Best New Restaurants in Santa Cruz County in 2014

best new santa cruz restaurants

Editor’s Note – We wanted to put together a list of some of the best new restaurants to open in and around Santa Cruz in 2014.  We naturally turned to Tara Fatemi Walker from for help.  What follows is a 7-part series of Tara’s picks for the best new restaurants.  Bon appetit!

There were several restaurants that opened in 2014 in the Santa Cruz area, and I’ve narrowed that group to my favorite seven.

Restaurants are listed alphabetically, with the first likely coming as a surprise to no one.

First up is Assembly, which opened to much fanfare this past March.  Read the Assembly review, or use the links below to read about a few of the best new restaurants in Santa Cruz:


Assembly Santa CruzZach Davis and Kendra Baker opened Assembly, their latest venue and their first full-service restaurant, in March.  The dynamic duo first opened The Penny Ice Creamery in 2010 and followed that with The Picnic Basket and then more Penny locations.

Read the Assembly Review…

Back Nine Grill & Bar

Back Nine Grill and BarBack Nine Grill & Bar replaced the former Peachwood’s at The Inn at Pasatiempo. The restaurant opened in August after undergoing interior renovations, resulting in a pleasant ambience that is a vast improvement over Peachwood’s.

Read the Back Nine review…


KaitoKaito opened in May in the former location of Pink Godzilla. The fact that the web site includes the word smile should tell you a lot: it makes chef/owner Koji Goto very happy to provide customers with first-rate, reasonably priced food.

Read the Kaito review…

Lúpulo Craft Beer House

Lupulo craft beer houseLupulo Craft Beer House, owned and operated by Noëlle Antolin and Stuyvesant Bearns, is a tasting room, restaurant, and bottle shop that offers 16 rotating taps and over a hundred bottled beers.  The atmosphere is cozy, with tables and a bar.

Read the Lúpulo review…

Midtown Cafe

Midtown CafeZac Craeger opened Midtown Cafe in January 2014. It’s primarily a breakfast and lunch place, although they are open “most Friday nights” (more on that later) and they do have beer and wine available.  It’s a casual, friendly neighborhood spot.

Read the Midtown Cafe review…

Mortal Dumpling

Mortal Dumpling santa cruzChef Noah Kopito is the man behind Mortal Dumpling, which is mostly a restaurant that does pop-ups, including a regular Thursday gig. Every Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. you can find Mortal Dumpling at POPUP, next door to Assembly.

Read the Mortal Dumpling review…

Roux Dat

Roux Dat CapitolaNew Orleans-inspired Roux Dat, serving Cajun and Creole cuisine, is a small-yet-comfortable spot near Bed, Bath & Beyond and Trader Joe’s in Capitola.

It’s in the former location of Yogurt Express.

Read the Roux Dat review…

There is bound to be some debate.  Let us know if you agree with these selections.  Are there other new restaurants that you think Santa Cruz Life readers should know about?  Feel free to mention them in the comments.

About Tara Fatemi Walker

Tara Fatemi Walker first fell in love with Santa Cruz as a UCSC student long ago. She returned in 2004 and is grateful to live in such a wonderful community. She loves to write about food, restaurants, and culinary events; see more of her writing at

  • Amanda says:

    I love ‘Your Place’ on Mission. The food, the drinks, the owners, the everything!!!!

    • Daniel says:

      I second “Your Place”

  • Stephen Hauskins says:

    Bantam on Fair Avenue.

    Although it might have started in 2013

    • Tara says:

      Stephen – Bantam is fabulous, yes, but they opened in November 2012. Glad you’re a fan!

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