Born in Mexico, Sabina Benitez followed her husband to Santa Cruz, where he had a job opportunity. She’s happy to be here—Benitez fell in love with the community almost instantly, referring to the city as “caring with open arms.”
Capitola Diner & Sports Bar serves bar fare along with a variety of sandwiches—highlighted by the Philly Cheesesteak and the Monterey Chicken, with bacon, jack cheese, avocado and habanero mayo. They also serve killer Mexican food. A couple of house specialties include chicken enchiladas with homemade green sauce and the chiles Rellenos with rice and beans. The diner also serves traditional chilaquiles for breakfast—and all day. Also, the full bar—featuring a signature chavela (Mexican beer with Bloody Mary mix, chili powder and shrimp)—has six televisions.
Hours are every day, 8am-9pm (Friday-Saturday until 10pm). Benitez took some time with GT to talk about a compassionate customer and why she loves Santa Cruz.
Who’s your favorite regular?
SABINA BENITEZ: He is a 93-year-old man, and he gets eggs, bacon, hash browns, an English muffin with strawberry jelly and a fresh cup of coffee every morning. He’s our first customer every day, and sometimes he comes back for dinner with his daughter and usually gets breakfast for dinner. It’s usually big pancakes with lots of strawberries and whipped cream, and also a milkshake and always another cup of coffee too. He always says hi and hugs everyone, and he really makes all of our day.
Why do you love living in Santa Cruz?
All the people and the weather—the weather is really good. And I also have a great community of friends around me that are always there for me, calling to check in and ask if I ever need anything, especially during the pandemic. I also have two daughters that love going to school and living here, and we really love it and never want to move.
Capitola Diner & Sports Bar, 1900 41st Ave., Capitola. 831-477-9076; capitoladiner.com.