Unique culinary touches at Zachary’s have kept us coming back for 26 years
Babies know not the difference between weekends and weekdays, and my oldest awoke by 6:30 every morning. On Saturdays we’d either drive to the wharf, or put him in an aluminum-framed backpack and walk downtown for breakfast. Once, when my not-quite toddling son dragged his backpack to my bedside, sadly on a school day, I knew he was hungry for Zachary’s.
The interior has changed little. It has the same well-worn wooden floors, bench seating topped with cushions, orbs of light chained to the ceiling and glossy, patched eggshell walls, now decorated with photographs of the Boardwalk.
A restaurant that has fed us for over a quarter of a century, which survived the earthquake, whose menu has changed minimally, and which continues to have long waitlists on weekends is most certainly something special.
In fact, each day you will find a different special house-made soup, chili, omelet, scramble, coffee cake, fruit pancake, and version of Miguel’s delicious salsa.
For me it’s the numerous unique twists that set Zachary’s spin on common dishes apart. For instance, sourdough pancakes require more attention than other kinds. The sour starter is a symbiotic ecosystem that includes the bacteria Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, which floats freely in the city’s air. A portion of starter is taken from the mother and replaced with flour and water. If so fed regularly it can live indefinitely. San Francisco’s Boudin bread starter dates back to the Gold Rush.
Pancake batter leavened only with starter results in thin and tender cakes ($4.50 (3)/$6.25 (5) which are vaguely sour, a bit smoky, and tasty enough to season with butter alone. Zachary’s also offers sourdough Belgian waffles ($4.95).
The cup of fruit ($3.50) included nine different items, including fresh sections of tangerine, mango, and kiwi fruit. A three-piece side of bacon ($2.95) was smoky and perfectly chewy.
The generous bowl of hot cereal is a hearty multi-grain ($3.95). The oatmeal-molasses, dark rye and sourdough breads are all house-made, as are scones, muffins, sour hamburger rolls, jalapeño corn bread and rice pudding. The juices are fresh, the coffee fair-trade and organic, and the eggs cage-free from Glaum Egg Ranch in Aptos. The orange-spice iced tea is brewed from a house blend and leaves a lovely pumpkin pie aftertaste.
Even at lunch, the dishes receive special treatment. Sandwiches come with potato salad, fresh fruit, or the incredible home-fries. These turmeric-colored soft slices of skin-on potato are seasoned with herbs mixed with onions and griddled. I especially like the crisp, almost burned pieces. To go with the home-fries (they are almost a meal in themselves) I ordered the Ahi Tuna Melt ($9.50). Both slices of the house dark rye bread were sprinkled with herbs, and topped with nutty Jarlsberg Swiss cheese. Sandwiched in-between were sweet rings of caramelized red onion and tuna salad, which was creamy but not runny, with firm flakes of canned tuna, and bits of celery and red onion.
Other special lunch touches include smoked peppered bacon in the 1/3 pound cheeseburger ($10.50) and chutney dressing on the spinach salad ($7.25).
Zachary’s Restaurant, 819 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-0646. Beer and wine. Serving breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.