Food & Drink

Water St. Grill Specializes in Handcrafted Farm-to-Table Cuisine

Local and organic ingredients put focus on lots of greens

Diners enjoy their meals under the heat lamps at The Water St. Grill in Santa Cruz. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

The Water St. Grill is a family-owned restaurant that specializes in handcrafted farm-to-table cuisine paired with a great selection of wine and beer.

They are currently open for takeout and outdoor dining seven days a week, serving dinner from 4-9pm, and serving lunch noon-3pm on Saturday and Sunday. Chef and owner Jonathan DeGeneres, who opened the Water St. Grill in 2014, has worked with and been in love with food all of his life. He has over 20 years of cooking experience, originally learning from his family. GT recently caught up with him about his restaurant.

How would you characterize your menu and the food you serve?

JONATHAN DEGENERES: I would say the cuisine is American/Italian, with most of the American food being classic comfort food. We love to use local and organic ingredients, with lots of greens, and the food is made-to-order to perfection. We focus on not only presentation, but also delicious and flavorful food that brings back memories of childhood home-cooking.

What are a few of your best dishes?

We have a New York steak dish with jumbo prawns that makes for a great surf and turf. The steak has our homemade seasoning blend and is grilled to perfection, and the prawns are done in a cajun-blackened style. The dish is also served with our homemade mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Another surf and turf option is either a filet mignon or a ribeye steak served with a lobster tail. The filet is about 8-10 ounces and the ribeye is 12 ounces, and the lobster tails are good-sized, too, at about 8-10 ounces. This dish comes with mashed potatoes, and for a vegetable a choice of either broccolini or asparagus. My favorite Italian dish is our garlic shrimp pasta. It comes with fettuccini noodles, a little red chili flake, chopped garlic, shrimp, and is infused with a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce.

What is the restaurant’s philosophy on service?

Our concept—the whole idea—is that it’s not a large restaurant, but it’s very cozy and homey. We want it to feel just like a person’s home. We have a lot of local and loyal regulars, and we are very grateful to them for helping us through this tough time of the pandemic.

503 Water St., Santa Cruz. 831-332-6122,

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