Elder Lopez of Laili, one of the restaurants participating in Santa Cruz Restaurant Week Oct. 2-9.

Elder Lopez of Laili, one of the restaurants participating in Santa Cruz Restaurant Week Oct. 2-9.

With each participant offering a special menu with full three-course meals for only $25 a person, Santa Cruz Restaurant Week (Oct. 2-9) is a great opportunity to check out something totally new, or revisit an old favorite. Still, there are more than 30 restaurants to choose from this year, and last we checked there were only seven days in a week. That means some careful research is in order.

Fortunately, we’ve done that footwork for you, by talking to the chefs, owners and general managers at every one of the participating restaurants. We asked them not only to give a little background about their culinary mission, but also to recommend a dish or two for those trying to decide where to spend their Restaurant Week dollars.

What we found out is not every restaurant approaches Restaurant Week the same way. Some are picking popular favorites from their regular menu, while others are using this as an opportunity to test out new items, and still others are just having fun with the whole concept, designing completely different menus that don’t necessarily reflect their typical offerings.

For more information on Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, go to

515 Kitchen & Cocktails

515 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 831.425.5051

ETHAN SAMUELS, BAR MANAGER: “One of our entrée specials for Santa Cruz Restaurant Week is a chicken leg saltimbocca, which we’re very excited about. It’s a dish that would be classically stuffed veal and we’re instead taking a chicken leg and stuffing it with prosciutto, sage and smoked gouda. It’s served with risotto and balsamic glazed asparagus. It’s incredibly succulent with a lot of flavor complexities. We’ll be pairing that one with a house cocktail involving some apple brandy along with fresh muddled sage and some nice apple liqueur and lemon juice. We’re doing the prosciutto, chicken, sage, smoked gouda element to the entrée, and then pairing it with a very apple, sage-centric cocktail. For dessert, we have a fresh chocolate mousse that we are serving with a house-made salted caramel and some chocolate covered bacon. So you have a bit of that salty sweet element you get with a chocolate covered pretzel, but also throwing in an even more savory element with the chocolate covered bacon—another one where we’re happy to be pairing it with a cocktail, incorporating some bacon-infused apple-brandy and some blackberry liqueur and ginger beer, so you’ve got a number of really cohesive flavors going on between the two.”



175 W. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, 831.460.5012
(Seafood, California Contemporary)

CRAIG MATTOX, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “I’m excited about the whole menu. I just started in June, and am really focusing on providing a good value, using local ingredients, creating things by hand. We’re making our own ricotta, and using produce from local farms. We’re really in touch with seasonality. We’ve eliminated a lot of premade menu items, you know, just really getting back to the roots of cooking by hand. I would suggest our roasted pear salad. We’re using Warren pears that are organic. We’re using a ricotta cheese that we’re making in-house. We’re getting all of our dairy products from Producers Dairy, which is right down the way. We’re using organic wild arugula that’s being grown in Watsonville. It’s very nice, very seasonal, very unpretentious, and just straightforward, delicious food. It’s a fall menu item. There’s an aged balsamic vinaigrette, so there’s definitely sweetness to it, you know the savory, peppery aspect to the arugula. The pears obviously have a sweetness all their own. The season for those pears is probably only a couple months long. When they’re done, they’re done. As far as the entrees go, we’re really trying to provide a lot of value. We’re doing a petite filet, red wine cabernet glazed, Yukon gold mashed potatoes. It’s a classic, straightforward steakhouse style plate. For the desserts, we’re doing one of my own recipes, this Banoffee pie. It’s caramel with bananas and whipped cream, all baked together into a pie crust. It’s pretty over the top and rich.”


8041 Soquel Dr., Aptos, 831.685.9500
(Mediterranean, California fusion)

ELI EPSTEIN, HEAD CHEF: “What we do here is California fusion, ’cause we have all the different ingredients. You have the white fish, the fresh garbanzos. It’s our take on what you call California fusion, but most of the tastes here are Mediterranean, Spanish. I like the Spanish cooking, Middle-Eastern cooking. We created a small menu for Restaurant Week. The beef carpaccio is really good. We put on it some cherry tomatoes, garlic confit, which is slow-cooked in olive oil, garlic, roasted red chilis, arugula, aged balsamic vinegar, radishes and “two rock” cheese. It’s lemony, salty and the aged balsamic vinegar adds some sweetener. It’s an Italian dish with the “two rock” cheese, which is from here in California. You have the radishes, which makes it a California fusion dish. I also recommend the Booka burger, it’s a very unique burger. The burger’s made out of ground lamb, Black Angus rib eye and filet mignon. Then we have our homemade bun. It’s made out of brioche dough. It’s a brioche bun with sesame. I make them really soft, but crispy outside, so you get a really nice burger bun with smoked paprika aioli, onion, lettuce and tomato.”

