Saturday, August 30, 2008

Local Girl on Vacation

While I am a Santa Cruz Local Girl now and at heart I used to reside in the Portland, Oregon area which is why I decided it was a good place for my much needed vacation. I was right, Portland is a great place to wander, explore and enjoy. To see a list of my Portland adventures with links check out my other blog. In this post I just want to focus on a few places that got my attention. When I get home I promise to go back to Santa Cruz spots.


The first meal back in Portland was had with two good friends at this average looking Pizza joint on 23rd. An excellent way to start off a week of good eats, we shared a
Roma tomatoes, Mozzarella, garlic, olive oil, fresh
basil. (Tomato sauce upon request, no charge.)
10.25 14.00 18.25 23.00
It was nothing less than delightful. We all left very satisfied and full. The crust is something you just cannot leave alone. Warm, airy and yet just crispy enough.

Le Happy

Worth the wait. We stood outside on 16th waiting for a table as the tiny Creperie was at capacity. We were promised by one of the girls I was with that we would not disappointed, I am glad to say she is not a liar. I had the Salad Crepe, but we shared so I also got to sample the Salmon Crepe and the Ham and Cheese. All of which were good. I am not sure that they are better than Sweet Pea Cafe, but they were quite enjoyable.


I actually went to two of these while in the Portland area and passed by quite a few more. A Portland establishment through and through, is one of those places I had always heard of but somehow never ended up during my college days. I had a Black and Tan Brownie at one and Fish and Chips at the second. All was good, but you don't really go to McMenamins for the food, you go for the Brew and for the entertainment/experience.

Voodoo Doughnut

Yep me and Anthony Bourdain now have something in common, we have both experianced what is Voodoo Dougnut.
They were fresh out of the Oreo Peanutbutter, and the Maple Bacon, so we got an Apple Fritter with Peanutbutter, Chocolate Chips and something else good on it. There was also a band playing in the parking lot to celebrate end of summer fritters or something.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Uncovered a Jem

I had the pleasure of stumbling upon Center Street Grill with my good friend for lunch the other day. I had passed by this place a few times, thinking that I might try it sometime, and I am so glad that I finally did. When you enter it looks like it will just be this small hole in the wall place, when in fact it opens up to a huge dining space, coffee/wine bar and an outdoor patio.

We chose to dine outdoors as it was a beautiful day. The American/Mediterranean menu was just as expansive as the restaurant. I had the pasta special; with sun dried tomatoes, broccoli, and a mix of cheeses. And my friend tried the grilled chicken sandwich. We were both pleased with our over sized portions as we had not enjoyed breakfast that morning.

I would return anytime to try more of the menu and relax in the comfortable dining space they have created. Or perhaps just sit at the coffee bar with my laptop and a cup of espresso.
Center Street Grill would get a 10.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thanks for the Fries

Really thanks for the fries is about all we could say after our meal at Cafe Rio. We ended up there by accident, but it is not a mistake we will soon repeat. Walking in we were hopeful, it looked like we may have found a well kept secret right along the beach. Well, if it was a secret there is a reason, it's just not good, and it is way over priced. For a place that has an ocean front piece of property it can boast no ocean view, as all you can see from the large windows are cars and bugs a few live palm trees and one dead one. The interior looks like it has been forgotten, perhaps designed in the 70's and the patrons all looked to have been created long before that.

When you go to their website it claims that...
"When you step into CafĂ© Rio, you’ll instantly be swept up by waves of mouth-watering fragrances, wafting delightfully from the assortment of dishes we’re carrying out of the kitchen. Welcome to your new favorite restaurant, where we’ll be providing you with the freshest, most appetizing menu of delectable daily specials, to be found in all of Aptos. And best of all, our selection is guaranteed to fill your stomach without emptying your pockets!"

I can honestly say we were not met by waves of anything but regret. I ordered a Cesar Salad due to the menu offering nothing that sounded worth the price. The two girls I took with me decided that a cheese burger which was described as having yellow cheese was their safest option. My salad was nothing to write home about. The lettuce was fine, the chicken had no flavor and the dressing was overly peppery. The girls ordered their burgers medium and they cam burnt and crispy. I would have to give the Cafe Rio a 1.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rating System

My friend insists that adding a firmer rating system would improve the overall effectiveness of the Local Girl blog. So I am going to try to instill a rating system and stick to it. So this post is simply to inform you reader of the added feature, I hope it helps you find your way around Santa Cruz. You will find the rating guideline explained in the sidebar. And I will endeavor to go back through and add ratings to previous posts, but all ratings will appear at the bottom of the posts, because I don't write them for nothing.

At Least the Coffee's Good

I've been to Fins a few times now. The first time was right when it opened. I had gone with friends and we were delighted to find another coffee spot with games already provided, as we enjoy a bit of completion with our caffeine. It was also cute when our coffee came with an animal cookie on the side. So I went back, even though there is no wireless, to support the new Fins Coffee.

My second and third visits didn't leave much of an impression, perhaps because they were the run in and out kind, and our drinks were not much to write home about.

So on Monday when I had to go downtown I figured I would give it another shot (pun intended), as I had some reading to do, and it didn't look to be overly populated.

I walked up to the counter and placed my order, "a large white chocolate mocha with mint" The reply was a weird look from the barista, followed by, "$5.15" Okay, I go to coffee shops daily, and I never ever pay that much for any coffee. But, what could I do aside from choke as I handed over the cash. As I made my way to a table I had to squeeze past the only other two people in the place, as the tables are all behind the one they were at. Sitting down I comforted myself with the thought that at least I will get my animal cookies. But then they called my drink, I made my way back past the other two people who made no effort to make my journey any less awkward, and found my very small "large" drink sitting all alone on the counter no little critters in sight. Back at the table I tasted the expensive mis-sized drink and thought, "at least the coffee's good."

Sadly good coffee was just not enough for me. The overwhelmingly loud spastic Jazz music, combined with the closeness of the tables made it impossible to concentrate. I would say the decor is fine, but the set up of the place, is just awkward. I guess the final straw was when I figured out that I was in fact sitting beside the owner, and it was he whom I had to pass by. I would have thought that perhaps the owner would go the extra mile to make the guests visit as simple and easy as possible. One would also hope that he would notice the overwhelming music and do something about it. All in all it is safe to say Fins did not rank high in my book.

I give it a 4

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Gotta love Italian

Admittedly I have a love of all things Italian, so I am a bit biased, but I am also much more picky when it comes to places that claim to be Italian. I have been anticipating my first visit to La Posta since I knew it was opening, and the same time holding off because I was afraid that I would be disappointed. A fear that was totally a waste of time and energy, as I was anything but let down by my first dining experience at La Posta. I say first knowing I will have to return, it was just that good.

My pictures do not do the food or the restaurant justice. Both were much warmer and inviting, but my camera is lame, so you will just have to go experience it yourself. My friend had this Pizza, and even though she is far more of a picky eater than I am, she found it quite enjoyable.

I had the gnocchi with duck ragu and it was simply to die for. I had not sampled either duck or gnocchi prior to this, but if this is any indicator of what it normally tastes like I would gladly have it again and again. It was simply melt in your mouth delish.

The dining room is nice, simple, and small. Much like one would expect in Italy. The service was similar. Nice, but not in your face. I found it all pleasing, I am planning on going on a Sunday sometime when they have their fixed regional menu, as that seems like a great way to try new dishes.

All in all I give La Posta a 9.