Category Archives: Restaurant News

Santa Cruz County food/drink closures & changes, as of March 21, 2020

Truffles at Chocolate Restaurant
photo by Liz Birnbaum of The Curated Feast

As I mentioned in my post Thursday, I am doing what I can to share information during the Coronavirus pandemic. Hoping this helps those of you who are either buying groceries or ready-to-eat food and drinks, and also helps the local business owners. Unfortunately I’ve already heard of one closing because of the health crisis: the restaurant/pub 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall announced Thursday it would be closing for good because they wouldn’t be able to survive this.

I wanted to also mention, for staying healthy, that Capitola’s The Vitamin Center is taking phone orders and offering curbside pickup. Call 831-462-4697 after 10 a.m. daily except Sunday.

Please forgive any mistakes in these listings, as it’s a constantly changing situation. Email me at tara@santacruzfoodie.com if you have information to share, that I can add to future articles. I’ll provide more listings in a couple days.

Grocery stores (listed alphabetically)

  • Costco: hours are 9 a.m.-8:30 p.m., seniors and vulnerable customers can shop Tues & Thurs 8-9 a.m., https://www.costco.com/
  • Grocery Outlet: hoursare8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, https://groceryoutlet.com/store-locator
  • New Leaf Community Markets: reduced hours 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, https://www.newleaf.com/
  • Shopper’s Corner: as of March 21, they had not reduced hours (still 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.). For seniors and vulnerable guests, they will take your order via email (shoppers.statements@gmail.com) and shop for you Monday-Friday, & call when ready to pick up—when you email your list, include your name & phone #. http://www.shopperscorner.com/
  • Staff of Life: reduced hours 9 a.m.-8 p.m., seniors 60 & older can shop at 8 a.m. from Monday-Friday, https://www.staffoflifemarket.com
  • Target: reduced hours at stores including Capitola & Watsonville (8 a.m.-9 p.m.): https://www.target.com/store-locator/find-stores
  • Trader Joe’s: reduced hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, https://www.traderjoes.com/
  • Safeway: reduced hours depending on location, https://www.safeway.com/
  • Whole Foods: reduced hours 9 a.m.-8 p.m., seniors 60 & older can shop at 8 a.m. https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores

Farmer’s Markets – these are currently open:

  • Downtown Santa Cruz Wednesday
  • Aptos/Cabrillo College Saturday
  • Westside SC Saturday
  • Live Oak Sunday

Restaurants & other food vendors

  • Alderwood: reopening March 24 with takeout and delivery menu, alderwoodsantacruz.com
  • Bad Animal Books: Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday from 4-7 p.m., take-out “family meals” with curbside pick up. Emergency first responders get a 50% discount. Order at badanimalbooks.com.
  • Bagelry: closed for the foreseeable future
  • Bittersweet Bistro: open Wednesday-Sunday noon-7 pm for take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery (to Aptos on orders over $100), bittersweetbistro.com.
  • Blue Bunny Tacos: closed until further notice
  • Café Mare: takeout/curbside and delivery, 831-458-1212, http://www.cafemare.com/
  • Charlie Hong Kong: noon-9 p.m., takeout (curbside pickup). They will cater & deliver to serve first responders, medical/hospital staff & government workers, charliehongkong.com
  • Chocolate: takeout/delivery daily 4-8pm. They use DoorDash for delivery — menu is updated on DoorDash every day at noon, and there are daily specials Delivery info is at https://www.doordash.com/store/chocolate-santa-cruz-284767/ & pickup info is at https://chocolatesantacruz.com/wine-list/
  • Colectivo Felix: Friday and Saturday empanada delivery to Santa Cruz residents, possibly adding soup next week (check site Monday), https://colectivofelix.square.site/
  • Crow’s Nest: takeout daily with curbside pickup 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m., also Beach Market next door 9 a.m.-8 p.m., http://www.crowsnest-santacruz.com/
  • Dharma’s: closed for the foreseeable future
  • East Side Eatery from Pleasure Pizza: 11 a.m.-8 p.m., takeout/delivery only, with curbside pickup for online orders, pleasurepizzasc.com
  • Full Steam Dumpling: Thursday-Sunday noon-5 p.m., takeout with curbside pickup (at Santa Cruz Food Lounge), (626) 549-5574
  • Home: takeout with curbside pickup, taking phone orders between 1-6pm, 831-431-6131, homesoquel.com
  • Ideal Bar & Grill: Daily noon-6 p.m., takeout food plus brewed coffee and espresso drinks, are available. Orders can be placed in person at café or at 831-423-5271. Only 2 guests at a time will be allowed in Ideal for pickup. www.idealbarandgrill.com
    Kianti’s: takeout with curbside pickup, or delivery, https://www.kiantis.com/
  • La Posta: takeout with curbside pickup, lapostarestaurant.com
  • Lago di Como Ristorante & Pizzeria: takeout/delivery including free delivery to limited areas, menu with family-size options through April 7, lagodicomoristorante.com
  • Laili: takeout/delivery, lailirestaurant.com
  • Linda’s Sea Breeze: 8 a.m.-1 p.m., takeout, cash (ATM available) or check, 831-427-9713
  • Nick the Greek: takeout/delivery, nickthegreeksj.com/locations
  • Olive Garden: doing takeout and delivery,https://www.olivegarden.com/order-togo
  • Panda Express: takeout and delivery, pandaexpress.com
  • Pasatiempo Golf Course: MacKenzie Bar & Grill is closed until further notice; Hollins House is doing take-out dinner. thehollinshouse.com/restaurant
  • Persephone: take-out menu available Fridays and Saturdays (may expand in future). Menu will change week to week, see https://www.toasttab.com/potter/v3
  • Pono Hawaiian Grill: closing downtown location for the foreseeable future
  • Pretty Good Advice: takeout daily 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Shadowbrook: closing until at least April 7.
  • Soif: takeout with curbside pickup, Tues-Sat 4-8 p.m., soifwine.com
  • Surf City Sandwich: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., takeout or delivery, see surfcitysandwich.com.
  • Tortilla Flats: closed until further notice
  • Tramonti: takeout and delivery, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., 831-426-7248, http://www.tramontisantacruz.com
  • Vim Dining & Desserts: closed until further notice
  • Zameen: all branches will be closed through at least March 22.

