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Santa Cruz -- Escaping the heat: need lunch ideas

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It's too darn hot outside, so we're escaping the heat tomorrow to head to Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz for a walk. Any ideas for brunch or lunch nearby?

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  1. Kelly's Bakery is nearby at the corner of Swift and Ingalls. Haven't eaten there in a while, but I've liked the farm fresh soups and salads in the past. Burger and fries were above average, but I didn't care for their sandwiches. Must get something for dessert in their bakery case...jam sable cookies and macarons are my weakness. There's also some wine and beer tasting in that general vicinity. You can eat there or pick up a picnic to bring to Natural Bridges; they have tables or you can plop down on the sand.

    There's a newish westside farmer's market on Sat. from 9-2 at the Wrigley Bldg. on Mission. I haven't been, but you could check it out for some summer fruit and goodies:
    http://www.santacruzfarmersmarket.org/
    Have any locals checked out this market yet?

    If you're craving taqueria food, then La Cabana on Mission near O'Mei has received raves for its desebrada taco, but I still haven't been. If you enjoy aromatic, organic strawberries, then check out Swanton Berry Farm about 15 min. north on Hwy 1:
    http://www.swantonberryfarm.com/
    You can do u-pick or if you're lazy like me, then buy a half flat (last week they were $15). Also sell jams, gelato, shortcake, etc. Charming little place--cash only.

    If you end up staying for dinner, then consider Soif in downtown or Avanti on the westside. Soif also has weekend wine tasting from 3-5 on Sat. For your final cooldown, go to Marianne's on Ocean St. for old-fashioned ice cream or Gelatomania downtown on Pacific for gelato.

    http://www.soifwine.com/

    http://www.gelatomaniadesserts.com/

    It's going to be a nice weekend here in SC, so come early and be prepared for traffic. Stay cool and please report back!

    1. Thanks so much for the suggestions, Carb Lover. I'll report back, and I'm glad you mentioned Swanton Berry Farm because I've been wanting to do that and I completely forgot that we'll be in the area. I think we'll try that too.

      1. We ended up going to Capitola, where we had brunch at Papa O's, to bypass some of the SC traffic, so I had to skip sandwiches. I did go into SC afterwards for the terrific gelato at Gelato Mania...thanks so much for the tip. Amazing PB & chocolate gelato there. yum.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sfmags

          Thanks for reporting back. Glad you enjoyed Gelatomania. I've recently seen some ads for Papa O's in the local A&E paper; anyone know if it's new? From your brief mention, doesn't sound like the food was remarkable, but can you elaborate on what you had? Here's their website: http://papaoscapitola.com/content/vie...

          I don't eat much in Capitola, but my choices would be Sushi Garden on Bay Ave. right off Hwy 1 or Caruso's in the Mercantile Bldg. right at the beach. I'm not sure if Caruso's is open for lunch though. Of course, Gayle's Bakery is also very popular: http://www.gaylesbakery.com/

          Since we're speaking of Capitola, this gives me a good chance to ask...Has anyone tried the new Cava Wine Bar in the Mercantile in Capitola? http://www.cavacapitola.com/

          1. re: sfmags

            Papa O's is new. It's where the sushi restaurant used to be on Capitola Ave. Most recently it was a decent breakfast spot with the unfortunate name of "O.D.'s".

          2. I liked Papa O's. My general rule in places like Capitola is, the closer to the water a restaurant is, the worse the food. This holds true at PO's which is within walking distance, but not on, the water. I had an excellent "Capitola Wrap" which was served on a grilled (not steamed) tortilla with eggs, cheese, beans, chilis and home fries. My husband had the tuscan omlet with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and italian sausage. Everything was good, service friendly, ingredients top quality. Worth the trip. I've heard good things about their blueberry pancakes and the breakfast bruschetta looks good too.

            1. On our way up Hwy 1 today, we went to Kelly's Bakery based on Carb Lover's tip. I was a little disappointed they stopped serving breakfast at 11:30, so we had lunch, but it was a pretty good lunch and we enjoyed sitting in the landscaped patio. I had the eggplant panini (I think ~$7), which was actually the "classic" roasted red bell pepper, eggplant & cheese with basil pesto. The panini grills the bread to a well-done buttery/oily crispy toastiness, and the cheese was all hot and melty. The basil pesto covered the whole slice (I hate it when it's just a small smear). Nice rendition and I liked the small pile of green & kalamata olives you get on the side.

              Hubby's chicken durango sandwich ($7) was a poached? breast with thick-ish avocado slices and a couple leaves of romaine. It was bland except for a black pepper flavor, but he liked it. We also had a slice of spinach quiche that was heavenly. The buttery crust was both flakey and crumbly. The quiche was moist and almost custardy, with just enough salt or cheese to give it that savory substance.

              We skipped on the pastries. They seem kind of pricey ($3 for a small-ish choc crossaint, 75 cents for a tiny cookie drop the size of a quarter).

              What annoys me about this place (except for the constant out-the-door line) is that there are no descriptions for any of the menu items, and no paper menu, only what's up on the wall. We ordered the chicken durango blind, and I would've asked for no cheese if I had known my sandwich comes with it. I originally wanted a salad but from the names of the salads I had no idea what's in them. And there's no way I'm going to hold up that line by asking what's in every menu item I'm considering ordering.

              This place feels more like it's in the 4th Street Berkeley neighborhood, very different from the westside Santa Cruz neighborhood that you drive through on Mission St. Which is kind of refreshing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Alice Patis

                Thanks to you and sfmags for your details! I'm glad that you enjoyed the food at Kelly's overall; I'll have to try the panini sometime. I also forgot that they serve breakfast, so I'll have to keep that in mind.

                I hear you on the horrible line issue. In fact, I only seem to go during off hours so that the line is shorter and the atmosphere isn't so chaotic. Gayle's in Capitola also has a big line, but they appear to have more staff and a more efficient system to move people through.

                I don't recall their food details being so vague. It's never bothered me before, but like I said, I go during calmer hours so that I can ask questions if necessary.

                I also don't remember their pastries being too pricey, although it's possible they have increased since my last visit. The jam sable cookies and macarons that I usually get are 75 cents to a buck, which seems like a worthwhile little treat. Their macarons are unusually large too. Have only had the choc croissant once and while they use quality chocolate, I prefer the Buttery's version (when they don't sell out!). The fruit parfait (sorta like a trifle) was also very good.

                You're right that that little hub feels more hip and urban than most places in SC. The owners of Kelly's actually own the entire complex. Pelican Ranch Winery's tasting room is next door (wine is so-so), and there's Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing which also offers some public tasting: http://www.santacruzmountainbrewing.c...