By Elle Jefe
Grom—Boy (Under 16)
After just a few minutes hanging out with the lanky regular footer, it's easy to see why Santiago Hart
was chosen as Favorite Grom. His big smile and exuberant nature are contagious. He'll spend hours
upon hours in the ocean riding all variety of craft from a foil to a boogie board and everything in
between. He's a standout in all types of waves and is showing interest in tackling some of the bigger
stuff with Mavericks now on his radar. I have no doubt that with his awesome attitude matched with his
cat-like reflexes, he'll achieve greatness at whatever he sets his mind to. —Tyler Fox
The Parish Favorite Bar & Favorite Happy Hour
It’s like a Swellies sweep. The Parish Publick House is literally double-fisting Swellies for both Favorite Bar and Favorite Happy Hour. Why? Because the pub and restaurant on the Westside of Santa Cruz and now in Aptos (also your chosen Runner Up for Best New Restaurant!) understands that being relaxed and casual doesn’t mean compromising quality. Handles of beefy brews regularly wash down massive burgers and sauced up Buffalo wings, while the mightily indulgent and lovingly fried Beer Battered Salmon Fish and Chips has spawned many regulars to make repeat orders. But you want to drink, so matching the food menu is the rainbow of fine pours serving up every color in the beer rainbow: dark, pale, blonde, amber, porter, sour and fruit beers. And that famous happy hour? Make it plural for happy hours, because Parish realizes there’s a time and place for drinking, and that’s every day and night. Hit up the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour window and then come back for the 11 p.m. to midnight happy hour, even on Saturdays. But there’s more. Just because the Lord took a day off doesn’t mean the bartenders get to slack: Sundays are practically happy hour all day and night, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then again from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Holopono Favorite Food Truck
Want more pupus, poke and plate lunches? Yes, please. If anyone understands the love between Santa Cruz and Hawaii, it’s your favorite food truck, Holopono. The husband-and-wife team behind the mobile island feasts satiates appetites at festivals, local events and private parties, and while it keeps us on our toes and on the lookout throughout town without a regular route, it has no problem luring a hungry fanbase. With “holopono” meaning “move with righteousness” in Hawaiian, owners Timmy and Sadie Hunt took downtown’s Pono Hawaiian Grill’s fine flavors on the road. Timmy, who makes every dish that goes out the window of Holopono, tells Santa Cruz Waves that in addition to bringing “the very best in food, authenticity and customer service,” they want to “perpetuate Hawaiian island culture through how we operate our business.” The most popular items on the menu are, no surprise, the poke bowls: Hawaiian Alaea sea salt, Inamona (roasted kukui nut) and Aloha Shoyu soy sauce are some key authentic ingredients in the mindblowing mix. Catch these epic meals on wheels and you’ll have one hand holding a fork and the other throwing a shaka in no time.
Surf City Sandwich Favorite Sandwich Shop
There’s a sandwich, and then there’s a sandwich. The art of building a tasty tower of stacked goodness bookended by two slices is an art. Surf City Sandwich has it dialed. The No. 1 selling cold sandwich at Surf City Sandwich is aptly named the Johnny Utah (smoked turkey, smoked gouda, chipotle mayo, sprouts and more), while the hot Surf City Philly is a favorite when the chill sets in. Longtime surfer and chef, owner Paul Figliomeni remembers first plotting to open what’s now become a foodie favorite in Soquel Tower Plaza: “Out of all the commercial restaurant chains that applied for our space, we were the needle in the haystack,” he recalls. “If you are faithful, what is meant to be yours will not pass you by.” What’s next? Check out his pub-friendly menu at the new Surf City Kitchen inside Pour Taproom.
Covewater Favorite SUP Shop
How many ways can you wander on water? Covewater has got you covered and has had locals standing up in the great blue since 2010. The Santa Cruz shop has been at the forefront of the standup paddleboarding scene ever since. It was one of the first businesses dedicated to the sport when it opened, and today it continues to be on the cutting edge. Owner Olivier Guincetre is currently amped on getting people to experience SUP hydrofoil boards to really get a lift off to new heights, and then there’s the electric Onewheel they’ve just started stocking. With so many choices, Covewater now offers board fitting services: Try out a SUP with help from a pro before making your decision and standup paddling into the sunset.
Santa Cruz Green Builders Favorite Green Builder
If you build it, they will come. If you build it sustainably, they will come in droves and everybody wins. Santa Cruz Green Builders is celebrating 10 years of business and has been committed to making beautiful residential and commercial structures whilst honoring Mother Earth. “Our mission is to build inspiring spaces for people to live and work, that are healthy for the occupants and healthy for the planet,” owner Taylor Darling tells Santa Cruz Waves. And unlike most general contractors, SCGB has in-house tradesmen doing the majority of the high-quality work on each project. What’s the latest trend keeping them in demand? Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), those popular small backyard houses, are in good hands when Darling and his crew are at the helm.
Family Cycling Center Favorite Bike Shop
With the number of breweries (and people and traffic) only growing in Santa Cruz County, it’s no wonder biking is also on the rise. No one knows this better than John Brown and Family Cycling Center. The owner of your Favorite Bike Shop has been busy outfitting bicyclists of all ages and skill levels with a huge selection of bikes, accessories and repair services on 41st Avenue. A recent exciting evolution this past year, FCC took over more space and expanded the service department to seven repair stands. With the slogan “A Bicycle Shop For Everyone,” the business is moving with the times and now also catering to the popularity of electric assist bikes and functional hybrid city bikes and cargo bikes.
KindPeoples Favorite Dispensary
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or too stoned to notice), it’s been a big year for cannabis lovers—and that means more people are in love with KindPeoples than ever. Remember when Legalization Day at the start of 2018 saw lines out its door? Within a warm, welcoming and (appropriately) healing environment, this is your chosen go-to for the good green stuff in all different strains and forms. The Swellie winner for Favorite Dispensary is fittingly modern and sleek in look as it offers knowledgeable cannabis consultants (at two locations) to help pair you with what works best for varying medicinal or recreational purposes. Those already in the know of what effective weed they need can use the Express Lane online ordering and pickup method. Smoke, eat, drink or vape away with the most carefully curated cannabis around.
Dream Inn Favorite Hotel
The Dream Inn is a local landmark unto itself that’s embedded amongst local landmarks: the Beach Boardwalk, West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz Wharf, fine dining and world-class surf. Enter sandman is pretty applicable when you’re staying steps from the beach with all of the aforementioned right outside your door. And even when you decide not to do a walking tour around, sightsee directly from your Favorite Hotel that’s conveniently perched on Cowell Beach. On-site Aquarius restaurant and Jack O’Neill Lounge make it even easier not to leave the perimeters of the retro-swank surf-themed getaway. For those who think there’s a better place to lay your head than this spot overlooking the water, dream on.