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Breakfast Breeze

[whitespace] Linda's Seabreeze Cafe
George Sakkestad

Top of the Morning: Tex Hintze, owner of Seabright's Linda's Seabreeze Cafe, fuels locals with early-morning breakfast eats.

More than a breakfast joint, Linda's Seabreeze Cafe is a Seabright institution calling the faithful to old-fashioned flavors

By Christina Waters

BOY, DO THE FAITHFUL respond to the lure of Linda's Seabreeze Cafe, an institution in the Seabright neighborhood as much as the salt air and vintage bungalows. Bianca and I were thrilled to find a table without waiting last Thursday when we managed to slip in just in front of the wave of breakfasters. On weekends, it's another matter. Linda's exerts a tidal pull on its Saturday and Sunday morning patrons, who think absolutely nothing of bringing their newspapers to read or just hanging out while they wait and wait for a table. If weekend breakfasts are a cult in Santa Cruz, then Linda's is one of the holy shrines.

Linda's does lunch, too, including great burgers and all the heartland sandwiches. But breakfast--served all day--is what's happening.

Usually an omelet woman, Bianca caved in at the blackboard invitation to try some pumpkin pancakes ($3.95), while I remained steadfast in my pursuit of the paradigmatic fried eggs over medium. So I opted for the chicken and apple sausage special with eggs ($5.95). Actually, it comes with toast and tons of homefries, as well as eggs and sausage. A lumberjack could have filled up on my breakfast of champions.

Linda's is a fully functional home away from home. You've got your newspapers--lots of them, dailies, weeklies, last Sunday's in case you need to look up the latest John Travolta gossip. There are well-tended plants that remind us of the neighborhood's hippie/ surfer ambiance. Lots of spacious round tables fill the main central dining room, punctuated with busy waitresses rushing back and forth from kitchen to patrons. The table is set with jam, cream, sugar and ketchup, the state vegetable of New Jersey, which has won its way into the hearts of serious breakfast people.

The coffee is great, both Bianca and I noticed immediately. Linda's Seabreeze is comfy, but it's not a diner. Watery, indifferent coffee will not do for its patrons. Refills were suggested all during our meal, but I always love to get my coffee, cream and sugar ratio just right--and I don't want it messed with. The Linda's staff knows how to take no for an answer when it comes to keeping coffee cups full.

Huge tumblers of Odwalla orange juice ($1.50 for a "small") arrived just as we noticed how packed the place was becoming. Somehow the atmosphere avoids chaos--Linda's Seabreeze always feels as though it's humming. It seems to be a magic kingdom free of stress, a place where Seabright comes to carbo-load and raise its caffeine levels before it takes on the day.

Bianca's pancakes were gorgeous, a soft terra-cotta hue, sided with a scoop of whipped butter and the ubiquitous slice of fresh orange. My eggs were, there's no other word for it, perfect. The yolks still viscous but not runny, the eggs cried out to be soaked up by some of the fine rye toast that came with my order. Crisp, not crunchy, the toast was great, and more satisfying than the rather bland homefries that nonetheless had plenty of onion flecks, crunchy parts and soft interiors. Three large sausages accompanied my order--and allowed Bianca to make the breakthrough discovery that sausage is the perfect foil for pancakes.

Her pancakes tasted like Thanksgiving and mom's kitchen combined--now that's comfort food deluxe in my book. We managed to consume most of the huge, fluffy, light pancakes, all the eggs and two of the sausages.

Political correctitude tends to diminish the grease factor in sausage, alas, and I could have used more of the forbidden sodium and fat just to feel that I'd gotten my Big Breakfast fix. As it was, I was spared heartburn.

My only quibble with this meal was the housemade salsa. It looked like salsa but had no flavor. How did they do that? we wondered as we exited past a growing throng of yet more Linda's Seabreeze breakfasters.

Linda's Seabreeze Cafe
Address: 542 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz
Phone: 427-9713
Hours: Open daily 6am until 2pm, Sunday 7am until 1pm
Service: *** Right on
Ambiance: ** It's a homey cafe, not Martha Stewart's living room
Cuisine: ** 1/2 Fine lunch fare and excellent breakfasts
Overall: Loaded with warm beach-neighborhood vibes and lots of solid food, Linda's Seabreeze maintains its legend

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From the March 24-31, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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