.Sí to ‘Nadas

Fonda Felix and its flavor-forward empanada game lead a lineup of tasty updates

The details of an empanada can elevate what’s inside. That said, the interior ingredients from the premiere empa-empire of the area, Fonda Felix, are done with tastebud IQ—note the braised pork shoulder and purple chile, the Argentinian beef, the black bean mole-plantain, the rock cod-seaweed, and the Halloween-inspired pumpkin-brown sugar-coconut.

But details like the specific folds of the outer edge, the right baking temp to capture puffy, chewy and flaky in correct quantities, a glorious garlicky-vinegary-parsley-y chimichurri—best when authentic to the true epicenter of the empanada, Argentina—help.

Diego Felix, who hails from the greater Buenos Aires area, leads a band of benevolent pirates doing empanadas in the heart of Westside’s Swift Street Complex 8am-6pm (until 11:30am Monday-Tuesday), where a new kiosk interface adjacent to their shared commercial kitchen makes for easy-to-order indulgence.

To add other excitement, they also do pop-up-style dinners at the courtyard around the corner in front of 11th Hour Coffee, and points further afield, including a private installment at Lester Estate this Saturday, Oct. 28, flush with sandwiches from la parrilla and—sí—outstanding empanadas. Dios mio. fondafelix.com


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Saison Cellar & Wine Bar opens in Scotts Valley’s Kings Village Shopping Center (by Erik’s Deli Cafe) this Friday, Oct. 27. The brainchild of Mark Bright, of celebrated San Francisco dining destination Saison and sister spot Saison Cellar in Los Gatos, SCWB works two ways. One part comes with couches, dining tables, bar seating and an outdoor area, with tastings by the flight or glass. Part two is the cellarscape, with a lounge and wine club-style lockers all designed for peak sharing and sipping.


Word of a fly facelift-tastelift is circulating—briskly—with the debut of new spot Solaire Restaurant + Bar,  part of Hotel Paradox’s ambitious renovation (pool deck and lobby included). Chef Stefen Shattó’s international tapa-driven fusion stars items like “paradise” pad Thai, 72-hour short rib, cioppino and honeycomb bread with rosemary butter and wildflower honey harvested from boxes on the hotel’s roof. Open daily 7-11am and 11:30am-9pm. hotelparadox.com


The family behind Far West Fungi just announced a full-sized festival to honor 40 years of partnership with the area’s ‘shroom community. The debut Santa Cruz Mountain Mushroom Festival breaks through the understory May 4-5 at Roaring Camp Railroad in Felton with cooking demos, DIY workshops, panel discussions, guided nature walks, children’s activities, curated art, musical talent and more. farwestfungi.com


Two regionally relevant stories surfaced across Monterey Bay this month. First off, Woody’s at the Airport—an honest, fresh produce-focused, rustic revelation from Chef Tim Wood—was just named #1 airport restaurant in the country by a USA Today survey. Meanwhile, Monterey County is now furnishing permits for residents to serve dine-in food at their homes. An online application will be accessible soon on the Monterey County Environmental Health Bureau website.


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