Popular Harbor Cafe offers unique house-made flavors and substantial portions
Spring arrives this week, bringing with it more opportunities for sunny mornings and breakfast al fresco. At Harbor Cafe, the patio area is so comfortable and jovial it’s as if I’m eating in a friend’s backyard.
Brunch beverages include beer ($4), as well as small and large servings of Mimosas ($5/$9), Bloody Marys and Greyhounds ($6/$8). Pepper and horseradish particles were suspended in spiced up tomato juice in a pint-sized Bloody Mary which was embellished with a full stalk of celery, a peperoncini, pimiento-stuffed olive, and lime wedge. The freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is also a refreshing eye-opener.
Eggs Benedict ($9.95) included thick slices of Canadian bacon and poached eggs with jiggling yolks served with well-crisped hash browns. In a special rendition ($12.95), crisped polenta patties, spiced lightly with chili flakes, replaced the English muffins, and were topped with basil-rich pesto and creamy avocado slices. Instead of potatoes, a fruit cup held bites of almost a dozen different fruits including grapes, tangerine, watermelon, and four varieties of fresh berries. The side of bacon ($3.25) was meaty and chewy.
The frittatas are less quiche-like than I normally encounter, and I really enjoyed the filling Frittata Supreme ($11.95). Cooked solely on the stovetop and flipped over onto the plate, the skillet had formed a shiny dome-shaped surface which was brown and crisp. It was topped with slices of pristine green avocado, sour cream, and jalapeño-laced salsa fresca. From its interior, filled with red-skinned potatoes, crisp diced red bell peppers and eggs, oozed plenty of melted cheese.
Harbor Cafe carries numerous brands of bottled hot sauces, but the house-made versions are a real treat. One was a tart tomatillo verde that was plenty spicy, while the second was sweeter, with a roasted brick red color that teetered on the edge of my personal Scoville threshold.
A house-made biscuit ($1.95) with a shiny, tanned top was moist and crumbly and butter quickly liquefied in its steamy interior.
At lunch, there are plenty of burgers ($8.95) to choose from including garden, Black Angus, turkey, and grilled chicken breast, to which can be added cheese, bacon, avocado and grilled mushrooms or onions ($1 to $1.75).
The assemblage of spring salads include chicken ($8.95) with avocado and lime, and a Caesar ($7.95) to which your choice of meat ($2) can be added.
For a hearty appetite, the Harbor Bowl ($7.95) includes Spanish rice, black beans, avocado and feta and sauced with Ranchera.
Harbor Tacos ($8.95 to $9.95) were more than a hefty handful. A pair of corn tortillas was lightly toasted to melt the cheese and then topped with chopped avocado, green cabbage, cilantro, tart San Felipe sauce and chunks of dark and white pulled pork carnitas. The side salad of mixed multi-colored lettuces with chopped tomatoes was served with the house-made lime vinaigrette.
The café also offers free Wi-Fi, is dog-friendly, available for private parties, and participates in a composting program.
Harbor Cafe, 535 7th Ave., Santa Cruz, 475-4948. Full Bar. Open from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily. Breakfast is served all day, lunch from 11 a.m. Visit