FOOD: Taqueria Tepeque
An unfortunate set of circumstances left me stranded in Capitola on Feb. 9 after high winds toppled wires onto both sides of Hwy. 1, shutting down the thoroughfare between there and Aptos. I had planned to shop at the Capitola Mall and at Trader Joe’s. But power was out everywhere, transforming the usually bustling hub of mid-county into a ghost town.
Thankfully, the folks at Taqueria Tepeque in the Brown Ranch Shopping Center were brave enough to remain open. With their non-electric stove set up they continued serving cash-only customers who were aimlessly wandering around, trying to figure out what to do until the freeway opened and the power came on.
Initially we bought drinks, but the kind server asked us if we’d like a basket of tortilla chips on the house. As we munched on the chips, we realized how hungry we were—it was lunchtime after all—so we headed back to the counter.
I ordered a Super Quesadilla, with shredded chicken and melted cheese, topped with avocado, shredded lettuce, sour cream and salsa. A simple dish, but done very well. The flour tortilla was cooked perfectly and the salsa had a decent amount of kick.
Because of the wealth of delicious Mexican restaurants in Watsonville, I don’t often stop at one when I’m in other parts of the county. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Taqueria Tepeque. I would also like to send a big thank you to the staff, for inviting the community into their restaurant—whether to buy food or just use their bathroom—when everyone else closed up shop.
Taqueria Tepeque, 3555 Clares St. #LL, is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
FOOD: Pizzeria La Bufala
Pizzeria La Bufala is in Abbott Square at Cooper and Front streets in Santa Cruz. I enjoyed their relaxed setting where you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs making their pizzas and other dishes. Their classic homemade beef lasagna is a house speciality. They offer a wealth of wood-fired pizzas, including their Capricciosa with tomato sauce, mozzarella, artichokes, olives, prosciutto and mushrooms, in addition to salads and pastas. Shown here is a simple Italian caprese salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, arugula and sweet basil, cucumbers, seasoned with salt and olive oil. They’re at 725 Front St.
DRINK: Cat and Cloud Coffee
I recently rode my bicycle to the west side of Santa Cruz to the newest location of Cat and Cloud Coffee on Swift and Ingalls streets. Open and airy with indoor and outdoor seating, the place offered a lot of space to spread out with a book, newspaper or laptop. I ordered a caffe latte in a for here cup because 1) I was planning on enjoying the drink there and 2) I don’t like using and wasting paper cups and plastic lids. One of the owners, Jared Truby, was the barista and he brewed up a fantastic latte, complete with a fancy decoration in the foamy topping. If you’re on the west side, I would recommend a stop here for a sample of the “newness” going on in that area. A wealth of businesses, from boutiques, tasting rooms and tap rooms to modern furniture stores have sprung up in the area.