Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Capitola Diner & Sports Bar


Happy Hour
Every day 3-6 p.m.

All draft beers:  $2.50
House Wine and Wells:  $4.00
House Margaritas:  $5.00

Shrimp Taco- $3.50
Garlic Cheese Bread and Tostada de Ceviche:  $3.50
Nacho specials: $4.50
Buffalo wings, Calamari, Guacamole with chips: $4.95
Julie's review

The Capitola Diner Sport Bar is not easy to find.  It was recommended by a friend who eats breakfast there regularly.  She had texted me a photo of the Capitola Cantina Happy Hour menu, which looked good.  I had tried yelping and looking for their website without luck.  Jo and my friend both texted me directions – across from the Capitola Mall and next to the Dollar Store on 41st and I still couldn’t find it.  I didn’t even know there was a dollar store on 41st avenue and I am all about the Dollar Stores!!

I finally found it – on the same side as Whole Foods but heading towards the freeway.  Part of the confusion is over the name of the place.  It is Capitola Diner or Cantina or Sports Bar?  I was looking up Capitola Café, which is why I couldn’t find it.  When I finally arrived, I realized it was the old Lyons restaurant.   The ambience is definitely that of a diner with windows all the way around and a small bar area with sports playing on TV.  What else would you expect at a Sports Bar?  

Capitola Diner has happy hours seven days a week from 3-6.  I love a weekend happy hour, so we arrived on a Sunday afternoon at 3:00.  There wasn’t much activity in the place and the bartender Geoff was also serving as waiter and host.

We sat at the bar and perused the happy hour menu.  All draft beers are $2.50, so Josephine ordered a Pale Ale.  I decided to splurge and try the $5.00 margarita.  Geoff, how has worked at Capitola Diner for many years made the margarita with a whole fresh squeezed lime.  It was one of the best margaritas, I’ve had in years.   After wetting our whistles, we turned to the food menu.

Jo wanted to try the garlic cheese toast $2.50 and the chicken wings $4.95; I decided to give the shrimp taco $3.00 and tostada de ceviche $3.50 a try.  I loved that there were so many healthy choices on the happy hour menu.  That is a rare thing indeed. 

The garlic cheese toast arrived first.  Not something I would usually order, I took one bite and was hooked.  It was delicious!  The cheese spread just melted in your mouth and the bread was toasted perfectly.  I really enjoyed the chicken wings, but there were only five on the plate.
I was pleasantly surprised when my shrimp taco arrived.  I was expecting bay shrimp, but instead there were three large prawns.  The tostada de ceviche arrived topped with fresh avocado. 

I was ready for another margarita.  The diner seemed a bit short staffed.  Geoff was both covering the bar and the restaurant.  Another patron came in to meet his family and watch the game and we told him about the great happy hour deals.  We had polished off all the food by now.  It was great way to while away a Sunday afternoon.

After we finished planning our upcoming camping trip, I was ready to try their well drinks, so I ordered a rum and diet coke.  There wasn’t any diet coke, so I settled on a regular bottled coke.   The service was a bit slow, because Geoff was wearing so many hats.

In sum, Capitola Diner has good drinks, good prices and good food and happy hour seven days a week! So next time you’re at the Capitola Mall and want some quick refreshment – skip Chili’s and hop on over to the Capitola Diner.  After some garlic cheese toast and a nice drink you can check out the dollar store!

Julie’s rating: 4 shots
Jo's review

So it’s a Sunday afternoon, I just got done filling in for someone at work and happy hour is calling my name. It seems that Julie and I are having a harder time finding time to go to happy hour. Most of them are during the week and ending around 6 or 6:30 and Julie is coming from work from over the hill. So when we saw that the Capitola Diner had happy hour every day it was easier to try and get there on a weekend. I got there first and started taking the usual pictures and Julie who mentioned this place was having a hard time finding it. Kind of funny since it’s right across from the Capitola mall.  

This is a quaint little place, a typical diner setting, with a counter for single seating, a pretty good handful of tables and a couple of booths around the edges of the place. At the far end is a small bar with 2 or 3 large TV’s above it. Obviously the sports bar part of the diner. Very cute inside, the place was pretty empty so we took our rightful places at the bar and checked out the menu. Our host for the day was Geoff (with a G). Very nice gentleman who has worked at the diner for quite some time, before it was the Capitola Diner which is at least 11 or 12 years ago. 

So happy hour is 3-6 every day with $2.50 drafts, $4.00 house wine and well drinks, and $5.00 house Margaritas. For food we have a number of items, chicken wings, calamari, guacamole and chips, shrimp tacos, garlic cheese bread, nachos (regular, chicken or steak) and Tostadas de Ceviche. I was surprised at the large menu, you usually only get a few items and the prices ranged from $3.00(shrimp tacos) to $7.99(skirt steak nachos). With such a wide variety of items Julie and I decide to get the chicken wings, shrimp tacos, cheesy garlic bread and the ceviche. As for drinks I decided to get a Sierra Nevada Pale ale (remember all drafts are $2.50) and Julie goes for the house margarita.

