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Travel BLOG
May 19, 2015

5 Best Bites at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Opener Ready to Chow Down on Some Boardwalk Grub! - photo by Garrick Ramirez Inciting jealousy among friends, I was tasked with selecting five favorite treats from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. To help me taste my way through a sea of cotton candy and deep-fried Oreos, I recruited a worthy assistant: my 5 year-old son, Felix. He gleefully accepted and asked every day that followed if today was the day. Once the happy morning arrived, we steadied our tummies, kissed our loved ones (mom) goodbye, and headed off to The Boardwalk. Deep-Fried-Artichokes Deep Fried Artichokes - photo by Garrick Ramirez Deep Fried Artichokes @ Surf City Grill We started with a local Santa Cruz treat: deep-fried artichoke hearts from Surf City Grill. The delicious, crispy ‘chokes are made to order and served piping hot. The anticipation to dig in usually means grabbing one too soon and Ow, owing away the fleeting sting. That’s where the cooling side of ranch dressing comes in. After being told to wait longer than he would have liked, Felix quickly grabbed a golden nugget, dunked it in the dressing and gobbled it up. It was the first treat of the day so we agreed we would nibble just a few to save room for the treats that lie ahead. Not a chance. Within minutes, we were fishing for the last little morsels and licking our fingers. Hot-Dog-on-a-Stick What Food Can't be Made More Fun on a Stick? - photo by Garrick Ramirez Corn Dogs @ Hot Dog on a Stick Felix and I decided it was time for that old-school fair favorite: a corn dog. Invented in the early 20th century, the handheld treat earned its name not just from its corn batter coating but because people thought it resembled an ear of corn. We made a beeline for the colorful Hot Dog on a Stick stand that keeps the tradition alive at the Boardwalk. Tangy, juicy hot dog are wrapped in a fluffy cornmeal batter and require only two things: a free hand and a tub of mustard. Oh, and lots of napkins. Felix made quick haste of the corn dog and I had to be fairly vigilant to sneak in a bite or two. Tater-Twists A Twist on a Tater - photo by Garrick Ramirez Spuds on a Stick @ Tater Twists Next we hopped in a line for Tater Twists, one of the latests treats at the Boardwalk. How do you eat a potato on a stick? You’ll marvel at the process as you wait in line: fresh, plump spuds are run through a slicer, stretched out like a Slinky and skewered on a stick, dunked in a fryer and served up crispy hot. The result is the freshest potato chips you've ever eaten...on a skewer! Felix weilded the 2-ft saber as we headed to an adjacent cart with a wild assortment of toppings to sprinkle on your spud: Parmesan cheese, lemon pepper, malt vinegar, hot sauce, and BBQ sauce just to name a few. Can’t decide? Trust me, it’s long enough to try them all. Chocolate-Soft-Serve We All Scream for Carousel Cones - photo by Garrick Ramirez Chocolate Dipped Soft Serve Ice Cream @ Carousel Cones Our fourth choice was a toss-up between Deep Fried Twinkies and a good ol’ fashioned chocolate-dipped soft serve ice cream. In the end, tradition won out. It’s hard to argue with a creamy soft serve ice cream sealed in a crispy layer of chocolate on a beautiful, sunny day. Mid-way through his cone, Felix's face was completely obscured by soft serve proving that the more napkins required, the better the treat. He gave it one thumb up solely because the other hand was occupied. Marinis Bacon in all its Choco-Goodness! - photo by Garrick Ramirez Chocolate Covered Bacon @ Marini’s Candies We finished our fun food tour at Marini’s to celebrate their 100 sweet years at the Boardwalk. Since 1915, Marini’s has served up countless smiles via their candied apples, salt-water taffy homemade chocolates. The latest, treat to be hand-dipped in chocolate is an unexpected breakfast staple: bacon. When I first mentioned chocolate-covered bacon to Felix, he made the same face you probably made just now: a mix of confusion and delight. Though, a couple bites into the chocolate-covered strip and all confusion quickly faded away. The saltiness of bacon melds perfectly with sweet, richness of the chocolate. Felix’s mouth was too full to comment but his face said it all: yum.


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  • Judy Liberti 3 years 80 days ago
    My husband and I love the Boardwalk and have wonderful memories of taking our now middle aged kids there when they were young and we lived relatively close. We are deeply disappointed that leashed, vaccinated and well behaved dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk or the beach. Santa Cruz is almost 3 hours away for us now and a day spent there is too long to leave the little guy home alone. Hoping to see this change in the future so that we once again come and enjoy Santa Cruz.

  • Tim DeWane 3 years 94 days ago
    Always great food tons of fun.I have been going since the 1970s. My grandkids are enjoying the fun and food.some of them work there. Best regards Tim