South Valley/San Benito Visitor's Guide

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SINGLE FILE Rolling hills offer an easy yet breathtaking hike in South Valley.


The Best Hikes & Trails T

Parks and nature preserves have something for everyone BY RON ERSKINE ucked away in the southern reaches of the Gabilan Range, Pinnacles National Park boasts a surprising and impressive array of natural wonders. National Parks like Yosemite may exceed Pinnacles in grandeur, but few places offer the variety of landscapes as this 26,600-acre national park. Pinnacles National Park has it all—whether you prefer a gentle

stroll through a field of majestic valley oaks or clutching a railing as you edge across thrillingly exposed rocky spires, whether you would rather explore talus caves darker than the darkest night or climb 2,000 feet to one of the highest peaks in the Gabilans. The cherry on top is that the park is just 30 miles south of Hollister, which makes for an easy day trip. Pinnacles was set aside as a

national monument in 1908 by President Teddy Roosevelt and was promoted by Congress in 2013 to a national park. The park's signature rocky peaks have traveled a great distance from their birthplace in Southern California. Twenty-three million years ago, Neenach Volcano erupted near Lancaster. The San Andreas Fault then sheared off the western portion of the volcano and carried it 200 miles north, bringing

us a beautiful landscape to explore. In a park with such variety, a visitor's biggest problem is choosing where to go. Thrill-seekers will want to hop on the Condor Gulch Trail and climb to the High Peaks Trail for a nail-biting traverse of the park's spectacular namesake summits. Views stretch for miles across much of the southern Gabilan Range, and you may see the distinct white under-wing markings

OUTDOORS Pinnacles National Park 5000 Hwy 146, Paicines, 831.389.4485 A national park renowned for its views of natural rock formations as well as its minimal through roads.

Lions Creek Trail 9221 Church St, Gilroy, 408.776.7135 A trail built by the city to provide a safe commuting alternative. Runs parallel to Lions Creek and is designated for pedestrians and bikers only. Dog friendly.

Coyote Valley Sporting Clays 1000 San Bruno Ave, Morgan Hill, 408.778.3600 Family-oriented shooting range providing both private and group events and is open more often than not.

Harvey Bear County Park 10840 Coyote Lake Rd, Gilroy, 408.842.7800 Close to 5,000 acres throughout the Gilroy foothills; includes a lake.

Mount Madonna 7850 Pole Line Rd, Watsonville, 408.842.2341 A county park surrounded by a redwood forest and shrubland.

Anderson Lake

of endangered California condors soaring overhead. Far below, on the back side of Pinnacles, is the west side parking area, accessible from Highway 101 at Soledad. The west entrance and the main east entrance are separate and not connected by roads. Most often, High Peaks Trail hikers will complete the five-mile loop and return to Bear Gulch. But if you are feeling your oats, consider tackling an eight-mile loop that belongs on your bucket list. Descend the Juniper Springs Trail to the west side parking area, and return to the west side along

the Balconies and Old Pinnacles trails. Pack your flashlight if you choose to visit Balconies Caves, one of Pinnacles’ two sets of talus caves. (Note: Arrange a car shuttle or have someone pick you up. The Old Pinnacles Trailhead is a couple miles from Bear Gulch where you started.) Families with children will enjoy the Moses Spring-Rim Trail Loop. Once again, bring a flashlight to explore Bear Gulch Caves, the second set of talus caves in the park. If you are spooked by caves, bypass them on the Rim Trail, where you can watch technical rock climbers

scale nearby walls. The two trails reunite at Bear Gulch Reservoir, a perfect spot for a trail lunch. Feeling spunky? Don't stop at Bear Gulch Reservoir. Three and a half miles and 2,000 vertical feet ahead is the summit of North Chalone Peak. At 3,304 feet, it is one of the highest peaks in the Gabilan Range. The peak soars over the Salinas Valley with views that stretch north from King City to Monterey Bay. Now that we’re deep into the heat of summer, make sure you carry more water than you think you’ll need.

Mostly known for its lake, the county park also provides catchand-release fishing, hiking and several picnic areas.

Mercey Hot Springs 62964 Little Panoche Rd, Firebaugh, 831.693.4430 Try an experience unlike any at this eco-friendly, hot spring resort and spa.

