Dining Reviews

Santa Cruz Food and Drink Scene Embraces Outdoor Seating

Ser Winery is one of many local spots now offering al fresco seating

Patrons sit outside at Ser Winery Tasting Room in Aptos. PHOTO: NICOLE WALSH

On my way to pick up a spice-laden dinner from India Joze, I drove through downtown Santa Cruz and I was thrilled by what I saw—streets blocked off from traffic and filled instead with tables, chairs, and happy diners. 

So many local eateries, from Mozaic and Lupulo to Kianti and Gabriella, are now able to serve appropriately distanced patrons in the open air. And everybody was having a great time. 

There’s more of this innovation popping up all the time. The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is planning a new monthly Coffee Outside series starting Aug. 14, 9-10am, at Ocean View Park. A rotating lineup of artists will show and tell along with self-serve coffee courtesy of Cat and Cloud. Check it out.

Ser Winery Outdoor Tasting

Winemaker Nicole Walsh is splitting her time these days between vineyards and tasting room, the sort of multitasking that makes her wine-loving fans happy. To make them even happier, Walsh has opened up her Aptos Village Tasting Room for outdoor seating. 

Under the huge ochre shade umbrellas, tasters can sample some of the engaging and distinctive wines made by the woman who also finds time to surf when she isn’t tweaking the vines that go into Randall Grahm’s unusual varietals. Of course you can always order and pick up curbside Ser’s 2015 Cabernet Pfeffer, the celebrated Rosé of Cinsault, or my favorite: the minerally 2017 Dry Riesling, Wirz Vineyard. All offer handcrafting and loads of terroir. Make a reservation for al fresco tasting.

Tasting room open Friday-Saturday 3-7pm; Sunday 2-6pm. Curbside pickup also available. 10 Parade St., Suite B, Aptos. serwinery.com.

Oaxaca on Mission

The new Oaxacan restaurant Copal opened its doors for takeout last week. Authentic Oaxacan specialties, created by Oaxaca native Ana Mendoza—famed for her many awards at the annual Mole and Mariachi Festival—fill the debut menu. Molotes fritters, tlayudas, mole negro, and my all-time favorite tamales, the tamal de mole wrapped in a banana leaf. 

Soon we can expect a small-batch mezcal list that will fuel exciting to-go cocktails. Obviously hours and menu will expand as the world reopens. Outdoor seating is also coming in the near future. Stay tuned! 

1203 Mission St., Santa Cruz. Thursday-Sunday, 4-8pm. 831-201-4418, copalrestaurant.com.

Ocean2Table gets craftier all the time, partnering with the sea as well as land-based providers. Dry farmed tomatoes from Groundswell can be added to your weekly delivery, along with feta cheese from Garden Variety Cheese. You could add some salt and pepper cucumbers from Live Earth Farm to make a serious Greek salad. There’s also Fogline Farms chicken breast, fresh halibut, and fresh king salmon! 

These purveyors have their act together. Place an order; it’s very simple. Try the Ocean2Table Fish and Farm Box—with salmon or halibut, king trumpet mushrooms and a loaf of three seed sourdough from Companion Bakeshop. Santa Cruz County deliveries happen every Friday! 

getocean2table.com.

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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