Shopping Santa Cruz

Shopping in Santa Cruz is exactly what you might expect.
 
From hip boutique clothing stores to quirky thrift shops, the stores in Santa Cruz are full of character and charm. Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz is the heart of the local shopping scene, but it isn't the only place to find those one of a kind stores worth making a trip from out of town to visit.
 
The Capitola Village is a favorite of tourists, partially for its beach and restaurants, but also for the shopping. The Swift Street Courtyard over on the Westside is a relatively new hot spot for shopping, dining and wine tasting. Pleasure Point is also full of one of a kind local stores ranging from surf shops to boutiques to second hand stores.

Guide to the Swift and Ingalls Street Courtyards

Kelly's French Bakery at Swift Street Courtyard

Located at 402 Ingalls Street, the Swift Street Courtyard is an oasis of chic yet laid-back hipness.

Opened in 2003 from a converted brussels sprouts packing plant, it now houses a combination of over twenty retail shops and dining and drinking establishments. It has become a destination space, where you can spend an entire day and not be bored.

The sister complex to the Swift Street Courtyard, the Ingalls Street Courtyard, shares the parking lot in front of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery. Together, they make a pretty good argument for a full day spent shopping, dining and drinking all in one place.

Here’s the lowdown on all the spots that make the Swift and Ingalls Street Courtyards a destination in their own right. [Read more…]

Guide to Local Markets

Staff of Life Fruit

Just as Santa Cruz County has tons of local retail to compete with the big chains, there is also a surprising abundance of local markets, given the success of superstore giants in killing mom-and-pop shops elsewhere in California.

From organic produce to ethnic ingredients, local Santa Cruz grocery stores have all the flavors covered.  Here’s a list of what we think are the best.

[Read more…]

Staff of Life Natural Meats: Not Your Average Grocery Store Butcher

staff of life natural meats

A couple months ago, a friend raved to me about eating some wonderful grass-feed beef that she had cooked after buying it at Staff of Life’s new Farm to Fork meat department.

It took me a while to get there myself, as I’d received a Christmas gift subscription to local butcher El Salchichero’s CSM (monthly meat box) and was well-stocked in the meat department for three months. Last month, I finally tried Staff’s expanded meat products, and was very impressed so I decided to find out more.

Santa Cruz native Anthony Blanco purchased the Natural Meats and Seafood department at Staff of Life last November, and has been enthusiastically operating it ever since.

Many don’t realize that this is a separate business that first opened in 1997, and is run independently from the rest of the store.

staff of life natural meatsAnthony has more than two decades of experience as a local butcher, including jobs at Freedom Meat Lockers, Deluxe Foods, The Fish Lady, and New Leaf Community Markets. For many years he has cooked and prepared food for his family—which includes his wife Shana, 14-year-old son Shane, and 6-year-old daughter Hazel. He even prepares food for the family dog, Grace, who appreciates the cooked ground meat/rice/puréed organic pumpkin combination.

[Read more…]

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