Café Rio

131 Esplanade, Aptos, 831.688.8917
(American, Steakhouse, Seafood)

KEVIN BUTLER, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We’re Californian influenced. We try to utilize local fish and local produce as much as possible, kind of new style California-style cuisine. Right now, I’d choose the heirloom tomato brochette for an appetizer. Heirloom tomatoes, it’s like a three-week window a year that they’re in season. That’s one ingredient I’m really pumped on that we’re going to be doing. We’ll also be doing a mushroom-stuffed sole with a caper beurre blanc sauce, which is going to be your white wine butter sauce, then we add the capers just to get that nice tartness, that nice pop to it, balanced with the earthy ingredients of the onions and the mushrooms. It has a little cheese taste on that, too. That’s really nice. I’m a fisherman for life. I get shellfish in daily. It’s kind of like coming over to my house and having the fisherman chef cook you up some home-style goods. We don’t go too extreme in trying to be fine dining. We still try to stick to being Santa Cruz where people like quality, super fresh. When it comes to fish and produce, you can’t get fresher than the Monterey Bay.”

Center Street Grill

1001 Center St., Santa Cruz, 831.423.4745

MARTY VOUTOS, OWNER: “It’s a simple little dish, the pork loin with blue cheese and peaches. We sell it all the time. It has just a splash of balsamic reduction. That’s probably one of my favorite things that’s going on the menu. We’re known for our bread pudding. People come and have it all the time. They get upset if we don’t have it. It’s made with caramel sauce and bananas. We don’t have a batch of caramel sauce sitting around—they make it up for every order, as we go, on the spot, every time, fresh made-to-order. It’s pretty darn good.”

Chocolate the Restaurant

1522 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.427.9900

DAVID JACKMAN, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We have a sister restaurant in the countryside, north of Florence. It’s called Il Locanda Del Castello. The chefs at that restaurant are the chefs that I studied with for seven years, and I worked for them in Italy. What we’re doing here is we’re basing our Restaurant Week menu on their menu. It’s a tribute to them, their most popular dishes. I think the most interesting of the appetizers is called picchipàcchio. It’s chilled eggplant salad with organic sundried tomatoes and onions in a sweet and sour vinaigrette, topped with toasted almonds. That’s served on a bed of organic Romaine leaves. At their restaurant, they serve it as an antipasta. We serve it that way here too, as part of our antipasta for Restaurant Week. The main course I’m most interested in is the one that is the least characteristic of what we do here at the restaurant, the most unusual. That’s medallions of pork loin stuffed with potatoes and organic vegetables. In other words, it’s flattened and rolled and baked like a loaf. What you end up with is rings of pork stuffed with vegetables in the middle. Because pork loin tends to be a little bit dry, I find this to be a much better way of cooking it. This comes with a seven-year-aged balsamic glaze. It’s really interesting paying attention to the nature of that cut, and also it’s fancy, which is fun. All three of our desserts we’re featuring are straight out of Marcello’s menu. Sacher Torte is a Viennese chocolate cake that they serve at the restaurant. It’s traditional Viennese dark chocolate cake with apricot filling and dark chocolate glaze. It’s strong, more than rich. It doesn’t technically have frosting or cream. Between the tartness of the apricot glaze and the bittersweet chocolate inside and out, rather than it being so filling, it’s a flavor to top off all the other flavors of the dinner. When I worked for them, I made that cake more than any other dessert. It’s extremely popular in bakeries in central Italy.”

Crow’s Nest

2218 E. Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, 831.476.4560
(American, Seafood)

JEFF WESTBROOK, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “Probably the thing I’m most excited about is the pancetta and citrus scallops. It’s large sea scallops crusted with pancetta, a citrus zest and bread crumbs, and then it’s topped with a Meyer lemon beurre blanc. It’s simple and clean. Also, we have a chocolate pecan torte. It has a chocolate shortbread crust with chocolate pecan mousse and topped with chocolate ganache. It’s rich, but the mousse part of it is pretty light. It’s got a lot of flavor, but not tremendously heavy.”

