Dining Reviews

Más Masa

DiningHandmade snapper tacos at El Palomar, plus Route 1 Farms gears up for dinner series

The women of El Palomar’s bustling taco bar do it all. They work the grill, haul the dishes, shape the masa—and they kick it with precision and plenty of well-deserved attitude. Many regulars swear by the Happy Hour specials on tacos and drinks, 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday. But my favorite visits happen during late lunchtimes, where you place your order, pick up a drink and start working through the bowl of chips and salsa provided while you wait. I’m a huge fan of El Palomar’s tortilla chips—warm and salty, and especially addictive along with something like an iced Coke or Corona with lime. The action is likewise energizing; you can watch the line cooks pack the dough into a tortilla press before plopping it onto the grill. They actually make the tortillas right on the spot. So bear in mind, while the tacos here arrived swiftly this is by no means “fast food.” So I hang out, read the paper, and try not to inhale all of the chips at once while my taco is being made. First, the layer of creamy refritos, then fat chunks of freshly grilled snapper. On top of that goes the strategic mix of crisp shredded cabbage, cilantro and finally a delicious green taco sauce. For $4 I’ve got a delicious, handmade, fresh lunch that makes my mouth happy all afternoon. Cannot be beat! All El Palomar’s tacos are killer, but the snapper is my personal main squeeze. El Palomar taco bar is located in the middle of Pacific Avenue, in the arcade behind Santa Cruz Roasting Company.

Route 1 Farm Dinners

Coming up fast—and sure to sell out quickly—are a trio of 2015 Farm Dinners in the various gorgeous fields of Route 1 Farms. Join field maestro Jeff Larkey and his team for meals featuring our finest chefs, winemakers, and panoramic vistas. On June 28, dine in the fields set between redwoods and ocean at Rancho del Oso with chef Damani Thomas of Oswald and a mystery winemaker (TBA). On Aug. 16, also at the Rancho del Oso acres on Waddell Creek, join Ristorante Avanti’s Adolfo Martinez and winemaker Denis Hoey of Odonata Wines. In the heart of harvest time, Sept. 27, come to Route 1’s Ocean Street Extension acres and enjoy a meal created by Santos Majano of The Kitchen at Discretion Brewing paired with wines by Richard Alfaro of Alfaro Family Vineyards. I remember with vivid fondness the terrific afternoon I spent last August at Rancho del Oso. It was arguably the finest of this sort of outdoor farm dinner I’ve ever experienced. The entire event—many courses, many wines, a delightful farm tour with Larkey—is a rare opportunity we can enjoy because we live in this extraordinary spot.

Tickets are currently on sale at route1farms.com/category/farm-dinners. Hurry. Seriously.

Who Knows Rosa?

A reader wrote me: “My boyfriend is obsessed with the pork shoulder that was served at Rosa’s in the late 1990s, especially its crust. He’s been trying to find both of the chef/owners online without success. Do you have any info about them, their current whereabouts (did they open another restaurant somewhere), or about the recipes they used for this dish? Personally, I still remember with great fondness their amazing burritos with fried onions and asparagus.” So, I’m hoping one of you reading out there will have a lead or two about the chef/owners of the former Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor dining landmark. Let me know: [email protected]


PHOTO: El Palomar’s snapper tacos are made to order using homemade, hand-shaped tortillas and freshly grilled fish. CHIP SCHEUER

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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