A calendar of the most enticing Santa Cruz food events and festivals
May 19-21 — Santa Cruz Greek Festivals
Ever just get a hankering for all things Greek? Surprisingly, Santa Cruz has got a pretty great Greek game. For the immediate hunger there’s the 10th Annual Greek Food Faire on May 19-21—three glorious days of Greek culture, food, and live music. And if eating like a Greek just wasn’t enough for you, you can always live like one with the Santa Cruz Greek Festival which offers pretty much everything that the food faire doesn’t. Think spirits, pastries, dancing, shopping, pottery, more Greek food and more Greek music for a fully Greekified summer celebration.
June 3 — Bonny Doon Art, Wine & Brew Festival
Festival-goers will be treated to an afternoon of art in the redwoods, featuring wine and craft brew tasting, with live music provided by returning headliner Extra Large and opener the Naked Bootleggers. There will also be food trucks of all kinds to provide the perfect pairings. Last year, this benefit event raised more than $50,000 to fund science and art programs at Bonny Doon Elementary School.
Info: 1 p.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday, June 3, Bonny Doon Equestrian Park
3675 Bonny Doon Road, Bonny Doon. Bonnydoonartandwinefestival.com. Tickets $49 through May 31; $69 until June 3; $79 on-site.
July 15 — Eighth Annual Hop N’ Barley Festival
More than 50 craft breweries, 12 cideries, and two stages of live music—how else would you want to spend your Saturday afternoon in July? Indulge responsibly on the best from Speakeasy, Discretion, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Lost Coast, and so many more. This year’s festival will also feature games, goodies, and live music by Paa Kow, The Leftovers, Windy Hill, Daze on the Green, and Ancestree.
July 22 — Wine Passport Days
The best part about summering in Santa Cruz? There is plenty to quench your thirst. With cider, beer, and spirits events, there’s a little for everybody, and starting in April the Wine Passport Days offer the best for wine lovers. The Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association offers a taste of local vintner history as well as the best of the barrel on the third Saturdays of April, July, November and January, in partnership with more than 50 wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Info: Noon-5 p.m., Saturday, July 22. scmwa.com. $65.
September 9-10 — 35th Annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival
More than 160 fine artists and 22 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries. Grab a glass, sit back, and enjoy the 35th annual Capitola Art & Wine Festival in the heart of town. There’s fun for the whole family with craft projects, juice tasting, dance and performing arts groups, street performers and live music.
September 9 — Mole & Mariachi Festival
It’s the mole celebration that will have you saying olé, maybe all day. Last year’s festival drew nearly 4,000 people and winners included Sunny’s Catering and El Chipotle. Mole & Mariachi is a benefit for the nonprofit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks and features dancing, music, and mojigangas (giant puppets).
Info: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, 144 School St., Santa Cruz. Tasting kits $10.
September 13-17 — Santa Cruz County Fair
The favorite summertime tradition for the young and young at heart, plus deep-fried everything. Viva la summer!
October 28 — Eighth Annual Santa Cruz Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off
Who will win this year’s competition to create the most delicious in comfort food? You decide. Professional and amateur chefs cook the finest in Amateur Red, Amateur Vegetarian Red, Professional Red, and Professional Vegetarian Red. A portion of the proceeds go to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center.
Local Artisan Pantry Marketplace at Food Lounge
The Santa Cruz Food Lounge is a critical incubator for emerging pop-up restaurateurs in town. They host a variety of monthly events to showcase local delicacies like the La Sofrita pop-up, open mic and burgers event, and weekly happy hour Monday through Friday. They also recently opened their own artisan pantry for a one-stop shop on everything from Live Earth Farm CSA, Fogline Farm chicken and pork, Ocean2table fish, and foraged products.
Food Trucks A Go Go
Santa Cruz’s food truck scene is growing, slowly and surely, but still lacks a unifying location to host all at once—which is why Food Trucks A Go Go offers food truck gatherings all around the county throughout the year. Every Tuesday, Food Trucks A Go Go hosts Taco Tuesday in the Park at Anna Jean Cummings Park in Soquel, so grab a taco and start the summer off right. Other events include food trucks Saucey’z and G’s Mexican Tacos, and several other master restaurateurs on wheels. Keep an eye out for their summer schedule.
FoodShed Project Farmers Markets Pop-Ups
Using the public spaces of local farmers markets, the FoodShed Project hosts monthly events to talk, listen, cook, and celebrate seasonal food items and the vendors growing them. Free and family friendly, they host events at the downtown farmers markets on the second Wednesday of each month between June and September.
Info: 3 p.m., Wednesday, June 14, Downtown Farmers Market, Center and Lincoln streets, Santa Cruz. santacruzfarmersmarket.org/campaigns/the-food-shed-project. Free.