the hideout in aptos
Dining Reviews

Lunch Destination: The Hideout

Roadhouse-style lunch on the vine-shaded patio of Aptos’ the Hideout

Matt Zehnder of Aptos’ The Hideout, with the popular sole sandwich. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

No wonder South County diners are crazy about The Hideout. I met my old friend Meri for lunch there last week—it’s one of her favorite places in Aptos. “They have great burgers,” was her promise. And she was right. Cozier than I remembered from its beginnings—back in the day—as the Charles Dickens, Chez Renee, and then Ma Maison, the cottage off Soquel Drive still tempts regulars to its vine-shaded front deck. Naturally that’s where we sat, listening to reggae wafting out into the afternoon from the restaurant’s interior.

As I perused the menu, Meri helpfully suggested that The Hideout has made itself appealing with a “roadhouse” menu. Sure enough, there are cocktails available at the intimate indoor bar, a lunch menu long on salads, pastas and interesting sandwiches, and a dinner menu that rides the range from steak to ribs to fresh seafood. Looks like serious comfort food to me.

Meri, who knows this menu inside and out, has a favorite go-to lunch. Along with an Arnold Palmer (half iced tea, half lemonade for those newly arrived from Alpha Centauri), she ordered the Hideout Burger ($14), a house ground beef and bacon patty topped with crumbled blue cheese on a potato bun. With it she always has the sweet potato fries (I quickly discovered how addictive they are), and a side of Sriracha aioli. “I’m am a condiment queen,” she admits without shame. Remember those words—Sriracha aioli. You will want to order it, even if you’re just having a Moscow Mule.

Since she’d promised me a bite of her burger, I decided to order the Crispy Petrale Sole ($14) on francese with Asian slaw and lemon-caper aioli. A glorified, freshly created fish sandwich. We gabbed and gabbed over our lengthy history—who was still married and who wasn’t, and then our huge lunch platters arrived. Meri graciously cut me a portion of her burger. I moaned discreetly and nodded my head in agreement. Great burger, especially with the bleu cheese. I also snuck one of the brilliant orange fries. Once hooked, I found my way over to that giant mound of fries all through lunch. Let me put it this way. When you have lunch at The Hideout, don’t miss the sweet potato fries. I needed catsup to go with them. When I was unable to get one single drop of catsup out of the Heinz bottle, Meri invited me to “hit it on the 57.” Turns out there’s a tiny raised “57” about a third of the way down the Heinz catsup bottle. Who knew? Well, I hit the bottle (so to speak) and sure enough, the flow of gooey red sauce began immediately. Thanks, Mer.

My sole filet was delicious with its lemon aioli and micro-zested veggies. I removed the top slice of baguette for easier access. And I kept stealing Meri’s fries. It was a fun lunch, delicious food, delicious gossip, er, memories. We’ll rendezvous at The Hideout again, soon. And I’ll order the fries. 9051 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Dinner daily, lunch Wed-Mon. thehideoutaptos.com.


Gluten-Free Update

From one of our favorite cracker makers, Milton’s, comes a ridiculously crisp and tangy cheddar cheese gluten-free cracker. Like one of the sinful cheesy things you loved as a kid, only good for you—not bad for you. Baked, not fried, each little puffed, light-yet-flavor-intensive hexagonal cracker delivers the goods, catering to your oral craving for a major snack cracker. Yet, let me repeat this, it is gluten-free. $4-ish at Shopper’s, et al.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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