Getting your hot dog on at Taylor's in Watsonville.
Getting your hot dog on at Taylor’s in Watsonville.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

LILY BELLI: Eaters Digest on Restaurant Week, a Humble Sea Felton update and Taylor’s Hot Dog Stand

Your weekly guide to news and events in the Santa Cruz County food and drink world, featuring news, including Restaurant Week, a cookbook library, and a documentary about India Joze.

California is finally getting some much-needed rain, but nothing can dampen the spirit of local entrepreneurs. This week, I spoke with Humble Sea about their plans for a new taproom and restaurant in Felton, and the Friend in Cheeses Jam Co. family tree branches out with SHEF, a new vintage cookware and houseware store featuring a cookbook library in Watsonville.

Also, it’s Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to not cook this week, this is it. Go out and support your favorite neighborhood spot, or check out that new place you’ve had your eye on. Remember, we almost lost (and did lose) many of our beloved restaurants last year, so show them some love.


Here’s what’s happening this week...

Food news

The team at Humble Sea Brewing Co. has finally received the keys to the historic Cremer House in Felton, and hope to reopen as the Humble Sea Mountain Tavern early next year. Marketing head Lee DeGraw reports that the company plans on offering a full-service restaurant and full bar, with lots of rotating taps. Danielle Byers, the current general manager at its Swift Street location and previously of The Rare Barrel in Berkeley, will be heading up the opening in Felton along with Humble Sea’s director of hospitality, Joe White.

They are still on the hunt for a chef, and also still narrowing down their culinary vision for the space, but DeGraw theorizes they will offer “elevated comfort food,” with inclusive options for all guests, including meat eaters, vegetarians and children. This will be the third location for the Santa Cruz-based brewery, and DeGraw says that for the Humble Sea team, it feels good to be back in the mountains where it all began. “The owners, Frank [Scott Krueger], Taylor [West] and Nick [Pavlina] all grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley, their families still live there and they went to high school there. So there really is a feeling of going home.” More info at

The new Humble Sea Mountain Tavern in the historic Cremer House in Felton.
(Courtesy Humble Sea)

SHEF, a new vintage culinary and housewares store and cookbook library, is now open in downtown Watsonville in what was once the Miramar restaurant. Owner Jennifer Santillana is a longtime collector of unique household goods and sister to Tabitha Stroup, owner of Terroir in a Jar and Friend in Cheeses Jam Co. Stroup moved her kitchen from Soquel to downtown Watsonville earlier this year, and has big plans for other storefronts in the same space. Read more this weekend about this exciting new venture. Visit SHEF at 532 Main St., Watsonville.

Chef, philanthropist and Santa Cruz culinary treasure Jozseph Schultz, owner of India Joze restaurant on Front Street, is the subject of a loving new documentary by local filmmaker Jon Silver. “Foodie for the People” will be shown at the Del Mar Theatre in Santa Cruz on Wednesday, Oct. 27 (sold out), and Wednesday, Nov. 3. Read Wallace Baine’s conversation with Silver about the film here.

Eat this

It’s impossible to “discover” a restaurant that’s been operating for 67 years, but I just enjoyed my first visit to Taylor’s Hot Dog Stand in Watsonville, and it is a treasure. Tucked away in the corner of a parking lot behind Watsonville Plaza, the restaurant opened in 1954 and seems to have stubbornly stayed there. Polite servers in white jackets and retro paper caps take your order.

The outside view of Taylor's Hot Dog Stand in Watsonville.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The menu, posted to the side of the wall, features just one item: hot dogs w/ everything, which in this case is mustard, relish, onions and chili, for $1.95. Chips, candy, gum and drinks are also available, including a cup of coffee for 30 cents. The hot dog is tasty, though not particularly remarkable. But honestly, what do you expect for a meal that you can get for the change in your pocket from a restaurant that’s old enough to be on Medicare? The experience is such a nostalgic treat that I know I’ll be back again. 336 Union St., Watsonville. Closed Sunday.


It’s the 13th annual Santa Cruz Restaurant Week now through Wednesday. This year, 23 restaurants throughout Santa Cruz County are offering three-course fixed-price menus for $25, $35 or $45. This is a great opportunity to see what your favorite local restaurant has cooked up for the occasion, and a good excuse to check out that spot you’ve been curious about. All the menus are online at and in this week’s issue of Good Times. Reservations are not required, but are recommended, as many places book out for this event. Go out and support your local restaurants.

This Saturday, visit Live Earth Farm in Watsonville for the Live Earth Farm Discovery Pumpkin Patch & Apple U-Pick. At this family-friendly event, adults and kiddos can paint pumpkins, press freshly picked apples into cider, listen to live music and eat pie from Companion Bakeshop and empanadas from Fonda Felix Kitchen. Purchase your tickets in advance to reserve your two-hour window to enjoy this fun fall festival. This event supports the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program. Tickets $15-$25 per car through Eventbrite. Note: The Sunday event has been canceled due to rain.

The Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off, one of Santa Cruz’s most competitive edible events, returns to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Saturday. Amateur and professional competitors will have three hours to prepare their recipes before being judged. For $10, spectators can purchase a tasting kit with six taste tickets and cast your vote in the People’s Choice awards. More info at

That’s all for this week. Got food news? You can reach me at, and on Twitter and Instagram.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this piece misspelled Lee DeGraw’s name.