Hollister Hills SVRA 7800 Cienega Rd, Hollister, 831.637.8186 Recreational land meant for dirt bikers, four-wheelers and other off-road enthusiasts. Also provides camp and picnic areas.

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19245 Malaguerra Ave, Morgan Hill, 408.779.3634

SOME VIEW Challenging hikes can lead to some inspiring vistas.


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SOUTH VALLEY & SAN BENITO VISITORS’ GUIDE 2017 by Knee Deep Brewery. While it’s high in alcohol content it remains smooth to the taste. Patrons can order beer by the glass or try a sampling of beers by the flight. Flights are aptly named 5k (3 drinks), 10k (6 drinks), Half Marathon (13 drinks) or Full Marathon (26 drinks). Anyone finishing a Full Marathon is awarded a medal festooned with a red, white and blue ribbon.

Bev Stenehjem

A REAL WORKOUT Tapsman Chris Goller keeps the beer flowing at The Running Shop and Hop.

Husband and wife team pair up beer and exercise BY BEV STENEHJEM


he Running Shop and Hops—nicknamed “Shoes and Brews” by its legions of fans—is the hottest place in Morgan Hill to find fresh microbrews and purchase running shoes while socializing. An odd trio, we know. But like a modern-day Cheers, “where everybody knows your name,” the taps-men greet regulars like family.

Owned by the husband and wife team of Renee and Paul Rakitin, Running Shop and Hops is located next to the Granary building on Depot Street. The business splits in two. On one side is the Running Shop, selling running and competition shoes, supplements and other athletic gear. On the other side is the “hops” part of the business—a craft-beer lover’s paradise,

with a menu that boasts more than 50 beers on tap. From pilsners and IPAs to ciders and novelty drinks, there is something for everyone— even non-beer drinkers. Although the menu constantly rotates, visitors will find lagers, ales, fruit and wheat beers, and even a “hard” root beer that “will get you sideways,” according to the menu. The most popular beer is Simtra, made

Most beers are $7 a pint. Their “honest pours” go all the way to the top of the etched 16-ounce line on the glass—with any foam sure to sit above the line. Whether seated outside on the patio or inside at the bar, patrons can enjoy free, fresh-popped popcorn or other bar snacks for purchase, all while watching one of the three big-screen televisions. Many people order from local eateries and have the food delivered while others bring their own picnic. As a former Army medic, Paul Rakitin has designated a special pole where other veterans 6

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The Running Shop and Hops

The business splits in two. On one side is the Running Shop and other athletic gear. On the other side is the “hops” part of the business—a craft-beer lover’s paradise




Robert C., via Yelp

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ALL ABOARD The Running Shop and Hops has turned into a popular happy hour spot.


and police officers post their military patches. An American flag that once flew in Afghanistan hangs from a ceiling beam. With a relaxed, casual vibe, this brewpub has a large following. Many stop in after a workout or a long-distance ride, and it’s also a popular watering hole for co-workers seeking to unwind after a long day. Children and dogs even have a place to hang, and water bowls and treats are provided. Adults can also take part in board and corn hole games, darts and a life-size game of Jenga. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Porter, the owners’ pot-belly pig, during weekday hours.


Bella Viva

Running Shop and Hops

7423 Monterey 408.337.5561

17500 Depot St, Morgan Hill, 669.888.3900

Offers an extensive wine selection along with some excellent beer options.

It’s a running shop combined with a beer destination. There probably aren’t many of those around.

Johnny’s Bar & Grill

Westside Grill 8080 Santa Teresa Blvd, Gilroy, 408.847.3800 Westside Grill has built a reputation for its killer happy hour. There will be something on the drink menu for anyone of age.



526 San Benito St, Hollister, 831.637.3683

Bubbles provides a colorful, fun atmosphere in everything they do, from the food and drinks, to decoration and service.

Taste of the Pinnacles 148 Main St, Soledad, 831.237.5321 Wine bar and lounge serving some of the area’s top wine and craft brews from across the state.

A 1940’s biker bar full of vintage memorabilia; serves hefty foods and drinks.

