The picturesque Westside, on the northern end of Santa Cruz, is full of beautiful parks, panoramic views of Monterey Bay, and a fantastic food scene. From bakeries to breweries, and everything in between, the Westside is filled to the brim with enticing food choices. Here, we’ve narrowed down the list with three delectable options: Copal, Café Ivéta, and Vim Dining & Desserts. Whichever you choose, your taste buds will delight in these first-rate flavors!
Stepping into Copal feels like being transported to an oasis on the southern coast of Mexico. Papel picado, hanging tropical plants, and vibrantly colored decor pop against dark hues and set the stage for the fabulous Oaxacan cuisine to come. Copal’s Chef, Ana Mendoza, pays homage to the recipes passed down through generations from the village of San Martin Tilcajete by integrating traditional methods into her dishes. Dive in with the Copal Margarita, whose smoky mezcal flavor superbly complements its tangy tequila. Rimmed with spicy sal de gusano and topped with a lime, you won’t want to miss out on this marg! Pair it with a Oaxacan signature dish: Mole. Not sure where to start? Ask for the Mole Sampler and you’ll have the opportunity to try an assortment of mole sauces, picking the one that’s right for your palate. We recommend the Mole Estofado, which is made with raisins rather than chocolate, rarely seen outside of Oaxaca. The sauce has a unique sweetness, while the slow-cooked spices linger on the tongue. The care and preparation that Copal puts into each dish is evident in every delicious bite, something you absolutely have to try for yourself!
The sweet smell of baked goods greets you as you enter Café Ivéta, an Italian-style cafe tucked away just blocks from scenic West Cliff Drive. Its bright interiors and cozy corners make you feel welcome as you peruse their collection of pastries and beverages. Snag something off the menu, like the scrumptious Green Egg on Toast, and be sure to try an award-winning scone! Satisfyingly crunchy on the outside, yet soft on the inside, Ivéta’s scones will have your mouth watering for more. While their flavors rotate often, some are too good to miss, like the delectable Lavender White Chocolate Scone. It’s delicate floral flavor pairs perfectly with the added sweetness of the white chocolate chips. You can even grab a scone mix to bring home – they’re that good. With their scrumptious scones and pastries, assortment of beverages, and more, Café Ivéta has something to tickle the fancy of every palate.
The bright art-deco-inspired interiors and the upscale cuisine of Vim Dining & Desserts transcend time. Soft jazz tones bring you into the 1920s while the food keeps things fresh with its California cuisine changing seasonally. The all-organic menu at Vim has been meticulously curated by Chef and co-owner Jesikah Stolaroff, down to the cocktail pairings. Don’t miss the Gouda Creme Brûlée, which is delightfully innovative. Paired with gluten-free crostini, apples, and date chimichurri, this appetizer blends sweet and savory in a way that’s truly unique. Don’t skip out on dessert, either: considering it’s in the name, Vim specializes in its sweets. Try the Vim Chocolate Cake for a rich finale. Using sustainable and seasonal ingredients makes each trip to Vim a new experience, and after trying it, you’ll want to make this part of your regular rotation!
From Copal’s traditional Oaxacan flavors and Café Ivéta’s crunchy-yet-soft scones to Vim’s elevated seasonal fare, the Westside food scene has plenty to buzz about. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a more luxurious meal, the Westside is well-worth exploring with fork in hand!