Get info for more downtown SC restaurants, & other downtown SC food/drink venues, at https://downtownsantacruz.com/downtown-delivered

Breweries & wineries

  • Big Basin Vineyards closed the Boulder Creek and Saratoga tasting rooms until further notice.
  • Humble Sea Brewing Co. is to-go only.” Hours are Monday-Thursday 2-7 p.m. and Friday-Sunday noon to 7 p.m.  Visit humblesea.com.
  • Sante Adairius is offering to-go sales, from noon to 6 p.m. daily. Visit rusticales.com.

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Santa Cruz County food/drink closures & changes, as of March 19, 2020

Appetizer at HOME
photo courtesy of HOME web site

Hi everyone – I wanted to help share some information in this unprecedented environment. As this is constantly evolving and I don’t have the time or resources to gather everything at once, I am starting with one list today & including hours where I have them.

I will add a second list soon, with more in each of these categories, and try to do revised and/or additional lists in the days to come. I wish you all continued good health.

Please email me at tara@santacruzfoodie.com if you have information to share, that I can add to future lists/articles (I have some more ready to share but if I keep typing I will never finish & be able to share these).

Grocery stores

  • New Leaf Community Markets reduced hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, newleaf.com
  • Trader Joe’s reduced hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, traderjoes.com
  • Safeway: reduced hours depending on location, safeway.com/

Farmer’s Marketsthese are currently open:

Downtown Santa Cruz Wednesday

Aptos/Cabrillo College Saturday

Westside SC Saturday

Live Oak Sunday

Restaurants

Alderwood: reopening Tuesday with takeout and delivery menu, alderwoodsantacruz.com

Bad Animal Books: Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday from 4-7 p.m., take-out “family meals” with curbside pick up. Emergency first responders get a 50% discount. Order at badanimalbooks.com.

Blue Bunny Tacos: closed until further notice

Charlie Hong Kong: noon-9 p.m., takeout (curbside pickup). They will cater & deliver to serve first responders, medical/hospital staff & government workers, charliehongkong.com

Dharma’s: closed for the foreseeable future.

East Side Eatery from Pleasure Pizza: 11 a.m.-8 p.m., takeout/delivery only, with curbside pickup for online orders, pleasurepizzasc.com

Home: takeout with curbside pickup, taking phone orders between 1-6pm, 831-431-6131, homesoquel.com

La Posta: takeout with curbside pickup, lapostarestaurant.com

Lago di Como Ristorante & Pizzeria: takeout/delivery including free delivery to limited areas, menu with family-size options through April 7, lagodicomoristorante.com

Laili: takeout/delivery, lailirestaurant.com

Nick the Greek: takeout/delivery, nickthegreeksj.com/locations

Panda Express: takeout and delivery, pandaexpress.com

Pasatiempo Golf Course: MacKenzie Bar & Grill is closed until further notice; Hollins House is doing take-out dinner. thehollinshouse.com/restaurant

Pono Hawaiian Grill: closing downtown location for the foreseeable future

Shadowbrook: closing until at least April 7.

