Eastside venue wins points for its imaginative menu, stellar service and welcoming atmosphere
Süda is a happening place. As my friend Jan and I were enjoying dinner, every table in the restaurant filled up and nearly all the outdoor seating was occupied as well. Located in the Pleasure Point area, Süda is a magnet for just about everybody hanging out in that neck of the woods.
“It’s bringing some style to The Point,” Jan noted of the popular local surfing scene. Süda’s industrial-chic atmosphere, complete with bare wood tables and white plastic molded chairs that smack of another era, boasts a minimal funky style. “It’s a casual place so everybody can come here,” added Jan, which sums up Süda well. As we sat there, we observed the folks coming in and out of the restaurant, including two elderly ladies having dinner together, parents with a toddler, bikers, surfers, people coming straight from the office, tennis players still in their short skirts, couples, singles, groups of friends—a varied cross-section of the community.
From Süda’s list of around 30 wines, I ordered a Soquel Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010 ($10), and from the fun specialty cocktails, Jan ordered a Pega, a delicious burst of flavor with basil, ginger, tequila, Domain de Canton, lime and agave and described as “a fresh and earthy twist on a traditional margarita.”
After sharing a vibrant Süda Salad ($7), a colorful springy mix of baby lettuces, beets, carrots, sunflower sprouts, cucumber, peas, Spanish onions, and toasted pumpkin seeds, with a choice of dressing, my starving friend ordered Southwest Chicken Fettucinne ($16), served with black beans, corn, tomato, cilantro, Southwest pesto cream sauce, fresh salsa and garlic bread; and I ordered the day’s special of Smoked Salmon Fettucinne ($18)—smoked in-house with tea leaves. Although the menu has under a dozen entrees, there is something for all tastes, including vegetarian and gluten free. Süda’s head chef, Anthony Dias, brings a wealth of experience to the table, having worked previously as a manager at the Hollins House and as food and beverage director at Chaminade. His focus is on food with a healthy twist, making every effort to use local, organic farm produce and ensuring that seafood is sustainably caught or farmed.
Both entrees were imaginatively prepared and mouth-wateringly good. My dish came with an abundance of tender smoked salmon and other flavorful fish served on a bed of perfectly cooked fettucinne and a mélange of tasty veggies. But the spotlight shone on Jan’s chicken. “It’s a fiesta in the mouth,” she enthused of the brilliant flavors leaping off her plate. Trying a mouthful on a piece of garlic bread, the “fiesta” flavors are undeniable—a tantalizing co-mingling of creamy, spicy, zesty—with pieces of very tender chicken.
Service at Süda is friendly and efficient. Three servers buzzed around our table constantly, politely checking on us and making sure that we had everything we needed. Our shared salad was conveniently split for us onto two plates, a further glass of wine we ordered to share came with another fresh glass; and our left-over food was taken away, on my request, to be boxed up for us.
Our order of dessert, a Berry Crumble, was a tad on the dry side, but was enlivened with its partner of vanilla ice cream, from a company in Santa Barbara. I lusted after the Chocolate Lava Cake I saw drifting by on its way to another table, but I’ll save that experience for next time.
The bar area has an upbeat buzz, terrific selection of cocktails, “flowing” and bottled beers, wines, fountain sodas, juices and nonalcoholic drinks, Süda’s customers can order drinks and/or food, take in the vibe and watch sports on the flat-screen TV. It’s definitely a place to hang out and enjoy a good cocktail or two.
Happy Hour is from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with two-for-one small plates; and Sunday is “Funday” with $3 Mimosas, $4 Bloody Marys and $10 Burger & Brew. Park your bicycle or Bentley at Süda. Everybody’s welcome.
Süda, 3910 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, 600-7068. Check Süda’s Facebook for what’s happening.