With the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe displaying its quiet splendor mere blocks away, the artifice and forced glamor of the casinos just on the Nevada side of the border are set in stronger contrast than I’ve ever seen elsewhere. At least in Las Vegas, you’re so surrounded by casinos and flashing lights that it’s […]
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.’”