Soif: takeout with curbside pickup, soifwine.com

Surf City Sandwich: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., takeout or delivery, see surfcitysandwich.com.

Tortilla Flats: closed until further notice

Vim Dining & Desserts: closed until further notice

Zameen: all branches will be closed through at least Sunday.

Breweries & wineries

  • Big Basin Vineyards closed the Boulder Creek and Saratoga tasting rooms until further notice.
  • Humble Sea Brewing Co. is to-go only.” Hours are Monday-Thursday 2-7 p.m. and Friday-Sunday noon to 7 p.m.  Visit humblesea.com.
  • Sante Adairius is offering to-go sales, from noon to 6 p.m. daily. Visit rusticales.com.

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Chocolate for Halloween and Beyond: Recchiuti Confections truffles & Chocolate on Pacific’s 20th anniversary

Calavera Truffles Collection, photo credit: Recchiuti Confections

I have sweet news from San Francisco-based Recchiuti Confections and Santa Cruz-based restaurant Chocolate.

Recchiuti Confections

Recchiuti Confections makes small batch chocolate using traditional European techniques and chocolate from Guittard, El Rey, and Valrhona. Their Calavera Truffles collection launched late last month just in time for Halloween. This collection ($22, available in-store and online) consists of eight pieces of Recchiuti Confections’ signature burnt caramel truffles. They are decorated with hand-placed artwork of the calavera, “meaning ‘skull’ in Spanish, symbolizing the celebration of ancestors and vibrant journey of life,” says a Recchiuti representative. On Oct. 29, the company is releasing a similar truffle box but this one is “fall-themed.” Also priced at $22 for eight pieces, Autumn Harvest Truffles have founder/chocolatier Michael Recchiuti’s signature burnt caramel truffles topped with visuals of autumn-inspired greenery. If you find yourself falling in love with the caramel flavor (as I did when the company kindly sent me a sample), you should know there is a scrumptious-sounding Burnt Caramel Sauce available as well — $12 for a nine-ounce jar. Recchiuti’s web site recommends serving over your favorite dessert or eating by the spoonful.

Store locations are One Ferry Building, Shop #30 (415-834-9494) and 801 22nd St. (415-834-9494), San Francisco. Visit recchiuti.com for details or to order online.

Chocolate

Restaurateur David Jackman is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his Santa Cruz restaurant Chocolate with a dinner and party from 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3. The event will feature live music, and attendees can choose a family-style dinner for $35 (or four for $120) or can order from the regular menu. Visit eventbrite.com for tickets and more information. The family-style dinner will include appetizers, antipasto, hot and cold entrees, a special birthday cake, and assorted chocolate mousse truffles. All seating will be at tables for six to nine guests seated together. Cocktail servers will have trays with drinks for an additional fee.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chocolate, the traditional menu includes lots of fabulous desserts plus savory dishes like spicy chocolate BBQ roast pork, or chicken mole made with Mary’s free-range chicken braised in mole sauce made with organic bittersweet chocolate. Mole lovers have the choice of poblano (roasted sweet peppers, peanuts, chocolate, garlic, and chipotle pepper) or Oaxacan (plantains, peanuts, almonds, chocolate, and five kinds of spicy toasted chiles). The restaurant is also renowned for its hot chocolate menu with about a dozen options, such as a dark chocolate/milk chocolate/cardamom combination and drinks with Mexican or Belgian chocolate. See chocolatesantacruz.com.

Location: 1522 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-427-9900

 

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Restaurants for Easter in Santa Cruz, South Bay and SF

Past brunch dishes at Porta Blu in Menlo Park. Photo credit: Porta Blu

Dining out for Easter 2019? It’s this coming Sunday; here are some restaurant and food vendor highlights for Santa Cruz, the South Bay, and San Francisco.

Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley

Chaminade Resort & Spa

The Chaminade offers its annual Easter Brunch Buffet from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; the price is $65 (adults), $20 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include fresh carved prime rib and leg of lamb, a seafood bar, omelets made to order, a devilled egg trio, a Mediterranean mezze display, several salads, and desserts such as Easter specialties and pastries. There will be hourly Easter egg hunts for the kids between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – these are open to restaurant and hotel guests only. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations. Visit chaminade.com.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Hilton Scotts Valley

The Hilton SV offers its annual Easter Brunch Buffet from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; the price is $35 (adults), $19 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include roasted herbed turkey, a carving station with honey glazed ham, a smoked salmon platter, Belgian waffles with berry compote, chicken apple sausage, an omelet bar, and desserts including a shortcake bar and cinnamon apple bread pudding. There will be Easter egg hunts at noon and 2, and an appearance by the Easter Bunny. Call (831) 440-1000, ext 4 for reservations.

