An interesting fact about Fins is that it used to be a gas station called Beach City Gas Station. Over time they developed a coffee shop inside where the coffee was so good, people started to come just for a supreme cup of joe. The Gas station turned coffee and pastry shop is named after the owners love for classic cars and is located across the street from Marriane’s Ice Cream on Ocean Street.
Fins uses Malabar Gold for their espresso, which Coffee ratings deemed, “One of the greatest espresso blends on the planet.” The product lives up to this prestige statement providing a middle of the road flavor between sour and bitter, with an emphatic sweetness in the after taste. This makes it extra wonderful in a cappuccino, macchiato, or any other milk based drink, as well as by itself. Speaking of milk based drinks, you have to try their chai, it might be the best you’ve ever had. Throw a shot of Espresso in it by asking for a “Dirty Chai”, or “Persian Red Eye.”
The employees here have to go through an intensive training process before they are allowed to make drinks for customers to ensure the quality and consistency of their drinks. The final test is to pour the perfect tasting and looking shot with an adequate amount of crema resting on top. There are steps necessary in packing the espresso shot to make this happen. On drip they serve a dark roast called Indian Malobar, an extremely popular blend that can be found at Lulu Carpenter’s, Santa Cruz Roasting Company, and a few other shops in town. Their lite roast, which naturally contains more caffeine than the Malobar is a blend roasted in Stockton, California and grown in Nicaragua on their third highest mountain, Cerro De Jesus (Jesus Mountain). Sip the light roast responsibly, it’s very potent.
In addition to Fins excellent coffee, they also have locally baked goods from Heather’s Patisserie delivered fresh every morning. They tend to sell quickly so come earlier in the day if you want a fresh croissant or cinnamon bun. The Pastries range from blueberry scones to a beautiful and generous slice of dark chocolate cake. The dining area is quite spacious with many car photos on the wall and surfboards on display. Board games are available as well as a piano open to the public. Once in a while they will feature a live band usually on a weekend. Drop in some time if you’re in the area!
1104 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz CA
If you find that you’re feeling fancy and have a hankering for a craft cocktail and some ornate appetizers, stop by the 515, conveniently named after its address on Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz. This place is definitely a community treasure and a local favorite. If you are visiting the area and are lucky enough to stumble upon the 515, you’re guaranteed to remember it. It isn’t a place that tourists will likely find themselves unless they’ve heard about it somewhere before, or have local connections. Although known around town mainly for their classy bar and lounge, it should also be known that they offer a more fine dining atmosphere downstairs.
What do we mean when we say “craft cocktail”? Perhaps you are in the mood for more than just a jack and coke or gin and tonic. Perhaps you’re a person that cares about what kind of gin you’re drinking and the freshness of the fruit and other ingredients that go into your glass. Maybe you want to try a Negroni with a modern twist, or some variation of a Manhattan or Sazarac. If you don’t know what these drinks are and you’d like to find out, ask one of the bartenders here, they are friendly and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the liquor, beer, and wine they pour. If something sweet is what you want, try Le Pamplemousse, a drink served up with Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, Aperol, lemon juice, orange juice, and grapefruit juice. If you are more sour than sweet, try the New York Sour, made with Bulliet Rye Bourbon, lemon juice, cane sugar, and Cabernet Franc. Also ask about The Cocktail of The Moment, which is their featured drink that changes every night. Here it is also completely invited to ask the bartender to surprise you with whatever concoction he or she might be experimenting with, they love that. Eight draft beers are available and change from time to time. Many of them you aren’t going to see on just any tap such as Old Rasputin, a Russian Imperial Stout from the North coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg. There is no draft Coors Light here friends.
