"Try This" is a weekly column that celebrates local businesses — especially eateries, watering holes, coffee shops and the like.
Food: Riva Fish House
Riva Fish House on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf has been a mainstay of seafood, Mexican dishes, pastas and California grill since 1981. My favorites here include their fish and chips, fish, calamari and chips, and the Philly cheese steak sandwich. However, the crab cake shown here was also a winner. Crispy, loaded with flavor and accompanied with a flavorful sauce, it made for a great addition to our dinner. Nearly every seat offers a view of the Monterey Bay. Tip: Go on Wednesday evening and catch the exciting display of sailboats whistling past because it's the weekly sailboat race.
Drink: Abita Root Beer
I’m happy to see that some of these new beer tap houses that are sprouting up around the county offer some non-alcoholic drinks. Recently, at Beer Thirty in Soquel Village, I met my friend Steve for a beer. He had an IPA draft while I asked to tender to recommend a root beer. He reached for an Abita, which is made with pure Louisiana cane sugar. It was refreshing and packed with flavor, especially the way they served it freezing cold. Beer Thirty is the sister store of Beer Mule that recently opened on Aviation Way in Watsonville. While Beer Thirty, 2504 S. Main St., features a food window at the rear door of Carpos Restaurant, Beer Mule has their own food on top of inviting food trucks and portable tent food servers.
Fun: Abbott Square concerts
Live music has been a huge draw in downtown Santa Cruz at Abbott Square beside the famed Cooper House. The group Rosebud is shown performing there recently. The open air stage is a welcoming, informal setting. The wealth of outdoor tables there allow folks to get a snack or beverage at the indoor venues, and sit back and enjoy the music. There was even enough room for several dozen people to dance. The warm summer evenings, for us, made for a perfect way to cap the week and enjoy some free live music in a relaxing atmosphere.
Food: Gama Bakery
I had a sweet tooth on my lunch break the other day (who am I kidding? I have a sweet tooth all the time) and, lured by the heavenly aroma of baked goods I went into Gama Bakery at 429 Union St. There, I encountered a decent selection of delicious-looking pastries. Among these was a chocolate cupcake reminiscent of the Hostess pastries with its swirl of white frosting. Filled with cream, it was rich and moist and, I dare to admit, far superior to the Hostess variety.
Drink: Second Street Cafe
In need of a pick-me-up one afternoon, I took a detour into Second Street Cafe and got a dark chocolate mocha. The drink was good, very chocolaty and gave me the pickup I needed. Second Street Cafe is at 28 Second St., Watsonville.
Fun: Live Earth Farm
My family and I braved the heat last weekend and came to Watsonville to pick berries at Live Earth Farms. It is a fun activity, as long as you’re ready to weather the occasional complaining of at least one child. The blackberries were flourishing when we were there, and we filled several containers, paying $5 per pound. The strawberries – sun-warmed and the closest thing to heaven one can get in this life – are just $2 per pound. It was definitely worth the trip. The pick-your-own is seasonal on Saturdays and Sundays only from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Depending on the season, one can pick berries, apples, peppers and dry-farmed tomatoes. Located at 1275 Green Valley Rd. For information, visit liveearthfarms.net.