EATERS DIGEST: Seabright Deli delights, Alderwood expands chef’s counter and Capitola Tap House opens

Capitola Tap House opened in the village in early June
Capitola Tap House opened in the village in early June and offers cold brew coffee and nonalcoholic kombucha on draft, with beer and hard kombucha to come.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Suggestions for a delicious Father’s Day, a new taphouse opens in Capitola Village, Alderwood expands its chef’s counter tasting menu, a fish sandwich that ticks all the boxes at Seabright Deli and more as Lily Belli returns.

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Happy Friday! It’s good to be back in Santa Cruz after a week visiting family in Montreal. While I loved being in a major city and all the food, beverages and culture it has to offer, there’s a ton going down in our little seaside town, too.

Lily

My first day back, I headed straight to Seabright Deli for the Grotto, my new favorite summer sandwich. In Capitola Village, I battled jet lag with a much-needed cold brew coffee at the newly opened Capitola Tap House. Read on to meet owner Amy Cheng and learn more about this new local business.

While I was gone, Capitola-based Sante Adairius Rustic Ales celebrated the grand opening of Oakland Arbor, the third location for its renowned craft beers. In Santa Cruz, Alderwood now offers its chef’s counter tasting menus five days a week. And in the Santa Cruz Mountains, plan on making reservations now for the Vintners’ Festival in August. Read on for everything you need to know heading into the weekend, plus a few suggestions for Father’s Day and Juneteenth.

News

Congratulations to Sante Adairius Rustic Ales on the opening of Oakland Arbor, the local brewery’s third outpost, joining the Capitola-based flagship and the Santa Cruz Portal in Midtown. Owners Tim Clifford and Adair Paterno took over the iconic Trappist craft beer bar in downtown Oakland after it closed late last year. After some light remodeling, the Arbor now serves funky saisons, juicy IPAs and delicate lagers in the East Bay. Since it opened in 2011, SARA, as it’s known to its fans, has ranked among the top breweries in the world according to popular site RateBeer, earning the No. 9 spot in 2019 and 12th spot in 2020. This is only the second time a local brewery has expanded beyond the borders of Santa Cruz County; Humble Sea Brewing Co. opened a second location in Pacifica in 2021. Rustic Ales Oakland Arbor is currently open Wednesday through Saturday. Follow along on Instagram @rusticales_oaklandarbor for more updates.

This week, Alderwood restaurant in Santa Cruz expanded its chef’s counter tasting menu experience from two nights a week to five. Guests can now book the exclusive experience Wednesday through Sunday evenings, with two seatings each night. There are only 10 seats available per day. This prix fixe dinner differs from Alderwood’s regular menu, featuring a 13-course tasting menu inspired by the season and chef Jeffrey Wall’s creative whims, with a focus on local and organic ingredients, fresh pasta, shellfish, aged beef and house-made desserts. The diners sit at a counter facing the kitchen’s signature wood-fired grill, and Wall presents each course. While other restaurants offer occasional chef’s tasting menus, this is the only regular chef’s tasting menu experience in the county, and the option to enjoy it throughout the week means spontaneous celebrations just got more exciting. The menu is $200 per guest, with an optional wine pairing for $150. Make reservations at exploretock.com.

Tickets are now on sale for the 2022 Vintners’ Festival, happening Saturday, Aug. 13, and Sunday, Aug. 14, with more than 25 wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains participating in this weekend tasting event. Not only is this an opportunity to try some fabulous wines, but many of these tasting rooms are open only a few days a year for special events like this, and are often in stunning locations well worth the journey up small mountain roads. This year, in an effort to protect visitors and vintners from COVID, guests must reserve their tasting times at each winery they want to visit, and there are limited spots available. Also, groups should purchase their tickets in one transaction if they’d like to taste together. So this is your heads-up to start planning now and save your spot at the wineries that interest you the most. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit winesofthesantacruzmountains.com.

