Almost all of the foodstuffs at Santa Cruz Local Foods hail from farms within a hundred-mile radius, making a weekly shopping trip as eco-friendly as it is convenient. After ordering online, you’ll have a box ready for either pickup or delivery the following Tuesday, packed with eight selections of the season's ripest produce, such as sweet potatoes, apples, avocados, pod-people pods, and lettuce. Bread, cheese, and olive oil might round out your pic-a-nic basketload of fresh, healthy vittles. Besides filling your body with fruit that doesn't have the waxy aftertaste of wax fruit, a box of goodies from Santa Cruz Local Foods fits your carbon footprint into the daintiest sandal and supports family farms in the community.
Center Street Grill's airy interior blooms with the aroma of classic American fare, with a hint of Mediterranean and a subtle nod to Asian cuisines. The dinner menu coaxes taste buds into a trot with a starters such as the applewood-smoked-bacon-wrapped shrimp ($12.95). For the main attraction, five gourmet pizzas and five lush sandwiches sandwich an eclectic selection of entrees, such as the tofu curry with sweet potatoes and garden vegetables ($12.95) or the half-rack of baby back ribs, slow-braised and fast-served with coleslaw and fries ($12.95). Entrees also include the grilled skirt steak with blue cheese ($17.95) and the fiery southwest chicken pasta, corralling corn kernels, red and green peppers, and onions doused in a creamy chipotle sauce ($14.95). The restaurant also sports wireless Internet access and an outdoor brick patio shaded by umbrellas and jealously hovering clouds.
The Penny Ice Creamery churns together organic, sustainable, and locally sourced milk, eggs, and sugar to create cool, custom temptations for all personalities and dietary preferences. Since its inception, the parlor has stuck closely to its humble hometown roots, and even caught the attention of Vice President Joe Biden, who recently gave the creamery a telephoned lick of approval. In terms of in-stock satiating wonders, homemade waffle cones runneth over with cunningly complex single-scoop flavors, including refreshing celery raisin, sweet parsnip nutmeg, and unshaven bourbon-bacon chocolate ($3.50 for a single scoop). After cooling down with a scoop, sundae, or malt, warm the face's heart with a freshly baked beignet ($5) or a helping of Earl Grey or mexican-hot-chocolate bonbons ($4), both of which have been known to end wars, move hearts, and rekindle love affairs with long-forgotten taste buds.
Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall’s menu offers diners a vast array of beers, burgers, and meal-worthy sandwiches. Win your stomach’s heart with a hearty starter such as the fish and chips with salmon ($12.99) or the garlic- and cheddar-slathered steak fries ($7.49). European-influenced sandwiches such as the calamari steak sandwich ($11.99) treat taste buds to joy akin to being entitled 10 weeks’ paid vacation. The fiesta jalapeno burger, meanwhile, puts guacamole, jack cheese, and jalapenos on a half-pound patty for a party that ends best if no one rubs their eyes ($9.79). Herbivores can dig into the veggie pocket, which packs pita bread with sprouts, tomatoes, pine nuts, mushrooms, and more ($9.79). A gigantic, gourmet beer list boasting 43 brews on tap helps to inject domestic dinners with a cultured cosmopolitanism. A kids’ menu is available for humans with smaller stomachs and fewer dendrochronology rings.
To dish downtown office lunchers with an alternative to fast foods, Alfresco's walk-up eatery proffers a generous selection of hot dishes, wraps, and salads served in two minutes or less. A bed of brown rice rests below peanut sauced shiitake mushrooms and teriyaki baked tofu in the Asian rice bowl ($4.95). Meanwhile, discerning wrappers can freestyle the contents of their own tortilla with a variety of flavorful spreads, boom-bap greens, and lightly salted hype men ($4.25+). Alfresco's extensive menu also lists customizable salads (starting at $4.95) and Mediterranean small plates (starting at $2). Owner and electric car driver Marilyn Strayer prides her 2010 Golden Carrot-winning and Monterey Bay Green Business-associated food stand for using exclusively biodegradable cups, cutlery, serve ware, and servers.
Voted Best New Restaurant of 2011 by Santa Cruz Good Times, Laili silences grumbling stomachs with toothsome lunch and dinner menus of Afghan-influenced Middle-Eastern fare. Noontime noshers enlist the beef koubideh kebab ($11) to fearlessly harpoon hunger, whereas the succulent lamb wrap ($9) evokes the tender flavors of meat sleeping bags. Stop in for Laili's joy-laced happy hour, and satisfy liquid and solid cravings with an appetizer of quinoa-stuffed artichoke ($9) and a glass of wine ($5). The Silk Road plate ($8) invites dinner diners to a pre-entree party hosted by dippable eats including hummus, tabouleh, baba gannouj, and cucumber yogurt. Escape on an exotic nibbling sojourn with the alluring anar chicken entree, enrobed in pomegranate sauce and escorted to the table by roasted potatoes, broccolini, and a saltshaker wearing a cummerbund ($16). Smooth pistachio-cardamom ice cream ($6) and sweet stratums of baklava ($6) offer munchers a decadent coda to a unique meal.
Husband-and-wife owners Joe and Georgette Hammana developed a knack for restauranteering while working in the family restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon. After immigrating to the United States, the duo opened Joe’s Pizza & Subs, which serves New York–style pizza pies and more than 50 sandwiches and burgers. The menu, which contains many of Georgette’s original recipes and grade-school report cards, offers something for everyone, from specialty pizzas to vegan and Middle Eastern cuisine.