FOOD: Cafe Ella’s Mañana Panini
I’m not a fan of small breakfast. I don’t like to eat a yogurt parfait or fruit salad with my coffee. I like something that fills me up and keeps me satisfied until deep into the afternoon. So when stopping by Cafe Ella the other day for a morning meal, I asked for something a little hearty. Their suggestion: La Mañana Panini, a sandwich with a farm fresh scrambled egg, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and a choice of bacon, diced ham or spinach and basil.
Like I said before, I like a breakfast that fills my belly, so I went with a combination of all three options. The lady at the counter looked at me like I had two heads when I asked for this. I understood her befuddlement after digging into the panini, which, to my surprise, I had to split over breakfast and lunch because of its enormousness. The hefty combination of meat, cheese and greens made for a delicious, savory start to the day that will bring me back to the cafe. For those that like small breakfast or lunch, they have plenty of options that might leave you satisfied—their morning wrap or fruit parfait should be at the top of your list.
Cafe Ella is at 734 East Lake Ave. It is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also call in your order at 722-0480.
FUN: “Uncut Gems”
What do you get when you mix Adam Sandler, large-stakes gambling, trance-inducing music, the NBA and New York City’s “Diamond District?” No, a 25-to-life prison sentence is not the right answer in this case. The right answer: Josh and Benny Safdie’s unflinching masterpiece “Uncut Gems.” After etching a small foothold in the just-off-mainstream world of film with their 2017 hit “Good Time,” which stars Robert Pattinson, “Uncut Gems” firmly lands the directing duo in the conscious of the movie-going community and popular culture at-large.
Much like “Good Time,” “Uncut Gems” is a gritty, anything-can-happen-at-any-time flick that has real consequences—big and small—for the questionable decisions its characters make. There’s an ever-growing feeling of dread that comes with watching a Safdie brothers’ movie, and in “Uncut Gems” the score from composer Daniel Lopatin, also known as Oneohtrix Point Never, augments that sentiment by a million. It’s almost unfair for me to talk about this movie, because it was tailor-made for me and other basketball-crazed, Sandler-loving folks that gather in bunches and talk over one another about how the NBA rigged Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Sorry, Lakers fans, you know this is true.
FOOD: Zachary’s Restaurant
One of the best places in the county to have breakfast is Zachary’s Restaurant, which is tucked into the south end of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz.
Zachary’s has been in business since 1985, and has established itself as a morning-time mainstay for locals. While there is often a wait, it is never long and the service is excellent.
Many people wait outside for their name to be called, which is a fun place to watch the passing swarms of eclectic crackpots and counter culturists that populate the city.
I adore the sourdough pancakes, which for some reason is a very uncommon find in the world of American breakfast places. I have only found them at one other place in the U.S., and that was in a tiny joint in Hawaii.
Thinner than typical flapjacks, sourdough pancakes boast a perfect combination of sour, sweet and chewy found in good sourdough bread. I usually get them with a side of grilled Aidell’s smoked chicken-apple sausage and eggs. The home fries are the best I’ve had.
Also try the coffee cake of the day, which is always perfectly baked and goes great with the excellent, free-flowing coffee.
Zachary’s also serves lunch, with options such as burgers, sandwiches and salads.
While there, you can check out Streetlight Records, just a few doors down on Pacific Avenue. It is one of the last record stores in existence.
Info: 819 Pacific Avenue. Tuesday-Sunday from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Visit zacharyssantacruz.com for a menu.