Dining Reviews

Enormous, Playful Menu Makes Beach Hut Deli Stand Out

Ample outdoor dining area offers space to safely enjoy this deli

Beach Hut Deli owners Joe and Marisa DuBois with their son Milo. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

The beach theme, outdoor picnic menu, and wraparound sports bar atmosphere make the new Beach Hut Deli at Ocean Street and Soquel Avenue a venue geared up for a summer season in a world where you can pull up a stool and sip your beer while watching a live soccer match. 

But this isn’t quite that world, and while it seems odd that this brightly colored sandwich shop opened its doors during a pandemic, you have to applaud the courage involved. The Beach Hut Deli, whose gargantuan sandwiches and salads feature acres of deli meats, cheeses, and condiments, has plenty of well-spaced interior booths, plus a cozy little beer and wine bar that faces one of six screens—all tuned to the World Series when we visited last week. 

My buddy Kate spotted the big, bright umbrellas and the ample outdoor dining area and thought it looked like a well-organized place for our next lunch. And it was. The warm autumn afternoon provided the outdoor atmosphere. The enormous menu offers playful salads, beach munchies served on taco chips, hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches—even a few soups of the day. If it can fit on a French roll, it’s on this menu.

So we placed our order next to a barrel filled with umpteen varieties of chips, paid, and took a seat at a corner table that offered my favorite combination of half shade and half sun. Sure, it’s a chain, but our Beach Hut Deli boasted a friendly local staff intent on making us happy. 

Kate’s hot Pig Kahuna was an open-faced spectacle of pulled pork slathered with a sweet BBQ sauce heightened by Tabasco, Bulls-Eye, and cheddar, topped with fresh pineapple. Tasty. 

My Surfin Pig involved an acreage of ham, avocado, bacon, and cream cheese, with adornments of shredded lettuce, excellent tomatoes, pepperoncini, and a dill pickle. Major. 

While I ate steadily during our lunch, I only managed to consume half this baby ($10.50 each). Kate added a green iced tea to her lunch, and I made myself a lemon Coke, which as everyone knows is the perfect foil for a ham sandwich on a warm day ($2.75 each). Pleasantly full of fresh flavors, with good value for the money, we rolled out of Beach Hut Deli with hopes that this amiable coastal diner will attract its share of patrons. 

Open daily 10am-8pm. 381 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 831-431-6921, beachhutdeli.com.

The Inimitable Marianne’s

We followed lunch with a perfect end-of-meal, end-of summer dessert at Marianne’s Ice Cream, where Kate went for the flat-out decadence of caramel ice cream studded with fudge swirl and Oreo cookies—the infamous and justly popular 1020. I opted for something more subdued but just as creamy, a cup of elegant Black Walnut liberally laced with … black walnuts. Each $3.50/cup. Marianne’s Ice Cream serves 105 flavors of peerless ice cream—with appropriate social distancing. Since 1947! 

1020 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. 831-458-1447, mariannesicecream.com.

Horsing Around

Mark your calendars Nov. 21 for a unique Drive-Through Harvest Dinner Party hosted by the Agricultural History Project. Horsing Around with History is the event, to be held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Drive through the fairgrounds from 3-6pm and pick up a hearty meal from Monterey Bay Caterers.

Tickets are $50 and the purchase of four tickets gets you a bottle of wine—your choice of red or white—from Martin Ranch Winery. Don’t forget your raffle tickets! The drawing is for more than $4,000 in cash and prizes. Go online now for info and tickets. Visit aghistoryproject.org/harvestdinner, or call 831-724-5898.  

UPDATED Oct. 29, 2020: This story was updated to reflect the correct nearest crossroads for the Beach Hut Deli. GT regrets the error.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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