EATERS DIGEST: Missed that Valentine’s Day reservation? Do not be afraid

The sun is shining and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday and businesses celebrate all weekend. If you’ve made dinner reservations somewhere romantic, it’s good to think ahead. If not, you’re not totally unlucky, but I have some alternative ideas for you anyway.

Whether or not you have a loved one, this pink, fuzzy, dusty vacation is a great opportunity to treat yourself. Enjoy it for a little self-respect, if you can.

Here’s what’s on the menu this weekend…


San Francisco Beer Week begins Friday and will continue into next weekend. Expect to see 10 days of beer-centric events, special outings and festivities celebrating craft beer throughout the Bay Area. Most events are free and guests have the opportunity to sample some really special beers. Check out my Local SF Beer Week Guide for what’s happening in Santa Cruz County.

For the first time, the festival will take place at the Lower Ball Pits of Siltanen Community Park on Vine Hill School Road.

Are you on a budget but still want to give your date a good time? My colleague Max Chun has rounded up free and inexpensive get-togethers across the county, from cheap breakfasts to the best local hikes. Discover them here.

Eat this

Restaurants are partying all weekend with fabulous menus, but hopefully you’ve already made your reservations. According to their online booking services, Trestles, Shadowbrook, Home, Mentone, Cafe Sparrow, Oswald, Sanderlings were fully booked over the weekend, although some leave room for walk-ins. From Thursday afternoon, Chocolate, Venus Spirits, Persephone, Barceloneta, Gabriella Café, La Posta, Tramonti, Cafe Mare and The View at Chaminade had a handful of seats available throughout the weekend, though not necessarily on Mondays, and all offer delicious Valentine’s Day themed dinners.

Emmanuel Hernandez, aka Mescalito Manny, is back in town, mixing his signature drinks at Avanti.

Emmanuel Hernandez, aka Mescalito Manny, is back in town, mixing his signature drinks at Avanti.

(Kevin Painchaud / Belvedere Santa Cruz)

If you haven’t planned ahead, how about taking your darling out for a love-themed drink? Bartender Emmanuel Hernandez, now behind Avanti’s bar on the Westside, has created two cocktail parties themed around doomed Greek lovers Orpheus and Eurydice. The romantic drinks complement each other and are accompanied by a love poem written by Hernandez. The Westside Venus Spirits Distillery is also preparing a special sip. La Fresa de Mi Corazón is a romantic and floral cocktail made with strawberry, elderflower, champagne, mezcal and El Ladrón Reposado de Venus.

If beer is more your beat, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery is releasing two festive pink beers this weekend: Baby, It’s You!, a lager brewed with organic rose petals, and Dream Boat, a strawberry kettle. New Bohemia Brewing is scheduling two romantic beer outings with SF Beer Week. Stop by Monday to try his Hellesexy Chocolate Lager, a helles lager aged on African cacao nibs, and Whiskey Business, a barrel-aged imperial stout aged on dark cherries and cacao nibs.

Two pink beers will debut at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing for Valentine's Day.

Two pink beers will debut at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing for Valentine’s Day.

(Via Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing)

Or maybe you prefer not to eat out over a holiday weekend. Vim and Barceloneta offer take-out Valentine’s Day dinners that can be picked up at their restaurants. At Vim, enjoy a take-out valentine dinner for two which includes a cheese and raw vegetable platter, shrimp and orzo salad, braised short ribs in red wine with butternut squash gratin and homemade desserts. Add a bottle of Chandon sparkling wine or a sparkling cocktail to your order and enjoy a romantic evening at home.

Barceloneta offers a five-course dinner of Spanish tapas, beer and citrus salad with fennel and mint, duck paella and wild mushrooms, and churros con chocolate, with half a bottle of cava or mocktails. Add sangria or a bold Spanish wine. Order here for restaurant pickup.


The biggest event of the weekend is happening at The Slough Brewing Collective in Watsonville this Saturday. Breakups & Heartbreaks is a celebration of broken hearts and a fundraiser for Pajaro Valley Pride, an organization that helps local LGBTQI+ youth pursue higher education. An art market featuring LGBTQI+ and BIPOC sellers organized by Arte Del Corazón kicks off in the afternoon at 3 p.m. As the sun goes down, get ready for a killer drag show featuring at least half a dozen performers, including drag queen Cherry Cola and burlesque dancer Sapphire Serpent.

There is also a costume contest, live music from Miles Sej, a DJ set and a photo booth. In addition to its normal tap list, the Slough will have two special draft releases, the popular Soul King hazy IPA and an imperial stout called Doom Scroll. The Real Taco food truck will be on hand all day to make sure you don’t go hungry. The entry fee for the event is $10. More info on and on Instagram at @thesloughbeer.

stop Spirits of Venus Saturday for two lovers-themed pop-ups. East Cliff Light Fixture Bread boy SC it’s Vespa-ing over with its delicious handmade focaccia and cannoli from 1 p.m. until full. Owner Lance Ebert tells me he offers a special crunchy hazelnut cannoli with Nutella, vanilla cream and sweet and sour cocoa powder. Vintage flower truck Olive + Coyote will be there from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with its dream bouquets.

Santa Cruz Mountain the vineyards are gearing up for a fun holiday weekend. Fourteen local wineries offer themed events, including chocolate and wine pairings, horseback riding, sparkling wine tastings, special outings, live music and more. Discover the complete program of events on

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