6001 La Madrona Drive, Scotts Valley

South Bay

Manresa Bread

At the three Manresa Bread  locations (Los Gatos, Los Altos & Campbell), a few special dishes are available for Easter feasts. Guests can pre-order partner/head baker Avery Ruzicka’s seasonal strawberry apricot Panettone, fig walnut or chocolate Babka, and tomato and asparagus quiche, to pick up at the bakeries between April 19-21. For advance orders, visit pre-ordermanresabread.com. Additional treats are available at the two bakeries (276 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, and 271 State St, Los Altos) and the one all-day café & bakery (Campbell, 195 E. Campbell Ave.) during Easter weekend. For Easter brunch April 20, Manresa Bread Campbell will add dishes such as burrata and asparagus toast, vegan vegetable soup, and doughnuts. Visit manresabread.com.

 

Porta Blu

At Porta Blu there will be an “Easter Brunch Bash” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bay Area native / Chef de Cuisine Michael Riddell, has created a menu with dishes such as Lemon Pancakes, Rosemary Ham Benedict, and Dungeness Crab Toast. Families are invited to indulge in a gourmet spread of dishes, snap a photo with the Easter bunny, grab a basket for the egg hunt, or play in the petting zoo. Porta Blu’s weekly jazz brunch series will continue on Easter, with live music provided by local saxophonist Michael O’Neil. For reservations, visit portablurestaurant.com.

200 Independence Dr/, Lobby Level, Menlo Park

 

San Francisco

Recchiuti Confections

An artisan chocolate leader for over 20 years, Recchiuti Confections is known for meticulously sourcing ingredients and hand-crafting their recipes in small batches using traditional European techniques. Store locations are One Ferry Building, Shop #30, and 801 Twenty-second Street. Visit recchiuti.com. The below items are available both in store and online.

  • Force Noir Eggs (12 pieces, $25): Dark chocolate shells filled with vanilla-laced chocolate and hand-painted with a fresh new design of lustrous pink and purple. 12 egg-shaped halves making up 6 whole eggs packed in an elegant platinum box
  • Almond Hazelnut Praline Eggs (12 pieces, $25): Signature 45% milk chocolate shells filled with 45% milk chocolate hazelnut-almond praline. 12 egg-shaped halves making up 6 whole eggs packed in an elegant platinum box
  • Bunnies and Blossoms (8 pieces, $22): Hop into Easter with the Bunnies and Blossoms truffle collection. Each Burnt Caramel truffle is topped with original artwork; truffles are made by blending dark, smoky caramel with 70% dark chocolate ganache and enrobing it in semisweet chocolate

 

Presidio Social Club

Nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s iconic Presidio National Park, Presidio Social Club (563 Ruger St.) is a former military barrack turned modern eatery paying homage to its historical past by celebrating classic Americana cuisine and a completely in-house maintained barrel-aged cocktail program. Presidio Social Club invites families to enjoy Easter Sunday Brunch between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. either indoors or on the restaurant’s tree-lined open patio (dependent on weather). They will offer both classic and specialty a la carte menu items such as those listed below. Visit presidiosocialclub.com. Reservations can be made via OpenTable.

  • Mission-style chilaquiles ($15.95): with scrambled eggs, tomatillo, cotija cheese
  • Slow-roasted Leg of Pork ($23): with soft polenta, fried eggs, and salsa verde
  • Challah French Toast ($14.50): with pecan butter and maple syrup
  • Brioche Beignets ($10): with brown sugar hot chocolate

 

Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners

Celebrating “Chicago-style cuisine with an emphasis on authenticity and quality ingredients,” Capo’s owner Tony Gemignani invites guests to experience a traditional Italian Easter dinner with classics such as his Stuffed Crust pies. Originally derived from the traditional Italian Easter pie, Scarciedda, Capo’s offers stuffed pizzas like the Big Jim, Old Chicago, and Frank Nitti.

641 Vallejo Street

 

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Christmas shopping: last minute restaurant gift card bonuses

Photo caption: Sushi Garden is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

Two weeks ago I posted this article with eight different “gift card bonus offers” from Santa Cruz and Capitola restaurants. Here are a few more for any of you doing very-last-minute shopping.

 

Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville

Sushi Garden is offering 10% off if you purchase at least $50 worth of gift certificates. You have to buy them by Dec. 24, and they’re valid at all three locations: Capitola (820 Bay Ave.), Scotts Valley (5600 Scotts Valley Dr.) and Watsonville (1441 Main St.).Visit sushi-garden.com.

 

Capitola, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz

Jamba Juice is offering a gift card deal this holiday season, through Christmas. If you buy $25 in gift cards, you get a $5 bonus card redeemable in January and February. For more information, visit jambajuice.com. Local stores include Capitola (3555 Clares St.), Santa Cruz (1550 Pacific Ave.), and Scotts Valley (214 Mt. Hermon Rd.).

