It seems that everyone in Santa Cruz has ties to Fresno, me included. Driving home from that Central Valley town, rows of tall corn, orchards of pistachios, and trailers laden with ripe tomatoes make it hard to ignore hunger pangs. But if you can make it past Casa de Fruta to San Felipe Road, you’re just minutes away from what’s billed as the best tri-tip in San Benito County.
Dunneville Cafe and Market, located on what was once a 22,000 acre ranch, is still surrounded by fields. There’s a lovely garden patio in the back of the store, and bocce ball courts (reservations required) sit beyond arbored arches. Although the staff had just survived a Sunday breakfast rush our server was friendly and energetic.
Sandwiches are served with soup or salad. The cup of smooth, nicely seasoned chili with two kinds of beans and pieces of soft meat was topped with red onions and grated cheeses. I loaded a bowl with crunchy iceberg lettuce and goodies at the 12-item salad bar. The creamy blue cheese dressing contained noticeable chunks of cheese.
The tri-tip at Dunneville is rubbed with seasonings and cooked slowly for 24 hours. The Dunneville ($9.95), with thin slices of tender meat, was served with a side of sweet and tart smoky barbeque sauce. The beef in Bill’s Favorite ($10.95) was covered with a sheet of cheddar cheese. I enjoyed the bite of the horseradish sauce as well as that of the creamy ancho-chipotle. Both sandwiches were served on large pieces of soft Italian bread which was spread with house-made garlic butter and grilled.
Dunneville Cafe and Market, 5970 San Felipe Road, Hollister, 637-9191. Restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Market and take-out open until 7 p.m. weekdays, 6 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.