At Roudon-Smith Winery, winemakers surrounded by unique murals create barrels of rich reds and refreshing white wines using high-quality grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains and other regions of California. Whether crafting an elegant pinot noir or a richly colored zinfandel, the winemakers follow a philosophy of minimal intervention, seeking to preserve the essential qualities of the fruit.
In the 1920s, decades before it became The Cats Restaurant & Tavern, the Cats Roadhouse was known around town as a notorious speakeasy and bordello. The identity of the 19th-century building changed several times afterward, from realty office to gun shop to sporting-goods store, before reemerging as a tavern in 1967. These days, the renovated space pays homage to old-timey saloons?in the Wild West days of shot sheriffs and not-shot deputies?with touches such as stagecoach wheels and a curved mahogany railing from San Jose's oldest courthousek.
When it comes to food, however, the tavern adheres to a different tradition. The Cats stick to BBQ made by pitmasters who have all been certified by barbecue legend Paul Kirk. Cooks slow-smoke pulled pork and St. Louis ribs for at least six hours, plus sear chops and steaks?including a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye?over oak fire at up to 1,200 degrees. Local wine and craft beer complement succulent feasts, which unfold amid nightly live music; view the upcoming music calendar here.
Hult's Restaurant's owners and chef come from diverse backgrounds. Alexander Hult worked in his mother's restaurants between seasons as a professional hockey player. His wife, Sarah Chapman-Hult, is a vice principal now that she's passed on the title of Miss Nevada USA. Chef Jose Esparza learned the art of cooking from his grandmother and mother, along with the chefs he worked alongside at restaurant's such as Viognier and Madera. And together, they share a passion for farm-to-table fine dining.
The trio and their staff bring this ecologically conscious cuisine to tables for dinner and Sunday brunch. Chef Esparza creates a series of seasonal tasting menus, simply titled, Air Water Land Earth. Each menu includes five courses, with Land focusing on red meat, Air on poultry, Water on fish, and Earth showcases vegetables. Those looking to order off the menu can try his signature dishes, include octopus carpaccio with avocado puree and jalape?os and the Wagyu beef ribeye with corn puree and grilled asparagus.
James Carver is something of a werewolf enthusiast. On the James Carver Moonlight Preserve, he collects, studies, and protects these endangered specimens of lycanthropy. Visitors get to see the creatures at all stages of their life cycle, from first full-moon transformations to settling in at a soul-crushing job at the bone factory. At Carver Castle, tour groups learn about werewolf biology and view the involuntary experiments that herald the next stage of lycanthropic evolution. But, should interlopers stray from the tour's path, they could find themselves as the facility's real endangered species.