"Try This" is a weekly column that celebrates local businesses — especially eateries, watering holes, coffee shops and the like.
Food: Pizza Mia
Nostalgia, the feeling it elicits and the memories it rekindles, is in at the moment — at least in the circles that I run with — and locally-owned Pizza Mia on East 5th Street fills that yearning for a sentimental remembrance of the past. On top of that, the pizzeria has an all-its-own style of pizza making that is perfect for a quick, cheap and tasty lunch break. On my most recent visit I ordered two massive and deliciously fatty slices and a coke. It set me back $5(!!!!!). That’s an unbeatable deal.
Drink: Beer Mule
With a constant rotating slew of beers on tap, the new pour house on Watsonville’s Aviation Way has been a treat every time I’ve decided to sit down for a brew. But its selection of take-away beers is what has really won me over. Beer Mule’s sister store, Beer Thirty, also has a large variety of bottled and canned craft beers to choose from, but Soquel is a such a far and challenging drive to make after finishing a shift around 5-7 p.m. Having that same selection so close to home has been a godsend to the local beer-loving community.
There has been so much hoopla behind the final season of “Game of Thrones” that the best show on HBO has not been getting its deserved due. What show is that? “Barry.” Starring Bill Hader as a low-level hitman named Barry Berkman, the show’s second season has featured some of the best performances I’ve seen from a television series in quite some time. Hader is, as usual, great and Stephen Root, Henry Winkler and Sarah Goldberg are all throwing 100 miles per hour in each of their appearances.
Food: Taylor Brothers Hot Dogs
A long-standing Watsonville staple is Taylor Brothers Hot Dogs, 336 Union St. Shown here is their standard chili dog that includes mustard, relish and onion on a warm bun. The Hormel dog is $1.91 out the door and always served piping hot. The folks inside the walk-up window are always friendly and there's hardly ever a line, except during the lunch rush from nearby Watsonville High School.
Drink: Riva Fish House
While enjoying a dinner at Riva Fish House on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, my wife, Sarah, tried their Drunken Priest mixed drink. A mix of tequila and cranberry juice, she felt it was a little flat and kind of watered down. Riva’s full bar features a healthy selection of wines, and draft and bottled beers. They run a Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m. M-F that includes several appetizers, including their sumptuous deep fried calamari. Stepping aside from the booze list, Riva also carries iced tea, Italian sodas, French roast coffee, cappuccino, fountain drinks and a wealth of juices.
Fun: Singing Wood
The marimba group, Singing Wood of Santa Cruz, treat passersby to their mix of tunes from Zimbabwe in downtown Santa Cruz. The group, which stems out of the Singing Wood Marimba Centreperforms music on wood marimbas of the Zimbabwean Shona style. “I established Singing Wood in 2002 in order to offer broad access to the Shona style of marimba ensemble playing -- the instruments and the style as originally conveyed in North America through the teachings of Shona master musician Dumisani Maraire -- and as evolved in the years since,” said founder Laura Mallon. “This music offers exceptional melodic and polyrhythmic variety -- from the very simple to the extremely complex -- and its ancient spiritual roots strike common chords in all people who are open to it.”
Drink: 515 Kitchen & Cocktails
One of my favorite places in Santa Cruz to enjoy a quality cocktail is 515 Kitchen & Cocktails, located on Cedar Street in downtown. While a bit pricey for a regular stop, 515 offers a unique ambiance and menu that is perfect for a special occasion. Sadly, my favorite drink, the “Frida Kahlo” was discontinued a while back. But there are still plenty of fantastic drinks to choose from, including “Le Pamplemousse,” made with grapefruit-infused vodka, aperol, cane sugar and citrus. The drink is $11.
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