"Try This" is a weekly column that celebrates local businesses — especially eateries, watering holes, coffee shops and the like.
Food: Sesame Korean Grill
Several years ago my wife Sarah and I visited South Korea and one of the dishes we grew fond of there on several occasions was their popular seafood scallion pancake. Recently we were delightfully surprised with our dinner at the Sesame Korean Grill, 435 Front St. in downtown Santa Cruz. They featured that pancake and we thought it was terrific. It was served piping hot in a sizzling cast iron skillet. I might add that the Korean ramen noodle bowl I got (shown here) and the four little side dishes that came with the meal were also superb.
Drink: Java Junction
An exciting spot to catch a coffee, hot chocolate, tea or cool summer drink is Java Junction, 222 East Cliff Drive. It’s a winning combination: at their outdoor tables, your feet are yards from the sand. The crashing surf is a stones-throw away and the boat traffic comes in and out at the Santa Cruz Harbor. The Walton Lighthouse is the centerpiece of the whole affair. If it’s chilly Java Junction has indoor seating. Staff is always welcoming and friendly. We park in the large lot off of East Cliff Drive. Four quarters will get you an hour, enough for a coffee and a stroll on the nearby shore of Twin Lakes State Beach. Java Junction Coffee Roasting has been in Santa Cruz, now at three locations, since 1992.
Fun: Water Taxi: The free, inner-harbor water taxi is now up and running in the Santa Cruz Harbor. The ride connects key points throughout both sides of the harbor and operates between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on summer weekends and holidays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It is a relaxing way to take in the bounty of activity in the harbor. The water taxi will also operate on Thursday evenings during the Crow’s Nest beach barbecues from 5 - 9 p.m. Passengers may be picked up and dropped off at the following locations X--1 Gate, AA Dock (Aldo’s) and the Launch Ramp. Passengers can also flag down the taxis at other spots. Parking is available for water taxi passengers in the north harbor near X Dock. For information and to see the taxi map, visit santacruzharbor.org.
Food: Full Steam Dumpling
At Fruition Brewery in the East Lake Shopping Center on Sunday was Full Steam Dumpling. I tried their Pork Belly Bao-Mi: two large, mouthwatering dumplings filled with hoisin bbq sauce, cilantro and pickled carrots. It was enough for a few people to share the meal. The pop-up also offered beef gyoza, pork shu mai, a noodle salad and sides of bok choy and kimchi. The bao-mi plate was $12.
Drink: The Abbey
If you’re ever in westside Santa Cruz, hop on over to The Abbey—a coffee, art and music lounge located on Mission Street.The spot is named such because it is attached to Vintage Faith Church. I have stopped there a few times, and I always like to try something new. Their espresso by itself is a little sweet for my taste, but I really enjoyed their specialty drink The Honey Badger, a latte made with honey and cinnamon. They also offer food items, including paninis, pastries and bagels.
Fun: Bad Animal
This entry could easily cover all three Food, Drink and Fun categories. A new addition to Downtown Santa Cruz, Bad Animal is a combination bookstore and cafe—where you can browse for a new novel to read and then sit down with a glass of wine or small plate of food. Their section of books is limited due to their space, but there are some treasures to find among the stacks. Bad Animal’s unique atmosphere and friendly staff add to the experience.