 

Santa Cruz

At Blaze Pizza (1901 Mission St.), if you buy a $25 gift card by Dec. 31, you get a free pizza reward to use at in 2019 (Jan. 1-Feb. 28). Restrictions: You must be a Blaze Rewards member (but it’s easy to sign up). For more information, visit blazepizza.com/locations/santa-cruz.

 

And finally, even though it’s not food-related, I have to mention Bookshop Santa Cruz because it’s such a wonderful, independent resource—and it’s been so for more than 50 years! Through the holiday season, you receive a free $10 BSC gift card when you purchase four $25 gift cards, or a free $5 gift card when you purchase five $10 gift cards. Speaking of food, your gift recipients (or you!) can buy a cookbook or a different type of food book (Ruth Reichl’s Comfort me With Apples…Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, etc.). Visit bookshopsantacruz.com.

 

Best wishes for a great 2019!

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Santa Cruz holiday shopping: Gift card bonus offers for restaurants

Pono Hawaiian Grill is offering discount gift cards this holiday season

If you’re in Santa Cruz or Capitola and have some gift or stocking stuffer shopping to do, you’ll be happy to know that several restaurants are offering “gift certificate bonus deals” for the 2018 holiday season. Here are a few options – if you hear of any more, let me know at tara@santacruzfoodie.com so I can share with everyone, thanks!

Santa Cruz

Pono Hawaiian Grill (120 Union St.) – If you buy a $25 gift card, it costs $20. If you buy a $100 card, you get a $20 bonus certificate. The offer is valid until Dec. 31. For more information, call 831-426-7666 or visit ponohawaiiangrill.com.

 

Hula’s Island Grill: ((221 Cathcart St.): Purchase a $50 gift certificate and get a $10 card free to keep for yourself. Purchase $100 and get a $20 certificate free. Offer available until December 23. For more information, call 831-426-4852 or visit hulastiki.com.

 

Mission Hill Creamery (1101B Pacific Ave., 831-216-6421) is offering gift cards at a 20 percent discount. Purchase cards such as a $10 card for $8 or a $50 card for $40. The promotion is valid through Dec. 24. Visit missionhillcreamery.com.

 

Woodstock’s Pizza  – Now through Christmas, for every $50 in gift cards you purchase, you get 5 free “Woody Bucks.” The Santa Cruz location is 710 Front St. Call 831-427-4444 or visit woodstockscruz.com.

 

Denny’s: customers who buy a $25 Denny’s gift card will receive $50 in coupons for future visits. The offer is valid through Dec. 25. The Santa Cruz location is 1515 Ocean St. Call 831-426-4628 or visit dennys.com.

 

Capitola

Paradise Beach Grille (215 Esplanade): Buy a $100 gift certificate for $80. Offer valid through Christmas. Call 831-476-4900 or visit paradisebeachgrille.com

 

Chili’s  – If you buy $50 in gift cards, you receive a $10 bonus card to keep for yourself. The Capitola branch is at 1855 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-462-1813 or visit chilis.com.

 

IHOP – If you buy a $25 gift card, you receive a $5 bonus coupon. The Capitola branch is at 1549 41st Ave. For more information, call 831-475-0540 or visit ihop.com.

 

Happy holiday shopping & Bon Appetit!

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Mother’s Day restaurant highlights for Santa Cruz & Monterey: Shadowbrook, Chaminade, Portola & more

Shadowbrook is open during the day on Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy of Shadowbrook.

Dining out on Mother’s Day is extremely popular, so if you haven’t made reservations yet, better hurry: here are a few restaurant highlights for Santa Cruz County and Monterey. I’ll publish more in the next few days.

Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos

Shadowbrook

It’s very rare for Shadowbrook to be open during the day, but it’s happening on Mother’s Day. The restaurant is serving a dinner menu all day (11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.) in its main dining room. Mother’s Day specials are slow-roasted leg of spring lamb (porcini mushroom-crusted with organic baby carrots, wild rice ‘pilaf’ and Cabernet jus, $28.95) and sweet-glazed ham (lightly smoked with Gouda potato gratin, grilled asparagus, apple-mustard and ham hock jus, $24.95). Many other dishes will be available like New England clam chowder; signature salad which includes baby spinach, candied pecans, and bacon-wrapped prawns; and house specialty Angus prime rib. See full menu here.

