You Don’t Need a Tornado to Head to the Cellar: Cellar Door Café Santa Cruz

• Food & Wine: Creative Organic and Locally Grown Menu with Wine & Food Pairings – ($5-35) – Special Event Dinners such as: Food Pairing & Barrel Tasting Dinners on Thursdays ($50) and half price bottles of wine w/food on Wednesdays.

• Unique NorCal Menu: Seasonal Daily Dinner Menu is Posted Online: ( : Snacks ($5-8), Small Plates ($15-18), & Prix Fixe Family Style Dinner ($35), which does not include wine ($22-50ish a bottle).

• Community Dining Ambiance: The spacious & tastefully designed tasting room and café are located in a re-purposed warehouse, sporting recycled wine barrels, hanging wine bottle lights, and wine bottle chandeliers with modern touches.  The dining room has a few community-style long tables that you can share with other diners.

• Great New Chef: The kitchen is an open-air venue where you can spot the great Manresa Protégé Chef, Charlie Parker, hard at work.

Take your San Francisco and Silicon Valley foodie friends here to impress their palates, and your belly!  It isn’t cheap, but for this kind of restaurant it is worthwhile for special occasions. We spent $75 (not including tip) on a bottle of wine, four “snacks,” and the cheese plate as a starter for five guests.

Last Friday night, we wanted to impress our cheese-loving friends from LA (they aren’t actually cheesy, but they do love their gourmet cheeses) with organically grown NorCal food and wine.  We used this as an excuse to finally try out the Cellar Door Cafe at Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz.  The Café ended up being a most excellent choice because our friends exclaimed in bliss that they really don’t have food quite like this in LA.  The five of us enjoyed the small-plate experience that has been popular now for a few years at many restaurants inspired by Spanish Tapas.  This was one of those perfect dining experiences that left us wanting more or at least a rewind button.

Snacks, small plates, and a prix fixe menu are what’s for dinner or pre-dinner apps at the Bonny Doon Vineyard Tasting Room and gourmet Cellar Door Café.  Manresa Restaurant Protégé, Chef Charlie Parker’s snacks were bursting with flavor, each one a small, but concentrated, tasty punch.

We ate:


-Castelvetrano Olives, Peppers, and Roasted Garlic – $5

-Smoked Fingerling Potatoes in Aioli – $5 Amazing Flavor!  We have never experienced a potato in quite this way before!  We will be trying this one at home.  The Fingerling Potatoes were smoked, then deep fried, then placed in a ramekin with aioli on the bottom.  Pure bliss!

-Fried Brussel Sprouts w/ Smoked Chevre & Cider – $8 Out of this world flavor, texture, and crispiness!  The sprouts were cooked to a perfect crispness and served atop Smoked Chevre Cheese. Zach says you have to use a lot of butter to get that kind crispiness.

-Boquerones – $5  Anchovies that melted in your mouth.  Exquisite fresh white anchovy flavor!

Small Plate:

-Assorted Cheeses, Fruit, & Housemade Bread -$15 – w/ desert wine soaked golden raisins and apricots.


-Syrah Le Pousseur, Fabulous wine choice for what we ordered.

The Bonny Doon Tasting Room is attached to the restaurant with tastings for $7.

Lesley: The food and dining experience were both great and I would never get tired of going to eat at CDC if someone else could foot the bill for dinner every night.  I love the feeling of the industrial Swift Street wine tasting rooms, boutiques, Annie’s Bakery, and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery Pub.  If you haven’t been there to check it out, plan on it sometime.  CDC left us all wanting more because the flavors were creative and intricate without trying too hard.  Zach and John waited patiently to finish off all of our dishes because they both have the appetites of lions.  We spent $75 without tip for the five of us.  It was a splurge but well worth it!

Zach: Every bite of food and drink of wine was absolutely spectacular!  If you order something here and don’t like it, odds are it’s a problem with you and not the food.  If you’re like me and can’t afford to eat like this all the time, I promise you it’s worth the splurge.

John: Absolutely fantastic.  I look forward to having a full meal here, especially if the larger plates are as tasty as the small.  For everyone’s information, the Syrah we had is available at Safeway pretty regularly at a reasonable price.  Definitely worth a drive if you’re not as close as us.

2 comments… add one
  • If you want to try these olives you can buy Castelvetrano Olives at Whole Foods. We got about twenty c-olives for $5.

  • Tonight we went back to Cellar Door and got the Prix Frixe dinner with our visiting family. It was great!

    -Persimmon Salad with Endive, Olives, Oranges, and Roasted Parsnips
    -Braised Oxtail w/ cornbread stuffing & greens
    -Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Huckleberries & Rosemary ice cream.

    We found out that the Brussel Sprouts w/ Chevre are deep fried to make them crispy … no wonder they are so good!

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