DOG FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS
Santa Cruz is a great place to dine out with our pup, since there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bistros with outdoor seating that welcome your pet. Most restaurants are so friendly, they even have bowls of water placed outside for the thirsty fur babies. We were incredibly spoilt for choice during our trip there and since we absolutely do not like leaving Babu tied up or in the car (even with his food and water and windows rolled down), Santa Cruz’s dog-friendly dining scene was a manna from heaven for us. Plus, the variety of cuisine offered at these restaurants was as diverse as possible. While traveling, we try to eat as healthy as possible and so we stuck to less of fatty, friend stuff and went for more veggies and fruits wherever possible, with some fish for me.
We started off with some lip-smacking Jamaican fare at The Jerk House restaurant on Soquel Drive that comes with a great outdoor patio. The menu, like any other island cuisine, heavily leaned towards fish and meat, but there were quite a few options for vegetarians/vegans including the yummy sides. I settled for a curried chicken patty (filled puff pastry) that came with cabbage slaw, jicama-cucumber-mango salad, rice with black eyed peas and plantains while S chose veggies stir-friend with coconut milk and served with the same sides (all entrees have those staple sides). Finally I got some tropical fruit punch to wash down that delicious grub. Service was good at the restaurant (the place was not too crowded) and our food tasted great! I specially loved the spicy patty which reminded me of the patties that I had in Kolkata while growing up.
No trip to downtown Santa Cruz is complete without stopping by Penny’s Ice Creamery, the city’s only ice-cream spot that boasts of making everything from scratch! It is also dog-friendly and has a small outdoor seating place. This is a very popular place so be prepared to stand in line for their ice creams, with a roasted marshmallow on top as an added twist! The ice-cream shop is on Cedar Avenue but they also have a kiosk on Pacific Ave, the main street in downtown.
Pizza called us for lunch on Day 2 and we duly answered. Woodstock Pizza on Front Street is a great dog-friendly restaurant (with a heated patio) and they also provide water for your pup. We settled for a medium pesto pie (they also have options for customized pies on white or wheat crust) with pesto, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and roasted garlic. Babu made a few friends while we munched on our delicious pie!
All those fattening slices required some balancing act post lunch, and by that time my sugar craving had suddenly reared its ugly head. As we were contemplating getting an iced chocolate drink at the famous “Chocolate” Cafe in downtown on Pacific Ave (which also welcomes dogs), my eyes caught sight of this green kiosk called Press Juices and Sandwiches on the pavement that appeared to sell Brazilian cold-pressed fruit juices. Intrigued, we went near it and then one look at all those exotic names on the board, and I was sold (my mousy self springs to action at the thought of trying out new things in matters of taste). I opted for the Graviola (a lychee like fruit) while S went for the Caju (the fleshy fruit part of the cashew nut). Simple fruit juice and water, but it tasted oh so divine! No extra sugar added, and a great way to quench your thirst!
Our first night’s dinner was at an absolutely delightful restaurant. We went to the Bittersweet Bistro (Aptos), a restaurant again with a beautiful heated patio and known to be so welcoming to dogs that they have a separate doggie menu for well behaved pooches! The food is mainly concentrated on local catch with a Mediterranean flair, but there were several vegetarian options on the menu. We started off with some Asparagus and Lemon fries coated in a crunchy sesame crust, and it was out of world delicious. I had a small entree of the Petrale Sole while S settled for a vegan burger. All entrees come in small and entree sized portions. Additionally, the restaurant has themed specials every night, ours being fish-centered. They have an extensive wine menu and I settled for a Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz mountains. The restaurant is super popular with the locals and was pretty crowded when we arrived; nevertheless we did not see a long line of people waiting and got our seats almost instantaneously despite not making any reservations. I must warn you that service can be a little slow at the restaurant, but the great food and ambiance (we got a table near a crackling fire place) more than made up for it.
Dinner on the second night was more to fill our bellies before going to bed and not something that we were terribly excited about simply because of day long hiking and exploration that had left has exhausted. Plus, the heat had been pretty sweltering all day. We opted for the quiet, beautiful Gabriella Cafe, a slice of Tuscany in the heart of Santa Cruz and enjoyed our pasta and wine. The restaurant patio, again dog-friendly, was tiny but we got a seat despite not having reservations. Service was incredibly friendly and we were grateful to have been accommodated in that small restaurant.
This brings me to the end of yet another post on our food adventures as we explored the restaurants during our travel, and with Babu in tow everywhere, no less! In case you are wondering whether or not we skipped breakfast, the answer is an emphatic NO, because we stayed at one of the most beautiful B&B’s providing home cooked breakfast (see my previous post here for details). I hope you enjoyed reading this post and suggestions on dog-friendly restaurants to dine. We have been to several dog-friendly destinations in California and Santa Cruz features on top of the pile because of how incredibly dog friendly the tiny coastal town is with so many restaurants to choose from! Thanks so much for reading and get packing for your next adventure with your pooch, now!