Many of the large party tables (7 people and up) have been booked, but as of press time there were a couple cancellations for the private room, at 11:15 and 5:15—this holds 12-16 people. For smaller parties (tables of four, for example) they are booked from 11 a.m. to 2:30, but there are reservation openings after that scattered throughout the afternoon and evening. Call 831-475-1511 for reservations. In addition, the Rock Room Bar & Lounge is open beginning at 10:30 a.m. for bar service and 11 for food, and might stay open as late as 10 p.m., but there are no reservations accepted for that area. It’s first-come, first-served. The regular dinner menu will be available at the rooftop heated bar/lounge deck. The regular Rock Room menu will be available in the lounge and on the deck. Because of Shadowbrook’s popularity—especially on Mother’s Day—many people choose to buy restaurant gift cards for Mother’s Day and give these as gifts, to be used at a later date.

1750 Wharf Rd., Capitola

 

Chaminade

The Chaminade offers its annual Mother’s Day buffet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 13. Cost is $66.95 for adults, $18.95 for kids 6-12 and free for kids under 6. Selections include Belgian waffles; an omelet bar; mini quiches; gourmet salads; a seafood bar with teriyaki salmon, Dungeness crab legs and more; roast prime rib with au jus; bourbon glazed honey ham; and ravioli with porcini cream, fried leeks and wild mushrooms. Kids’ dishes are chicken strips and fries; mac & cheese; and mini pancakes. See full menu. Call (831) 475-5600 or visit  opentable.com for reservations.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Sanderlings

Sanderlings at Seascape Resort has a brunch buffet from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm; the price is $56.95 for adults and $21.95 for kids. This year’s selections include a prime rib carving station; a seafood bar; a salad assortment (includes roasted beet with radicchio, apple, pickled apple; and Cobb; fresh fruit; and freshly baked croissants and muffins. Other highlights include potato cakes; smoked bacon and chicken apple sausage; and a kids’ menu with chicken tenders, hot dogs and more. Call (831) 662-7120 or visit opentable.com for reservations.

One Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos 

Hollins House

Hollins House at Pasatiempo has a brunch buffet from 10 am to 2 pm; the price is $75 for adults (includes a glass of champagne). The menu will include made-to-order omelets featuring choices such as smoked salmon and green garlic chives; Yukon gold potato hash; Applewood smoked bacon and breakfast sausage; a carving station with items such as Pitt ham with honey mustard and Hollandaise; artichoke quiche; and a few salads (including Caesar, and build-your-own-Cobb). Other highlights include a croissant and bagel station, cupcakes and bread pudding with salty whiskey caramel. See full menu here. Call (831) 216-5358 or visit opentable.com for reservations.

20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz

Monterey

Portola Hotel & Spa

Portola Hotel & Spa is hosting Mother’s Day brunch at its De Anza Ballroom. There will be live piano music, and each mother receives a complimentary Mimosa. The buffet is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 831-649-7874 for reservations. Cost is $54.95 for adults, $41.95 for seniors 65 and up, and $24.95 for kids. The menu includes ham-gruyere frittata, sweet & savory crepes, California cheeses & cured meats with crusty bread & crackers, wild King salmon, and prime rib.  The kids’ menu includes macaroni & cheese and grilled chicken fingers with Ranch. See full menu.

Two Portola Plaza, Monterey

 

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Win a year of coffee from Peet’s Coffee & learn about holiday drinks

Photo credit: Peet’s Coffee, used with permission

Earlier this fall, Peet’s Coffee launched a campaign called “What Fills Your Cup?” In honor of this new campaign, it’s offering fans a chance to win a year’s supply of coffee (via a $1,000 Peet’s gift card)—and there will be five winners. Peet’s invites you to “Share Your Passion” by uploading a photo of yourself in pursuit of your own unique aspirations or passion—such as art, sports, or music. The contest will accept submissions through Nov. 20, 2017 on peets.com/passion. Winners will be randomly selected in a drawing conducted around Nov. 29, 2017. No purchase is necessary.

The Peet’s “What Fills Your Cup?” promotion has a cast of well-known characters who are driven by their passions. “The success of Peet’s Coffee is intrinsically tied to our passion for crafting the finest and freshest coffee sourced from the highest quality beans and hand-roasted in small batches,” said Andrea Fernandes, Director, Brand Marketing, Peet’s Coffee. The individuals whose stories Peet’s chose to highlight include:

  • Kristen Kish, an acclaimed chef (winner of Bravo’s Top Chef) releasing her first book, Kristen Kish Cooking
  • Brianna Cope, a professional surfer from Kauai chasing waves since the age of four, currently traveling the world as a member of the World Surf League
  • Scott Borrero, a lauded commercial photographer and winner of Nigel Barker’s Top Photographer

In other Peet’s news, the 2017 holiday blend coffee is now available at Peet’s coffeebar locations, select grocery stores across the country and online. Each season, Peet’s seeks the year’s best beans to create a unique, celebratory blend. The 2017 blend features beans from Guatemala (“for notes of bittersweet chocolate), Sumatra (“for a hint of warm spice”) and Ethiopia (“for a floral twist”). At the beginning of November, coffeebars started serving two new beverages for the holidays in addition to traditional seasonal favorites. The new drinks are Holiday Spiced Latte and Winter Solstice Tea Latte, both featuring a mix of holiday baking spaces. Returning drinks include Peppermint Mocha, Eggnog Latte and Pepperming Cocoa.