The décor in the upstairs bar is reminiscent of a 1920’s lounge. It consists of a small bar counter at the far end, and a few dining tables, but mostly couches comfortably arranged around coffee tables. There is a small private room that can be rented out for intimate special events and an outside patio overlooking downtown complete with a fire pit and lights strung overhead. Downstairs provides the full white linen treatment with the nice touch of a silent film playing in the background. Also make sure you stop by for Saturday and Sunday brunch sometime to enjoy a quality Bloody Mary (they serve several different recipies), and a specialty benedict or Prosciutto Hash. Reservations are encouraged for upstairs or down, because often times more people have the desire to eat there than space provided.]]>
Everyone has their favorite taqueria in town; here is one you may not have heard of. Taqueria Tepeque is a jewel among others, hidden in the Brown Ranch shopping center on Clare’s Street across from the Capitola Mall; better known for containing Trader Joe’s, Game Stop, and Bed Bath and Beyond. This taqueria is a great, reliable go-to if you’re running around Capitola doing errands and need a quick meal, or if you’re in the area and just want a tasty taco.
Some good advice is to be aware of your surroundings, and know where the closest Taqueria is to you at all times!
The dining area has recently expanded leaving a lot of space to sit and hang out with people, or alone, and eat for under $10 per person. The menu consists of the expected Burritos, Tacos, Tostadas, Tortas, but they also serve breakfast burritos. And of course they offer Horchata, real Coca-Cola, and every flavor of Juarrito….including Guava, which is somewhat hard to find. There is a freshness that is apparent when you eat here that is not available at just any taco joint. You will be able to taste the higher quality of the meat and vegetables they use in the first bite. Their signature salsa is actually quite spicy, which is different from most places that try to be sensitive to people who don’t enjoy the burn. It has an initial strong pepper taste fallowed by a distinct tingling. There is the option to request a milder version if you aren’t in the mood for a slight thrill.
One thing Santa Cruz isn’t lacking in the least bit is delicious Taquerias. Some good advice is to be aware of your surroundings, and know where the closest one is to you at all times. Authenticity won’t be a problem, and avoiding chains is simple. Add Taqueria Tepeque to your list and go there next time you are in need of some most excellent Mexican Cuisine.
3555 Clares St
Capitola, CA 95010
If you are in the mood for something unique and delicious with high quality ingredients for lunch or dinner, give Assembly a try. It is located on Pacific Avenue, just between Hoffman’s and Kianti’s. Assembly is fairly new to Santa Cruz; opened recently by the owners of Penny’s Ice creamery (where they get most of their dairy products, so save room for dessert.) With a knowledgeable, friendly wait staff who appear to be passionate about the culinary arts, Assembly will provide you with a high class meal for a fair price and surround you with a laid back and comfortable atmosphere. So comfortable, in fact, that you may find yourself making friends with a complete stranger over dinner, as their seating arrangement is composed of long, beautiful dark wood banquet style tables. If you are new in town or visiting don’t be shy to strike a conversation, this community is proudly composed of generally happy and friendly people. It’s a little like Thanksgiving dinner, and the person preparing the food happens to be a five star chef cooking to order. For people who would rather have a moment to themselves, there are a few smaller tables reserved just for you as well as a bar area.
If you are on vacation in Santa Cruz, don’t leave without stopping here. If you’re a local do yourself a favor and take the night off with some friends or a significant other to experience some quality dining while putting your money back into our lovely community. This little slice of Santa Cruz is a great representation of the personality of this County right down to the taste of their wonderful dishes made up of local ingredients.
Address: 1108 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Have you ever been to Midtown Café? It’s a fairly new spot that you may not have heard people talk about yet; one of those semi-secret Santa Cruz treasures…..there are a lot of them in this town. This one is located just down the street from The Rio Theatre. Midtown Café serves more than your common breakfast and lunch items along with Premium coffee and Espresso. Their vibe is artsy and rustic, a simple set up with local artwork hanging on the walls and usually some tasteful jazz or soft blues playing in the background. Wifi is available upon request and people watching through their front window of the Soquel and Seabright area is available during all business hours.