El Palomar

1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.425.7575

JOSE ESQUEA, CHEF: “I suggest the chile pasilla. We serve it here all the time, and it’s really good. There’s snapper, prawns, chipotle salsa and melted cheese. It’s stuffed with salsa. It’s something we make here in-house.”


Gabriella Café

910 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 831.457.1677

GEMA CRUZ, CHEF: “Everything is organic over here. All the food is house made. We get it from the farmers’ market. We’re doing gnocchi for the vegetarians, as an option. An appetizer we’re having is a salad with butter lettuce, with the roasted delicata squash, fennel, pomegranate and pine nuts. That is really good for this month. We’re going to have a Caesar salad. We’ve made that recipe for 18 years. For the people that like meat, we have delicious slow-braised ribs. For dessert, I have a pumpkin panna cotta. I am really happy with that.”

Hindquarter Bar & Grille

303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.426.7770

SAMUEL YANEZ, HEAD CHEF: “It is a 100 percent steakhouse, American cuisine. We are excited about ribs. Ribs are our main thing, the baby back ribs are really popular. The sauce we put on top is a really good sauce. It’s an old family recipe. I’ve been here for 25 years, and the recipe was here already. It’s a honey-peach flavor. The baby back ribs, we smoke them for four hours, and they fall off the bone. They’re really nice and tender. That’s why it’s our main thing at this restaurant. I just want [people] to try our steaks and ribs we have at this restaurant. I want them to try what we have here.”


1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.420.0135
(American, European Bistro)

MARK NICELY, DINNER CHEF: “We’re trying to do German comfort food. That’s really where we’re trying to take this place. We added a bar and European bistro cuisine. And we have a new selection of hamburgers on the list, as well for the dinner time. We’ve been running here a charmoula rib eye brochette, just to keep it fancy for Restaurant Week. A charmoula is a Moroccan steak sauce, very herbal, olive oil based, spicy. We’re putting that on premium-cut rib eye and skewering it with peppers and onions. It’s delicious. Charmoula is the new pesto. We’re going to make it more common. It’s so delicious. It’s a combination of cilantro, parsley, olive oil, cumin, red pepper, coriander—strong, good flavors, but just nicely balanced with the herbs and citrus. We’re going to pack you a punch with the charmoula, but round it off with some nice rice and veggies.”

Hula’s Island Grill

221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 831.426.4852

RITA PRICE, GENERAL MANAGER: “We don’t serve Hawaiian food. It’s more like a Hawaiian-themed restaurant. It’s Asian-fusion, Pacific Rim food. So we have everything. We have seafood, meat, lots of vegetarian. The Hawaiian ceviche is always good. It’s Hawaiian sea bass. Usually ceviche has shrimp, but it’s just all white fish. The chicken tacos are prepared with tequila-lime marinated chicken. They’re really good. A few times I’ve done three course menus, which I like doing, but we haven’t actually participated in Restaurant Week. I’m really excited about it, because I think it’s a great event. We have the Vietnamese spring rolls, which are vegetarian. I tried to give some options. There’s the Torch Chicken Wings. I’m really excited about the lemongrass-encrusted hapu, which is Hawaiian sea bass, but you can always sub tofu for it. It is so good.”

Ideal Bar and Grill

106 Beach St., Santa Cruz, 831.423.5271

JESUS GARCIA, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We have a little bit of pasta, seafood and steaks. It’s more American cuisine. I like the pot roast. We sear it and we slow cook it and roast it in the oven. We cook it with vegetables and herbs and a little bit of red wine. It’s a traditional pot roast. We do a lot of comfort foods. What I like is the flavors it has and the way it’s cooked. I like the red wine, the fresh thyme, a little bit of rosemary.”

Johnny’s Harborside

493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.479.3430

EVAN K LITE, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “Our slogan is ‘express catch, your way,’ basically local seafood cooked in a light and healthy fashion with your choice of accompaniments to it. It’s basically international cuisine, utilizing healthy ingredients, either local or international. We have 8-10 choices of fish. You can pick your fish, choose if you want it broiled, blackened, sautéed, and then which of the accompaniments you’d like. We set it up for you, and then we allow you, the customer, to choose how it is that will best suit you. A good dish for Restaurant Week is the crab and shrimp pagoda with cucumber salad. A pagoda is a stack, a tower. It’ll be like a wonton with a crab and shrimp filling, with a little bit of a wasabi cream cheese and another stack and another stack. The whole dish is definitely a Pacific Rim, Asian dish. There’s a lot of ginger, the sweetness obviously from the crab and whatnot, sesame oil. We’re also going to do a nice warm goat cheese fondue with garlic-grilled crostini.”


