While I am glad there are plenty of delicious Mexican restaurants in San Juan Bautista, I was a little bummed that there are not many places in town with a variety of healthier options. However, a little market and cafe recently opened in SJB just a block or two from our office called the Natural Wonders Cafe. It is a little health food market that also has a small kitchen and serves a good variety of fresh, organic meals.
The owner, Alma, is a very sweet middle-aged woman with a thick accent originally from Mexico City. She is quite possibly the most hospitable person I have ever met, and also loves to chat me up when I’m there to eat lunch.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything and lived in a lot of different places,” she explained to me on my very first visit. She has a background in marketing, advertising, and finance but her true passion is cooking healthy, healing foods and she always wanted to run her own business to share her cooking with others. She loves to use spices from all over the world which gives all of her dishes a unique flavor, although I have noticed that all of them have a bit of a spicy kick to them!
It is so nice to have a guilt-free place to eat if I don’t pack my lunch for work, and it is also great that she has quite a few shelves with the essentials I normally have to make a separate trip to New Leaf to pick up.
Eating there is like enjoying a meal at home – she makes everything fresh in the morning, and she’s so kind and friendly that I always leave feeling warm inside with a very full belly. My favorite dish so far is her curried chicken on a bed of baby spinach….
I know people don’t often find themselves in San Juan Bautista since it’s just a small mission town without much around it, but if you are ever in the area… please stop in and have lunch there. She could use the support, and I want to make sure she stays in business so I don’t lose my healthy lunch spot!
I’ve already got #12 checked off my Christmas bucket list! December 1st marked 6 years together for Brent and I, and I couldn’t think of a more fun and romantic way to spend the day than with all of my best friends at a Christmas tree farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although I wasn’t looking for a fresh Christmas tree, I knew Cheryl and Rob were, so I recommended Crest Ranch Christmas Tree Farm in Bonny Doon. I went there with my neighbors during my first winter season in California, and I fell madly in love with the view of the redwood covered mountains, the dogs happily running around the farm off-leash, and the thick, abundant Christmas spirit in the air. I think Rudy was the best part of the whole day – the joy he took in running and leaping through the trees was completely infectious and had me giggling with delight. I took a ton of fun pictures (also make sure to check Cheryl’s post), but I had even more fun helping Brent edit this video of our tree-chopping extravaganza!
Hidden away in a small parking lot shaded by tall trees of changing colors lies the River Cafe in Santa Cruz. In my usual last-minute fashion, Katy and I decided to head there for breakfast just days before the Groupon I’d had for year was set to expire. It’s a tiny, oddly-shaped building lacking nothing in the charm department and serves breakfast and lunch composed of all fresh, organic ingredients. The sweet, imperfect details of the place made me feel as comfortable as if I was eating breakfast in my own home.
I had the house made granola topped with Strauss Family yogurt, fresh berries, and a drizzle of honey with a soy chai tea latte. The food is served on mismatched antique dishes and there’s plenty of room on the decking around the café to enjoy the morning light.
It’s on my summer bucket list to visit as many of the California Missions as possible and I’m a bit behind, but I did get to the Mission San Juan Bautista a few weeks ago with Cheryl.
The Mission San Juan Bautista, translated: Saint John the Baptist (not that I have ANY clue who that is) was founded in 1797. It’s definitely the oldest landmark I’ve ever been to, so the history of the place was just so amazing to me. Although, Brent quickly squelched my lovely vision of its history by telling me the Native Americans were enslaved and forced to build the mission, forced to farm the lands, and forced to worship there. Clearly I aced history class.
Bummer moment aside, we went to San Juan Bautista for the day. We started with a really fabulous lunch at La Casa Rosa… check Cheryl’s blog post for the details.
We visited a few antique shops (of course), then moved on to the mission.
The building and grounds are really beautiful in an imperfect, primitive way…
Especially the gardens with the wild chickens!
I think my favorite parts of the mission were the doors and windows…
The little details like the rustic floorboards and old books on display really made me feel connected to the history of the mission and the people who once lived and worshiped there.
This visit wet my appetite to visit few more of the missions in this area!