Try this is a weekly column that celebrates local businesses — especially eateries, watering holes, coffee shops and the like.
I had a late lunch recently at a new (for me) pizza spot on the West Side of Santa Cruz—Blaze Pizza, 1901 Mission St. It’s a different set up: Their staff helps you build your own pizza as you walk along their showcase of ingredients, from dough to toppings, to sauces and other add-ons. Pizzas are made fresh to order with homemade thin crust or deep dish. Once the pizza is done they slide it into a flaming oven and it cooks up in a few minutes. Don’t forget the free drizzle of various oils and vinegar, if you please.
Second Street Cafe
I stopped by Second Street Cafe yesterday for an afternoon cafe latte. I found it a relaxing atmosphere, with its huge windows staring out onto Second Street. I certainly enjoyed the idea of them not having loud music taking over the place. Their latte was served piping hot, which I love. It was rich and creamy and baited foamy appetite to return for another round someday.
Since I’ve been walking a lot later around downtown Watsonville I’ve taken in a much deeper understanding of the place. It’s embarrassing to see how many windows to the past I’ve driven by, hundreds of times, and never noticed these rich details of architectures, signage, old glasswork, filagree and the like. Take the stained glass on the front of the Goodwill Store on Main Street—it’s lovely and intriguing. Or the old sign on the next block for the Jack Novcich Bldg. above the Jack’s Cigar Store window sign. Nearby is the old block metal lettering for Van’s Shoes. For me, these icons speak legends in the Watsonville history book. And they are only a trace of the hundreds of such tokens of history sprinkled throughout the downtown Corridor.
Cat & Cloud: pastries
Recently I stopped by Cat & Cloud’s new location in Aptos Village. I have been there before for coffee and tea, but this time I was feeling peckish, so I decided to grab something to eat. I tried a savory croissant creation which the barista called a “pinwheel.” It tasted like an “Everything” bagel, with loads poppyseed, sesame seeds, onion and garlic with a delicious epicenter of cream cheese. Cat & Cloud has limited food options—they are mostly known for their coffee—but the few items they do serve are usually inventive and tasty.
Hidden Fortress at Cabrillo
I was delighted to learn that Hidden Fortress Coffee Roasting has opened a new downtown location at Cabrillo College’s Watsonville center. While it’s always fun to make the trek to their shop on Hangar Way, I’m happy that I can access their roasts a bit closer to home and work. The new location is small; a coffee cart with a somewhat limited menu compared to other shops. But for the basics, it works. Their espresso is one of my favorites in the county. I usually order an Americano with a splash of milk. Be sure to grab a punch card—which works at any Hidden Fortress location (Watsonville, Seaside), including pop-ups at Farmers’ Markets and events.
Moss Landing State Beach
Moss Landing State Beach is one of my favorite local beaches to visit during any season. It might not be the best beach for water recreation—there are strong rip currents—but it’s a great place to kick back and view wildlife. Western Snowy Plovers are commonly spotted at the beach, and at certain times of the year the nearby harbor mouth is chock full of sea lions lounging on the rocks and sand. Offshore fishing and horseback riding are also popular activities at the spot. The beach is located off of Jetty Road in Moss Landing. For information and directions visit parks.ca.gov.