Some years ago, Muriel Loubiere was building an enviable career around New York City as the creator of a menu that had received the New York Times's coveted "Excellent" rating. And though she uprooted everything to relocate to California, one can't really blame her?she was in search of warmer climes, and Aptos's location beside Soquel Cove was a welcome reminder of her upbringing on the French Riviera. It was there that she opened her own restaurant, Au Midi, where she prepares dishes that elegantly fuse French and Californian flavors.
Parts of Au Midi's menu are steadfastly French, including a cassoulet made from Toulouse sausage and duck confit. But other dishes balance Pacific and Mediterranean elements, such as Californian mussels cooked with fresh tomatoes, brandy, cream, and garlic. Many of the dishes are made with organic produce from local farmers. Naturally, the wine list is split between French and Californian varietals.
Even after swapping coasts, Muriel's hardly lost any steam. She's currently listed in the Best Chefs America directory, a list that's compiled from interviews with other chefs and nominations by various culinary professionals and the raccoons that eat from the restaurants' dumpsters.
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.
Like a superhero, La Maison du Cafe knows what it means to live a double life. By day, it’s a casual cafe serving BLT croissants. By night, it’s a chic bistro, with custom-charbroiled filet mignon, rib eye, and salmon steaks, and rich pastas like fettucini with garlic cream sauce and bacon.
Since 2008, The Plumed Horse has won a Michelin star every year. And no wonder. Chef Peter Armelllino’s dinners feature dishes like piquillo-pepper-stuffed South Texas antelope, and a choice of more than 1,800 wines. He also served as co-chef to Traci des Jardins on Iron Chef (she won).
A neon-pink sign beckons diners into the Sweet Spot shop, where a counter stocked with colorful treats and toppings awaits. The staffers behind the counter adorn ice cream and frozen yogurt with fruit and candy as they keep an eye on the sweet and savory crepes that sizzle on grills. They also top off cups with boba tea and smoothies. Tabletops are scattered across the shop?s interior, where cheerful, checkered decor and an absence of wild boars squealing and knocking over chairs create a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
Le Papillon specializes in three- or four-course prix fixe dinners—and the price is the only fixed thing about them. The beautifully-plated dishes rotate regularly, highlighting seasonal, sustainably-sourced ingredients at their best. Some past favorites include truffled hamachi tartar with pea shoot emulsion and noisettes of red deer with huckleberries.