There aren’t many other places where one can get a breakfast with polenta, kale, chimichurri sauce and a fried egg on top for just $7.50. They also offer sandwiches and fresh green salads as well as 4 beers on tap, all of which are made at the local Discretion Brewery, and wine, a few of which are local. This is another small business that captures the spirit of Santa Cruz in the atmosphere it provides and the products it offers.
It isn’t highly likely that tourists will find their way here because of the location, so if you’re new to the area or visiting you should stop by! If you are a local you might want to look into making it a regular stop, it’s a perfect spot to get some work done, or just relax with a book or a friend, or maybe even a first date!
The ambiance of The Farm is one that feels familiar, as though you’ve dropped by the house of your favorite relative. The décor is reminiscent of a summer time picnic. The Coffee Shop/ Deli is more than just your average quick coffee stop, as they serve breakfast and lunch items, a plethora of baked goods, and they also have a one of a kind gift shop full of a mixture of locally made items, other merchandise, and books.
It is nice to have a coffee shop to go to where you can order a breakfast sandwich that is not a plastic wrapped, pre-cooked English Muffin with a thin sausage patty, way too much cheese, and a dry yellow egg puck. They cook their sandwiches to order instead and prepare them with Local Glaum eggs and excellent quality bacon or sausage on a fresh baked croissant. If you’re looking for lunch the Tri-Tip sandwich is a must try, but there are many more delightful sandwiches and salads to choose from. This is a great place for a quick lunch on the go, quality time spent with another person, or time alone to decompress and read a book over a chai tea or latte.
The Fresh baked goods are wonderful and everything is made from scratch. Bringing something sweet from The Farm to a special event is a guarantee to make a good impression. Just be sure to get something just for yourself too. The Farm is located just across the street from Cabrillo College.
Address: 6790 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003
If you ever find yourself in the Aptos Village area of Santa Cruz County and are looking for a nice local deli to grab a sandwich, head over to The Palm Deli. Owned by the Glaum Family, this local deli has a little bit of everything for your lunch time needs. Sandwiches, green salads, deli salads, soups, coffee, teas, smoothies, milkshakes, gelato and MORE! This, my friends, is your one stop shop. Tucked away below some beautiful redwoods, The Palm Deli is only a short distance from The Forest of Nicene Marks State Park, making it a perfect place for a pre or post hike meal! The Palm Deli is perfect for quick lunch meetings, grab and go meals, preparing for a family picnic at the park or a beach day!
If you are looking for a nice deli to grab some breakfast before work or school, The Palm Deli also has you covered. They recently started serving breakfast with options on the menu such as bagels, breakfast burritos, basic egg/bacon meals, breakfast sandwiches, acai bows and more.
I have tasted a few of their sandwiches, but my go-to sandwich is the “Hawaiian Heaven” (pictured on the right). Ham, swiss cheese, sweet hot mustard, and an amazing pineapple chutney…it’s the perfect grab and go sandwich if you are wanting a bit of a tropical kick. Be sure to check out their giant fish tank while you wait for your food to be prepared. There are some awesome underwater creatures in there…
The Palm Deli has also been a host to several events such as concerts, fundraisers, and more. They also offer catering if you are ever looking for it!
Check Out their current menu on their website at: www.thepalmdeli.com
The Palm Deli is located at:
3000 Valencia Ave
Aptos, CA 95003
Monday- Saturday 7am-7pm
At the end of 41st Ave on your way to East Cliff is a fairly new establishment known as the Pleasure Pizza East Side Eatery. Owned and operated by the same owner as the Pleasure Pizza right across the street, The East Side Eatery offers many more dining options than its grab and go, single slice serving sibling. At The East Side Eatery you can sit down and enjoy a full meal with friends or family. With items on the menu such as salads, sandwiches, soups, pastas, nachos, tacos, and more there is an option for just about anyone. Current owner, Derek Rupp, is usually on site keeping the place running and sometimes even jumping behind the counter and cooking up some special meals for his customers. Derek Rupp, who previously worked as a chef at Google is always working on new, fun menu items to keep the Santa Cruz locals happy and coming back for seconds.
