Best New Santa Cruz Restaurants: Mortal Dumpling


This is the sixth of seven choices for the Best New Restaurants in Santa Cruz in 2014. To see the full list, click here.

best new restaurants santa cruz 2014Chef 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. For several months in 2014, they were at Front St. Kitchen on Monday nights from 6-9 p.m., but the final night at this location was Dec. 29, 2014 (Front St. is going through some changes).

The Monday night events offered take-out or eating on-site, with a few tables temporarily set up for diners each week. Food selections included bao (steamed buns) in meat and vegetarian varieties, garlic green beans, sweet peanut dumplings, crispy chicken wings, and pearl balls (pork, woodear mushrooms, glutinous rice, and scallions). Diners were given the option to bring their own alcohol to accompany dinner.

Ok so details on the Thursday Mortal Dumpling scene, which is continuing: POPUP is a small area (no seats – just room for lining up and ordering) that’s next to the main restaurant Assembly. Owners Kendra Baker and Zach Davis launched this spot in April, and Mortal Dumpling made its first appearance in May. Many vendors appear only occasionally, but Mortal Dumpling is there each week. On a Thursday in November, menu choices included combos (pork belly stew with rice and pickles or two bao with green beans and pickles) and a la carte items such as bao, pickles, or green beans in spicy chili sauce. Kopito was offering bao in three varieties that day: ginger pork, honey glazed baked BBQ pork, and mushroom tofu.


Kopito also does catering, appears at special events, and makes vegan dumplings for Hidden Peak Teahouse. For one of his special event appearances, he created delicious pork and cabbage dumplings with chili oil for Event Santa Cruz’s “Edible Night” incarnation in November. Kopito gets many of his ingredients from Staff of Life, New Leaf, and Shopper’s Corner.

Mortal Dumpling hopes to add another regular gig, in addition to the weekly POPUP event, sometime in 2015.

Mortal Dumpling Santa CruzMortal Dumpling
POPUP/1108 Pacific Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA

Click to see the next restaurant

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