Found in Aptos: refined comfort food in a historic sport
The rich history of the building housing the new Aptos restaurant the Hideout—which opened last month—isn’t lost on co-owners Peter Vomvolakis and Austin Welch. You will find old photos of the building, which dates back to 1930, hanging around the current restaurant. The building was originally a home, then a nursery, a church, and starting in 1970, a handful of different restaurants. The latest, the Hideout, is all about refined comfort food and good drinks—Vomvolakis and Welch were bartenders for years. We spoke with Vomvolakis about the new Aptos venture.
Why is it called the Hideout? Are you hard to find?
PETER VOMVOLAKIS: Yeah, it’s tucked away in the back of this little parking lot, kind of a frontage road. It’s a total hideout location. That’s where we got the name—you have to know it’s there, definitely. I mean, there’s a sign on the street. If you’re driving down the road, you can see there’s something back there.
How have you incorporated the history into the design of the Hideout?
We’ve kept a lot of the original hardwood floors. We removed the carpet and just refinished the original floors. We did a lot of redwood in the building, which fits the area because it’s totally surrounded by redwoods. It’s a kind of modern-rustic thing.
What’s a Hideout Burger?
What we do is we cut up bacon, and we pack the bacon on top of the patty and then we cook it bacon side down. The bacon cooks basically in the patty, then we serve it with blue cheese. It’s like a bacon blue cheese burger, but it’s cooked a little differently.
I hear you make a great root beer float.
Yeah, we use Sparky’s Root Beer, which is made in Pacific Grove, and Polar Bear Ice Cream, which is made here in Santa Cruz. We try to use a lot of local products. We have Alfaro wine on tap. We’ve been selling a ton of that. And we have three local breweries on tap. And other local wines as well.
Whose recipe do you use for your Nonna’s Bolognese pasta?
That’s the chef’s grandma. Nonna’s Bolognese is a recipe he’s been familiar with since he was a little kid, from her. It’s got fresh tomatoes and meat basically—ground beef with fresh tomatoes and garlic and herbs. There’s no tomato paste. Just fresh meat and tomatoes and flavors with a garlic crostini and shaved Parmesan.
Why do you braise your short ribs in Merlot?
The sugar in the wine gives it a nice caramelization on the outside of the beef. It gives it the spices of the wine, kind of the rich flavor that a Merlot has, some serious bell pepper flavor. It’s cooked with vegetables. There’s no stock in there as far as I know.
9051 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 688-5566. PHOTO: Peter Vomvolakis (left) and Austin Welch of the Hideout. CHIP SCHEUER