Dining Reviews

Grass Fed Burger One of Many Reasons to Check Out Cafe Cruz

Plus, New Leaf now carries La Posta’s breads

Don’t miss the burger at Cafe Cruz, which you can enjoy on their vine-enclosed patio. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

An oasis of bold flavors and culinary comfort, Cafe Cruz has a lot to like. But oh, the burgers ….  

I first fell in love with the mighty grass fed burger a few years back when we went for a seafood lunch at the midcounty legend. Something in the way of crab cakes, perhaps. Or maybe a seared ahi niçoise salad (a salad I love). But then I saw something that changed my mind: an eight ounce burger, made of grass fed beef topped with roasted mushrooms—maybe it was the mushrooms that grabbed me—plus Vermont cheddar, shaved romaine, tomato, and red onion on a brioche bun. A mountain of perfect fries came with the burger. Well, one of us ordered that burger, but when it arrived we both fought over the last trace of medium-rare beef glistening in the juices of mushroom, tomato and cheese. 

That burger still calls me, and I’ll be heading out to the heated patio at Cafe Cruz very soon. For the past 25 years, chef/owner Steve Wilson has been creating New American/California classics, enlightened comfort food that includes one of the best burgers on the planet. If you can get past all the other temptations on this menu—like the grilled skirt steak salad, or the blackened fish taco salad—do not miss this burger! The sheltered, vine-enclosed patio, with outdoor fireplace and properly distanced tables, makes a safely attractive alternative to dining chez vous. 

Curbside pickup daily noon to 8pm. 2621 41st Ave., Soquel. To order, call 831-476-3801. cafecruz.com.

Ser Winery Patio Tasting

Fans of the fine wines made by Nicole Walsh under her Ser Winery label will be glad to know that the Aptos Village Ser Winery Tasting Room has expanded to include outdoor tasting. Tables, chairs, shade umbrellas, everything. Come by and taste Walsh’s new 2019 Vermentino, her celebrated rosé of Cinsaut, Bechtold Vineyard, and the new favorite vintage, the 2015 Cabernet Pfeffer honoring celebrated grower Ron Siletto. 

Tasting room open Friday-Saturday 3-7pm; Sunday 2-6pm. Curbside pickup also available. 10 Parade St., Suite B, Aptos. serwinery.com.

La Posta Breads Break Out!

You know those round loaves of sourdough fresh from La Posta’s oven? Well you’ll be seeing them for sale next week at New Leaf Market! “They reached out to us a few weeks ago,” La Posta proprietor Patrice Boyle told me, “and we decided to go for it. We’ll be selling both white and brown bread Thursday through Sunday at the Westside New Leaf only.” Get a thick slab of butter ready to apply.

Odds and Ends

Sensational pickup dinner of rack of lamb from Gabriella, luscious with that chimichurri sauce that chef Gema Cruz does so well. Also extreme comfort food accompanying: perfect mashed potatoes and sauteed cabbage, kale and yellow crookneck squash. When we need serious protein, we need the Gabriella menu. Next time, I’ll have the confit of duck. 

I love the local halibut I’m finding these days at Shopper’s Corner, thick and fresh, that we have along with salad made from pretty green and maroon Little Gems. Add Gruner Veltliner and it’s a summer dinner to remember. 

I had another social-distanced social hour with my friend Kate over an incredible kouign amann plus an oversized almond croissant, both from Companion Bakeshop. Companion has a very smooth pickup operation at the Mission Street location. Order and insert credit card. Step back for approximately 30-50 seconds, and pick up pastry, plus perhaps a fine espresso drink, at the other window. There are clearly marked six foot standing pads, and you get to say hello to lots of folks you haven’t seen for months. And then, of course, you can take that pastry to your favorite location and inhale!

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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