101 Cooper St., Santa Cruz, 831.423.4545
(Mediterranean, Afghan)

ALI AMIN, GENERAL MANAGER: “The Kadoo Boranee, that’s a very unique thing that we have. It’s the butternut squash we have. It’s braised, slow-cooked with a lot of spices. It’s very delicious. It’s our one traditional Afghani thing. I would definitely recommend everyone try that out if they’ve never been to our restaurant. It’s slow-cooked in a pot, and then the juices are extracted and then it’s cooked in its own juices also. Generally we eat it with naan. Everyone gets our house naan. You’ll take a piece of the kadoo, some of the yogurt and the naan and wrap it up and take a bite. It’s a traditional Afghani item, but we do a little twist on it. Ours is a little sweeter than traditionally you’ll have it. And our presentation is definitely unique. It just looks nice. We take chunks of it and we make a mound, then we take qurut yogurt with paprika and mint around. We also have our favorite new salad, which is our cilantro Caesar salad, then we have our main soup, which is the maush awa soup. It’s a three bean soup with lamb. Maush is actually a fancy word for mung—the mung bean. So it has mung bean, garbanzo beans and lentils and yellow split peas. It’s cooked with a lot of different spices and a braised lamb. All three of those appetizers are kind of unique, tasty variations. You can’t go wrong with any one of them.”

La Posta

538 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.457.2782
(Italian, Californian)

KATHERINE STERN, HEAD CHEF: “Restaurant Week is just me choosing things that are in season now, and some of that late summer produce that is at its height right now. We’re just starting to use Brussels sprouts, which are showing up pretty often now. We have a Brussels sprouts salad on the menu. It’s raw Brussels sprouts and celery roots and almonds and lemons. The thing is, the menu is subject to change. It’s the ingredients I’m excited about that are going to be available. Brussels sprouts and things like winter squash are just starting now. Because we’re using everything local—as local as possible—when I go to the market on the Wednesday before, I’m going to have to be sure that everything is there. If not, then we’ll change it. I’m not going to be sourcing from anywhere else. I’m sure it’ll be as close to what’s written as possible.”

Linwood’s at Chaminade Resort

1 Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz, 831.475.5600
(American, Californian)

KIRSTEN PONVA, EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF: “We’re definitely into the local farm-to-table style foods. There’s a salad that I think is going to be really fantastic. It’s with our organic baby greens, and it’s going to have a smoked apple vinaigrette with kettle corn croutons, goat cheese and fresh apples. I think the flavor combination on that is going to be really fun. It’s going to give people a lot of things to taste, more exciting than just regular organic greens that you’d get at a normal restaurant. I’m also really excited about the salted caramel affogato dessert. It’s a classic Italian-style dessert I have an affinity for. It lets me have dessert and coffee in one. It’s a salted caramel gelato, and you get a shot of espresso with that and a dark chocolate biscotti, and you can definitely pour that over the top, use your biscotti to eat. It’s like a coffee and dessert in one.”

Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar

110 Church St., Santa Cruz, 831.429.2000
(Cajun, Creole)

GIOVANNI CAVIGLIA, CHEF: “The pork loin is really good. It’s a nice cut. It’s really nice meat. We top it with cream cheese, crab and green onion and then there’s a Dijon cream sauce that’s nice and rich and creamy. All the flavors go together really well. That’s definitely my favorite thing. It’s more of a fusion type thing, but we also have the traditional jambalaya. We have two different kinds of jambalaya. There’s shrimp and crawfish, which is the seafood jambalaya. Then we have more of a meat jambalaya, which has chicken, our own housemade pulled pork and our own housemade Andouille sausage, which we pull and smoke here. It’s almost like a California Cajun sort of thing. One other thing I’m really excited about is our new dessert. It’s like a dessert waffle. We make chocolate chip strawberry waffle, it’s almost like an ice cream sandwich. Ice cream in the middle, and then it’s topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar, then strawberries and blueberries. We’re going to put that on the menu soon. It’s not on there now, but it’ll be on the Restaurant Week menu.”

