfully, and with attention to flavors, freshness, and value.
NOTE: Photos coming soon!
Silver Spur web site.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 20, 2005
2650 Soquel Drive
Santa Cruz, California 95065
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 22, 2007
1016 Cedar Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Santa Cruz, California