Eat this

Capitola Tap House owner Amy Cheng
Capitola Tap House owner Amy Cheng offers self-serve kombucha and cold brew coffee by the ounce, glass, bottle or growler.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

For the past two years, every time I drove through Capitola Village, the Capitola Tap House would catch my eye. Located under the trestle bridge and across from the police station, the white, tin-roofed building has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, with little sign of activity. Now it’s finally open for business, and offers a unique experience for guests.

Hear “taphouse” and you might automatically think “beer,” but right now all of the 25 self-serve taps offer nonalcoholic kombucha and cold brew coffee on draft. The idea is to pay as you go — a complimentary card tracks your purchases, and you pay for the total at the end. That’s a la the now-closed Pour in downtown Santa Cruz. Try as many draft pours as you like for 50 cents per ounce, have a glass in the shop or take 12-ounce bottles or 32-ounce growlers to go.

Beer and hard kombuchas are on the way as soon as her beverage license is approved, says owner Amy Cheng. Cheng explains that the opening of the taphouse was delayed due to the pandemic — renovations were underway when COVID hit, and she decided to hold off opening until the mask mandate was lifted. Now she’s hoping Capitola Tap House will be a destination for locals, tourists and families. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information at 401capitolataphouse.com.

The Grotto rockfish sandwich at Seabright Deli is a summer favorite.
The Grotto rockfish sandwich at Seabright Deli is a summer favorite.
(Via Facebook)

I came home from a weeklong trip to Montreal with a very specific craving: the Grotto sandwich from Seabright Deli. All of its house-crafted sandwich combos pack loads of flavor between two slices of bread, but none, to me, is as colorful and satisfying as the Grotto. In a warm, crusty roll, you’ll find blackened, locally caught rockfish, tangy purple cabbage slaw, peppery arugula, chimichurri sauce, tomatoes and herby aioli. The flaky fish, crunchy slaw, fresh herbs and heaps of veggies make this a perfect summer sandwich. It’s equally delicious as a salad, with all the tasty components served over the arugula and sans bread — a great option if you, like me, need a break after eating bagels and poutine. Try it at the shop on Seabright Avenue in Santa Cruz for $14.95. View the full menu at seabrightdeli.com.

Need a last-minute gift for Pops? Moss Landing-based Far West Fungi is offering 25% off its Shiitake Mushroom Mini-Farm Grow Kits, normally $25, if you purchase online Friday. I gave my dad one of its mushroom kits for Christmas, and he loved it. The kit contains everything you need to grow three to four crops of shiitake mushrooms — about 1.5 pounds of mushrooms — over the course of four to five months. It’s like an edible Chia pet — remember those? It’s durable and perfect for novices, and the shiitakes have a wonderful flavor, so here’s hoping Dad will be encouraged to try a new recipe or two. This offer is available online only at farwestfungi.com.

Events

This Saturday, the Slough Brewing Collective and Santa Cruz Cider Co. are throwing a Juneteenth party at the tasting rooms on Hangar Way in Watsonville. Expect live music, exhibits from local Black artists, a mini art market, abolition trivia and more. My Mom’s Mole will dish up its rich, homemade moles, while the cider pops, strawberry cider and craft beers from the Slough brewery will flow. This event starts at 5 p.m. and is free, with a $5 suggested donation to support incarcerated LGBTQI+ inmates through Bay Area-based activist collective A.B.O. Comix.

Still wondering what to do for Father’s Day? This sounds fun: On Sunday, Roaring Camp Railroads and Humble Sea Brewing Co. are teaming up on a Father’s Day Brew Train. Hop on at the Beach Boardwalk with the whole family and cruise through the Santa Cruz Mountains up to Roaring Camp while Humble Sea pours some of its favorite beers and live music plays. Once you arrive, enjoy more live music at Roaring Camp, a barbecue lunch and gold panning before heading back down to the beach. Reserve your spot at roaringcamp.com.

If Dad is feeling a little more formal and particularly carnivorous, The View at the Chaminade is offering a special Father’s Day dinner menu this Sunday. Additions include some huge steaks, including a 14-ounce Braveheart Angus sous vide ribeye, farm-raised venison strip steak, a 24-ounce, dry-aged, bone-in tomahawk ribeye and more, served with your choice of sauce. View the whole menu and make reservations at chaminade.com.

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