Jason Webb and the view from Capitola institution Mr. Toots.

Jason Webb and the view from Capitola institution Mr. Toots.

Still Tooting: Even on a chilly winter morning, the sunny balcony of Mr. Toots—overlooking the Capitola Beach and estuary—invites coffee lovers to linger, soak up some sun (assuming it isn't raining, of course) and nurse that double latté for a while.  Amazingly, when Lisa and I met for our monthly literary reconnoiter last week at the upstairs coffeehouse, Mr. Toots seemed exactly as I had left it. Church pews, couches, cafe tables and plenty of free wi-fi make Mr. Toots a pleasant place to park that laptop and surf the web. Delicious, organic, Fair Trade coffee sets a definite tone, as do those addictive black and white cupcakes, apple strudel, muffins and gigantic two-fisted cookies. I confess, I find it a waste of good caffeine to sip it without a companion carb, and I find it almost impossible to add a muffin or scone to my French roast.  There's always something tasty in the way of artwork on the walls, and Mr. Toots preserves the distinctive, retro vibe that, let's face it, brought many of us to this region in the first place. Mr. Tootsóthe antidote to urban attitude. It still looks over the waterfront (on one side) and the little village (on the other) next door to Margaritaville, at 231 Esplanade in Capitola, and it's still open from 7am until 10pm every single day.

Culinary Walkabout: Tonight marks the first Santa Cruz installment of the popular Dishcrawl food event. And it will happen at four downtown restaurants, essentially taking ticket holders on a mystery tour of dining. Adventurers, those who like to live on the edge, or just plain foodies craving a new way to satisfy their oral needs (!) will want to check out the actionóor wait and see how this first outing goes, and then jump at the next chance. Find out more (although the whole point of this cool concept is to keep the actual dining locations a secret until just before the event) at the Dishcrawl website, And if you have questions about this intriguing concept in moveable feasts, you can contact Wes @

Ice Cream Empire Expands: Yes, it's true that the innovators at Penny Ice Creamery are expanding their real estate. And according to co-owner Zach Davis, there will be a new sibling ice cream parlor out next to Verve Coffee on 41st Avenue by the end of the month. The second shop marks yet another milestone for Davis and co-owner Kendra Baker, whose popular downtown Santa Cruz Penny Ice Creamery hosts avid fans in an historic Mission-style building. The second outlet (a Two-Penny Ice Creamery?) will add plenty of sweet fuel for Pleasure Point's huge surfing neighbors. Verve coffee. Penny Ice Creamery ice cream. Sounds like a way to start, or end any day. And wait, there's more. The owners are also just about finished with all the plans needed to expand their Santa Cruz beach Picnic Basket to double its current size, thanks to the addition of outdoor seating.

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