EATERS DIGEST: Ice cream for breakfast, winter citrus and seeking out the cheeseburger from ‘The Menu’

The Penny Ice Creamery is celebrating Ice Cream for Breakfast Day with a special menu and earlier hours.
(Via The Penny Ice Creamery)

As we enter the first week of February, stave off winter colds with a citrus smorgasbord, enjoy Ice Cream for Breakfast Day at the Penny Ice Creamery, and Lily Belli looks for a local take on an iconic burger.

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Welcome to the weekend, friends, as well as the first week of February.

In mid-winter, I swing between eating healthful, nourishing meals and comfort foods. Case in point: I am indulging in citrus with reckless abandon and, at the same time, I’m exploring local cheeseburgers in search of one that measures up to the one in the final scene of “The Menu.” Keep reading to follow me on my journey.

In that same vein, the Penny Ice Creamery is celebrating Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on Saturday with sweet treats to start your day, and up on the summit, Burrell School Vineyards is hosting its annual Dungeness crab feed.

In the news this week, I explored the possible new dining options coming to downtown Santa Cruz via the six huge developments along Front Street. As many as 10 new eateries could open in that corridor in the next decade, and at least four will have outdoor dining facing the San Lorenzo Riverwalk. Also, Alderwood Pacific opens on Pacific Avenue this Friday, while its sister restaurant, Alderwood Santa Cruz, closes temporarily for a refresh and menu update. In Capitola, Gayle’s Bakery prepares to celebrate its 45th birthday on Valentine’s Day with a contest for customers and a donation to the Capitola Wharf Restoration Project.


A rendering of the 530 Front Street project at Soquel Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Via City of Santa Cruz)

The six new developments planned along Front Street in downtown Santa Cruz will not only change the face of the city, they’ll also bring a slew of new dining options. Ten new eateries are currently planned within the six developments, at least four of which will offer outdoor dining along a new pedestrian-only riverwalk fronting the San Lorenzo River. Additional cafés, tasting rooms and other small food and beverage businesses could potentially grow this number. Learn more about the developments in this story from earlier this week.

Alderwood Pacific is opening its doors Friday on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz with a new seasonal menu that will include some familiar dishes from its fine-dining sister restaurant, Alderwood Santa Cruz, located a few blocks away at Walnut Avenue and Cedar Street. Meanwhile, the original Alderwood has closed its doors for a few months while it undergoes a design and menu refresh. Check out the full story from Tuesday’s newsletter.

And Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria is celebrating! The iconic bakery and restaurant in Capitola turns 45 on Valentine’s Day. Festivities include a recipe contest, a $10,000 donation to help restore the Capitola Wharf and a brochure full of fun facts — such as that the kitchen uses almost 61,000 eggs every month! This story also originally ran in Tuesday’s newsletter – check it out here.

Eat this

Santa Cruz County farmers markets glow with seasonal citrus.
(Via Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets)

Winter is the season to eat citrus for the same reason that summer is the only time to eat tomatoes; the quality of the fruit is so astronomically better than what’s available other times of the year that it’s hard to even compare the two. Let that be the encouragement you need to make sure that you’re enjoying the gorgeous golden globes available in abundance at your local farmers markets and, to a lesser degree, at your local grocery store.

The variety of different kinds of citrus is enormous, with a huge range of tartness, sweetness, floral character and aroma. I’ve been keeping my fridge stocked with tangy kumquats — nature’s Sour Patch candies — dark blood oranges, sweet Meyer lemons, palm-sized mandarins, yellow-tinted bearss limes and cara cara oranges — my personal favorite — for snacking, squeezing, zesting and baking. How beautiful is it, too, that during the time of year when we’re most prone to sickness, Mother Nature provides us with such a delicious form of vitamin C to boost our health? Get peeling while the peeling’s good, friends.

Anya Taylor-Joy's character is served a cheeseburger in the final scene of "The Menu."
(Via Searchlight Pictures)

Ever since my husband, Mike, and I watched “The Menu,” a horror film that focuses on a fine-dining restaurant on a remote island, we have been craving the burger from the final scene. I’m on the hunt for a worthy local imitator of the most memorable meal in the movie: two smashed patties topped with grilled onions and American cheese — “the best cheese for a cheeseburger, because it melts without splitting,” according to unhinged chef Slowik, played by Ralph Fiennes — on a griddled potato bun with crinkle-cut fries.

At burger. on Mission Street in Santa Cruz, the Dolly Parton burger gets close. It’s a double American cheeseburger and you can add grilled onions to it (OK, I also added pickles — I couldn’t resist). It’s a good burger, but I’m looking for a more smashed rather than full-sized patty. Still, for $14.50, it definitely scratched the itch. Order online at

Help me out, Santa Cruz. Where can I find a classic smash burger with onions and American cheese? Email me at or text me.

P.S. If you want to make it at home, YouTuber Andrew Rea shows you how on his channel, Binging with Babish. Fair warning, it starts out simple enough — he first makes a totally reasonable burger based on the movie, but then embarks on an overboard process of grinding his own meat, making his own potato buns from scratch, hand-carving his own crinkle-cut fries and even making his own American cheese. Honestly, I think Slowik would approve.


Saturday is national Ice Cream For Breakfast Day — which has to be in the running for one of the best holidays — and the Penny Ice Creamery is celebrating. Its locations in downtown Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Pleasure Point and Aptos will open early at 9 a.m. for breakfast sundaes made with lemon morning cake and topped with a scoop of Verve Coffee Chocolate Almond Praline ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and toasted almonds; Goldilocks five-grain porridge with scoops of ice cream, drizzled with cream and topped with brown sugar walnuts; bacon, pastries and, of course, Penny’s normal menu of house-made ice creams and sorbets. Starting your day with a scoop or two of ice cream sounds pretty sweet to me. Find locations and view menus at

Feast on fresh crab and cold chardonnay at Burrell School Vineyards’ annual Wine & Crab Feed on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Crab dinners are available for dine in or takeout and include fresh crab, homemade clam chowder, sourdough bread, Caesar salad, crab-themed cupcakes, garden lemons and a bottle of Burrell School’s 2020 Field Trip chardonnay. Each ticket also includes entry in a raffle for Burrell School wines, and there is a silent auction on site for rare vintage wines from this Santa Cruz Mountain winery. Tickets are $80 each and can be purchased through Eventbrite.

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