The menu and décor at Bistro Maxine are strongly influenced by bona fide French cafés. Francophiles will appreciate Bistro Maxine's casual approach to dining for pretention-free lunches and carefree dinners in the flavorful form of authentic crêpes, soups, salads, sandwiches, espresso drinks, cocktails, and ice cream. Those hampered by hunger will find the pièce de résistance in the selection of soft, warm crêpes, freshly scooped from imported griddles. Each is stuffed with winning combinations such as the Chèvre, with goat cheese, mushrooms, and spinach ($9.00), or sweet concoctions such as banana and Nutella ($5) or the Normande ($7), a devilish blend of sautéed apples, Calvados, and rich crème fraiche. If you decide to sate this café, get totally Frenched with a kir royal (blackcurrant liqueur and champagne for $8) or a glass of house wine ($7). Or just drown sober worries with a bottle of house wine ($25).
The expert crêpe-rollers at K's Crêpes & Café ladle organic batter onto the griddle, sizzle until golden brown, and adorn the ensuing concoction with savory toppings or house-made whipped cream. Delight a savory-toothed uncle with naturally gluten-free buckwheat crêpes such as the Chelsea, a delectable mound of chewy swiss cheese, sautéed zucchini, and crisp spinach ($6.95). Morning-time diners can wash down a whole-wheat sweet crêpe with a cup of Mr. Espresso and a dash of powdered sugar, or bite into the New England Revolution, which arrives laden with peaches, vanilla gelato, and chocolate sauce like a camel being ridden by Santa Claus ($6.75). Omelets ($4.50+), lunch-friendly sandwiches ($5.25+), and house-made soups ($3.50+) are also available throughout the day.
Vida Y Vino's dedicated wine experts work to accommodate aspiring sommeliers with perfect pairings of artisanal cheeses, entrees, and boutique wines from around the world. Duos or quartets of diners can sample flights or glasses of wine and their artisanal dairy counterparts while eye tasting an array of intriguing paintings or letting ears gobble up the sounds of the bistro's baby grand humming to itself. The cheese selections vary, with options including brie, goat cheese, cheddar, swiss, and provolone, all of which accompany sippable varietals including shiraz from South Africa or sauvignon blanc from Napa. Light entrees such as the brie-and-olive-tapenade panini or the ham-and-swiss crêpe also refresh taste buds between wines, preventing rival grapes from quarreling over tongue territory.
The brainchild of husband-and-wife tandem Mitchell Cutler, a Québécois, and Tracey Tate-Cutler, a fifth-generation Californian who lived in Germany for years, La Fondue pairs the traditions of the European delicacy with the spirit of American cuisine. Cauldrons of cheese comprise the bubbling centerpiece at most tables, into which guests dip victuals such as Kobe flat-iron steak, alligator tail, sea scallops, and tiger blue shrimp. The experience comes with an added twist: servers bring the raw ingredients, but it’s up to the diners to choose from one of six cooking methods to heat their meat or seafood morsels, such as dipping them in a rich tomato-basil bisque or roasting them over a European-style grill from Munich.
On any given night, you might see diners following one of fondue's most popular traditions: if someone drops their cube into the fondue, they must then buy the next round of drinks for the table or accept a kick in the shin from the table companion with the strongest calves. Luckily, La Fondue's drinks include wine from a well-rounded list that earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. But if it's Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—BYOB nights—the table just might enforce the second punishment. Still, with cheese fondue such as pesto cognac and chocolate fondue enhanced with flavors such as mint or Irish cream, most diners do everything in their power to get their cubes into their mouths.
The whole fondue experience unfolds in an eccentric dining space that joins medieval motifs, zebra-print upholstery, and Andy Warhol wall-art in a vibrant, decorative pastiche. The restaurant offers multiple dining rooms, each with its own touches, such as ornate mirrors and leonine busts.
La Bohème's chefs handcraft each meal using seasonal, local ingredients from organic farms, which fill the earth-toned restaurant with delicate aromas and contented sighs. The Paris-inspired café and full patisserie puts new pirouettes on classic dishes on a dinner menu that brims with dishes including the Assiette de la Marée, a grouping of six local oysters with a tangy mignonette sauce ($12). La Bohème's lobster bisque ($8) flaunts oceanic power as impressive as Poseidon's water wings, and diners delve deeply into a glass of Tangent sauvignon blanc ($9). Joyful teeth sink into the tenderness of the Jarret de Veau et Son Gratin, a cutlet of veal osso buco nestled up to delicate au gratin potatoes and ratatouille ($27). The more delicate lunch menu parades the Fisherman salad ($12), gleefully thrown fistfuls of Norwegian smoked salmon, roasted pepper, and dill dressing scattered across an adoring mass of veggies. Crêpes crowned with cherry compote, ice cream, and Nutella drop sweet curtains over filling events.
Sweet Pea's Cafe & Catering specializes in crepes for breakfast and lunch, accenting their café food with coffee from North Coast Roasting Company. Breakfast stretches from open to close, boasting eggs benedict crepes and fluffy farm-fresh omelettes wrapped around avocado or apple sausage. Savory crepes enclose fillings of salmon or brie, while sweet crepes are stuffed with Nutella, strawberries, or a light combo of lemon and sugar. Gluten-averse patrons can comfortably enjoy both gluten-free crepes and gluten-free sandwiches stacked on Udi’s breads. At the Capitola location, paintings and other work from local artists populate the walls of the cozy café.