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[whitespace] Austen Verdugo
Photograph by George Sakkestad

Engineer in the Making: Three-year-old Austen Verdugo checks out the G-gauge wonders at the Train Place Deli.

On the Food Train

A railroad runs through it at the new location of the Train Place Deli

By Janet Blaser

WHAT DO TRAINS and sandwiches have in common? Umm, I don't know, but you can try and figure it out yourself at the new location of the Train Place Deli. Owner Dan Misko made the decision to move from Scotts Valley because he needed more space--for parking, for seating and, of course, for the trains. Many of his regular customers were from here anyway, and they're thrilled, he says, to have the deli so close to home.

Obviously, Misko's made quite a name for himself, because he's the only restaurateur around who has 1,000 feet of train track set up in his dining room. But those who may have come at first just to check out the G-gauge railroad layout have returned for the big, homemade sandwiches, fresh soups and home-baked cookies. With more than a dozen varieties of subs to choose from, made on Aldo's Bakery breads that are delivered fresh every morning (rye, honey wheat and sourdough), and served with a side of potato or pasta salad, the Train Place gives maximum satisfaction for the buck. Sandwich selections include hot pastrami, oven-roasted turkey or Cajun turkey, real Italian meatball and a chili-dog sub made with Misko's famous no-bean chili. Prices are reasonable, too--$4.95-$5.25 for a 6-inch sub, and $8.95 for the 12-inch. There's a kid's menu, too.

Misko's love affair with trains started when he got his first set at age 6. As a teenager growing up in Southern California, he used to hop trains on the weekend and hope he'd get back home before his parents found out he was gone. Misko's first deli, Dan's, is still operating in Woodland Hills, but the trains weren't involved until he opened the Train Place in Scotts Valley about five years ago. "I've always loved trains, and everybody loves good food," Misko says with a shrug. "So I just put them together." At any given time, there are up to seven trains moving on the track that winds across the front and down one side of the bright, spacious dining room. The Train Place Deli, located at 1820 41st Ave., Capitola, next to Miyako Sushi, is open from 11am to 9pm, Monday through Saturday. In a hurry? Check the menu on the website (www.thetrainplace.com), call in your order (475.0150).

Musical Loaf

Rising to new heights, Joe Ortiz's Bread! The Musical moves to the Kuumbwa Jazz Center for two Sunday performances. If you missed the premieres at Gayle's Bakery, here's your chance to catch this fun, inspiring and whimsical play, described as an exploration of "food, faith and fidelity."

Starring local actors Burr Nissen (as the mad baker--a result of his experiments with rye bread) and Alice Hughes (as his charming and determined wife), this tasty morsel of jazz theater will have audiences laughing--at the story line, the song lyrics (all written by Joe) and the characters. Tickets for both the Oct. 1 and Oct. 8 shows are $12 in advance, $14 at the door of Kuumbwa, on Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz. You can purchase them at Gayle's Bakery (504 Bay Ave., Capitola) or call 462.1200 for more info. And speaking of Gayle's, it is the place for holiday specialties. Traditional Rosh Hashana breads like raisin or plain challah, honey cake and rugaleh, and Yom Kippur fare, including stuffed cabbage, roast chicken and mushroom barley soup, can all be ordered ahead of time and picked up to take home.

For a work much older than Joe's, try a dose of Chaucer at the Annual Harvest Celebration at Bargetto Winery. The festivities feature a performance by the Geoffrey Chaucer Company of My Five Husbands from The Canterbury Tales. The day also includes, of course, wine tasting and art displays. The event takes place Sunday (Sept. 24) at Bargetto's, 3535 N. Main St., Soquel. Tickets are $25 and $10. Call 475.2258 for details.

Got a food tip? Email Janet at [email protected].

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From the September 20-27, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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