Stubby’s Sports Bar & Grill

Bubbles Wine Bar & Bistro

Stubby’s might just be the best place to catch a ballgame in Gilroy, and the free peanuts make for a cheap partner to a good selection of beers.

17105 Monterey Rd Morgan Hill, 408.779.8800

707 First St, Gilroy, 408.848.3455

Happy Hour Specials Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m.

Thurs. 7:30pm

Enjoy plenty of small plates along with great drinks and sushi platters. Whether you want to entertain friends, loved ones, or co-workers, you and your guests are sure to be delighted with the great Happy Hour specials at our restaurant.

Fri. 7:30pm

Sat. 5pm

Wine Tasting Saturday & Sunday

1875 S Bascom Ave., Ste 2500, The Pruneyard 2nd Floor, Campbell 408.377.6456 •

Michael Mezmer Master Hypnotist and Strange Magic Shows

Located in Historic Downtown Gilroy

Show times vary each day Throughout the Fair.



Little Hands on the Farm • Circus Imagination Fire Striker • All Creatures Barnyard Races Sea Lion Encounter • Petting Zoo • & Animals!

Open daily 8:00am for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Sunday Brunch 8am-1pm 7400 Monterey Street, Gilroy • (408) 842-3454



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• Steaks, Seafood & Pasta • Beautiful Ambiance • Patio Dining • Open Daily 8am • Sunday Champagne Brunch 9am • Full Service Bar / Happy Hour 3-6pm • Early Bird Dinner Specials 4-6pm • Banquet and meeting facilities which can accomodate up to 160 Ask about (Weddings, Rehearsal Dinners, o ur Banquet Baby Showers, Receptions & Catering Services


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Lora Schraft

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NICE WHEELS Taste of Morgan Hill has more than food and drink to delight the senses.

Cool Cars to Summer Concerts Local events draw families and music lovers alike BY SUSAN L. RIFE


here's no shortage of mind-opening cultural experiences to be sampled in the South Valley and beyond, from local theater to concerts and exhibits. One good way to get a glimpse into the lives of local artists is to take a tour of their studios. Dozens of area artists open their homes

and studios to visitors who might want a closer look at the process and where the art is made. Look for more info at and Wine and beer walks and “first night” events are popular ways to spend an afternoon or evening strolling through art galleries and sampling the finest bottles from

local wineries and craft breweries. Morgan Hill's First Friday Art Walks run from 11am-7pm on the first Friday of each month. Gilroy jumped on the bandwagon last year with its own First Fridays, which take place 6-9pm each month. And what's local culture without a festival? The grandaddy is the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which will mark

its 39th year on July 28-30. Morgan Hill’s Mushroom Mardi Gras takes over each spring with performing arts, wine tastings and kids events in May, while the Taste of Morgan Hill will roll into town the last weekend of September. Downtown Hollister has a festival nearly every weekend it seems, from the Portuguese Festival in June to the annual


PLAY IT AGAIN 88 Keys Cafe and Piano Bar never skimps on the live tunes.

Hollister Concerts Listen to catchy tunes with others in a one-of-a-kind outdoor amphitheater adjacent to a vineyard in the Hollister hills.

will allow Hazel Hawkins Hospital to better serve community members suffering from the impacts of diabetes-related health issues. It will provide comprehensive diabetes care for adults ages 18 years and above. Services include:

The Western Stage

• Point of Care Lab Services for A1C

500 John Smith Rd, Hollister, 831.902.9106

411 Central 831.755.6816



1970s performing arts studio that hosts musicals and community plans among other shows.

Friday Night Music Series 17000 Monterey Rd, Morgan Hill, 408.779.9444 A Weekly event shown at the Morgan Hill Downtown Amphitheater


88 Keys Cafe and Piano Bar

The District Gilroy

1295 E Dunne Ave, Morgan Hill, 669.888.3488

A killer music venue which makes for a music-and-dancing lover’s delight.

Huge, modernesque music lounge that has a unique wraparound styled bar.