So I’m watching Geoff make the margarita and fresh squeezed limes are going in the mix, wow home made with fresh limes!!!!! Julie said it was the best margarita she has had in a long time. Next time I will have to try one. My beer was great of course, came in a mug and Geoff was quick to make sure we both had water as well.

Here comes the food trickling in first the Cheesy garlic bread. Yummy, not sure what spices they put on it along with the garlic and cheese but that bread just melted in your mouth, can’t say I have experienced that before with bread but it was very yummy.  The wings came next and they were lightly breaded with a nice tangy sauce on them. Geoff brought both ranch and blue cheese for dipping.  They were tasty with a light crunch to them. Good wings, I’m not much for breading on my wings but Julie really enjoyed them.
Next, the fish dishes. It was nice to see lighter fare on the menu, usually everything is always fried for appetizers especially for happy hour so seeing tacos and ceviche was refreshing.  And refresher they were. 

The taco came with 3 nice sized prawns on it, cooked just right with salsa, cabbage and some hot sauce, it could use more hot sauce which we asked for so the taco was good. The ceviche was a real surprise. Made with Tilapia the fish had just the right lemon limey marinade on it. With the fresh tomatoes and avocado to top it off we were enjoying it very much. We were munching up all the tasty treats and added another round to the mix and the party was in full swing. Some more people started coming in and they saw our food saw that it was still happy hour and were quick to test out the menu as well. I think music in the background instead of the numerous games on the TV’s would have been nice but if you’re a sports fan you have good seating to see the games all around the place.
Well I have to say I was surprised at the happy hour at The Capitola Diner and Sports Bar. The bartender was very friendly and attentive; the food was quite good and the drinks definitely worth it. I have no doubt I will be passing this way again.

Jo’s rating: 4 shots!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Surf City Billiards & Cafe

Happy Hour:
Mon – Fri  5-7 pm

Drinks: $1 off draft beer and wells, $2 Hamms, Olympia and PBR,
Food: $5 wings, tempura fries, $2 friesPool tables: $4 per hour during happy hour
Whiskey Wednesday: $5 Jameson or Jack Daniel or $10 Whiskey Flight
Monday: burger and fries for $7
Julie's Review

The Surf City Billiards Bar and Café is located above the Blue Lagoon on Pacific Avenue and is fast becoming a hot spot in town.  They offer pool, darts, shuffleboard, ping pong, foos ball, a full bar, good eats and excellent service.  This is a fun place!

Happy hour is daily Mon-Fri from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.  I always appreciate a happy hour until 7:00 p.m. and since I was delayed on Highway 17, I really appreciated it this time.
We were quickly served at the bar by Kelley who is the manager of Surf City. He offered friendly, attentive five-shot service all night.  He is obviously proud that the bar and kitchen have tripled their sales in the past year when the new management took over.

Their happy hour specials are $1 off beers and wells (wells are normally $5).   According to the sign downstairs they also offer $2 PBR, Hamms and Olympia. In addition Wednesdays is whiskey night and they offer a $5 Jameson or Jack Daniel and a $10 whiskey flight.
I decided to start off with a glass of water and a rum and diet coke.  Kelly asked if I wanted lemon in my water and lime in my coke.  It is nice to have a bartender paying attention like that.  The drinks came quickly and we moved on to ordering food.

The happy hour food items are: $5 wings – spicy buffalo, honey siracha or teriyaki; $5 tempura fries: zucchini, green beans or dill pickle and $2 French fries.  I always appreciate a healthy choice on happy hour but this is a pretty basic burger, wings and fries place – so don’t come here if are trying to diet – Oops!!
We both wanted wings so Jo ordered the buffalo wings and I tried the honey siracha.  Kelley recommended the zucchini tempura fries and I wanted to try the tempura pickles, so we got both.  The full menu also includes burgers and sandwiches ranging from $9-$13.  Jo had come on Monday when the burgers are on happy hour for $7 and said she was quite pleased with her burger.

The other fun thing about their happy hour is that pool is ½ off, so only $4 dollars per hour.   They have a ping pong tourney on Thursday nights and a beer pong tournament on Sunday nights.  The best news is the darts, ping pong, shuffleboard and foos ball are free all the time – can’t beat that!

Our wings and tempura arrived.  The buffalo wings were delicious.  Jo had them on Monday night and came back for more and we all know what a buffalo wing connoisseur she is!  The honey siracha wings were tasty, sweet and spicy, but I liked the buffalo wings better.

The tempura dill pickle was a bit of a disappointment.  I love pickles and fried foods, but the tempura didn’t quite stick and deep frying didn’t do much for the pickle taste or texture.  The tempura zucchini on the other hand was fantastic.  The zucchini was soft and tender with a perfectly crispy outside. They came with a side of ranch and chipotle mayonnaise.

Since it was Whiskey Wednesday I decided to try a whiskey drink.  Kelley whipped up a Kentucky Mule –lime-mint-ginger beer with their well whiskey – 76 Rye. He was out of mint, but it was a delicious, refreshing drink.  Jo turned to beer at this point.
The pool tables were quite busy during happy hour, but the dartboards were free.  We got some darts from Kelley and had our choice of boards. Jo and I played Around the World trying to hit 1 then 2 then 3, etc.   

