Let’s jump in with sins occasionally committed by eateries and restaurants.
One: Stocking a massive menu covering all sorts of disparate items like sushi and flatbreads and barbecue.
Two: When you ask a server what they recommend, they say, “Everything’s good,” which helps…not at all.
Both those things had me worried about a pair of family-owned markets.
Palm Deli sits just off the freeway in Aptos and its sister spot The Point Market tucks on the coast on East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. Both came recommended by reliable foodie friends in the respective neighborhoods. With peak picnic season here and their locations close to the beach, I hoped they might provide the tools to make readers summer superstars.
Then I saw Palm Deli’s got enough on offer to make The Cheesecake Factory blush. They do smoothies and coffee drinks, milkshakes and protein shakes, corn dogs and enchiladas, avocado toast and açaí bowls. three soups of the day, seven more daily specials like meatloaf and barbecued tri-tip, eight different salads, 11 panini, 12 types of tacos, 14 burgers,19 sandwiches, 33 burrito choices around 35 branded hot sauces—though they also make five different salsas made in house available by the pound.
It’s a staggering selection—without dipping into the nice wines, curated chips, house pastries or espresso bar.
When I asked for some leadership, one regular customer and a staffer essentially told me Everything’s good.
Anwar Ayyad, whose family owns the Palm Deli amid the redwoods did later recommend the Fuego Joe with thin-sliced Buffalo chicken breast, avocado, tomato, Dijon, jalapeños, pepper jack, pickles, onions and Cholula hot sauce—and it was damn good.
At Point Market I’m going with the recommendation of Anwar’s cousin Muhammad Ayyad: The Cali lunch burrito with French fries (inside), carne asada, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, onion and avocado.
The lineup isn’t quite as relentless here, but close enough. They do all the burgers, burritos, tacos, a few salads, a bunch of breakfast plates (chilaquiles!) omelets and a selection of things “from the fryer” like calamari, which is a substantial amount to sift through on its own. Plus a bunch of their own takes on sandwiches and paninis.
Paired with a cliff-clinging location, it presents plenty of reasons Point Market has become a community pillar for more than picnic prowess.
Muhammad also added another I didn’t expect: An inventory of staples like shampoo, toothbrushes and lotions. “Whatever they need, they ask, and we get it,” he says. “They tell us, ‘You saved us. I don’t have to go into town.’ We enjoy seeing our customers happy.”
Speaking of summer superstars, a community fixture is back and better than ever on Zayante Road. The pool deck opened after major renovations last summer flanked by local craft beers and wine. (The Beer Thirty team is directing things, after all.) But the airy restaurant only recently debuted with Chef Jon Dickinson leading the kitchen after stints at many of the area’s best restaurants, and growing up tending tomatoes in his family’s lush Santa Cruz garden. “I got exposed to working with organic foods at an early age,” he says. He’s focusing on upscale comfort food—think braised chicken leg, steamed Manilla clams, short rib tacos, robust sandwiches and, yes, smoked trout chowder and whole-roasted rainbow trout too.
Seafood Watch released an updated assessment of California market squid for the first time in four years and—amen—California market squid remains a Best Choice. Other interesting items from the report: Market squid is the largest fishery in the state (in terms of catch volume and revenue), representing 66 percent of all landings across California ports, with 141 million pounds worth $84 million coming ashore. In other words, I’m now hungry for the calamari at Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS
It’s an interesting moment in food literature history. Or at least that was running through my mind while volunteering at the Bay Area Book Festival a little while back. That’s where I saw new cookbook author Max Miller talk about the YouTube cooking show that spawned the book. It’s worth checking out: “Tasting History With Max Miller” charms by way of incredible stories that emerge as he parachutes deep into famous foods like the very first PB&J and World War recipes like SOS.