Cafetal's menu is fully stocked with plates of breakfast and lunch fare, spun like vinyl with distinct Latin flare. Taste buds are tickled awake with the veggie breakfast burrito, an amalgam of eggs, cheese, hash browns, bell peppers, spinach, and onion rolled into a food tube with creamy avocado and spicy salsa ($5.25). Lunchers can soak up rays on the outdoor patio while enjoying a Mexican torta, a toasted Mexican sweet roll housing ham, queso fresco, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and avocado ($5.50). The café's food is coupled with an array of potables, including the Mexicano, a steamy blend of espresso and Mexican hot chocolate ($3.50+), also available iced ($3.75+), blended ($4.25+), or in a doubled-strawed beer helmet. Typists can practice one-handed surfing on the eatery's free Wi-Fi, occupying their leftover digits with a scoop of Marianne’s ice cream ($2.25).
The El Jardin Restaurant story opens more than two decades ago, when the Delgado family first began serving authentic Mexican dishes at its festive, color-soaked restaurant. Today, Delgado family members continue to run the kitchen, folding locally grown produce, fresh seafood, and homemade salsas into dishes that have been lauded by Santa Cruz Good Times. Owner George Delgado's own mosaic artwork adorns the floors of the dining room, where vibrant paintings act as eye candy to accompany house margaritas, enchiladas, fajitas, and specialty dishes. Outdoor heaters warm diners seated on the expansive patio, which sits amidst a garden of plant life and songbirds that croon the lyrics to popular mariachi numbers.
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.
Lisa Brighton baked her first treat—a peach cobbler—when she was just 4 years old. She had some help, of course, from her great-grandmother, Hazel, who taught her which spices to use and which spices to throw over her shoulder. Hazel also handed down several generations of family recipes and a passion for baking that’s been in the family genes for more than 100 years. Lisa puts it to good use at Starz Cupcakes, which she co-owns with her daughter Connie.
Lisa and Connie estimate that they make 220 different kinds of cupcakes, including 17 velvets—a new take on the classic red velvet—in ultra-bright colors such as coral, teal, and purple. They also bake gluten-free cupcakes for customers with gluten allergies, and sugar-free versions for sweets lovers on low-sugar diets. And the tiny cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious; each one is topped with a dollop of frosting and decorative trimmings such as sprinkles, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes.
Monterey Bay unfurls like a watercolor painting beneath the mountaintop grounds of Chaminade Resort & Spa. Bold white splashes adorn the blue water, and brushstrokes of green kelp tangle with the dark rocks. Nestled in the resort, Linwood's Bar & Grill offers sweeping views of it all from an outdoor patio with fire-pit tables and comfy seating around an indoor fireplace. In the kitchen, Chef Beverlie Terra and her team prepare cuisine with ingredients native to California's central coast. They arrange seasonally inspired small plates including vegetable pakoras with chutney mint dipping sauce, artisanal cheeses, and other snacks on small plates, mix vinaigrettes for seasonal salads, and bake flatbread pizzettas with toppings such as fresh mozzarella, balsamic-vinegar reduction, and heirloom tomatoes.
Careful thought also goes into the drink selection at Linwood's Bar & Grill. Bartenders pour organic and sustainably produced wines, many of which are from the area, unlike the mysterious baron sitting with a map and harpoon at the end of the bar. They also mix signature drinks, drawing on a tropical palette that includes mango vodkas, pomegranate juice, and fresh herbs.