Humble Sea Tavern in Felton
Humble Sea Tavern in Felton.
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Humble Sea Tavern shutters, latest on The Midway and more Otter 841 foodie love

Welcome to Lily Belli on Food, a weekly food-focused newsletter from Lookout’s food and drink correspondent, Lily Belli. Keep reading for the latest local food news for Santa Cruz County — plus a few fun odds and ends from my own life and around the web.

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… On Tuesday, Humble Sea Tavern announced on Instagram that it will close permanently. The news comes after the restaurant, which opened in Felton in February 2022, closed temporarily at the end of July. “We’re all about the beer, and while we did our best to balance both food and bevs, we realized that maybe someone with more of a culinary soul could bring a stellar food vibe to compliment all the rad businesses that are already crushing it in Felton,” the post reads.

Read the full story on Humble Sea Tavern’s closure here.

… Many readers and fans of The Midway have requested an update on chef Katherine Stern’s forthcoming restaurant in Midtown. I checked in with Stern, who told me that things are still moving along, and she appreciates everyone’s interest. She hopes to open this fall, and plans to make a big announcement when she finally has an opening date. (Refresh your memory on this project and Stern’s culinary background from my newsletter back in December.)

Until then, enjoy Stern’s beautiful and hyper-seasonal breakfast menu at her farmers market stall, The Midway, at the Westside Santa Cruz market on Saturday and Live Oak market on Sunday. I’m also looking forward to a multicourse feast prepared by Stern at her pop-up farmers market breakfast on the Westside this Saturday. The event is sold out, but if you were quick enough to snag a ticket, please say hello.

Otter 841 checking out a surfboard off Steamer Lane in July.
(Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

… A new ice cream flavor just dropped at Marianne’s in honor of Santa Cruz’s surfboard-stealing Otter 841. Ice cream flavor Otter 841 is a cinnamon caramel ice cream with chunks of Pacific Cookie Company’s snickerdoodle cookie dough. “It’s cute, sweet, local and has a bit of a bite!” reads an announcement on Instagram. Try it at your local scoop shack, including the new production facility and parlor on Fair Avenue I reported on at the end of last month.

Let’s not forget that last week, Shanty Shack Brewing released a craft beer named Grand Theft Otter at its Santa Cruz brewery in honor of the city’s newest celebrity. Clearly, while 841 has so far evaded capture by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, she has certainly captured our hearts.

… Here’s a summer farm feast you won’t want to miss: Grab your ticket now for Stoned Fruit, a collaboration among chef Emily Beggs of Kin & Kitchen, the Apéro Club in Santa Cruz and Camp Joy Gardens, an organic farm and educational nonprofit outside of Boulder Creek. The menu celebrates peak-season produce with an optional wine pairing by the natural wine party people at Apéro, eaten in a clearing under the redwoods. The vibes are going to be excellent. Peek the menu and buy tickets ($130 each) at — and check out Lookout’s 2023 farm-to-table dining event guide to map out the rest of the summer season.


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Ghost franchises like Buddy V's Cake Slice and MrBeast Burger are becoming more common in Santa Cruz County.
Ghost franchises like Buddy V’s Cake Slice and MrBeast Burger are becoming more common in Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

If you’ve ordered food from MrBeast Burger, HuevoRito or The Meltdown through delivery apps like DoorDash or Uber Eats, you have participated in the newest trend in dining: virtual restaurants. While the food is real, the restaurant doesn’t have a physical location; it’s a virtual brand with a menu prepared in a ghost kitchen. It might sound dystopian, but it has become a vital part of the new “delivery economy” that has sprung up amid the pandemic — a crucial component of local restaurants’ bottom line. Watch for the story this week.


The Girlz Squad, a local volunteer group of Pajaro Valley residents
The Girlz Squad, a local volunteer group of Pajaro Valley residents who helped with the distribution of donations and food to Pajaro families through La Manzana Community Resources in Watsonville, were honored at Community Bridges’ Farm to Fork fundraiser July 30.
(Via Community Bridges)

$45,000 — Amount raised at Community Bridges’ Farm to Fork Gala, presented with Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains for the first time in Pajaro on July 30. The funds will support farms and farmworkers affected by the floods last winter.

“It’s those unique and skilled jobs that make this place the salad and berry bowl of the world. They’re jobs few Americans will do. It’s left up to those who are not from the United States of America but define the United States of America.” — Rep. Jimmy Panetta in his remarks at the Farm to Fork Gala


If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you might have followed my grilling journey from charcoal lover to propane convert. A quick recap: My dad gave me a little tabletop propane grill for Christmas almost two years ago and, as a member of a devout charcoal household, I was skeptical. But over the past two summers, I’ve grilled so many dinners on it — during the week, mind you — that I’m ready to level up to a large standing grill. Even my husband, the man to whom I gave a Santa Maria-style spit that sits on top of his Weber to grill tri-tip the first year we were dating, has been converted. While we’ll continue to use our charcoal grill for large cuts of meat on the weekend, during the week it’s hard to beat firing up a gas grill and, within 30 minutes, have dinner on the table — and a clean kitchen with no pots and pans to wash.

So, fellow propane lovers — do you love your grill? I have my eye on a certain make and model, but I’d love your input!


Eaters Digest: Rockfish ceviche at H&H Fresh Fish Co. (Lookout)
Campbell Soup buying makers of Rao’s pasta sauce for $2.7 billion (NBC News)
How Modelo beat Bud Light to become America’s most popular beer (Vox)

Happy dining!

~ Lily