Sampa Brazilian Kitchen at Water Street and N. Branciforte Avenue in Santa Cruz.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Sampa Kitchen’s new spot, summer fun, road-tripping and passing back the baton

Hello eaters! Jessica M. Pasko here. It’s my last week writing this column as Lily has returned from parental leave. It’s been a fun four months; thanks for following along! I know she’s got lots of good things in store for you coming up and I can’t wait to read it all.

Sampa Brazilian Kitchen opens on Branciforte

Sampa Brazilian Kitchen's yucca fries.
(Jessica M. Pasko / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The Brazilian favorites you might’ve sampled at Woodhouse Brewing are all there at Sampa Kitchen’s new standalone Santa Cruz spot, plus an expanded selection of entrees, smoothies and more. Read more here.

Trifecta of beer and wine events slated for Saturday

Argentina chef Diego Felix holds monthly dinners in the Swift Street Courtyard
(Via Diego Felix)

There’s no shortage of happenings Saturday, with Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing celebrating its 18th anniversary by pairing its beers with Diego Felix’s cuisine on the Westside, Collective Santa Cruz throwing a baseball-themed bash at Woodhouse and Santa Cruz Mountains wineries pouring in Aptos. Read more here.

Shoppers Corner Spotlight Lily Belli 5/9

FoodWhat?! opens weekly produce stand

Fresh produce grown and harvested by local youth will be on sale Tuesdays through the summer in Watsonville, and youth empowerment and food justice organization FoodWhat?! also has set its annual benefit dinner for Oct. 1. Read more here.


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A proposed bill making its way through the state legislature would require major fast food restaurant chains to share liability for workplace violations with their franchisees. Opponents say the bill would harm local restaurant owners. Lookout’s Beki San Martin took a deeper look into what this bill calls for and the potential ramifications. See her piece here.


10 — That’s the number of California restaurants that were added to the Michelin Guide this year. Notably, all of them are located in Southern California. The full list of Michelin Stars, Bib Gourmands and other distinctions will be announced next month at a ceremony in Oakland.

Juliette Govea and son Felix Valencia at El Huarache in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“It was a flower that blossomed.”Juliette Govea, speaking about how her company, El Huarache, has developed since reopening after the pandemic lockdown. Govea owns the restaurant at the Metro station in downtown Santa Cruz while her brother and sister-in-law run the El Huarache 2 stand at the El Mercado farmer’s market in Watsonville. Lookout’s Jean Yi spoke with the family last week about their growing business.


… a road trip to Montana. When we decided to go visit our friends who spend their summers at a cabin not far from Bozeman, we considered flying. A combination of sticker shock, a desire to bring our pooch and a quest for adventure led to the decision to drive. So, on Friday, my partner, our dachshund mix, Ruby Tuesday, and I are headed out on the open road in my Honda Fit to make the 19-hour journey.

I love a good road trip and it’s been far too long since I’ve gone on a proper one. I love viewing the scenery, seeing vintage roadside attractions and stopping at different places along the way. When I drove across the country over a decade ago, I even got a thrill out of checking out the different gas stations and convenience stores across America. (Who knew there was so much beef jerky in the Midwest?) I also loved visiting all of the old tourist spots along the California coast when I drove to Portland, Oregon, a few years back. (Did I pay money to drive through a giant redwood in Humboldt County? Absolutely!)

On this trip, we’re stopping in Elko, Nevada, as a midway point. I was delighted to learn it has a significant Basque culture. In fact, we’ll be there as the city kicks off the National Basque Festival — and, we hope, the giant cricket plague will have dissipated. I plan to try a picon punch, a classic Basque cocktail, and definitely some pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas. I’m also a big fan of Basque ciders so I’ll be checking the menus for those. If you’re curious about why there’s such a big Basque influence in northern Nevada, as I was, this is a pretty good explainer. Apparently it started with the Gold Rush.

Before we depart, I’ll also be planning for that most important of questions: What snacks should we pack for the drive? Once we get to our friends’ cabin, I am looking forward to a lot of relaxing, hanging outside and enjoying meals on the grill.

And with that, I’m handing back the reins of this column to Lily.


Nicholson Vineyards has new look, new winemaker (Edible Monterey Bay)
How fresh will CalFresh be? Food benefits on table in state budget talks (CalMatters)
Is this the world’s most beloved asparagus? (Atlas Obscura)

Happy eating!

~ Jessica