7430 Monterey 408.767.2601


• Podiatry/Foot Care • Retinal Screening • Wound Care • Certified Diabetes Educators offering Diabetes Education Classes • Registered Dietitians • Healthy Food Preparation Classes

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Street Festival and Car Show in July. Also, you don’t want to miss the holiday lights festival in December. On the visual arts side, keep an eye out for public art on the streets of downtown Morgan Hill and Gilroy. The Morgan Hill Community Center hosts displays of work by local artists and arts interest groups. Live performances, from open mic nights and the South Valley Symphony to various community theater troupes, there is no shortage of live music, musical theater and drama for all tastes. The latest player on the scene is the Granada Theatre in Morgan Hill, which hosts dinner, music and comedy nights in the renovated old movie house.




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CHOCOLATE TRICKS The South Valley Civic Theatre offers laughs galore, especially at a recent production of Willy Wonka.


Theaters Come to Life H A vibrant arts scene without big city headaches BY SUSAN L. RIFE

ere in the South Valley, the vibrant arts scene comes with an added bonus of little traffic, easy parking, low ticket prices and a true sense of community. Summertime is high season for outdoor entertainment, with street fairs, concerts and plenty of art and wine walks to stimulate the senses. There’s also plenty of theater

to make audiences laugh, cry and laugh some more. Community theaters draw on local talent to produce shows ranging from children's musicals to adult comedies. South Valley Civic Theatre in Morgan Hill (www.svct. org) has presented live theater for 45 years and serves as the resident company at the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse. It produces five

shows each season, including those aimed at children and teenagers, a large musical, a modern production and an adult drama. The playhouse in downtown Morgan Hill is within walking distance to several restaurants before and after shows. Gilroy offers Limelight Actors Theater (, located at the Gilroy Center for the Arts, opened in 2011.

Owners Kevin Heath and Alan Obata present small family dramas and comedies, as well as a new cabaret series in a "bring your own dinner" setting, where patrons can order a meal in advance from Milias Restaurant or bring their own picnic dinner. An unrelated Limelight Productions ( operates out of Hollister,

Local arts councils generally keep track of smaller events and organizations in their respective communities. The Gilroy Center for the Arts ( hosts exhibits, events and performances. San Benito Arts Council ( offers classes and exhibitions in Hollister. Morgan Hill's Library, Culture and Arts Commission, part of the city government (, keeps track of public art and more.

Boutique Mission Hotel

NIGHTLIFE The Hill Bar and Grill 17330 Monterey St, Morgan Hill, 408.778.9300 A spacious downtown bar that’s perfect for a late-night drink with friends.

XL Public House 127 Main St, Salinas, 831.754.2337 Down-to-earth bar run by father and son who make your time there just an overall good time

Z Hookah Lounge 620 Tennant Station, Morgan Hill, 408.782.2611 Do something different with the evening and puff on some shisha.

Rio Nilo De Gilroy 7466 Monterey St, Gilroy, 408.500.7000 Keep Fridays exciting and interesting with a Latin feeling.

StriXe Lounge 650 Tennant Station, Morgan Hill, 408.778.1002

Mere Steps from History A unique boutique hotel located in the center of historic and quaint San Juan Bautista As Seen On...

A bar connected to a bowling alley provides for an added level of fun on the alley.

The District Theater 7430 Monterey Road, Gilroy, 408.767.2601 District Theater offers a variety of live events and musical acts including comedians, singers, and rock n’ roll bands.

310 4th Street • San Juan Bautista 831.623.4030

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offering youth acting camps and musical theater productions for children and teenagers. Established in 1999, San Benito Stage Company (www.sanbenitostage. org), also in Hollister, is a community theater organization presenting musical and theatrical workshops, plays and performances with productions focused on adults, kids and teenagers. Longtime community theater actors Rod and Marion Pintello operate Pintello Comedy Theatre ( out of the Gilroy Grange Hall, and they specialize in farces and other laugh-til-your-sides-hurt theater. Moving over to the classical music end of the arts spectrum, South Valley Symphony ( is a collection of 40 volunteer musicians led by conductor Anthony Quartuccio. The symphony presents classical, jazz, choral works and film scores in four concerts during a season from October to May, with performances at Gavilan College in Gilroy as well as Mission San Juan Bautista. Several local wineries offer summer concert series, including Guglielmo Winery ( in Morgan Hill with its summertime “Vines and Vibes” concerts and dances under a big tent. Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Hollister each host some variation of the wine stroll, some with art galleries open and restaurants pouring samples of local wineries’ best bottles. Street dances crop up on pleasant summer evenings throughout the South County. New on the performing arts scene in the South Valley is the Granada Theatre ( in downtown Morgan Hill. The historic movie house was recently renovated and restored and it now offers dinner theater, comedy shows and performances. Keep an eye out for artists’ open studio tours, where local artists open their homes and studios for visitors to see how their work is created. Silicon Valley Open Studios (www.svos. org) extends from Gilroy up the Peninsula over several spring weekends, and the San Benito Arts Council ( covers the Hollister area with its April tour.