Main Street Garden Café

3101 N Main St., Soquel, 831.477.9265

MAURO ZANELLA, OWNER: “We serve Italian countryside. What does this mean? It’s mostly housemade. Housemade pasta, the wood-fired pizza. We have a garden in the back of the restaurant where we grow a lot of vegetables that we serve in the dishes we prepare. This month we have kale, we have bell peppers, we have beans. We use all of these ingredients to make Italian dishes. But it’s countryside. It’s not classic lasagna or spaghetti, just housemade pasta. One of the things we’re proud to serve for Restaurant Week for an appetizer is burrata. Burrata is a fresh mozzarella with a cream, and we serve it with a garlic confit. One entrée I recommend is the papparedelle. Papparedelle is a large noodle. The noodle is housemade, by hand, that is served with a pork ragu and tomato sauce and pecorino. We do the wood-fired chicken with cannellini beans and salsa verde. Salsa verde is a classic for chicken in Italy in the countryside. For dessert is a fennel pollen panna cotta.”


Michael’s on Main

2591 S. Main St., Soquel, 831.479.9777
(American, Comfort Food)

MICHAEL R CLARK, CHEF/OWNER: “We serve cutting-edge comfort food, ‘cutting-edge’ meaning we’re a green restaurant. We recycle everything. We’re sustainable with the Monterey Bay Aquarium for our seafood. We use organic products. We have four farmers that grow for us. We’re very strong in organic products. The most important thing about us is the quality of our product. That turns out the best food. Getting back to what comfort cuisine is: pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, salmon rolled in pistachios with a mint vinaigrette on a bed of mushroom risotto. It’s just fun food. Our house salad is totally organic spring mix, apples with candied pecans and cranberries with tarragon vinaigrette. The other one that we’ve done different this year is that we’re doing our calamari. Then we have two dipping sauces. We have what we call our grilled bistro filet, which is a special cut of beef. It’s not a filet. It’s really more of a bistro filet. The meat has a little bit more flavor to it. It has wild mushroom and zinfandel sauce. It’s topped with Point Reyes bleu cheese. Of course I have the pistachio crusted salmon with the mint vinaigrette with the wild mushroom risotto. Then we have spinach artichoke ravioli with an asiago sauce and sun-dried tomatoes.”


Oak Tree Ristorante

5447 Hwy 9, Felton, 831.335.5551

SEBASTIAN NOBILE, CHEF: “The most important thing about the restaurant is that we make everything from zero. We make homemade breads, homemade pastas. We make sauces, jams, spices, everything right here. What’s important for us is the quality of the ingredients, and the quality of the food. We are very different than everyone else that does pasta because we do all the pasta right here. I always put on the menu homemade pasta because there is a big difference, the pastas that we do, the raviolis. That’s my goal with people, to see the quality of the pasta, homemade and cooked right in the moment. We are offering the wild mushroom ravioli (agnolotti ai funghi) for Restaurant Week. I make it traditional with butter and sage.”

Pearl of the Ocean

736 Water St., Santa Cruz, 831.457.2350
(Sri Lankan)

AYOMA WILEN, OWNER/EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We do authentic, organic Sri Lankan cuisine. It’s very unique. It’s not like Indian or Thai food. It’s a very unique cooking style. We don’t curry the food. The spice mix we are using and Indians are using are totally different. I created this food not only for Sri Lankans, but for other people to see. We have a garlic dip and a paan. It looks like it’s Indian naan, but it’s so soft. It’s an unbelievable texture, so soft. I’m offering spring rolls; people really like it, the avocado and the carrots, the way I make the chutney sauce, mango. I make it here. People eat spring roll from Thailand with peanut sauce—this isn’t like anything they’ve ever experienced before. The other thing I’m offering is a kale salad. It has pear, strawberries, caramelized onions, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. It’s unbelievable.”