 We decided to play up to 10 because we didn’t want to be there all night.  It had been a long time since either of us had shot darts – but we warmed up and did progress around the board.
Next was foos ball.  A few years back Bill and I had a foos ball table at home. Nothing can make you feel more spastic and uncoordinated than foos ball, but it also makes you laugh so hard, it’s worth the frustration.  It was the same with Jo.  If you had four players it might have been easier, but our little guys spun helplessly in circles while the ball rolled futilely under their little blue feet.  

I’m bad at this game, but love it is because it’s so much fun and a great metaphor for life.  Spinning in place, not quite in the right place at the right time, but every now and then you get your shot and it feels great!
In sum – I loved Surf City (now don’t get it confused with the Surf Rider Cafe, which almost happened).  Surf City offers excellent service, good drinks, great wings and zucchini tempura to die for.  Free darts, ping pong and foosball, what’s not to love?  Head on down after work when you need a giggle and tell Kelley that J & J sent you!

Julie’s Rating:  4 shots
Jo's Review


Well I had a groupon for the Surf City Billiards that was about to expire so I ended up going on a Monday night by myself, spent my groupon and left. I had a burger and took home some chicken wings. Both were so tasty I told Julie we have to review this place so here we are on a Wednesday to try out happy hour at Surf City Billiards & Café.

I got there a little early and Julie was stuck in traffic so I started taking pictures of the outside. While I did a number of people started pouring into the place.  I’m thinking, wow what’s going on tonight. So I head up the stairs, the place is above the Blue Lagoon. So you turn the corner and enter a large open area. To the left we have some tables and chairs, ping pong, darts along the wall and high windows that look out onto Pacific Avenue. 

The bar is straight ahead and on the right, almost 2/3’s of the room are pool tables, with a shuffle board and one fuse ball table thrown in for good measure. The pool tables are busy and we settle in at some seats at the bar.  One of the owners Kelley is behind the bar and he gives us the lowdown on happy hour, Monday – Friday 5-7pm. The have $1 off on beers and well drinks, $5 wings and tempura fries, $2 regular fries and $4 a hour at the pool tables which explains why they were all full.

So it seems that Wednesday nights are whiskey nights and Julie decides to try out some fancy whiskey drink while I start out with a well cosmo. The owner is very friendly and is very service orientated. He has co-owned the place a little over a year now and it seems to really be working out well for them. He presents a very welcoming feeling and it gives the whole place a good vibe. Since I’m a wing fan I go for the buffalo style and Honey sarrachi wings. We decided to try the tempura fries which are zucchini fries and Julie spotted tempura pickles on the menu so we had to try those too.

The drinks are going down just fine and I decide on beer after my cosmo, an amber draft, Julie sticks with the whiskey theme. Once the food arrives we dive right in. The wings are just as good as I remember. Juicy and spicy with the blue cheese dipping sauce.  I missed the celery a little though; they should probably add a few sticks of that to the plate. 

The honey sarrachi ones were good too but I like the buffalo ones the best, that’s what I grew up on. Julie who likes things more on the sweeter side liked the honey wings, but I’m pretty sure both of us preferred the buffalo style ones. 

The hit of the show though were the tempura fries. Those zucchini fries got soft from the deep fry and the batter was light. They just melted in your mouth. I was not as impressed with the tempura pickles. I think it’s mostly a matter of taste for me, I don’t think I like fried pickles. These pickles were the wedge kind and I think they would have been better had they been thinner. Maybe cut that wedge in half again then fry them.  We were having a grand time eating and drinking, the happy is alive and well here.

After we had filled our bellies we started looking around at the activities in the place. Julie and I both suck at pool and most of the tables were taken anyways so we decided on darts. Well what a wonderful surprise to find out that darts, ping pong, shuffle board and the fuse ball table are all free to use. Since I’m such a cheapskate it appealed to me quite a bit. We got ourselves another round and headed for the dart board. 

Come to find out we suck at this too but it was fun.  Julie ended up winning (I let her wink, wink), and we moved over to the fuse ball table.  Julie has fond memories of fuse ball from her earlier days….I do not, never was good at it, always was trying to grab the other poles because they kept darting our towards me.  

It was a laugh a minute though. Turns out were not very good at this game either. We laughed more than we played it seemed and we were starting to get some looks from laughing so loud. Didn’t matter though because it was fun.

So all in all Surf City billiards and Café is a happening spot. I enjoyed the food and drinks and it’s nice to actually do something in a bar besides just sitting around eating and drinking. I always enjoy throwing darts even though I suck at it. Perhaps next time I will try my hand at the shuffle board. I definitely recommend this place for a fun time. It has the fun and friendly atmosphere you’re looking for in a billiards activities place and the food and drinks are great.  Looking forward to trying out other specialty nights at this place, and they have quite a few different nights of specials.

Jo’s rating: 4.5 shots