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Jun 29, 2006 06:41 AM

Santa Cruz chow overview

[[ This post was split from -- The Chowhound Team ]


Well, after some time lurking, this thread sucks me in. (Live in Aptos but work in Scotts Valley.)

The Viet place was where Yamamori is now. It was awful. (Although I will feel eternal gratitude to the wait person there who told us that if we really wanted good Vietnamese food we must go to Vung Tau.)

Yamamori was definitely a welcome addition to what is basically a culinary wasteland. However, even better is the newly opened (about 6 weeks ago) Rumblefish down Scotts Valley Blvd. at what used to be Aoi. Great straight-ahead sushi and an impressive selection of unusual (even for Santa Cruz) rolls. Even the edamame, for reasons I've never been able to articulate, taste better than others in Santa Cruz. (I'll try to remember to take pictures next time I'm there.)

Bruno's is not bad (again for Santa Cruz, which is not exactly a BBQ town). Good ribs. Really good horseradish-laced cole slaw.

Haven't been to Auntie Mame's for ages and Heavenly Cafe has always struck me as kind of "eh." Certainly not bad, but nothing to really recommend it either. On the other hand, for basic fare, including good breakfasts, Mollie's Country Cafe can't be beat (in Scotts Valley, anyway).

Malone's is a combination bar and restaurant that's popular with the business crowd at lunch (no idea what it's like at dinner). Good sandwiches and salads and great marinated skirt steak. They have a nice outdoor dining area that's pleasant in spring and summer.

That's pretty much the best of admittedly slim pickings.

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  1. Thanks for coming out of lurkdom! Your perspective is very appreciated! Interesting that Yamamori replaced the Viet place (Saigon something or other?); now I don't have to wonder if the place is still around. Thanks for the tip on Rumblefish--hadn't heard anything about it. And please do take pictures if you'd like since I "eat them up."

    Do you have any thoughts on how Bruno's compares to Cole's (SC or Aptos) or Hungerford's (Watsonville)? Horseradish-laced cole slaw sounds good!

    Since you live in Aptos, any favorites there? I've been meaning to try Al Boccalino for some time now... (you might consider starting a new thread on this since we can't change titles mid-thread anymore)

    5 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      I've never been to the Cole's in SC (although I will date myself by saying I used to go there often back when it was Adam's Rib). I've never cared for the Cole's in Aptos. One of our sons worked there for a while back before it changed management, but I haven't been back since the change, so I don't know what, if anything, is different.

      Meat-wise, pretty much all my experience with Bruno's is ribs. Tried the chicken once and was underwhelmed. Can't really vouch for anything else. One thing they have that I haven't seen elsewhere are corn fries. Cornmeal shaped like french fries and fried crispy. For some bizarre reason they serve them with a bland salsa. A total mismatch.

      We've never tried Hungerford's. Do you recommend it? On those occasions we want to drive to BBQ, it's Central Texan in Castroville.

      1. re: ahclem

        I've been wanting to try Central Texan next time we are out that way. Aptos Cole's changed ownership again more recently, but I haven't been since the changeover. Matt, any news?

        Hungerford's...yeah, it's worth a try, for sure, but I wasn't crazy about it in the end. I don't remember ever posting about it, but I do have a link to some photos:

        I liked the cole slaw and chili beans, but wasn't so crazy about the star of the show...meat. They seem to use good quality ingredients, but doesn't seem smoked long enough to me and I really didn't care for the honey sweet sauce and sesame seed garnish. Never seen sesame seeds on BBQ before--definitely their little twist.

        They do have nightly specials, and the fried catfish special sounded tasty.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          As I said before, it appears that the new owners of the Aptos Coles have tried to improve things. The sides in particular seem to be better. Unfortunately, the chicken dinner I had there a few weeks ago was disappointing. I was served a very small breast and wing. And, it really didn't taste very good.

          If you live in Aptos, give them a shot. But if you have to travel some, you may as well go to the SC Coles.

      2. re: Carb Lover

        We tried Bruno's a couple of years ago - don't know if it's the same owners now but our impression was that it was pretty pedestrian. The ribs, as I remember, were "too" tender - I like them to have a little more chew. They almost tasted like they'd been steamed or boiled and then thrown on a grill. Haven't tried Coles or Hungerfords so can't make any comparisons. We'll have to swing by Bruno's and give it another try.

        1. re: RWCFoodie

          Thanks for mentioning the rib problem at Bruno's, haven't been there, but I hate mushy ribs too.

          I'm not a fan of Central Texan either.

      3. The original comment has been removed
        1. Great Mexican in Sta Cruz: Tacos Moreno on Water St. Al pastor to die for, great chicken. Corn quesadillas rule.
          Oswald’s is the one good restaurant downtown. On the wharf Riva's is the ONLY place to eat, and stick to the fried/grilled stuff.
          Kelly's bakery on the Westside has a great cafe. The burgers are very good and the fries excellent.
          Marianne’s ice-cream on Ocean St is legendary for a good reason. Try Macapuno.
          --More to come--

          4 Replies
          1. re: aureliano buendia

            Thanks for chiming in; sounds like you are a long-time local. Look forward to "more to come."

            Have you eaten at Oswald's recently? I have heard some negative reports on it, so would be nice to hear otherwise along w/ specifics. Soif downtown is very good.

            I generally like Kelly's but wasn't that excited by their burger and fries the one time we tried it. While the meat was of good quality, I found it overdone. The fries weren't the crispy twice-fried frites of my dreams either, but at least they use fresh potatoes. I did like the housemade bun/roll and condiments. Have you tried their few dinner offerings like roast chicken or fish?

            I'm also a fan of Marianne's for old-fashioned ice cream. When I want a "gourmet" fix, I go to Gelatomania downtown, but their limited hours drive me crazy. I wish they opened late like Marianne's.

            1. re: Carb Lover

              Hey Carb Lover, for burgers and fries, have you ever checked out Jack's over by the Nick Theater? Great burgers & fries and real chocolate shakes.

              1. re: Rocky

                Yes, we ate there once sometime last year. For a fast food style burger in the vein of In-n-Out, it was tasty. It reminded me of the late night burger shacks I ate at in high school, although they don't seem to open very late. Anyone know what their hours are?

                I will have to try a milkshake sometime. Anything else you like there?

                My fave "gourmet" burger and fries was at Red, but I haven't eaten there since March after a disappointing meal. I've been meaning to try the burger and fries at Zachary's (there's always that $3.99 lunch coupon in the paper). Worth the time and effort? Carpo's (the Soquel branch) is also on my to-try list.

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  Haven't been to Carpo's in a while, although I used to go a lot many years ago when I worked in an office across the street. I'm not sure if it's still the case, but they used to have two burgers: the "Carpo Burger," which was the larger of the two, served on a baguette (and therefore oblong) and a regular round-on-a-bun burger. I used to prefer the round one (particularly when ordered with the optional sauteed onions). The baguette on the Carpo burger was so chewy that if you loaded it up with condiments, they'd come squirting out the edges when you tried to eat it.

                  Everyone seems to think that Carpo's fries are particularly good, but I didn't care that much for them. Their onion rings, on the other hand, were my favorite in the area.

                  I don't think I've ever had a burger at Zachary's. Mostly we're there for breakfast. At lunch it's hard to resist their superb BLT with thick crispy bacon on their own oatmeal bread. My pick as the best ever.