Having heard that the Cypress Lounge had added Cajun flavors to their streamlined menu, I was keen to check it out. When we arrived just after 7 p.m., instrumental jazz musicians were playing their final song. The music was loud for anyone expecting a subdued dinner, but not for those noshing with friends. We were excited to find the elusive Santa Cruz Aleworks IPA on draft ($2 Tuesday happy hour all night) in all its ultra-hoppy glory. We sipped it leisurely while watching the outnumbered staff alternate between bussing tables from a private event, making drinks, and welcoming dinner customers.
You’ll still find thin sweet potato fries, breaded white meat chicken nuggets with spicy aioli-like rémoulade, and burgers, but our appetites were headed to Louisiana.
A large plate of Jambalaya ($9), served with a taterware biodegradable fork, was filled with spicy rice mixed with chicken and thin slices of seasoned sausage. It was topped with crispy nuggets of breaded and deep-fried okra.
From the list of mini-sandwiches ($4) I started with blackened catfish. Between two halves of an airy square biscuit was a piece of fillet coated heavily with hot red pepper and herbs along with frilly lettuce and a slice of tomato. (Hey, where was the pickle and onion?) I also could not pass up the pulled pork version overflowing with shreds of meat, sweet house-made coleslaw and barbecue sauce.
Two soft tacos ($8) were also filled with blackened fish and cabbage and drizzled with the rémoulade.
As I was finishing the dinner-sized the House Salad ($7), the DJ was pumping the room full of upbeat rap. In the salad, leafy greens were partnered with plenty of sweet, chewy dried cranberries, sliced red onions, finely grated carrot, tumbled walnuts and a side of light citrus-mustard seed vinaigrette.
Cypress Dine & Lounge, 120 Union St., Santa Cruz, 459-9876. Full Bar. Open at 4 p.m. daily, until 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 1:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Visit cypressloungesc.com.