Red Restaurant and Bar

200 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 831.425.1913

JOSH HARRIS, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We use organic and sustainably farmed produce. All of our beef is all-natural, grass-fed, free-range. We strive for a kind of casual elegance. We like to do fine-dining style food. We understand that it’s Santa Cruz, though. There are a lot of people that want to be casual. I’m very excited about our ravioli. It’s a vegan entrée. We don’t necessarily showcase vegan food, but we make a point of providing that. We don’t say vegan on our menu or anything like that. It’s ancho chile and coco pasta and stuffed with herbs and pistachios. It’s going to be fairly rich. It’ll have a nice thick creamy sauce. Instead of adding cream, we’re going to use olive oil, and it has the same texture as cream sauce. It’s an interesting technique that I picked up from a chef that I know, and it works wonders. I’m excited about our duck. We’re getting really nice duck. All of our meat is really high quality. I’m always excited about the poultry that we serve.”

Ristorante Italiano

555 Soquel Ave. #150, Santa Cruz, 831.458.2321

ERNESTO GARCIA, HEAD CHEF: “What we have on the menu this time is lobster cioppino. We mix together different seafood in marinara broth. It’s going to be with lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and Alaskan cod. That’s a lot of seafood. I wanted to do something I know people like. We put it together in a marinara broth, we cook it like that in the broth. We serve it with a little bit of pasta. We also are going to have a charbroiled New York steak. The third dish is going to be vegetarian. It’s a combo plate with eggplants, cannelloni and spaghetti Margherita.”


1 Seascape Village, Aptos, 831.662.7120
(American, Seafood)

KARL STAUB, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We just changed our menu, so this is just a synopsis of some of the new items we have on there. Starting off on appetizers, we have harissa clams, so we have Andouille sausage. It goes with some cilantro in there. It’s got a little bit of heat to it. It’s a really nice hearty type of autumn winter dish. It’s basically regional, coastal California. Also, the boneless short ribs that we have, they melt in your mouth. It’s really a nice, great dish that we feature. It’s a very long braise that we do with the root vegetables, wine and aromatics. A great dessert of course is our crème brulée. It’s fantastic, done in-house. And we do an apple crostata, which is like a rustic apple pie.”

Severino’s Bar & Grill

7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos, 831.688.8987
(American, Seafood)

ANTONIO GOMEZ, CHEF: “We have a lot of good steaks and meat. The skirt steak pasta, we call it pasta bisteka. It’s a really good item. It’s a marinated angus skirt steak, really tender. We charbroil it. We put it over a linguini pasta with a creamy sauce. It’s really a rich creamy sauce, like a blue cheese Roquefort. People love it here. We used to have it on the menu a long time ago. We took it off to switch the menu. It seemed like people missed it. There’s other pastas with skirt steak, but we do our own version. We’re also doing a cioppino. Everybody has their own version, some of them a little different than others. There’s a good variety of seafood on ours. We do a prawn fumé with prawn shells, our own tomato sauce on it. That’s another good dish. I would say our sauce is what makes it special. We use really good tomatoes to make the sauce and we use prawn shells like a lot of people use fishbones—I like to use the prawn shells for stock. That’s what makes the difference in our cioppino. Some other places do big batches, and serve it like that. We do all of ours by order.”

Soif Wine Bar

105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 831.423.2020
(American, Californian)

SANTOS MAJANO, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We are farm-to-table. We have a soup that’s butternut squash and apples. Because it’s fall, we are doing butternut squash, ’cause that is in season. We get the apples from Watsonville. We do that with goat cheese and pepitas. That is in the soup. The squash is from farmers’ markets. We want to taste where we’re getting everything. Also we have the pork shoulder with tagliatelle and root vegetables. That is something that has meat. We’re also doing gnocchi. That one is kabocha squash. It is a winter squash and it only comes out right around now. That we’re going to do a little butter with fresh herbs. We’re going to top that with roasted mushrooms and a little bit of cheese, and some arugula that we’re getting from a local farm. We’re trying to make it a little more interesting, just using the local ingredients.”

Stonehouse Bar and Grill

6001 La Madrona Dr., Santa Cruz , 831.440.1000
(California, American)

EDUARDO MACOTTO, EXECUTIVE CHEF: “We’re trying to be sustainable. We’re conscious in what we use. That’s the direction we want to go, trying to be more organic, more sustainable and conscious, you know, with the kind of seafood and chicken we get. The grilled asparagus salad is a great dish. This is, again, local farmers. I have fresh raspberries, and I have a fresh raspberry vinaigrette. So a very light dressing, all natural, I think it’ll be a great touch for the salad. I’m also really excited about the beef skewers, and beer and cheddar cheese fondue. The flavors that we use to marinate the beef, and the flavors that we use in the fondue are very unique. We use the brown ale with the cheddar cheese fondue, fresh herbs, and everything combined together makes a great fondue.”


