Looking for a fun way to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day? Grab a ticket to a pop-up dinner and wine pairing, or scoop up a special treat for you and your sweeties to share. Plus, two local restaurants open new locations in Santa Cruz and Aptos.
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I’ve always had a soft spot for Valentine’s Day. To me, it’s the sweetest holiday — literally and figuratively — and whether or not I have a romantic evening planned, I enjoy celebrating love in all its forms, especially if it comes with a side of chocolate and prosecco.
In this week’s Eaters Digest, discover a few special ways to celebrate the holiday, including a creative prix fixe “aphrodisiac dinner” paired with eccentric and tantalizing wines.
Don’t feel like making reservations? Santa Cruz Spanish-themed restaurant Barceloneta is offering a five-course Valentine’s Day feast to be enjoyed at home. If you just want dessert, the Penny Ice Creamery and pop-up Chicken Foot have special creations bursting with love.
In the news, two long-standing local restaurants are opening second locations in the county. Davenport’s Whale City Bakery is expanding to Aptos this spring, and Capitola’s Canton Restaurant has opened a third location, on Mission Street in Santa Cruz.
Finally, consider sharing some love with Santa Cruz County flood victims at a fundraising event Tuesday in Aptos, with Community Foundation Santa Cruz teaming up with Aptos Vineyards and host Penny Ice Creamery.
Feeling the love? Read on for more.
Canton Restaurant, which opened its first location on 41st Avenue in Capitola in 1985, opened a third location last week in Santa Cruz (the second is in Scotts Valley). The contemporary Chinese restaurant moved into the space that previously held Golden City Chinese at 1230 Mission St. The menu will be the same as the other locations, says owner Miranda Leung, and UC Santa Cruz students receive a 10% discount. While the website has yet to be updated for the new location, you can view the menu at cantonsantacruz.com.
Whale City Bakery is opening a second location this spring, in Aptos. Ever since Burger closed its Aptos location in August of last year, Aptos residents have wondered what will fill the space on Soquel Drive. Now, a new sign reveals that the iconic Davenport bakery and restaurant will bring its coffee, house-made pastries, breakfast favorites, sandwiches, salads and burgers to the location. The new Aptos spot will be open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Owner Jaime Armas, who took over Whale City Bakery a year and a half ago, says he aims to open April 2 and plans to keep the same menu as the Davenport location, perhaps with a few small changes. The new Whale City will continue to prioritize using organic and local ingredients, including serving coffee from Santa Cruz’s Alta Organic Coffee & Tea. “I think the reason we’ve been so successful in Davenport is because we focus on using local products. People like that, and they can tell when you use fresh ingredients,” Armas said.
On Tuesday, Colectivo Felix, headed by chef Diego Felix, is pairing up with Bonny Doon Vineyard and Ser Winery for a five-course menu paired with wine at the new Doon to Earth tasting room in Aptos Village at 6 p.m. The “aphrodisiac dinner” includes courses like poached local cod with dried marigold flowers, chanterelle crocante and saffron broth paired with Bonny Doon Vineyard’s recently released orange wine, a skin-contact white wine blend, and braised mole colorado ribs with smoked purple yam and chimichurri with a robust cabernet sauvignon. Tickets are $120 per person. Grab your seat here.
If you’d rather not worry about reservations or prefer to celebrate from the comfort of your own home, Barceloneta is offering a take-home Valentine’s Day dinner for two for pickup at the downtown Santa Cruz restaurant. The five-course Spanish feast includes Dungeness crab croquetas, paella with acorn-fed Spanish pork, mushrooms and butternut squash, plus chocolate olive oil sea salt brownies. Easy reheat instructions are included. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect way to celebrate after the kids go to bed? The meal is $160 for two people. Preorder by Monday online at eatbarceloneta.com.
Just looking for something sweet to share with your sweetie? The Penny Ice Creamery is offering heart-shaped ice cream pies for two with dark chocolate ice cream, sea salt and rich caramel in a chocolate crumb crust topped with sweetened creme fraiche and chocolate curls. Each pie is $12 and can be pre-ordered at thepennyicecreamery.com.
Or share a slice of Chicken Foot’s honey cake with your honey. The decadent Eastern European dessert features 15 layers of dulce de leche and burnt honey cream and is portioned for two. Order online for $25 for pickup at Ulterior inside Motiv in downtown Santa Cruz on Valentine’s Day at chickenfootsc.com.
If you really want to share some love this Valentine’s Day, consider attending Love It Forward, a community fundraiser to benefit flood victims in Santa Cruz County. The Penny Ice Creamery is hosting a dessert and wine tasting event Tuesday at its ice cream parlor in Aptos Village with Aptos Vineyard and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. Enjoy ice cream treats from the Penny with flights of wine from Aptos Vineyard. The event is from 5 to 9 p.m. at 141 Aptos Village Way and 25% of the proceeds benefit local flood victims.