Santa Cruz has changed so much since the 80’s early 90’s when I lived in the Bay Area. Silicon Valley is a big part of that change. Santa Cruz is to San Jose what Malibu is to Los Angeles, an upscale beach town with lots of money. Now, with lots of new start ups coming in, and all of those people have to eat. So why not have a terrific restaurant in the South part of Santa Cruz, right down the street from the very hip Pleasure Point. The food was really spectacular and the view from the tables of all of the beautiful fresh faces was equally incredible.
From the front sign you may take a pass on this delectable gem, I was lucky to have entered this bustling place from the back parking lot. What it lacks in the outside appearance it will wow you with the food inside. From the moment you walk in your struck by a culinary lighting bolt that sends electricity throughout your body. When you taste the phenomenal food you are equally filled with light and goodness, like the heavens opened up and gave you lots of great gifts, it is that good. You can tell from their clientele that everyone in this beach town knows that. The dining room and patio was packed, and this was on a Tuesday.
Here’s what I tried:
Cucumber Basil Martini, with Effen cucumber vodka, basil, and lemon juice, house made maple simple syrup. This is a very refreshing cocktail with nice cucumber essence, it will quench a big thirst.
Soquel Vineyards Partners Reserve, Santa Cruz Mountains. You get a vanilla taste as well as caramelized flavors, which worked perfectly with any of the fish dishes.
Maryland Crab Cakes organic greens, lemon beurre blanc. Two nice size cakes are served with the lemon beurre blanc, makes for a good appetizer.
Caesar Salad house made francesi garlic crostini, and fresh grated Parmesan. Simple but elegant, this is one heck of a Caesar salad.
Seafood Chowder, like a clam chowder but with clams and fish, creamy rich bounty, my kind of soup.
Pan Fried Fresh Local Sand Dabs with caper tarter sauce, sour cream scallion mashed potatoes, and blue lake green beans. The fish is so fresh and the flavor is nice buttery goodness, a true hit in my book.
Hickory Baby Back Ribs with apricot glaze. Wow, these babies fall right off the bone and they serve a generous portion, nice menu item.
House Made Onion rings, red onions and delicately battered, with a great dipping sauce, one of my favorite all time rings.
Grilled Asparagus, cooked to perfection and drizzled with what looked like crème fraiche and balsamic vinegar, they were delicious.
They use great ingredients, and the restaurant is totally green. Local products include: Gayle’s bakery in Capitola, Laura Chenel goat cheese, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, Polar Bear ice cream, Santa Cruz Coffee roasting company, and eggs from Glaum Ranch in Aptos. They serve local wines as well.
The Interior designs creates a festive and casual atmosphere. Focal points are the dining rooms, copper backed open kitchen and the French made Rotisol Rotisserie. The bar top is one solid peace of fir, going back to its history from the old Bass Lake Hotel. The adobe style bar was created by Shan Gilmore. There is an outdoor heated patio as well. A great way to dine is at their cook’s bar, where you can watch everything being prepared. There are lovely apricot accents and arches, with basic wood chairs, and white table clothes. They have 2 Murals by artist Terry Wells, one is a 20-year-old composite about the Santa Cruz wharf and the North Coast. The other is about their local farmers market 20 years ago.
Nicole McGillin was my very excellent server, she was efficient and charming, she was another gift given to me to enhance my lovely experience.
When Café Cruz opened in February, 1995 they began blending traditional regional American, world food with innovative technique creating “New American Cuisine”. Not much more to say, but when in Santa Cruz do what the locals do and dine at the very casual Café Cruz, this is the kind of place that you would hear about by word of mouth so here is your notice, go eat at Café Cruz!!!
Café Cruz Restaurant
2621 41st Ave. Soquel, CA.
Ph: (831) 476-3801