Welcome to Morgan Hill, California, the rapidly expanding south valley city that started as a bedroom community for Silicon Valley, but is quickly asserting itself as a thriving center of culture in its own right. Downtown restaurants like Odeum and Prova entice with flavorful dishes created by a Michelin Star-awarded chef. Yearly events like the Mushroom Mardi Gras Festival attract thousands who sample the region's agricultural bounty. Tasting rooms at local vineyards rival those from the fertile soil of Napa Valley less than two hours away.
Why the spider? Tarantulas are a common sight in Santa Clara County, where their annual migration is celebrated at local Henry Coe State Park each October with the Tarantula Festival. This art installation on the side of the downtown parking garage honors them as the town's mascot and friend.
The Tarantula art installation subverts the tarantula's fearsome presence by reimagining it as an amusing, three-dimensional arachnid crawling up the facade of the parking structure's Fourth Street entrance.
The installation is composed of hundreds of vintage automobile headlights for the spider's body and is adjoined by eight vibrantly red powder-coated steel outstretched legs. The Tarantula, executed by internationally recognized artist Gordon Huether, is not only a humorous addition to the parking structure, but also celebrates nature's beauty through artwork that radiates with light and color. (2015) (Plaque on parking garage, Morgan Hill)
Proudly serving Verve coffee beans from Santa Cruz, you'll find Coffee Guys nestled into the side of the downtown parking garage, just steps away from popular restaurants and boutiques. It was the intriguing corner location of this brew house that first drew us in. High ceilings, a clean aesthetic, and a smiling bearded mascot welcomed us forward as we ordered hot caramel lattes, watching the barista carefully make flower hearts in the foam. The friendly staff and excellent caffeine have made Coffee Guys a bustling hot spot for busy commuters and relaxed locals in the south valley.
Founded by two friends turned business partners, Coffee Guys was born sometime after its tasty sibling was established up in San Jose, called Bagel Guys.
[The owners'] vision was to bring high quality, fresh cooked food along with top notch customer service to bagel lovers in the bay area. As the business grew they noticed that there was also a need for the same kind of quality and service in the coffee industry so they decided to create Coffee Guys. (coffee-guys.com)
Simple, well-designed merch to make anyone say, "Ooo! I want one of those!"
Just down the block, we stopped for glasses of cider at The Running Shop and Hops on Depot Street, located next to Odeum. This veteran and woman-owned business started as a store where amateur long distance runners could buy shoes and running equipment, then evolved into a gathering place with 86 beers on tap, celebrating the local flavors of the Central Coast.
The "hops" side with 86 local beers on tap.
I love all the decoration here, like the beer tap handles fixed to the beams and ceiling, plus the wide collection of bottlecaps throughout the bar.
American flag bottle cap side table made from an old wine barrel.
This is the "running shop" side, featuring dozen of racing metals won by the running-enthusiast owners, Paul and Rene Rakitin.
Formerly a full service running equipment shop, this side of the building now primarily acts as a recreation area for guests, with some branded merch hanging on the walls. Food isn't served at The Running Shop and Hops, but the owners encourage patrons to relax and stay awhile, even if that means bringing in your own food or ordering a pizza for delivery to compliment your beer. A foosball table and chess board offer entertainment while you wait for that hot pepperoni pie or cheeseburger with garlic fries.
And finally, on the way home, we stopped at EYEfiniTEA on the south side of town. This strange little drink shop is dedicated to its owner's two loves: boba tea and optometry. Duy (pronounced "doo-ey"), the shop's founder, is a professionally trained optometry tech whose passion for authentic specialty teas drove him to create this uncommon boutique combining the two.
Customers rave about Duy's attention to detail when concocting their refreshing beverages. He offers dozens of options for customization, like 0%-100% sweetener level, boba and jelly toppings, and dairy vs. non-dairy creamer options. Our strongly caffeinated Thai teas were made with coconut milk and condensed milk for a bona fide Thailand experience. Duy only uses real tea leaves shipped over from the East; none of the powdered American stuff.
The juxtaposition in this photo says it all - a rack of eyeglasses next to ancient teapots.
Ice cream macarons in all sorts of flavors, like strawberry cheesecake, green tea, and mango.
That's all for now - stay hydrated my friends!