r The Redwoods e v o c s i D Santa Cruz Mountains | 831.430.4357

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SOUTH VALLEY & SAN BENITO VISITORS’ GUIDE 2017 Mosley’s vision was to create a little French boutique where she could offer her clients skin care, facials, cosmetics (including her own brand), gift and clothing items, and additional beauty services. “It’s not about Itty Bitty the shop,” Mosley said. “It’s about the clients, and their needs and wants, and what will be the best for them.”

LADIES WELCOME Women of all ages can find something special at Itty Bitty Beauty Boutique and other local shops.

Lynne Mosley brings a little Paris to South Valley BY KIMBERLY EWERTZ


tty Bitty Beauty Boutique had one goal in mind when it opened its doors—it wanted to offer women a rare sanctuary for their personal needs. “I wanted to create an atmosphere that women can come in and feel comfortable, and feel pretty, and feel like they’re welcomed, and have it be a nice experience for them,” said owner and

operator Lynne Mosley of her Parisian-style boutique. Located at 20 Martin St. in downtown Gilroy, Itty Bitty is situated inside the same building as Amoretto Boutique, operated by businesswoman Sandra Castaneda. Mosley was able to utilize Castaneda’s unused back room storage area, which she had considered renting out.

The pairing boutiques and boutique owners have proved to be a winning combination. Castaneda said she was unsure she’d be able to find the right retailer to share her space, but when Mosley showed an interest her worries dissolved. The two not only knew each other before the merger, but each had also referred customers to the other’s shop.

Since the move last year from her original location on Gourmet Alley, which Mosley described as her “tiny space,” she has expanded beyond her original goals and now offers shoes, accessories and jewelry. Starting out small, as she did with her first shop, was important to Mosley, who called it “a good steppingstone for me.” When the lease on her first location came up and it was time to decide whether to move, Mosley had no reservations. She’d already fallen in love with the new location, inside and out. 16


Itty Bitty Beauty Boutique

‘I believe all women are beautiful. There’s something beautiful about every single woman, and you just have to believe in yourself’

15 15



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MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME Home decor and women’s clothing found at Amoretto Boutique make the store well worth a stop.


“I liked the location, I liked the magnolia trees, I loved the building,” she said. To create just the right look and feel, Mosley worked with building owner Gary Walton, who was willing to help her create an atmosphere where women would feel welcomed and comfortable the minute they walked in the door. “He’s just a great guy,” Mosley said. “It’s my dream shop.” Included in Mosley’s design was a pink door for the shop’s entrance on Martin Street. The color was very important, in no small part because it’s also Itty Bitty’s signature color. “It seems like there are no places for mature women to

go—it’s sad,” she said. “I believe all women are beautiful. There’s something beautiful about every single woman, and you just have to believe in yourself.” For information on Itty Bitty Boutique, go to

SHOP LOCAL Itty Bitty Boutique 20 Martin St, Gilroy, 408.529.2089 Pleasant little shop stocking local goods from a variety of different artists.

San Benito Bene

Murphy’s Mercantile

615 San Benito St, Hollister, 831.638.1188

17337 Monterey Rd, Morgan Hill, 408.779.5400

A store showcasing products created by innovative artisans from around San Benito County.

Shop open since 2010 supplies jewelry, kitchenware and more.

Serendipity Gift Shop 616 San Benito St, Hollister Local supplier offering jewelry, candles, bags, art and more.

Rosso’s Furniture 6881 Monterey Rd, Gilroy, 408.842.2800 Family-owned business that provides the majority furniture and other appliances in the area.

One To Another Thrift Shop 381 1st St, Gilroy, 408.842.1434 Family-run thrift shop that has amazing deals on some cool stuff.

