On a concrete island smack in the middle of Santa Cruz’s downtown metro center, fragrant sauces simmered in a tiny but well-equipped kitchen where two women were busily rolling burritos. It’s a perfect location for good fast food; right on Front Street and at the stop for the heavily ridden Highway 17 Express.
Quesadillas ($3 to $6) include Sea and Land. Surprisingly thick with its edges sealed like a turnover, plump shrimp and steak joined tomatoes, pickled jalapeños and plenty of cheese within the browned tortilla.
New on the menu is Dandy’s Synchronizada ($6), which combines chewy pieces of chopped steak with ham, onions, jalapeños and cheese.
El Dandy’s tortas ($4.50 to $6) are very transportable—including the Torta Cubana ($6). In an oblong airy bun, thinly sliced ham, steak, chorizo, griddled, sliced hot dogs, tomato and hot pickled jalapeños made a satisfying lunch.
El Dandy also offers vegetarian-friendly options such as a bean and cheese burrito ($3.50), a rice, beans and cheese torta ($4.50), a chile relleno burrito ($5), carrot and potato tamale ($1.75), a veggie tostada ($4) or sopa plate ($6) with sour cream and vegetables, rice and beans.
Burritos ($3.50 to $8 for super shrimp) come with choice of mild or hot salsas. In addition to pork and beef, chicken with green sauce, tongue, and roasted head meat are available fillings.
The “small” breakfast burrito ($5), weighing almost a pound, was cooked to order with softly scrambled eggs, bits of potato, refried beans and tender strips of seasoned, shredded beef and onion machaca.
For bigger appetites, a number of plates are available ($6) with rice and beans, including enchiladas and tamales. If you are very lucky, the ladies will have sweet tamales, with pineapple, raisin or coconut. | KP
Taqueria el Dandy, 920 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-2582. Open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sunday.