Just before the days begin to lengthen, and the air is frigid as if snow-kissed, all I can think about is a bowl of homemade soup.
I heard good words about the Carne en su Jugo beef soup ($6) at Taqueria Santa Cruz, and as it turns out, it’s the restaurant’s signature dish. After placing my order at the counter, I picked a sunny plump booth by the window. Spanish-language ESPN2 was recounting the weekend’s events on two flat screen televisions at either end of the long dining room.
Soon, a large bowl was delivered to my table with a foil package of steaming, aromatic corn tortillas. In the clear broth, which was sprinkled with finely minced cilantro and white onions, floated large pieces of green avocado. I squeezed wedges of lime into the soup, and crumbled the crisply fried dried red peppers onto its surface.
Digging my spoon into the liquid elixir, I found loads of diced carne asada, chewy bacon, and whole, firm pinto beans. I further spiced up the soup with fresh salsas from the condiment bar; pico de gallo with hot green peppers, avocado-green sauce with onions, and the incendiary watermelon-pink purée. Oh, what a meal! I was glad I hadn’t ordered the large bowl.
Taqueria Santa Cruz also serves egg breakfasts ($6.75) with choice of ham or sausage. The taqueria menu includes such staples as burritos, tortas and nachos, as well as full plates with enchiladas, chile rellenos and tostadas. And most of the menu is available for catering.
Soft tacos ($2) include two steaming, soft corn tortillas filled with meat and salsa. The twelve meat choices include not only fried pork carnitas and grilled beef asada, but tongue, tripe, and barbecue goat.
Taqueria Santa Cruz II, 1002 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 429-5193. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily from 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Visit taqsc.com/