The kitchen at Alderwood Santa Cruz (top); the exterior of Venus Beachside.
The kitchen at Alderwood Santa Cruz (top); the exterior of Venus Beachside (bottom).
(Via Alderwood Santa Cruz, Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Alderwood Santa Cruz back open, Venus Beachside soon to follow post-remodels

Downtown’s Alderwood Santa Cruz is cooking again, with a renewed emphasis on fine dining, while Venus Spirits’ Rio Del Mar restaurant is aiming to reopen in July. Both locations underwent a facelift, and Venus Beachside is promising some menu renovations, too.

This story was originally featured in this week’s Lily Belli on Food newsletter. Be the first to hear about food and drink news in Santa Cruz County — sign up for Lily’s email newsletter here and text alerts here.

After closing earlier this year for a remodel, Alderwood’s location on Walnut Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz has reopened with a renewed focus on fine dining. Following a soft relaunch, the restaurant opened for regular service last week. Hours will be Wednesday through Sunday, from 5 to 9 p.m., for the foreseeable future.

“Our loyal fans will still experience the warmth of the hearth, the steaks, and the fresh locally sourced produce,” Jeffrey Wall, executive chef and partner, said in a news release. “What will feel new is an intentional shift towards a true dining experience, where every dish is meticulously crafted to showcase the culinary and artistic passion of our team.”

Alderwood’s sister location on Pacific Avenue will continue its focus on slightly more casual cuisine like the restaurant’s signature cheeseburger, salads, sandwiches and a raw oyster bar. (See Lily’s review from earlier this year.)

Farther south, Venus Spirits is preparing to reopen its location in Aptos next month. Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen Beachside, which took over the old Cafe Rio in Rio Del Mar last year, was open for a few months last summer and fall before closing for renovations. Now, it’s preparing for a relaunch with a new chef at the helm. Chef Gaby Molina, currently chef at Venus’ Westside Santa Cruz location, will lead the kitchen, with baked goods prepared by pastry chef Nicole Sanchez. Sanchez also does the baking for the Westside location and Venus Pie Trap, next door to Venus Beachside in Aptos. All three restaurants are owned by Sean and Grace Venus, the proprietors of Venus Spirits.

The exterior of Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen Beachside
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The new Rio Del Mar menu will feature some of the favorites from the Westside, such as the crispy Brussels sprouts, as well as some of the dishes the beachside restaurant served last summer and fall, such as the lobster roll and oysters Rockefeller. But, said manager Lauren Long, there are new dishes in the works that will be available only in Aptos. More details on those to come.

The new spot has been given a full makeover with help from the design wizards at Santa Cruz’s Stripe Design Services.

Long said that while the exact opening date is still a bit fluid, the goal is for early-to-mid July for dinner service only. Follow the restaurant on Instagram for the latest.