.Wowsa Chowda

A new S.C. Clam Chowder Cook-Off champ, plus a new Watsonville brew pub and two fresh downtown restaurants.

Perhaps eating a bunch of clam chowder pre-ride wasn’t the smartest way to celebrate 100 years of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s Giant Dipper, but hey, the delirium of the whole scene got to us.

Hundreds and hundreds of chowder lovers and/or people with pent-up demand to enjoy some sunny weather flocked to the water’s edge last weekend to bask in amateur and professional takes on Manhattan and Boston chowders.

On the amateur side, they came with names like Clamtastic, Clam Halen and The Silence of the Clams, with the costumes to match. They scooped chowder from big pots, upwards of 1,500 samples a station (with 50+ serving), clanging cowbells and vibing kindly on a postcard-quality day.

Fear not, however, the antidote to any intestinal upset after the fifth oldest ride of its kind in the country—built for $50,000 and originally charging 15 cents a go—is The Little Dipper, where your soft serve can be coated in choices that include chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch.

Now for a sampling of the winners. People’s Choice, Amateur Competition: 4 Men & a Clam, with Rocky Horror Clam Show and Big C’s winning on judge’s scorecards. On the pro side, Best Manhattan went 1) Coasties, 2) Redwood Sluggers (UCSC Dining) and 3) Dominican Oaks; and Best Boston podiumed 1) Seascape Golf Course, 2) Latin Asian Fusion Kitchen and 3) Jack O’Neill Restaurant, with Ideal Bar & Grill taking the People’s Choice for Boston.

secure document shredding

Good intel on where to soup up, followed by the best part: Based on last year’s receipts, I estimate—conservatively—upwards of $100,000 was raised to benefit the city’s parks-and-rec programs.


Watsonville Public House is now open in all its dog-friendly, bike-welcoming, indoor-outdoor craft beer glory. Four house beers (to start) come complemented by eight guest taps, served at a glowing copper bar. Simply a massive upgrade for downtown WatsON. watsonville.pub


The case can be made that Lima ranks as one of the best food cities on the planet, and this concept takes me back. Oyuki Sushi Nikkei (1010 Pacific Ave., Suite F, Santa Cruz) does Peruvian-Japanese fusion by way of memorable dishes like causas and papas a la huacaina, buttressed by a bunch of creative vegan rolls, traditional rolls and special rolls. The menu, in a word, is mouthwatering. Oyukisushi.com


Oblò Kitchen + Cocktails (740 Front St., Santa Cruz) has opened in the former Café Mare. Marco Paoletti and Andrea Loporcaro of Sugo Italian Pasta Bar fame are behind the project, with steaks, mussels, burgers, salads, paella and scallops appearing on the menu. PS In Italian, Oblò means porthole. oblosc.com/


Sweet situation: A handful of Girl Scout cookies are quietly vegan, including Thin Mints, Lemonades, Caramel Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs), Adventurefuls and Toast Yays…Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) just honored Mireya Gomez-Contreras of Esperanza Community Farms in Watsonville as its Farm Advocate of the Year, largely due to her hustle expanding healthy food access to underserved residents and students…Chocolate Restaurant in Santa Cruz (1522 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz) now does a coffee shop side dish every day from noon to 4:30pm with a dozen hot chocolate drinks, signature desserts and house-made truffles…You heard it here early: Mission St. BBQ (1618 Mission St., Santa Cruz) has excellent breakfast tacos. Buen provecho.


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