Capitola, CA

Our little trip from Fresno to Capitola and back

Mark-John Clifford

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CapitolaSF Chronicle

So, for the last two days, Patti and I were in Capitola for a family event. It was also a chance for her and me to get away and do some reviewing of other restaurants and places that we and others living in the valley visit.

Lately, my reviews have been all about the valley, so this should be a welcome change to everyone that follows me.

Two years ago, we took a trip to Capitola to visit family and celebrate my birthday for my birthday. We stayed at the Best Western Plus in Capitola and were highly pleased with the service, cleanliness, and food they served for breakfast. That's why we decided to stay there this time.

I guess two years changes things and not for the better. Our little getaway started with being told we couldn't check-in at the designated time of 3 pm. They were behind in cleaning and would text us when our room was ready. The manager said it would be an hour or so, but they would try and work faster. They didn't. It was about 1 1/2 hours before we received a text.

While we waited patiently, or in my case impatiently, we decided to cruise down the main street and grab a coffee or possibly a drink. Finding parking in Capitola on 41st street isn't easy, and it proved to be a challenge on Sunday.

Downtown Capitola

We finally found a spot right on the street in front of a craft brewery place called New Bohemia Brewing Co. We went in and checked the area out, and it seemed clean, and the servers were friendly. 

We checked out their beer menu, and all of them were made at this location, so I figured it would be fresh if nothing else. It was.

I decided to choose an ale until Pattie saw a beer that caught her attention named Party Crasher. Who could resist a beer with that name?

So we dove in and ordered two. The beers were served in a cold glass, and the brew seemed similar to Blue Moon.

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New Bohemia BrewerySanta Cruz Wave

They smelled citrusy and had that familiar cloudy sight just like Blue Moon. That's about the extent of where the similarities started and ended.

Patti watched my face as I took my first sip and knew this was not a good beer right then and there. She knows how much I love beer and what I like in a beer, and this wasn't it. It wasn't even close to Blue Moon. Truthfully it was so far from the taste of Blue Moon, the only way to describe it was I felt like I was chewing on a grapefruit peel all by itself.

Patti and I didn't finish our brews and decided to leave and put the glasses in the dish bin. Maybe another day and another brew will be okay, but not on this Sunday.

The Hotel

We walked up the street to check out a few shops when her phone alerted us to a text. It was from the hotel, so we darted off.

We finally checked in and went to the room to ensure it was ready since they seemed unsure when they gave us the key. I got that impression when the receptionist said to let her know if there were any issues. Bingo. That's the cue for there may be issues.

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Best Western Plus in CapitolaTrip Advisor

When we entered the room, it just didn't have the freshly cleaned smell that you would expect, having just finished being cleaned. Patti is more on top of this than I am since she owns a cleaning company, and that's one of her pet peeves with leaving a unit clean. It needs to smell fresh.

When Patti went in to check the tub, as she always does, she noticed hairs at the bottom. Oh shoot, here we go is all I could think of at that moment. I think I used stronger words, but they're not for this post.

So off we went to the front desk to complain about the hairs. Of course, we could have just swooped them up on our own, but that's not what you pay for. You pay for a clean room, especially the bathroom, and especially during these times of COVID.

We told the receptionist, and at first, she wanted to move us, but when she checked with the manager, we were informed they were sold out, so they would have the cleaner come back and redo the bathroom and tub. We could live with that. Except that it would be a while ad they would text us when the room was ready again.

This time, we decided to wait in the lobby, and within 10 minutes, they said the room was ready. They didn't check it or make an effort to check it while it was being cleaned. They just said, go ahead, your room is ready.

When we went back in, Patti checked the tub, and the hairs were gone, but you could tell they didn't disinfect the tub. There still was no smell of disinfectant, and the tub was dry to the bone, just as we left it 10 minutes ago. But, the hairs were gone.

Patti had brought along a spray can of cleaner, and a sponge as a cleaning company owner would do and proceeded to clean the tub and the entire bathroom herself. At that point, we decided we would stay and fight them later.

No discount was offered, or nothing was offered in a way to say sorry. Just we recleaned the room, and it's ready.

Dinner

We decided to eat at a place that we ate last time we were in Capitola called Cafe Cruz. It's a medium-sized mom-and-pop restaurant that serves wood-fired roasted chicken and other foods like steaks, some seafood, salads, and a great appetizer list.

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Cafe CruzMap Quest

We figured we deserved a good meal after the day we had, and Cafe Cruz was the place to go.

They give you some Italian bread to start with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table to mix in the dish provided. Served with the bread is fresh crushed garlic to either add to the mix of oil and vinegar or just spread on your bread. Either way, it's a nice touch.

Their menu had changed since we were there two years ago, or maybe I just forgot some things, but the list of steaks was different. They still had the roasted chicken listed and the pork chops, which I had last time, and they were fantastic.

After going over the menu a few times, Patti decided on a pasta dish with sauteed shrimp on top. The pasta was mixed with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and bell peppers with a tangy sauce. 

I went with the skirt steak over fettuccine alfredo. I usually don't order pasta at restaurants, especially with an alfredo sauce, but I was in the mood and figured the food was excellent last time, so I was pretty positive it would be good this time. 

I shouldn't be so optimistic about stuff. Two years in the restaurant business can change things, and it did at Cafe Cruz.

I'm sorry to say the alfredo sauce was watery. It had a great cheese flavor, but it was so watery it didn't even stick to the pasta. I basically was eating plain pasta with a fork. I curt it up and started using the spoon to get some alfredo sauce with my pasta. That worked for a while. I finally got frustrated with cutting the Fettucine. It's not meant to be cut up into small pieces. What's the fun in that?

Another thing that troubled me was the bread or the lack of bread. As I stated, we were served a few pieces at the beginning of the meal, but that was it. Never was bread offered again with our pasta dished. It's something at an Italian restaurant you never have to ask for. If anything, they are asking you if you want more bread, no the other way around.

Maybe I was wrong in assuming too much at Cafe Cruz with the bread. I should've asked, but I get stubborn that way and expect the server to take care of things like that. 

After working in my uncle's restaurants over the years, it was expected that the waiters would always serve fresh bread to the customers upon receiving their meals, even the non-Italian meals.

 This doesn't mean you shouldn't try Cafe Cruz. Who knows, maybe you'll have a better experience. It was great once, so perhaps it will be again when you go.

So far, our first day was a disaster. We could only go up from here, right?

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

There's nothing bad to say about the boardwalk. It is what you would expect from a place that caters to kids and families. It's expensive, but that's to be expected. 

The food we ate on the boardwalk, whether fried or grilled, was better than the dinner we had the previous evening. 

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Santa Cruz BoardwalkBeachboardwalk.com

I didn't find one thing wrong with the hot dog and chili I had, and neither did Patti with the hot dog and salsa topping she had. Both hot dogs were Hebrew National brand all-beef hot dogs, and they were fresh. 

We had some other finger foods, and we were happy with everything that we enjoyed.

All in all, we learned a great deal about businesses that have survived the COVID issues and their lack of sustaining continuity in service and food.

Will we go back? Of course, we will. Will we give the hotel and restaurant another chance one day? That waits to be seen.

Buon Apetito!

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at along with the food that is served. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making special dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA
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