Santa Rosa has always been one of those interestingly remote places for me. I grew up just an hour away from it, but it always felt as distant as places three or four hours away, as if it were more suited to a long weekend trip than a quick visit. Where I live now is […]
My instinct on eating in Santa Cruz has always been to go for the seafood. It’s not that it’s much better than that in the Bay Area — if it’s better at all — but rather that you’re so constantly aware of the sea here that eating seafood feels like the right thing to do. Harbor Cafe has long been my standby, largely for the controversial polenta fries (obviously I fall on the side of loving them).
It’s interesting to observe how the town’s hippie spirit carries on despite, or because of, all the tourists. As an outsider, it has never been clear to me whether the locals or natives in Santa Cruz tend to lean toward being hippies, or whether tourists, visitors, and transplants create and maintain that reputation, allowing it to feed off itself.
Either way, that aspect of the town is clear in the restaurants as much as in the clothing, that which is worn and of course that which is made available to purchase in the shops around town. Cafe Gratitude, in particular, lets you submerge yourself in what feels almost like a caricature of this Northern California hippie lifestyle. It serves up raw, vegan food with an ordering system that involves you saying things like, “I am grateful, loving, and awesome.” To my own chagrin, I enjoy some of the food there—but as my mother puts it, “I wish for Cafe Gratitude without the ‘attitude.’”