.Currying Favor

Namaste Bar and Grill opens to enthusiastic response.

The Namaste awakening is ongoing.

Less than a year after debuting Namaste India Bistro on Westside’s Mission Street, and not long after opening a Palo Alto outpost, the family of Indian restaurants has another newborn.

Freshly opened Namaste Bar and Grill scored a prime spot on Beach Street.

It has many of the dependable and robust standards its siblings do—think signature tikka masala, rack of lamb, tandoori chicken, veggie curries and Nepalese momos.

But here the fare gets more daring.

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Ten different “curry pizzas” include butter chicken pizza, lamb boti kebab pizza and an outstanding shahi paneer pizza with cashew cream sauce (pro tip: ask for the spicy house chutney).

That in turn matches with other innovative dishes (the avocado-millet chaat is a must-try), bold color scheme, a short but potent craft drink menu from the full bar, high-energy pop fusion covers and beachside patio.

The complementary elements had the place full on our visit, alive with a vibe of summer discovery.

GENERAL JOY

San Gregorio, population 140, may have more character per capita than any other town in the greater Santa Cruz area.

The reason for it: the eponymous family-owned general store, which has scores of things inside it, including a saloon, a grocery corner, post office, free popcorn Fridays and a huge and magnetic inventory of gifts, art, literature and clothing.

That all merits a summer adventure north, just past Pescadero. A final draw: live music Friday through Sunday, paired with rotating homemade specials like country chili, pulled pork sandwiches and chana masala.

This weekend’s five bands: Three on the Tree plays Friday, Sandy Mountain and The Bundy Browne Band Saturday, Jay Howlett and The Gary Gates Band Sunday. The dish of the weekend, meanwhile, will be barbecue ribs and picnic salad.

sangregoriostore.com

OTTER OPPO

Speaking of summer adventures, another awaits in a different direction.

Down south in Moss Landing, the relatively new Woodward Marine Market enjoys a nice combo of its own: an Elkhorn Slough dockside deck with a sculpture fire pit; ample wildlife viewing and power plant backdrop; local nitro cold brew coffee, beer and wine; smart and satisfying grub like a loaded bouillabaisse, grass-fed beef burger and best-selling crispy-artichoke-and-prosciutto sandwich.

Plus all the food and drink is welcome aboard Monterey Bay Eco Tours’ electric catamaran pontoon, which leaves from the adjacent dock to meet brown pelicans, California sea lions and southern sea otters.

woodwardmarinemarket.com

BONNET BLESSING

Scotts Valley microbrewery Steel Bonnet Brewing Company has taken a promising leap.

Scottish owners Sue and Donald Cramb just debuted a production brewery in Salinas with the capacity to up output of their malty beers and ales 10 times over.

While new head brewer Tyler Carney supervises the scene in Salinas, the Scotts Valley brewery will serve more as an experimental hub crafting fresh recipes and small batch special offers.

steelbon.net


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