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subtle, wonderful Cafe Campesino in Santa Cruz

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I've been wanting to try this little spot in downtown Santa Cruz because of its good reputation. Cafe Campesino did not disappoint.

The ingredients are organic and sustainable. They advertise as 'farmhouse' Mexican food. No rice, not a lot of grease. And though they serve meat (hormone free), all sauces including the mole are made without any meat or broth. What a treat for vegetarians.

I ordered a build-your-own taco with spicy guacamole, potatoes, roasted poblano peppers, and beans. I asked for the mild red salsa on the side. The tortilla was fresh, just the right thickness, and slightly crispy on the edges. The flavors were subtle, roasty, slightly tangy, and had the perfect amount of salt. This was a very satisfying lunch for $6-$7.

To top off a great experience, the people who run it are friendly and patient. It's a kiosk, so seating is in the fresh air. I can't wait to go back next time I'm in Santa Cruz during the day - they don't serve dinner.

I would love to hear about others' experiences at Campesino, because I only tried the one thing.

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Cafe Campesino
1130 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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  1. How could I have missed this place after the original report? My husband and I were indulging our daugther's fanime obsession this weekend (fanime.com) and slipped away for a few Giant Dipper rides at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. First, no lines and three rides! Who can't love the nearly two minute ride that doesn't depend on super heights, but an imaginative and well planned flight plan! Afterwards we headed into DT SC to Cafe Campesino. Glorious food. We enjoyed the enchiladas verdes, chicken mole and the Frida Kahlo soup. Service is...leisurely. The food is ...sublime. The soup is a rich tomato broth replete with shredded chicken, avocados and cheese. Steph's favorite, the enchiladas (which I had originally designated as my main dish) consisted of toothsome corn tortillas bathed in a savory tomatillo salsa and completed with queso fresco and shredded chicken. The mole was complex. I don't know the
    preparation, but, really, given the depth, I just don't care. Both mains were served with pinto beans, serviceable, and a potato side that I am still pondering, it was that good. We ordered an organic lemonade. Delicious. I wish we had the room to sample the horchata and Jamaica drinks. This is kiosk outdoor dining, so bring a warm sweater. Cece

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cecelia

      is this the one near Bookshop Santa Cruz? I ate at a kiosk there about 5 years ago, it was leisurely and wonderful--staffed by a woman in her late 50's?

      1. re: toodie jane

        Actually, it's closer to New Leaf Market. It's in front of Eco Goods.

        I've since tried the mole, which was about as good as mole gets.

    2. We discovered Cafe Campesino on the second day of a week long visit to Santa Cruz. We thought it was so good that we returned the next day, and the next, and ended up going back every day of our stay. We tried may items on the menu and they were all terrific. When we return to SC, there is no doubt where we will head first for lunch.