515 Kitchen & Cocktails (Santa Cruz, CA)

9:00:00 AM

Shaken, Not Stirred

It’s like being a Bond Girl without the weaponry, femme fatale, and oh yea-- James Bond.

So maybe I’m no Bond Girl, but 515 Kitchen & Cocktails is a dark and laidback lounge located in downtown Santa Cruz that reminds me of a simpler time.

I don’t know why I’m speaking as though I remember a simpler time. Because I’m referencing to the 50s and that was before my parents’ time.

So how did I find myself at such an establishment in Santa Cruz?

I wish I had a more interesting story (one that involve espionage and explosions), but PC, YL and I were having a day trip to Santa Cruz, visiting a friend, and he took us here after a day around Santa Cruz.

Just that. Nothing more.

We arrived when it was still light out, hoping to catch their happy hour menu.

Since it was early, we were able to grab a table on the first floor (they had a second floor with what I’m guessing more lounge areas and an opened patio).

Inside, the color scheme was dark and rich with plush sofas and dim lighting. There were lit candles on each table and the waiters were dressed in a similar color scheme. We were seated away from the main bar towards the dining area, but close enough that we can still see it from our seats. They were projecting a black and white movie in the back of the lounge and the bar had a fair number of people hanging around.

The vibe that I got from the lounge was that it was pretty chill. Perhaps because it was still early, but the crowd kept to themselves, making us the loudest group of the bunch.

We started off with some drinks!

Cocktail of the Moment

Cucumber Aperol and West Coast Negroni
We ordered the West Coast Negroni, which consisted of junipero gin, campari, lemon juice, simple, grapefruit bitters and hop nosh i.p.a, a Cucumber Aperol (house-infused cucumber vodka, aperol, lemon juice, simple, seltzer) and the other was the special cocktail at the time.

The West Coast Negroni and the special cocktail seemed pretty strong, while the Cucumber Aperol was refreshing.
Truffle fries. Delicious!
Next up were the Truffle Fries and Spicy Crab Cakes, which were on the happy hour menu. The French Fries were tossed in rosemary, parmesan and truffle oil and served with a side of ketchup and aioli.

These. were. delicious.

I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with truffle fries, but they definitely hit the spot. Not quite shoestring fries, they were coated perfectly in the rosemary, parmesan and truffle oil mixture, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I could’ve devoured a single order myself.

The Spicy Crab Cakes… are spicy. And as someone with a low tolerance for spicy food, I couldn’t eat much of this. Same goes for YL. We retreated from the plate and went back to nibbling the fries and downing our drink.

The ravioli came out next.

They contained artichoke hearts, chevre, roasted garlic and sat in a pool of roasted bell pepper cream sauce.

So rich. So flavorful. So delicious.

And so expensive.

For $16.00, you get 6 raviolis and they didn’t have much volume, meaning the probability of us getting full off of the plate were pretty slim.

Our last dish of the evening was the Pork Tenderloin with a side of polenta, roasted mushrooms and roasted grape chutney. The pork was nice and tender and paired well with the buttery polenta and meaty mushrooms.

At the end of the meal, our check came sandwiched between the pages of a cocktail book and I thought that was inventive, adorable and right up my alley.

515 Kitchen & Cocktails is a nice place to hang out for drinks and great to come on a date. The crowd leans towards the older side, at least in the late afternoon/early evening, so I say, drop by after work and definitely try out those truffle fries.

I don’t go out to bars all that often, but where’s your local spot? And what’s your go-to drink there?

515 Cedar Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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