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Anything fantastic and eclectic within 30 miles of Santa Cruz?

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My twin brother and I are celebrating our birthdays this weekend and are looking for a place to have a memorable dinner within striking distance of Santa Cruz. Anything wonderful that we wouldn't be likely to find on our own? We're less interested in classic Italian or French than in something eclectic, visionary, or with lots of character.
Many thanks, FoodObsessive

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  1. I think the canonical answer would be Manresa, which is "over the hill" in Los Gatos but within your 30 mile radius. Not sure if you can get into Manresa on such short notice though.

    A bit further from Manresa and right on the border of your search radius is Sawa Sushi, which is not really sushi and more like Japanese crudo. Do a search and you'll find all sorts of high end food bloggers waxing poetic. Despite some reports to the contrary, I found Steve to be engaging and friendly. I'd say it's about as eclectic and visionary as it gets.

    Both of the above are covered in the SF Bay Area board.

    Closer to home I think Le Cigar Volant fits your requirements, but it's a lot more casual (with correspondingly smaller wallet hit). If the online menu appeals, I think you can get a very good meal there. They're supposed to have wines other than from Bonny Doon, but I'd call to check on that (I haven't been in a while). If they're not offering that yet, you might consider bringing your own (I'm not a big fan of BD wines). Go to Soif downtown and they'll suggest something awesome within your price range.

    1. Agree with bouncepass, but if you like to have cocktails and/or wines with your dinner you would definitely not want to drive Hwy 17 back to Santa Cruz afterward.

      Besides Soif, check out the menus at Gabriella and Oswald, tho I haven't been to the latter since they reopened in the new location downtown.

      1. Might not be what you are looking for but Lemongrass Thai in Moss Landing is excellent. Full bar and great food.