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A Day of Eating Out on Less Than $40

A food lover explores Watsonville's cuisine scene.

Inspired by Ms. Rachel Ray herself, I decided to take on the challenge of finding great food in a city rich in natural agriculture.  Armed with $40 and a mission, I set out to prove that quality can still come at a reasonable price.

While exploring downtown Watsonville, I inquired as to where I would be able find the best place to get breakfast for a good price and was pointed to the . Located at 946 Main St., you are sure to find a crowded parking lot and a full waiting area. 

Though known for there fresh buttermilk pancakes and omelets, owner Paula Diaz, who opened the restaurant of three years with her husband, Juan, personally recommended the most popular item on the menu: the "Barret’s Favorite." The dish consists of two warm buttermilk biscuits, draped in homemade sausage gravy, accompanied by fluffy scrambled eggs and sausage (or bacon, if you choose).

Diaz informed me that everything, including their melt-in-mouth biscuits, are all made from local ingredients and freshly prepared every morning at 4 a.m. My meal came out at a total of $11.09.

Leaving me with now $28.91, I was told that I had to make a stop for lunch at the on 589 Auto Center Dr. Owned by Jeanette and Michael Yee, Red Apple first opened 2005 and has been in business since 1990. 

Though known for their incredible breakfast menu, Red Apple also has impressive hot lunches and daily specials, which my waitress, Naomi, informed me has people rearranging their schedules to get to. The tuna melt, served with a side of fries, was highly recommended. Grilled on two buttered sourdough slices with a piece of tomato grilled into crispy cheddar cheese, allowed the meal to tell a story all it’s own.

Owner Jeanette also invited me to taste some of their signature golden brown country potatoes, which are full of flavor. Several other items like their Huevos Rancheros, walked out of the kitchen meeting much attention from on lookers. The tuna melt came out to $9.14.

Left with $19.77,  I wanted to complete my day with a little seafood from the Monterey Bay and found myself at La Perla Del Pacifico at 458 Main St. Known for their fresh, local seafood and authentic Mexican recipes, La Perla is still a popular spot after 23 years of service. Owner Ana Martinez and her family have designed a full menu featuring breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I orders the Camarones al Mojo de Ajo with octopus as an addition. With rice, beans, fresh corn tortillas and fries, my total came out to an impressive $11.95.

With a remainder $5.77, it made a day of good food and great people even more rewarding. What food deals can you find with $40 in a day?

randy April 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Great choice for Breakfast. Have been there many times. Not only is the food great, it is the same with the service. Red Apple Cafe, have been there also. Tuna melt sounds like something I will try next time. I like this column and hope it continues.
Cathy P. April 30, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Holy fat & cholesterol Batman, you ate all this in one day? Sausage, sausage gravy, french fries (twice) plus country potatoes, and mayo & cheese in the tuna melt, oy vey, keep eating like this and you'll look like me :P Seriously Devon, I love all these places myself -and the $40 a day series, please keep writing- but even Rachel Ray ate salad & veggies. How about a couple healthier days of eating out on $40 or less? (now come on, you knew someone would complain, lol).
Steve Bankhead April 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Devon: You might consider the New China buffet in the Mansion House. Better Chinese food can be found around town, but not with the same bang for the buck. About $8 covers all-you-can-eat plus a beverage. For the health conscious, it has lean meat & fish entrees, sushi, veggies, salads, a choice of soups...also a few non-Chinese offerings. And like most buffets, it can all be more quickly than menu restaurants for those on a short lunch break.
David H. Perez April 30, 2012 at 07:38 PM
All great choices, Devon. For something healthy, I frequently go to Cafe Ella on East Lake, and for 10 to 12 dollars can get a nice lunch consisting of a personalized wood fire pizza and a nice salad or bowl of homemade soup. That is less than one-third of your food budget for three meals. Please keep writing, and keep up the good work!
Watzon McWats May 01, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Cool article. I don't see much local agriculture on your plates though. :-p
Jennifer Squires May 01, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Devon (the writer) is a San Jose State journalism student who interned with Patch this spring. This story was her first adventure in eating in Watsonville. You've seen her byline on a couple other stories on Patch: about Green Valley Christian School's missionary trip and about Live Earth Farm. Leave comments on those stories to give this budding journalist some feedback!
Cathy P. May 01, 2012 at 06:01 PM
YAY, SJSU rocks!
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