Hawaiian art and vintage surf paraphernalia deck the walls of Hula's Island Grill And Tiki Room, adding to the restaurant's island ambience. In the kitchen, cooks draw on the flavors of the Pacific Rim to craft raw ahi poke, luau pork sandwiches, and spring rolls alongside burgers, steaks, and tacos. More than 30 types of rum wait behind the bar to be poured into a mai tai or dark and stormy.
Since 1994, Coffeetopia’s rich aromas have welcomed espresso seekers, cappuccino connoisseurs, and Internet impresarios alike, grinding fresh Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company coffee ($2.45/16 oz.) to perk up patrons. In addition to its certified-organic coffees, Coffeetopia whips up italian-style espressos and steeps Silk Road loose-leaf teas. Liquid enjoyment is only half of Coffeetopia’s edible equation, as the shop compiles a menu of belly-pleasing bites, including New York–style boiled bagels that are paired with house-made cream-cheese spreads such as spicy jalapeno ($2.75 on a toasted bagel). The shop’s homemade hummus ($3.25 on a bagel) makes a garlic-packed treat, ideal for smearing on bready surfaces or as a precautionary measure for appearing on Dracula’s new late-night talk show.
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.
Center Street Bar & Grill's airy interior blooms with the aroma of classic American fare, with a subtle nod to Asian cuisines. Center Street Bar & Grill's dinner menu sets the feasting at a fever pitch with robust plates such as 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 loaded lunch menu, which shares many items with its dinner counterpart, coaxes taste buds into a trot with a starter of calamari fritti ($10.95) or one of seven salads, such as the ahi tuna with capers, frolics, and kalamata olives ($13.95). For the main attraction, five gourmet pizzas and nine lush sandwiches sandwich an eclectic selection of entrees, such as the lemon oregano chicken breast ($13.95) or the spinach-ricotta ravioli ($12.95). The restaurant also sports wireless Internet access and a remodeled garden patio shaded by umbrellas and jealously hovering clouds.
'50s-Style Diner | All-Natural Beef | Local Veggies | Burlesque-Themed Menu
Starter: nachos with black beans, cheddar, homemade salsa, and guacamole
Quick bite: Smokin' Betty, a seasoned half-pound burger with roasted balsamic onions, smoked cheddar cheese, and bacon
Entree: hormone-free fried chicken with a biscuit and side
Dessert: Dutch's apple pie with ice cream
What to Drink: In '50s-diner fashion, Betty Burgers mixes up shakes, malts, and floats blended with Polar Bear ice cream. These old-fashioned drinks come in classic flavors, as well as unique concoctions such as thin mint, cake batter, and turkish coffee.
While You're Waiting: Read the story of Betty, which is written in a letter on her restaurant's wall. In it, she describes her start in "a speck of a town" on the Texas panhandle, where her father was always absent and her mother took off with a surfer. Eventually, Betty found a new guardian: a man called Big Dutch, who was always willing to whip her up a burger.
Vegetarians can substitute portabella mushrooms for the beef patties, and folks with gluten allergies can order their burgers "bareback style" (in a lettuce wrap).
If you can't decide between fries and onion rings, get both on a 50/50 plate.