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[whitespace] Nancy Turk, Sue Edson
Photograph by George Sakkestad

Smiling Faces: Nancy Turk and Sue Edson at the Cliff Cafe.


The Cliff Cafe offers coastal scrambles by the sea

By Janet Blaser

SHARING SECRETS: here I go. If I had to pick an overall consistently favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz, it would be the Cliff Cafe. For an authentic California experience, and a filling, hearty and healthy breakfast or brunch, this is the place. Owner/cook/all-around-everything gal Susan Homer perfected her formula years ago, and the menu, though seemingly large, actually revolves around only a few winning ideas.

I have to say, though, that the omelettes, eggs and made-from-scratch wheat-honey pancakes are the backdrop for the shining star here, which is the tofu scrambles. Susan's marinade--the most she'll reveal about it is soy sauce and turmeric--makes these something special. She then adds all sorts of what I'd call coastal California ingredients--like avocado, mushrooms, salsa, whole green chiles, pesto, spinach--in scrumptious combinations, and you get a made-on-the-spot scramble that is out of this world. Always.

For 10 years I've gone to the Cliff Cafe and have never been disappointed. I know what I'll get, and it's always good. All the breakfasts are served with crispy hash browns and your choice of toast and a sprig of parsley (which I always eat; it's part of my ritual), and they range in price from $5.75 for a three-egg omelette or Tofu Gal's Way, with tomatoes, onions and cheese, to $7 for a spinach, mushroom and cream cheese omelette. Many of the customers are the surfers in the Pleasure Point area, and Susan has kept them all happy with big portions and a leisurely atmosphere that reeks of the beach. The tiny but sunny cafe, with its pastel-print tablecloths, palm trees and hip (often reggae) music, offers a welcome respite from the winter blahs lurking in those big gray clouds that seem intent on coming to town. Know that there will be a wait on weekend mornings; with only six tables, that's just a fact. So put your name on the list, grab a cup of coffee and read the paper outside. For more active fun, I usually peruse the many thrift shops, surf shops and vintage clothing stores that line this end of 41st Avenue. Find the Cliff Cafe at 815 41st Ave., Capitola, at the corner of East Cliff Drive. Hours are 8am-1pm, seven days a week. Cash only--no checks or credit cards. For info, call 476.1214.

Mea Culpa

My sincere apologies go out to Christine Patracuola and Rocky's Cafe. In last week's column, I mistakenly quoted a price of $6.10 for a basic two-egg breakfast (with home fries and toast); the correct price for that meal is $4.25. One egg with bacon is $6.10; two eggs with bacon $6.50, and so on.

Teddy Bear Tidings

Those of you with little children must forgive me as I wax nostalgic over things like Bittersweet Bistro's upcoming Teddy Bear Tea. For the past three years, this holiday event has offered the young crowd a chance to eat, drink and be merry in ways that are very age-appropriate. Assorted little sandwiches, a dazzling array of cookies and hot chocolate or milk (along with coffee or tea for moms, dads and grandparents) will be on the menu. Live entertainment includes magical storytelling and a visit from Mr. S. Claus, who's been specially contracted by owners Thomas and Elizabeth Vinolus, probably at the behest of their little boy, to appear a bit early.

Everyone is asked to share in the spirit of holiday giving by bringing a new, unwrapped teddy bear. All proceeds and bears will be given to CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children. Donations of teddy bears are also welcome. Do make your reservations now, as this event sells out in advance every year. Cost is $20 per person with a teddy bear donation, or $35 per person without one. Call 662.9799.

Got a food tip? Email [email protected] and tell Janet.

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From the November 15-22, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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