Oh and don’t forget to bring the kids. Local legend skate artist Jimbo Phillips drew up a custom kids menu for groms of any age to color. With simple items like grilled cheese, quesedillas, and chicken tenders you will certainly find an item on the menu for the little ones.
Oh and did i mention they have an awesome outdoor patio looking out to the intersection of 41st Ave and Portola Ave? East Side Santa Cruz surf culture central. A great place to sit outside, take in the sun, and possible see a friendly face walking down the street to check the waves. On weekends live bands come and perform on the patio.
One thing to warn you about though if you haven’t been here yet…they don’t serve single slice pizza. If you want a slice to grab and take down to The Hook and watch the waves, you’re going to want to go across the street. If you are wanting to grab a sandwich to go or wait for a whole pizza then yes, this is the place.
Although this location definitely gets a big tourist crowd during the Summer season, this place is a great locals hangout as well. With multiple flat screen televisions playing sports games, streaming surf contests, or looping surf videos many locals come here to grab some beer, pizza, and hang out for a bit. If its slow, the staff is always down to chat about the surf for a bit. The East Side Eatery is a place of great vibes and awesome food. If you haven’t checked it out yet you should head over there for lunch sometime soon or even for a family dinner. They currently serve breakfast only on weekends, but Ive heard a rumor that they might be offering breakfast throughout the week as well.
My favorite items on the menu?
Hmmm let’s see…
Pizza: The Abyss (Their Chipotle Pesto sauce is definitely worth a try)
Salad: Happy Valley Apple
Sandwich: Wine Country Chicken
Soup: Clam Chowder
Kids Menu: Chicken Tenders
To view a full menu head over to: http://pleasurepizzasc.com/
Chill Out Cafe
860 41st Ave
Santa Cruz, CA
Mon-Fri: 6:30 am – 3 pm
Sat-Sun: 7 am – 4 pm
Tucked on the beach side of 41st Ave is a small breakfast/lunch cafe that offers a bit of everything. Chill Out Cafe is most known for their array of breakfast burrito options, but offers other tasty items such as salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies, bagels, coffee, and more. Although there are plenty of places to sit, Chill Out is more of a local grab and go dining location; ideal for a post-surf or skate meal.
The burritos will fill you up and can be customized to however you want. Grab a quick cup of coffee alongside the burrito or even a juice and you are set. You can watch the cooks as they whip up your food and either sit down and enjoy a mellow morning or be on your way and get to work or the beach. If you do plan on eating at Chill Out they have a nice back patio. If you are there on weekends they often have guest performers playing live music.
Be sure to admire their door as you walk in. Plastered with stickers, there are some old gems on there from many many years ago. The history of East Side Santa Cruz skate and surf culture on a door…Rad.
A fun fact for all of you punk fans out there, one of the breakfast burritos on the menu, “The Mr. Jeff Frady” is named after the legendary punk band guitarist of Fury 66. After touring Jeff Frady would surf in the mornings and get a custom burrito from Chill Out. He got it often enough for them to add it to the menu.
This is probably the best Deli in town.
I make a trip to Garden Liquors for a gluten free sandwich at least once a week. Even though there is always a stuipidly long line at lunch time it is still worth the wait, although realistically, I usually wait til 2:30 or 3:00 to eat lunch when I am in the mood for a sandwich just to avoid the lines.
If you can eat it, I recommend their sliced sourdough bread, I have very fond memories of it from when I was a kid, before my gluten allergy kicked into full swing. And if you can’t eat it, their gluten free bread is just fine. Just make sure you tell them that you have a gluten allergy so they don’t cross contaminate you (or your sandwich).
You can find them close to Dominican on Soquel.
Garden Liquors & Deli
1815 Soquel Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
Hours: Mon – Thu, 7:30am – 10pm
Fri, Sat, 7:30am – 11pm
For other great Eats click here: Santa Cruz Restaurants]]>