3910 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz, 831.600.7068
(American, California)

ANTHONY DIAS, HEAD CHEF: “We’re doing a grilled vegetable lasagna. It’s all in-house. We roast the vegetables. The lasagna I’m excited about, because all the vegetables are coming from our farm. We have a farm out in Corralitos, it’s all organic vegetables; I go out and select them and deliver them that day. It’s a variety of vegetables: zucchini, squash, eggplant, and we make our own marinara. We make our own pesto with ricotta cheese. It’ll come from our farm as well. It’s organic and super fresh. I’m super excited about that one. There’s definitely going to be zucchini and squash every day, then we’ll see what’s out there and what’s available at the farm. We’re happy with the whole menu. All the desserts we’re doing this year are in-house. We do a seasonal cheesecake that we just put on our menu. We’ll be doing probably different cheesecakes throughout the week. What we’re doing is little mini, individual cheesecakes. We’ll run maybe a blueberry cheesecake a couple days and change it up, whatever’s available. We get a lot of the berries from the farm as well—strawberries, blackberries. The fish we try to keep local as well. We’ll have grilled seasonal fish, which we do all the time, so we try and keep it all local. We’re all about that.”

The Point Chop House & Lounge

3326 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz, 831.476.2733

BRIAN MANLEY, KITCHEN MANAGER: It’s a steakhouse, with comfort food. I liked to add spices and mix things up a little bit with different flavors from around the world. On the sirloin, it is French mixed with more of a California style. I did the top sirloin with a balsamic and shallot glaze with the red onions and bleu cheese. It’s got herbs, garlic, shallots, balsamic vinegar, fresh olive oil, extra virgin olive oil. It’s a little tangy and sweet. It’s Angus baseball cut. We have a great creme brûlée. It has a little bit of an orange liqueur, which is a little bit of a twist. It gives it a little sweet orange flavor in there, which is nice.”

Tyrolean Inn

9600 Hwy 9, Ben Lomond, 831.336.5188

GREGORY MAGNUSSON, CHEF: “We do Bavarian style comfort home cooking, very traditional. We are selecting the traditional favorites [for Restaurant Week], the ones that are most popular, the biggest sellers with our clientele. I would say the goulash is an excellent contender. It’s paprika-based, tomato-based. We don’t cook out of cans or packages. What we’re offering is the top of the line picks of what our customers appreciate, like Holzfäller Pfanne. It is pork cutlets off a boneless pork loin. It’s served with onions, mushrooms, bacon and tomatoes, with a little bit of spice added into it. That’s a very tasty one. It’s basically two pork chops. It’s Bavarian, so southern German. Most of our entrees tend to be from the southern region. They take a little bit from Italy, a little bit from France, because when you’re down in that part of Germany, you’re within an hour of either border. So we have lighter sauces than, say, in the northern German parts, and pastas and things like that, which we do. The other dish we’re offering is the Jägerschnitzel. That is pork cutlets in a creamy mushroom sauce. That is served with the German noodles and vegetables. The appetizers? I think the most popular one is called the Würstelgrösti, which is a variety of sausages, onion, bell pepper and tomato. For dessert we have the Apfelstrudel, which everyone loves. That’s the most popular dessert we have.”

Zelda’s on the Beach

203 Esplanade, Capitola, 831.475.4900
(American, Californian)

JILL EALY, GENERAL MANAGER: “Our ceviche is delicious. We use a tilapia and shrimp. It’s a citrus marinade. It has mango in it—fresh diced mango. It has lots of cilantro. It’s very fresh and tasty. We’re doing the charbroiled mahi mahi, flat iron steak and chicken piccata. I tried to pick one from each, a seafood, chicken and steak, to have something for everyone. Out of those three, I would say I like the steak. I love steak. It’s a flat iron steak with mashed potatoes and it has an herb butter. I love chicken piccata, too. It’s really good with the capellini. Our best seller would be the mahi. A lot of people that come to the Bay want to come to the ocean and have fish. We have steaks, pastas, chicken. We definitely focus on seafood. For dessert, it’s probably our bread pudding that’s tastiest. We make it in-house. It has a bourbon caramel sauce. Very tasty. We also have a lava cake and a key lime pie.”