EATERS DIGEST: Missed out on that Valentine’s Day reservation? Fear not
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Lily Belli has some ideas for you — both traditional and more alternative. She also has a rundown of the local SF Beer Week calendar, with events and specials happening around Santa Cruz County.
The sun is shining and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day falls on Monday, and businesses are celebrating through the weekend. If you’ve made dinner reservations someplace romantic, good job thinking ahead. If you haven’t, you’re not totally out of luck, but I have some alternative ideas for you anyway.
Whether or not you have a significant other, this pink, fuzzy, sprinkle-covered holiday is a good opportunity to treat yo’self. Take the opportunity for a little self love, if you can.
Here’s what’s on the menu this weekend …
San Francisco Beer Week starts Friday and runs through next weekend. Expect to see 10 days of events, special releases and beer-centric festivities celebrating craft beer throughout the Bay Area. Most of the events are free to enter, and guests have an opportunity to taste some truly special brews. Check out my local SF Beer Week guide to find out what’s happening in Santa Cruz County.
On a budget but still want to offer your date a good time? My colleague Max Chun has gathered some inexpensive and free date spots throughout the county, from cheap breakfast spots to the best local hiking. Check them out here.
Restaurants are celebrating all weekend with fabulous menus, but I hope you already made your reservations. According to their online reservation services, Trestles, Shadowbrook, Home, Mentone, Café Sparrow, Oswald, Sanderlings were fully booked through the weekend, although some leave room for walk-ins. As of Thursday afternoon, Chocolate, Venus Spirits, Persephone, Barceloneta, Gabriella Café, La Posta, Tramonti, Cafe Mare and The View at Chaminade had a handful of spots available through the weekend, though not necessarily on Monday, and all are offering delicious-looking Valentine-themed dinners.
If you’ve failed to plan ahead, how about taking your sweetie out for a love-themed drink? Bartender Emmanuel Hernandez, now behind the bar at Avanti on the Westside, has created two cocktails themed around the fated Greek lovers Orpheus and Eurydice. The romantic drinks complement each other and are accompanied by a love poem written by Hernandez. Westside distillery Venus Spirits is mixing a special sipper as well. The Fresa de Mi Corazón is a romantic, floral cocktail made with strawberry, elderflower, champagne, mezcal and Venus’ El Ladrón Reposado.
If beer is more your beat, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is releasing two festively pink brews this weekend: Baby, It’s You!, a blonde ale brewed with organic rose petals, and Dream Boat, a strawberry kettle sour. New Bohemia Brewing is timing two romantic beer releases with SF Beer Week. Stop by on Monday to try its Hellesexy Chocolate Lager, a helles lager aged on African cacao nibs, and Whiskey Business, a barrel-aged imperial stout aged on dark cherries and cacao nibs.
Or maybe you’d rather not eat out during a holiday weekend. Vim and Barceloneta are offering Valentine’s dinners to go that can be picked up at their restaurants. At Vim, enjoy a take-and-bake Valentine’s dinner for two that includes a cheese and crudité plate, shrimp and orzo salad, red wine-braised short ribs with butternut squash gratin and housemade desserts. Add a bottle of Chandon sparkling wine or a fizzy cocktail to your order and enjoy a romantic evening at home.
Barceloneta is offering a five-course dinner of Spanish tapas, beer and citrus salad with fennel and mint, duck and wild mushroom paella and churros con chocolate, with a half-bottle of cava or non-alcoholic cocktails. Add on sangria or a bold Spanish wine. Order here for pickup at the restaurant.
The biggest event of the weekend is happening at The Slough Brewing Collective in Watsonville this Saturday. Breakups & Heartbreaks is a party dedicated to broken hearts and a fundraiser for Pajaro Valley Pride, an organization that supports local LGBTQI+ youth pursue higher learning. An art market featuring LGBTQI+ and BIPOC vendors organized by Arte Del Corazón kicks off the afternoon at 3 p.m. As the sun goes down, get ready for a killer drag show featuring at least half a dozen performers, including drag queen Cherry Cola and burlesque dancer Sapphire Serpent.
There’s also a costume pageant, live music by Sej Miles, a DJ set and a photo booth. In addition to its normal tap list, the Slough will have two special releases on draft, the popular Soul King hazy IPA and an imperial stout called Doom Scroll. The Real Taco food truck will be on site all day to make sure you don’t go hungry. The entry fee for the event is $10. More info at thesloughbrewing.com and on Instagram at @thesloughbeer.
Stop by Venus Spirits on Saturday for two sweetheart-themed pop-ups. East Cliff fixture S.C. Bread Boy is Vespa-ing over with his delicious focaccia and hand-piped cannoli from 1 p.m. until it sells out. Owner Lance Ebert tells me he’s offering a special hazelnut crunch cannoli with Nutella, vanilla cream and bittersweet cocoa dust. Vintage flower truck Olive + Coyote will be there from 3-7 p.m. with its dreamy bouquets.
Santa Cruz Mountain wineries are gearing up for a fun holiday weekend. Fourteen local wineries are offering themed events, including chocolate and wine pairings, horseback riding, sparkling wine tasting, special releases, live music and more. Check out the full lineup of events at winesofthesantacruzmountains.com.