Shadowbrook Capitola, a landmark restaurant nestled in the heart of Capitola-by-the-Sea, carries a legacy that stretches back almost a century. This restaurant, renowned for its unique blend of rich history, “Old World” charm, and modern reinvention, offers an unforgettable dining experience. Many people have asked me about this iconic Capitola restaurant over the years…so if you want to learn more about Shadowbrook restaurant in Capitola, please keep reading!
Location, Parking, Hours
The first thing you’ll probably want to know is the location of the restaurant. Shadowbrook is located at 1750 Wharf Road in Capitola. It’s perched on a cliff over Soquel Creek, just up the hill from Capitola Village.
There’s ample free parking, as the restaurant owns a good-sized parking lot right across the street from the entrance to the restaurant itself.
Shadowbrook is generally open seven days a week: Monday through Thursday it’s open from 3:30 PM until 10:00 PM, but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it’s open from 12:00 PM until 10:00 PM.
They do accept reservations, and you can make a reservation from the Shadowbrook Reservations page on Yelp.
Shadowbrook’s humble beginnings date back to the 1920s when it was a quaint log cabin, built as a summer home. This cabin eventually stood as the cornerstone of what would become one of America’s “Most Romantic Restaurants.”
The Log Cabin Era
The original log cabin, although modest, bore the seeds of Shadowbrook’s distinctive charm. It was situated on the banks of Soquel Creek, providing a serene backdrop that would later become a signature feature of the restaurant.
Over the years, the log cabin expanded and transformed, adding spaces like the “Fireside Room,” characterized by its hanging balcony and Swiss chalet decor. The house underwent a period of abandonment before it was discovered in 1944 by the restaurant’s original partners and restored to its former glory.
The Birth of a Landmark
The restaurant officially opened its doors in autumn 1947 under the name Shadowbrook. Despite a slow start, the restaurant quickly gained popularity, eventually becoming a local favorite.
The Cable Car Addition
Shadowbrook introduced its unique hillside “Cable Car” in 1958, adding a touch of novelty to the dining experience. This feature allowed patrons to descend to the restaurant in style, amidst the lush landscaping.
The Expansion Phase
Shadowbrook underwent significant expansions and renovations under new ownership in the 1970s. The establishment added a cupola entry, deck by the river, and replaced all furnishings with authentic antiques from the era of the original structure.
The current owners, Ted Burke and Bob Munsey, took over Shadowbrook’s reins in 1978. The duo dedicated themselves to preserving Shadowbrook’s historic charm while introducing elements of modern sophistication.
Burke and Munsey undertook numerous renovations, transforming the restaurant into a multi-level dining haven. They introduced the Redwood Room, expanded the Garden Room, remodeled the bar, and even added a wine cellar to accommodate an extensive wine list.
The Greenhouse Room
One of the most significant additions was the Greenhouse Room, which offers year-round comfort in a captivating greenhouse setting. This room, along with other dining areas, contributes to Shadowbrook’s enchanting atmosphere, perfect for romantic evenings, weddings, and special occasions.
The Dining Experience
Shadowbrook’s fine dining experience is more than just its beautiful settings. The restaurant takes pride in its extensive menu, featuring creative daily specials and house-made desserts, all made from scratch.
Shadowbrook’s menu offers a broad variety of dishes, ranging from thick prime rib and steaks to scampi and salmon. The restaurant is also known for its innovative nightly specials.
The Wine List
Complementing the fine food is an extensive wine list, which has earned Shadowbrook an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. The restaurant boasts over 120 wines on its regular list, with an additional 20 on its reserve and limited supply lists.
Shadowbrook’s dedication to excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed. The restaurant has earned numerous awards, including the “Best Date-Night Restaurant” title and a spot in the Top-100 of America’s “Most Romantic Restaurants.”
The Shadowbrook Dress Code and Shuttle Service
Shadowbrook maintains a “Business Casual” dress code for its dining rooms, respecting its special setting and ambiance. However, the dress code is more lenient for patrons using the Rock Room bar and patio.
For the convenience of its guests, Shadowbrook also runs a complimentary shuttle service within a 3-mile radius.
Despite its success, Shadowbrook remains committed to continuous improvement. As many people have noted, the restaurant manages to honor its past while continually reinventing itself to stay current. The future of Shadowbrook promises to uphold this unique blend of tradition and innovation, ensuring the restaurant remains an interesting, beautiful, and respected dining destination.
Shadowbrook Capitola is indeed a testament to the fact that a place can simultaneously honor its past and embrace the future. It is more than just a restaurant; it’s a journey through time that offers a unique and unforgettable dining experience.
Shadowbrook Restaurant Photo Gallery
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