.Santa Cruz’s Surf City Billiards Bar & Cafe is More Than Just Pool

Local artwork, waffle-battered fried chicken sandwiches and a handmade cocktail program add charm to the shuffleboard, ping-pong tables and pool

This revelation appeared between buns. 

When Good Times put together its Burger Week coverage, the most startling discovery was just how ambitious Surf City Billiards Bar & Cafe was getting with its offerings. 

The lead special for Burger Week was the “Oh So Messi,” a wink and bow to two Argentinian legends, World Cup champ Lionel Messi and open-fire chef Francis Mallman, whose private Patagonian island is called La Soplada (in English, “blown away”). 

Sí señor, I was blown away: Here came a flame-broiled ground chuck patty of Braveheart Black Angus beef, from-scratch chimichurri and a stylish crown of provoleta, a piece of salty provolone that’s spiced, dusted and fried. 

Maybe I didn’t see this sort of cheffing coming because I was distracted by the dozen pool tables, ping pong and shuffleboard arrangements, all major parts of the Surf City puzzle. 

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Perhaps I figured gameplay might preclude the thoughtful stuff SCBBC’s creative director Tawni Lucero is doing. 

It’s a long way of saying this: This Surf City establishment is full of surprises. 

Those range from the local art on the walls (part of First Friday Art Walks!) to the indulgent noon-4pm Sunday brunch (waffle-battered fried chicken sandwiches!) to the fact they make their own ranch and barbecue sauce (who still does that!?).

They also cultivate a strong roster of handmade cocktails, including the Daydreamer with bergamot liqueur, chamomile simple syrup, Las Californias gin, lemon and a spritz of absinthe. Not the type of thing one would anticipate here. 

“A lot of pool halls might have a mundane and even quiet vibe,” manager Scott Buzak says. “The general feeling I hear from our audience is that it’s surprisingly lively. We’re able to bring that energy thanks to our team—any time of day you come in, there’s more going on than you might expect. What we aim for is this: Yes, we have pool here, but it’s more so an environment for people coming together and having a good time that goes beyond billiards. You can find your space.”


A local burger staple is shutting down shop. Sources relay that the BURGER Aptos outpost and the spot on Mission have both stopped serving. On Instagram, a peek at Burger Santa Cruz reveals a simple message: “Sorry, we are closed.”


This is not a drill: Cannabis-infused Gourmet Ganja hot sauce is a thing. The new THC-infused heat recently hosted a barbecue at Surf City Originals Dispensary on 41st Ave. in Capitola. The Santa Cruz-sown condiment can be found at various places around the state—check out the store locator at gourmetganjaca.com for more. Meanwhile, here’s a taste of its inspiration from creator David Brissenden: “I love being a chef,” he says on the GG website. “The creative process, the enjoyment of watching people eat what I make, all of it. I put my heart and soul into my creations, and it never gets old … It’s time for us to break through and disrupt the culinary industry by infusing cannabis into everyday products. This hot sauce is a labor of love that I’m beyond excited to share with the world.” Spicy stuff, for sure.


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