Cruz Kitchen & Taps, replacing the old Saturn Café, was opened in 2022 by co-owners Mia Thorn and Dameon DeWorken. Thorn, an oncology nurse, looked for a bright side during Covid and found herself wanting to be more involved in the celebratory side of life.
She approached Dameon, an experienced chef she had known for years and whose food she loved and had been following for over a decade. He was on board for her idea of a Santa Cruz-forward spot.
Thorn says the ambiance is all about local art paired with Asian influenced California cuisine. Chicken wings and an unexpected smoked white fish highlight the appetizer choices, and entrée favorites include braised beef short ribs and grilled salmon with smoked paprika garlic ginger sauce. For dessert, the Peanut Butter Cake is a must. It’s like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Butterfinger cake baby. Hours are Mon/Wed/Fri from 4-8:30pm and Sat/Sun from 12-9:30pm (closed Tues/Thurs).
Tell me about your commitment to local art?
MIA THORN: What’s cool about Santa Cruz is that it’s filled with talented people, and I feel like my job is to coordinate, feature and uplift them. Beyond Dameon showcasing his culinary art and talent on our guest’s taste buds, we also have each table designed by a different local artist, as well as the rotating wall artwork.
How do you feel about the future of downtown?
We are really hopeful and glad to see more housing being built, which the town really needs. I know it’s controversial and the noise and hassle that comes with major construction has been a hardship. However, we are excited for the future of our business, and downtown generally, to continue to thrive and evolve.
As much as Santa Cruzans buck against big business, I think it’s also very important to support small businesses like us that are going through this.
145 Laurel Street, Santa Cruz, 831-713-5173; cruzkitchenandtaps.com