.Best of Santa Cruz County 2021: Music & Nightlife

Find out what readers voted as the best among music and nightlife.

Best Craft Brewer

Discretion Brewery

  1. Opened in 2013, Discretion Brewery is family owned and operated.
  2. The beer at Discretion Brewery is made from natural ingredients that use sustainable farming.
  3. They are the first solar-powered brewery in Santa Cruz County.
  4. A local favorite is their Uncle Dave’s IPA, a rye IPA with a hint of pepper and intoxicating fruity aromas. Oh, and 6.5% ABV.
  5. Don’t forget to order upscale farm-to-table comfort food with your beers: pickled cauliflower, Far West Fungi mushrooms and bigeye tuna poke nachos. AARON CARNES

Best Local Band


  1. Tsunami plays songs from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, with danceability always an important component to their song selection.
  2. The group has three lead singers, who often sing together to create rich harmonies.
  3. The five members of the band are all veteran musicians and have played in countless local bands over the years.
  4. Drummer Sid Thompson has played with a ton of legends, including Tony Bennet and Jack Cassidy of Jefferson Starship.
  5. They sometimes throw in a few surprises, like a reggae beat in a Carole King song! AARON CARNES

Best Margaritas

El Palomar

  1. Opened in 1983, El Palomar focuses on recipes from the Michoacán state of Mexico. You should definitely try the Oaxacan Margarita with the strong smokey flavor of mezcal, fresh lime juice and muddle pineapple.
  2. They offer both traditional and innovative margaritas to satisfy any mood.
  3. They have three dining areas: the main dining area, cantina and taco bar.
  4. The building El Palomar currently resides in was once the luxury Hotel Palomar. El Palomar retains much of the original design elements of the fancy hotel, including the mission-style architecture.
  5. Their house margaritas are made from 100% blue agave tequila. Smooth! AARON CARNES


Parish Publick House

841 Almar Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-0507; 

secure document shredding

8017 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 708-2036, 


RUNNERS-UP Red Room, Brady’s Yacht Club


Cliff Nelson @ Bittersweet Bistro

RUNNERS-UP Jeff Derosa & Severino’s, Josh Youngblood @ Oswald

Comedy Spot 

DNA’s Comedy Lab

155 S. River St., Santa Cruz

900-5123, dnascomedylab.com

RUNNERS-UP The Crow’s Nest, Blue Lagoon 

Craft Brewer (local)

Discretion Brewing

2703 41st Ave., Suite A, Soquel, 

316-0662, discretionbrewing.com

RUNNERS-UP Humble Sea, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

Dance Club

Blue Lagoon 

923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 


RUNNERS-UP Motiv, The Crow’s Nest

Fancy Cocktails

515 Kitchen & Cocktails

515 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 

425-5051, 515santacruz.com

RUNNERS-UP Shadowbrook Restaurant, Venus Spirits Tasting Room

Happy Hour

Hula’s Island Grill  

221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 

426-4852, hulastiki.com

RUNNERS-UP The Crow’s Nest, Shadowbrook Restaurant


Boardwalk Bowl / Coasters Bar & Grill

115 Cliff St., Santa Cruz, 

426-3324, boardwalkbowl.com/coasters-bar-grill

RUNNERS-UP Britannia Arms

Live Music

Moe’s Alley

1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, 

479-1854, moesalley.com

RUNNERS-UP The Crow’s Nest, Catalyst 

Local Band


RUNNERS-UP Live Again, Soulwise

Local Comedian


RUNNERS-UP Karin Babbit, Mac Ruiz

Local Musician

Mira Goto


RUNNERS-UP Alex Lucero, Elena Shirin


El Palomar 

1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 

425-7575, elpalomarsantacruz.com

RUNNERS-UP Tortilla Flats, Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant

New Brewery

Greater Purpose Brewing

21517 E Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 713-5540, greaterpurposebrewing.com

RUNNER-UP Woodhouse Blending & Brewing

Place to Play Pool

Fast Eddy’s 

4300 Capitola Road, Capitola, 462-1882

RUNNERS-UP Surf City Billiards, One Double Oh Seven Club

Place to Play Darts

One Double Oh Seven Club

1007 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-9589

RUNNERS-UP Fast Eddy’s, Surf City Billiards 


Parish Publick House

841 Almar Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-0507; 

8017 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 708-2036, 


RUNNERS-UP Britannia Arms, Oak & Ale


Tap Room

Beer Thirty

2504 S Main St., Soquel, 

477-9967, beerthirtysantacruz.com

RUNNERS-UP West End Tap & Kitchen, Lupulo Craft Beer House 


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