Cafetal's menu is fully stocked with plates of breakfast and lunch fare, spun like vinyl with distinct Latin flare. Taste buds are tickled awake with the veggie breakfast burrito, an amalgam of eggs, cheese, hash browns, bell peppers, spinach, and onion rolled into a food tube with creamy avocado and spicy salsa ($5.25). Lunchers can soak up rays on the outdoor patio while enjoying a Mexican torta, a toasted Mexican sweet roll housing ham, queso fresco, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and avocado ($5.50). The café's food is coupled with an array of potables, including the Mexicano, a steamy blend of espresso and Mexican hot chocolate ($3.50+), also available iced ($3.75+), blended ($4.25+), or in a doubled-strawed beer helmet. Typists can practice one-handed surfing on the eatery's free Wi-Fi, occupying their leftover digits with a scoop of Marianne’s ice cream ($2.25).
Lisa Brighton baked her first treat—a peach cobbler—when she was just 4 years old. She had some help, of course, from her great-grandmother, Hazel, who taught her which spices to use and which spices to throw over her shoulder. Hazel also handed down several generations of family recipes and a passion for baking that’s been in the family genes for more than 100 years. Lisa puts it to good use at Starz Cupcakes, which she co-owns with her daughter Connie.
Lisa and Connie estimate that they make 220 different kinds of cupcakes, including 17 velvets—a new take on the classic red velvet—in ultra-bright colors such as coral, teal, and purple. They also bake gluten-free cupcakes for customers with gluten allergies, and sugar-free versions for sweets lovers on low-sugar diets. And the tiny cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious; each one is topped with a dollop of frosting and decorative trimmings such as sprinkles, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes.
Swan & Company's stylists artfully resurface heads of hair and primp nail beds with salon products and keen aesthetic senses. During haircuts, meticulous scissors snip and shorten any rogue strands before the remaining locks are styled into shapes that fit customers' heads. Along with cutting and styling services, the staff can cleanse complexions with exfoliating microdermabrasion, dress nails in CND Shellac polish, and de-frizz hairdos with Coppola keratin smoothing.
There's meticulous attention to detail in every flakey layer of Capitola Coffee Roasters and Patisserie's baked goods. The team creates their pastries by hand each morning, but the process starts even earlier. They first source real butter, unbleached flour, and other organic ingredients when possible. Then they mix the dough, which in some cases chills for 20 hours. Each passing minute infuses the future treat with more texture and flavor. Only then is it ready to turn into a breakfast bun, croissant, or danish. As the day goes on, the oven welcomes other desserts: bread pudding, apple pies made with organic fruit, or perhaps a flour-less chocolate cake. Oftentimes, the deservedly proud bakers post photos of their current creation on Facebook.
Outside this kitchen, aromas of tea and fresh-roasted coffee dance their way through the air. Baristas mix and pour all sorts of caffeinated drinks, including cappuccino, lattes, and chai tea. They often add house made whipped cream or flavored syrups for extra flavor. While Capitola Coffee Roasters and Patisserie still emphasizes breakfast, the shop serves sandwiches and soup, also known as liquid sandwiches.
At Conscious Creations Cafe, owner and head chef Joshua Server fills tables with unique dishes that use exclusively local, organically grown ingredients from sustainable providers. The ever-changing menu shifts every day of the week, filling its pages with dishes designed to showcase the freshest selections from farmers' markets in Salinas and Watsonville or local grocers such as New Leaf and Staff of Life. Goddess salads jumble fresh vegetables such as onions, carrots, and leafy greens into a giant bowl with tangy feta and dressing made with the tears of Athena. Emphasizing vegetarian and occasionally vegan values, the soups on the menu rotate daily depending on pantry availability. Entrees plate a combination of dishes that have included mediterranean gnocchi, tempeh empanadas, and free-range chicken satay, accompanied by a side of mashed potatoes or rice. For an additional cost, guests can complement solid fare with a glass of wine or a recycled wineglass full of beer.
Named Best Teahouse in 2009 and 2010 by both the Santa Cruz Weekly and Good Times, Asana is a leafy retreat carrying more than 85 teas from around the world available for purchase either in bulk form or in SpecialTea drinks made in-house. Tea varieties span the color wheel, with a selection of white, green, oolong, black, tisanes, Puerh, and blooming teas, many of which sell for $4–$6 per oz. Asana's café also pours and purees specialty tea lattes, tea smoothies, and coffee drinks that dance upon your tongue and stream down your throat before warming you up from crust to core. Liquid libations include the Thai iced tea made with imported ice cubes from Thailand ($3.50) and the Vanilla Starry Night Latte, which includes rooibos tisane with whispers of vanilla and citrus ($3.50). The Lavender Love smoothie is a velvety valentine of lavender tisane, ice cream, banana, and vanilla extract that will make you reconsider culinary uses for other potpourri staples ($6.50).