Last but not least, Peet’s is permanently adding House Made Chocolate Sauce to its menu. Coffeebar baristas will prepare it fresh each day with premium ingredients. I’m very excited to try this delicious-sounding treat next time I visit Peet’s!

To find a Peet’s Coffee location near you, use the online store locator.

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Lots of popups this weekend in Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley

Mole nachos from My Mom’s Mole.
Photo credit: My Mom’s Mole Facebook page

There are many pop-up dining opportunities this weekend, May 26-27, 2017, in the Santa Cruz area–here are details for a few including two at local breweries.

 

Friday night: My Mom’s Mole at POPUP

My Mom’s Mole is hosting dinner at POPUP from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday (or earlier if the food sells out). There will be mole nachos (chicken and veggie options) made with My Mom’s Mole homemade tortilla chips plus their signature cactus and kale salad.

POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave. (next to Assembly), Santa Cruz

 

Friday night: La Sofrita at Steel Bonnet Brewing Co.

La Sofrita is doing dinner at Steel Bonnet Brewing Co. from 4-9 p.m. Friday. Dishes available will include empanadas; Puerto Rican achiote rice and pink beans, stewed with ham and sweet potatoes; mango-cucumber salad; and yuca fries served with garlic-mojo dipping sauce. Buck N The Odds will play live music.

Steel Bonnet Brewing Co., 20 Victor Square, Scotts Valley

 

Saturday night: Homeless Garden Project at POPUP

Homeless Garden Project is holding its first “farm to table pop-up” at Assembly’s POPUP, from 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday. Angie Smith is preparing the food. Menu selections will be beet sliders with pickled radishes and creamy green goddess dressing; Southern style barbecue chicken sliders; grilled potato salad with arugula and lemon mustard vinaigrette; summer chopped salad; and strawberries, angel food cake waffles and honeyed whipped cream.

POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave. (next to Assembly), Santa Cruz

 

Saturday night: Hanloh at East Cliff Brewing Co.

Hanloh Thai Food will be at East Cliff Brewing Co. from 5-9 p.m. Saturday. Their menu will include vegan and gluten-free options. There will be live music by Take One from 7-9 p.m.

East Cliff Brewing Co., 21517 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz

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Hyatt Carmel Highlands features divine dinner options

Almond yogurt with root vegetables at California Market at Pacific's Edge. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Almond yogurt with root vegetables at California Market at Pacific’s Edge. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands

In early March, I visited the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and ate dinner at California Market at Pacific’s Edge for the first time, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. From the service, to the food, to the views—everything combined to make an incredible, enjoyable experience that I’ll remember for a very long time.

 

Soon after my husband and I sat down, our server David greeted us. He was extremely attentive for the next two hours, and I appreciated his down to earth nature and his enthusiasm and knowledge about the menu offerings.

 

We began with an appetizer, which was almond yogurt mixed with roasted root vegetables and pistachio granola. This is offered a la carte or as course one of the four-course plant based tasting menu ($50, or $80 with wine pairings, the menu rotates every six weeks or so).

I would not have ordered this dish without the waiter’s recommendation, and wow would I have missed out! Delightful, surprising tastes and textures…when I think of yogurt and granola, that sounds like a breakfast item. This worked beautifully as a light, unusual beginning to dinner.

 

We got the honor of meeting sous chef Pancho Castellon that night. He joined the Hyatt in April 2016, and he is vegan. “It was (executive chef) Chad Minton’s idea to create a plant-based tasting menu in order to enforce sustainability and to show people that you can still enjoy a full diner without the need of animal proteins,” says Castellon, who helped launch the menu last September.

 

As I talked to chef Pancho about watching some diners try vegan food for the first time, his eyes lit up with enthusiasm. He also became very animated when discussing the great ingredients the restaurant gets from various sources, including all the wonderful local produce. “I find this very inspiring, and love building relationships with our farmers and producers.”

 

We followed the first appetizer with an octopus starter that was extremely tender and flavorful. The fish is first done as a confit at a very low heat with California extra virgin olive oil. After the confit process, the octopus is chilled and then finished in the plancha. “Then we add some black garlic emulsion and new potatoes,” shares Castellon. There was also a kalamata olive aioli on the plate and I could have eaten a whole cup of this sauce.

