“Try This” is a weekly column that celebrates local businesses — especially eateries, watering holes, coffee shops and the like.
Food: Holy Smokes
My wife Sarah and I recently tried Holy Smokes Country BBQ and Catering Co. in Live Oak. It was darned good. We got the combo plate ($30.95), which included ribs, pulled pork, two kinds of sausages, tri-tip, garlic bread and two sides. We chose macaroni and potato salads as sides. All of it was delicious and carefully prepared. They have indoor and outdoor seating. The folks that worked there were welcoming and helpful. Here’s a tip: Get the three barbecue sauces they offer; we loved them. The portion was so huge that we got another dinner and one lunch out of leftovers.They are at 21505 East Cliff Dr. in the East Cliff Shopping Center. Their number is 471-8787.
It amazes me how many restaurants feature scads of choices of alcohol-related drinks— from wines and beers to cocktails and aperitifs — but few have much of a selection of no-booze beverages. Usually it’s a range of sodas, lemonade, iced tea. I was delighted to see an iced limemade, ginger and hibiscus concoction at Splash!, 49-A, Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. It was refreshing, not too sweet, with a complex taste. The restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows that stare out on the Monterey Bay. Service was perfect as my wife and I had plenty of comfortable space to spread out and enjoy ourselves in their quiet atmosphere.
Fun: Santa Cruz Harbor
Since I lived a few blocks from Santa Cruz Harbor for more than two decades, it became a regular place to walk or ride my bike. Besides the intrigue of the commercial and pleasure boats coming and going, the fresh sea air, wildlife and minimal motor traffic make for a rewarding and relaxing place to visit. I’ve come to think that few people in our county consider it a destination spot, but, considering its size and beauty, I’d recommend a visit. Get there by either entering off of Brommer Street, Lake Avenue or from Atlantic Avenue (off of Seabright Avenue). Watch out for parking: We always look for metered spots.
Food: La Michoacán ice cream
As an ice cream enthusiast, I was beyond excited when this Mexican ice cream parlor opened in Watsonville Square last year. Their fresh, made-to-order ice cream is some of the best you can get in South County. My favorite so far is their pistachio. It comes with pieces of pistachio on top of the creamy creation. I only recently learned that another La Michoacán is located on Freedom Blvd., which has been open even longer. Where have I been? I definitely need to check it out.
Drink: Lavender latte
Coffeeville at the East Lake Shopping Center in Watsonville offers plenty of choices when it comes to specialty coffee drinks. I usually opt for Americanos or regular coffee, but occasionally I treat myself. Recently I tried a white mocha with lavender syrup, something I had made for myself in my barista days at Zizzo’s Coffeehouse in Capitola. The white chocolate is very sweet, but the lavender adds more of a floral taste. It’s a complex drink but well-worth a try.
Fun: Hitting a strike
Growing up in Watsonville, one of my favorite places to visit was Cabrillo Lanes. I feel like my hometown has not been the same since we lost our bowling alley. We had actual leagues who practiced there, and it was a great place to celebrate birthdays. Now the sole bowling alley left in the county is Boardwalk Bowl in Santa Cruz. I haven’t been there in a while—but it’s always a fun time. I hope people will continue to support the business so we can keep this fun activity alive and well.