Road Less Traveled

dining cactuscornerWhile Highway 1 might be the most direct route between Aptos and Watsonville, Freedom Boulevard presents a scenic alternative. Meandering alongside ranches, farms, and woods, it offers not only relaxing surroundings, but also a few culinary surprises as well.

One is Cactus Corner Market and Deli. Its three short aisles are neatly stocked with the most basic of necessities. Two small freezers hold ice, ice cream and frozen Snickers bars. An entire wall of refrigerators is packed with beverages, which, according to a banner outside, include the coldest beer in town.

For the morning commute, hot coffee and fat apple fritters can be quickly gathered. Freshly toasted breakfast bagels ($2 to $2.75) are spread with cream cheese, peanut butter or jelly, and a breakfast bagel ($3.95) is filled with cheese, egg and choice of ham, sausage, or bacon. 

The Breakfast Burrito ($4.95) includes egg, sausage and cheese with salsa. This house-made salsa rivals the best at local taquerias. The coarse purée of fresh ingredients is also available in tubs ($2.99).

Need some sandwiches for the Coraralitos Wine Trail? A smoky aroma accompanied the thin slices of Hot Pastrami ($6.95), perhaps the best locally, in a shiny thin roll with the usual condiments and vegetables. I enjoyed it on the arbor-topped patio near the barbecue grill, where the staccato chirping of humming birds surrounded me. As an option, Scott County Park, complete with a play structure, is just down the road.

While awaiting a classic BLT ($6.50), the scent of toasting sourdough bread filled the small store. Thick slices of ripe tomato, chewy bacon, and crisp romaine were bonded with mayonnaise.

The barbecue Chicken Deluxe ($7.99), served on a soft roll, was like the BLT with the addition of chicken, avocado, pepperoncini peppers, and melted provolone cheese. On Sunday, the sandwiches (excluding tri tip) are half price.  | KP


Cactus Corner Market and Deli, 3125 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville, 722-7828. Beer and wine. Open Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sundays 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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