This is the second of seven choices for the Best New Restaurants in Santa Cruz in 2014. To see the full list, click here.
Back Nine Grill & Bar replaced the former Peachwood’s at The Inn at Pasatiempo. The restaurant opened in August after undergoing interior renovations, resulting in a pleasant ambience that is a vast improvement over Peachwood’s. Servers are friendly and knowledgeable.
Food highlights include comfort food, and – fitting for the restaurant’s name – several grilled selections. Popular starters include coconut crusted jumbo prawns, and fully loaded pulled pork skins. As the menu says, this dish is “giant potato skins” filled with pulled pork, sour cream, onions, cheddar cheese, and smoked bacon, and the skins are topped with chives. These are oven-baked and served with Back Nine’s homemade ranch dressing. If you can’t decide on just one appetizer, order the Santa Cruz sampler to try both the prawns and the skins—plus onion rings and mozzarella sticks.
Salads include BBQ chicken with chopped lettuce, black beans, sweet corn, jicama, cheese, and more. The very juicy burgers are a favorite among customers. The traditional burger is a half-pound of fresh Angus beef, ground daily in the Back Nine kitchen. You can add a variety of toppings and pick a side such as scrumptious sweet potato fries.
Entrees include tender, St. Louis pork ribs with choice of two sides, such as Granny Smith apple coleslaw that complements the dish well, and grilled salmon (fresh from Santa Cruz), and grilled Cowboy steak (14-ounce cut). A good dish that was served earlier this year: mahi-mahi with mango salsa, accompanied by vegetables and scalloped potatoes seasoned with herbs and served au gratin. At the time, it was the restaurant’s daily fresh fish. Always on the menu, the fish type rotates depending on what’s fresh, and it’s seasoned, seared, and served with vegetables and your choice of one side.
The iced tea is worth mentioning, as it was plenty strong, not watered down like some restaurants serve. Back Nine’s desserts are very good. These include Marianne’s ice cream by itself or as a topping for molten chocolate cake. They also offer berry cobbler, baked fresh daily in their own bowls.