TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT: EAT :)
*Food was good enough to warrant a return trip*
APPETIZER: Just the 2 of us this time. We shared an order of spring rolls served with peanut sauce for dipping purposes. They were stuffed with rice noodles, lettuce, and chicken. The online menu says the rolls have shrimp, but it was definitely chicken in the middle of ours. They aren't deep fried, so are very healthy. I have to say they weren't the best spring rolls I've ever had, and I'm not sure I would order them again. The chicken was dry and not very flavorful. However, the peanut sauce was decent. At the direction of my waiter, I saved the peanut sauce for my entree, and I'm glad I did.
ENTREE: I had the Pork noodle bowl. It came with strips of breaded pork meat over white soft noodles. It was served with a side bowl of luke warm broth (referred to on the menu as an "Asian vinaigrette") that you pour over yourself. It was good, but definitely not orgasmic. However, when I added the peanut sauce (saved from the appetizer), the flavor of my pork noodle bowl was much better. My entree was served room temperature, and I'm not sure if that was the intent of the chef, but I think I would have like it better had it been served hot.
My husband, John, had the Pho, which is a Vietnamese noodle soup. You have a choice of chicken or beef, and he chose chicken. It was definitely more interesting than my entree. Before the soup was brought to the table, John was served with a side dish of bean sprouts, mint leaves, and sliced fresh Jalapeños. When the steaming soup was served, it included chicken, rice noodles, onions,and cilantro already in the broth. He added all the bean sprouts and jalapeños, but only one slice of mint.
The Pho was really good! The flavor of the cilantro really came through. Although I am not a huge fan of mint in my food, it really added a great dynamic to the overall flavor. It was nice & spicy too. This would be great dish on a cold day when you need something to clear your sinuses.
RESTAURANT: We were there about 11:00 a.m., on a Saturday, and it was packed. The menu is huge. I would like to go back and try the omlettes for breakfast. They looked quite good. I'm not sure about the hollandaise sauce on the eggs benedict, however. This is purely a visual observation, but it looked too orangey in color; almost a little fake looking or processed. I would also like to try something off the dinner menu. It definitely peaked my curiosity.
This is a great place to take a group of people with different tastes. There is something for everybody here. The sandwiches sound good too. One of the owners is Asian; hence the Asian influence on some of the dishes. Otherwise, it appears to be a regular diner.
The restaurant has a great web site: http://www.santacruzdiner.com
ATMOSPHERE: Noisy, crowded, and very diner-like. Kid Friendly. (In fact, we had a screaming toddler next to us. However, one of the parents very kindly took him outside.) The web site indicates they have a play area, but I didn't see it.
SERVICE: We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. Service was fast, and the waiter was very good.
SPIRITS: Beer, wine, and champagne.
COST: Our total bill for a party of 2 was $24 (without alcohol), not including tip. All credit/debit cards accepted. ATM on site. Senior discounts are given to peeps 55 and older.
LOCATION: 909 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060; Phone # 831-426-7151
HOURS OF OPERATION: Diner is open late for late-night dinners.
PARKING: Free parking, but it is a small lot. We had to park down a side street.
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