Santa Cruz native Jason McKay spent several years as both a front-of-house and back-of-house employee, locally and around Tahoe. Nine years ago, he and his wife, Keikilani, decided Aptos needed a gathering place with good wine, beer and food. They wanted to open a spot where they would hang out, somewhere like Cantine Winepub.
Jason highlights their beer and wine selection, which features local and worldwide favorites. He defines the vibe as “casual, classy and comfortable with a living room atmosphere.” The menu offers small plates like cheese and charcuterie boards, savory and sweet burrata pairings and housemade soups like the popular butternut squash. They also serve larger dishes, including sous vide selections such as duck confit, lamb chops and beef short rib. The crowd-pleaser dessert is the molten chocolate brownie. Other standouts include pinsas, a Roman-style flatbread similar to pizza, and comfort dishes like chicken pot pie, lasagna and meatballs.
Hours are Monday-Friday, 3-10pm (Saturday and Sunday, noon-10pm). Jason described the idea behind Cantine and why it’s great for private events.
How would you describe Cantine’s concept?
JASON MCKAY: It came about from my wife and my travels throughout Europe and the types of establishments we frequented. We aim to bring that leisurely European-style food and wine culture of slowing down and savoring the moment to our community. Everybody has such a hectic life. We are happy to offer a respite and a chance to relax and unwind.
Does Cantine host private parties?
Cantine has become really popular for parties and large events. The space lends itself well; guests have remarked that it never feels too loud or crowded. [We] offer a variety of areas to fit guests’ needs, whether they are looking for a quiet, intimate corner, the buzz of a bar space or a natural outdoor vibe on our patio.
Cantine Winepub, 8050 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 831-612-6191; cantinewinepub.com