 

One of our favorite dishes that night was Tom Yum soup, which included coconut squash broth plus strong lemongrass and kaffir lime flavors. Chef Pancho shared his inspiration for creating this: “I have always liked Thai coconut soup and was trying to find a way to make it less Thai and more ‘California/Pacific like’. It was also perfect for our winter menu. That is why we made the soup using local squash as a base, seasonal vegetables and some of the local foraged mushrooms Far West Fungi brings us.” The restaurant confits the mushrooms to give them a ham-like texture, which we noticed and enjoyed. Indeed, my husband—a devout meat-eater eating vegan soup—wanted to lick his bowl clean, but resisted.

 

California Market at Pacific’s Edge regularly uses Far West Fungi in Moss Landing for mushrooms (both wild and harvested), and receives other ingredients like huckleberries on occasion if these have also been foraged. A majority of the other produce used in the menu comes from a 50-mile radius, including Coke Farm, Brian’s Ranch, Mariquita Farms, Happy Boy Farms, and Swank Farms.

 

All of California Market’s menus, curated by executive chef Minton, feature a California map that points out local producers, such as Bellwether Farms Creamery in Sonoma and Monterey Abalone Company in Monterey. The restaurant also follows the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and serves cage- and GMO-free eggs in its dishes.

 

Two entrees that stood out were scallops and tuna. The meaty, fresh scallops were served with gorgeous heirloom cauliflower and a to-die-for Romesco sauce. I noticed that the plant-based tasting menu’s third course was a vegan version of the same dish. The main difference was utilizing king trumpet mushrooms instead of scallops. “I really wanted something on the tasting menu that represents our regular menu, so I asked our mushroom guys if they could grow some big king trumpet mushrooms for us so I could cut the stems in scallop shapes,” said Castellon. “Then I smoked them with hickory, compressed them with kombu, and seared them like a regular scallop.” Castellon says that some couples have ordered both the vegan ones and the regular ones and it’s actually kind of hard to notice the difference in the plated dish.

 

The tuna dish was served with beer-battered avocado (so fun and tasty!), jicama cucumber salad, pistachio vinaigrette and piquillo pepper emulsion. The flavors and textures worked together beautifully.

 

Finally, for dessert, we devoured a heavenly chocolate hazelnut tart (I emphasize “devoured” because we thought we were quite full, but it was too good not to finish). Available on both the regular and tasting menus, it was served with burnt marshmallow, wild huckleberry granite (with berries from Far West Fungi) and whipped coconut cream. One day Castellon was at home reading some cookbooks, brainstorming ideas for a new menu. His wife Kika, who he describes as a “hardcore vegan,” came out of the kitchen with S’mores that she made using vegan “nutella” and dandies (vegan marshmallows). “I was up all night trying to figure out how to make it happen on the tasting menu. The next day I met with our pastry cook Kasala and started working on the recipe—and it’s vegan, gluten-free and almost sugar free.”

 

I highly recommend you have a meal as soon as possible at California Market at Pacific’s Edge. Since the hotel is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, there are a few opportunities for trying the food at special events as well. One is the “Forks.Corks.Action!” Winemaker series in the Wine Room, where attendees will meet the winemakers and enjoy a four-course dinner with wine paired with each course. During the series, winemakers will discuss the history, culture and qualities of the featured wines from Monterey and Santa Cruz County that will accompany chef Minton’s seasonal, locally sourced and plant-based menus.

 

There will be three Winemakers Dinners in 2017:

 

  • Thursday, April 27 — In honor of Earth Day held annually April 22, this will be a plant based four course winemaker’s dinner with Pierce Ranch Vineyards, which will be showcasing their sustainable wines  ($120 inclusive per person). The menu includes a second course of caramelized morel risotto featuring asparagus and macadamia nuts.

 

  • Thursday, Sept. 28 — In honor of California Wine Month, California Market at Pacific’s Edge is teaming up with DeTierra Wines and the National Steinbeck Center for a benefit dinner.  Learn about DeTierra wines and their connection to John Steinbeck.  Listen to Steinbeck Scholar Susan Shillinglaw talk about John Steinbeck while enjoying a four-course wine pairing meal  ($140 inclusive per person/$20 from each ticket benefits the National Steinbeck Center)

 

  • Thursday, November 9 – Details to be announced

 

Curious about the restaurant’s name? The hotel used to have two restaurants, casual bistro California Market and fine dining Pacific’s Edge, but they merged them into a new and improved venue in January. The restaurant underwent welcome renovations including an 870-square-foot deck with a louvered roof and glass-panel walls.

 

Details:

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

120 Highland Drive, Carmel

highlandsinn.hyatt.com or 831-620-1234

 

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