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Slinging darts and driving cues in Santa Cruz

By Dan Young

EVERYONE NEEDS a little diversion from daily life. In an age where electronic frenzy passes for entertainment and the only media-approved recreation has to do with an extreme-style sport that eventually lands participants at the Urgent Care, a couple of activities from the "olden" days still ring true.

Pool and darts remind us of slower, more laid-back times. Shots are slow and calculated. The players savor every stroke of the cue or flight of the dart. Pool tables can be found in just about any bar, club, student center or rec room. And dart lanes cut through quite a few bar-and-grills in Santa Cruz County. It isn't necessary to go out and buy the latest, computer-rounded Minnesota Fats pool cue or cryogenically frozen, titanium set of darts; each table or board usually has well-worn equipment for all comers.

Wherever you choose to break a rack or toss a flight, Santa Cruz has a great selection of venues where you can unwind and toss a couple back with some new friends.

(Dan Young has seen The Hustler a dozen times and counting.)

The Catalyst
1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423.1336
The Cat is the repository for many of my fondest memories of crazier times. The old Cat had a dart lane running alongside the bandstand, and one could throw darts and almost hit Country Joe McDonald while he played! The "newer" Cat has a gem of a bar, hidden away upstairs, which features killer pool tables. My best memory was of my good friend's bachelor party held there--just four friends shooting a little pool, drinking a couple cold ones and talking life over.

Poet and the Patriot Irish Bar
320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 426.8620
The dart capital of Santa Cruz. The warm mood of this Irish-American pub is a Hollywood setting for darts. Mr. Twister, the King of Santa Cruz clowns, is a red-hot dart tosser and regular at the Poet (scary thought, an armed clown ...). His team, "Dart Mal," is currently 16-1 and looks to take the league on Wednesdays.

Rosie McCann's Irish Pub & Restaurant
1220 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 426.9930
Rosie's has always been a regular stop on my St. Patrick's Day pub crawl. I also like to arrange for business lunches in this light and airy room, which serves great food. Featuring two dart boards, Rosie's is in the process of putting up brand new targets and chalkboards to better serve the Santa Cruz Dart Association, which will meet there on October 14.

Fast Eddy's
4300 Capitola Road, Capitola, 462.1882
The granddaddy of pool in Santa Cruz County, Fast Eddy's is everything that you ever thought a pool hall should be. Open seven days a week, 11am to 2am, this is the place for the hard-core pool player.

Corner Pocket
30th and Portola, Live Oak
A cool neighborhood surf hangout in Pleasure Point with the best business logo around (www.wardartstudios.com).

Front Street Pub
516 Front St., SC, 429.8838
Home to Santa Cruz Brewing, this place is a must for everyone. With two pool tables featuring 75-cent games, the food is killer and live music is usually scheduled. Two cues up to the brew masters and wait staff!

Night Owl Cocktail Lounge
529 Seabright Ave., SC, 426.2513
The classic neighborhood bar. There is a pool table in the back and deco booths that let you sink in and sip your favorite libation.

Britannia Arms
8017 Soquel Ave., Aptos, 688.1233
Darts and pool in a traditional pub setting. Britannia Arms sits nestled against the railroad trestle in Aptos Village. I spend way too much time there because of the excellent Guinness Irish Stew and the fact that international soccer matches are broadcast daily on the numerous monitors around the pub. With a pool table and three dart boards, A- and B-League dart play happens on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Felton Bowl
6164 Highway 9, Felton, 335.7137
Well worth the drive, Felton Bowl has a great table and one dart board. But plans are afoot to remodel the front of the building into a solarium-style setting, with the emphasis on catering to the owner's true love: darts. Look for two new dart boards to be added.

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From the September 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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