Santa Cruz February 2013 restaurant news includes second Sawasdee location

Representatives from award-winning Ideal Bar & Grill at the 32nd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival

Representatives from award-winning Ideal Bar & Grill at the 32nd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival

Here are some highlights of recent restaurant news for Santa Cruz and nearby neighborhoods, which includes several changes and a near-future opening: a second location for the owners of Sawasdee Thai Cuisine.

Opening Soon

Sawasdee in Santa Cruz

Soquel restaurant Sawasdee serves excellent Thai cuisine with very fresh ingredients, and I’m thrilled to hear that owners Bill and Dee Hongmanee are going to be opening a second location. They’re taking over the former space of Casablanca (101 Main Street in Santa Cruz), across from the beach near the Boardwalk. Bill hopes to be open by late March. Some of my favorite dishes at Sawasdee are fresh spring rolls, tom kha soup, pumpkin red curry (with succulent scallops plus tender prawns and chicken), and to finish a meal, dessert of sweet rice and mango.

Changes Hula’s – expanded lunch & happy hours

On February 19th, downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room expanded its lunch service. It’s now open for lunch six days a week: Tuesday-Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The restaurant describes its cuisine as “tropical dining…a menu infused with Asian, Latin, and Caribbean touches, all with a Hawaiian inspiration.” Hula’s also just increased the length of its happy hour; it’s now FOUR hours long, on Tues-Sun from 2-6 p.m. Promotions still include $5 pupus (including coconut shrimp rolls) and $5 tiki drinks.

221 Cathcart Street, Santa Cruz, (831) 426-HULA

Vasili’s – now open daily

Greek restaurant Vasili’s in Westside Santa Cruz, formerly open Wed-Sun, is now open daily.

1771 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, (831) 458-9808

Pizzeria Avanti – expanded menu

Pizzeria Avanti now has a “pizza slice bar” at its restaurant. Cheese and pepperoni slices are available for $2.50 and $3. In the past, the only pizza option available to customers was whole pizzas (both small and large) with lots of different topping combinations.

1771 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, (831) 425-1807


The 32nd annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festivalwas held on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. There were more than 70 contestants competing in individual (amateur) and professional categories, for either best Boston style or best Manhattan style chowder. Three local restaurants did very well: Ideal Bar & Grill (chef Jesus Garcia) won the People’s Choice award for Best Professional Boston, while official judges awarded Best Professional Boston to South Beach Pizza (chef Dany Pena) and Best Professional Manhattan to Severino’s Bar & Grill (chef Miguel Perez).

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