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Restaurants & Bars 9

Sawasdee, Red and Smoked Chiles in Santa Cruz

Nathan P. | Jun 10, 200509:00 PM

Had lunch at Sawasdee today and was pleased with the catfish in chile paste that Carb Lover posted on earlier. I said I liked it very hot and while it was not blazing it was reasonably spiced and had a good flavor balance without too much sweetness. Tom Kha was good as well and a significantly richer version than anywhere else in town but with a big lime bite to balance it out.

Tried the newish Red for dinner as well this week. Located above the Red Room in the old Santa Cruz Bar and Grill space that was most recently a sports bar. The place is sort of odd being a half lounge half restaurant place- think red velvet curtains over dark wood walls. More of an urban concept than a SC one but the lounge should offer a place for late nite dining/snacking. The menu is large and eclectic with a range of apps, plates to share, pizzas, salads and mains. In a fit of staggering dietary self control I skipped the Rosco tribute (fried chicken over cornmeal waffles with fries and syrup) and opted for a hangar steak salad with roasted mushrooms and peppers. (around $11) While the salad was a very fresh and well balanced mix of greens, the mushrooms were MIA and the steak was cooked to very well done. Dissapointing but there were enough interesting things on the menu and I sensed enough promise to make it worth a return trip to try something else. The lounge could make a nice evening stop for a drink and lite meal. Draft beer selection is very good and the wine selection was decent as well. Service was very Santa Cruz.

At the Friday WS farmers market there was a guy selling smoked chiles. Grown localy and smoked buy the seller he had 3 varieties: some sort of brown oaxacan mole type, a red simliar looking to a california but a rarer varietal, and jalapenos. Pricey at around $20/# but I thought it was worth a try. I picked up 3 of the oaxacan, one of the reds and a couple of Jalapenos for $5. The vendor said they are too smokey to use straight in a chile or mole sauce but one put into the blend should be nice. I also suspect they will make insanely good salsas. The quality appears exceptional: nice and pliable w/o blemishes. Should be fun to play with- they did not seem that smokey outdoors at the market but right now my whole kitchen has a smokey chile aroma.

200 Locust Street
Santa Cruz 95060


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