Ashford’s Heirlooms 7547 Monterey 408.842.8236



Like many thrift shops, there is a lot of stuff, but if you know how to look correctly, there are unquestionably some hidden treasures.

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AROUND THE WAY Farmhouse Cafe in Hollister make certain that all of its food is locally grown.


Farmhouse Cafe

Farmers know how to make food the right way BY DEBRA ESKINAZI


armhouse Cafe in Hollister provides diners with a real farm-to-table experience, whether they want steaks from Morris Grassfed beef and Paicines Ranch, farm fresh and soy-free eggs from Pastured Chick, or a variety of organically raised fruits and vegetables from farmers in San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, as well as the San Joaquin Valley. Owner Becky Herbert originally set up shop to sell ready-made foods through Eating with the

Seasons, a community supported agriculture (CSA) cooperative and collection of farms that comprise Farmhouse Foods. “It’s really about the relationships both on the farmer and the community end,” Herbert said. “I’ve been doing it for 15 years— something that you can’t create overnight.” As a fifth generation farmer, Herbert’s initiation into restaurant life began only recently. “Well, I started cooking for our CSA,” she says. “I rented someone

else’s kitchen for a couple years.” The CSA works with 30 different farmers throughout the year in order to provide locally-grown foods, she added. Inspired by the hurried lives of Bay Area tech, Herbert developed a plan to get healthy, ready-made food on their tables. “Every time I talked to all the tech people we delivered to at Google and places like that they were always like, ‘I don’t have time to cook.’ And I like to cook,” she said. “So I just started making soups and salads for them

and my dream was born. I started thinking I want to serve people. So, the idea with Farmhouse is I want people to feel like they’re coming into my dining room and eating all the local food from the farmers that I work with.” It’s the people that make this endeavor worthwhile. “Knowing the people that grow the food and knowing the people that I’m serving,” Herbert said. “Making people happy with food— that’s what I love to do.” Open for breakfast and lunch,

THE MANTRA Farm-to-table is a phrase to live by at Cafe Thyme. with what’s in season is really a path to optimal health,” she said. “It’s not just the physical body being healthy, but also knowing where your food is [from]. I think it makes people happier and more engaged in what they’re doing in the kitchen.”

EAT LOCAL Farmhouse Cafe 615 San Benito 831.265.7247



Delectable sandwiches, salads and sides made from locally produced goods.

LJB Farms

Panoche Inn

Recently picked, LJB sells the freshest of fruits and vegetables.

Off the beaten path, this roadhouse serves up frosty brews and massive sandwiches.

585 Fitzgerald Ave, San Martin, 408.842.9755

Cafe 152 Burger Company 8401 Church 408.767.2055



29960 Panoche 831.628.3538



Mi Pueblo Food Center

727 First St, Gilroy, 408.493.0113

Locally owned burger joint that cooks up some mean meals.

Supermarket with the closest thing to authentic Mexican snacks and spices.

Cafe Thyme

Andy’s Orchard

433 First St, Gilroy, 408.413.1250 Lunch and dinner spot committed to its farm-to-table mantra.

1615 Half Rd, 408.782.7600



Produce manufacturer specializing in tree-ripened heirloom stone fruit.

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Herbert noted that the sandwiches are not to be missed. “The most popular is probably the cilantro pesto steak sandwich ($10), and we use Morris beef for that,” she said. The tomato soup ($4/cup or $6/ bowl) is a top-seller. Other popular offerings include the beet citrus salad ($10) served with spring mix, roasted beets, carrots, cucumber, pepitas, avocado and citrus vinaigrette, as well as the chicken salad sandwich ($10) served with fresh herbs, sun-sweetened cranberries and almonds. Herbert is convinced she’s found her calling in business and life. “We believe that lining your diet


A Play Faire Production


SEPT 16th thru OCT 15th


Comedy . Music

Artisans & Crafters

FOOD . DRINK S O U T H VA L L E Y & S A N B E N I TO V I S I TO R S ’ G U I D E 2 0 1 7

Games & Rides



Celtic Rock Concert

Every Weekend!

at Casa De Fruta, Pacheco Pass, HWY 152, Hollister