Santa Cruz Surprise 75th B-Day
I'm looking for a "nice" place to surprise the parent's for their 75th B-day's, we'll be coming in from all over the globe and don't know the restaurant's well. Approx. 10-12 adult's, I know I'll get slammed for bringing up The Crow's Nest, is it as bad as the online reviews suggest? We'd like to have the party in Santa Cruz, and will venture out for other meal's, only in town for 3 day's in Dec. Thank you.
Shadowbrook in Capitola is the place most people go for parties like that. The food is only okay, but everybody raves about the setting.
A second choice would be Cafe Cruz on 41st, also in Capitola. The food is arguably better than Shadowbrook, but Shadowbrook would be a more memoriable experience.
I've only eaten at the casual upstairs bar and grill area of the Crow's Nest, but the food is not great. The downstairs restaurant is always, always full so it's certainly popular but not my idea of a special occasion place.
HarryD's recs may fit the bill for you. Shadowbrook is an institution with a more traditional and formal atmosphere, menu, and service. I don't care for the dinner menu (brunch is good), but your family might like it.
Cafe Cruz is significantly cheaper than Shadowbrook, and the food is better IMO. It looks like a total dive from the outside, but the interior is warm and inviting. Atmosphere is more fun and boisterous than Shadowbrook. Be forewarned that the portions are HUGE; my husband and I can get stuffed from sharing one appetizer and one entree.
In Santa Cruz, I would consider Ristorante Avanti. The food is Cal-Med. and tends to please basic eaters as well as foodie types. They use quality ingredients and have a nice wine list.
Let us know if you have follow up questions. Good luck and please report back!