Sunday, May 19, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

The Doggy Door and Community Craft wine bar in Los Olivos are a perfect pair


I am so eager to try more of the Doggy Door hot dogs that I’ve fallen in love with that I arrive 30 minutes early for my interview with owner Andrew Scherer.

Doggy Door in Los Olivos is open in front of Community Craft, whose owner said he opened the food hut as a way to give visitors cheap eats while enjoying local wines.

This is simultaneously a fault of my ongoing eagerness and my growling stomach. You would not believe how little food a food writer actually eats during a busy day running around and interviewing chefs and restaurateurs in an area as big as the one I cover. I think that morning I was lucky enough to scarf down an Altoid and a chai tea.

While I waited for Scherer, I wandered around Los Olivos, a town I feel like I could navigate blindfolded at this point. I had come here to learn more about Doggy Door, a charming hot dog stand I had been tipped off about a while ago and since learned to appreciate. I was told the owners wanted to give people an option for a cheap snack to go along with the overflow of wine in town. Walking around town that day, it was quickly obvious how much of a void there was in that department.

When I finally sit down with Scherer, it’s the first thing he points out to me.

The pesto hot dog at Doggy Door in Los Olivos is packed with fresh ingredients, including arugula, tomato, parmesan cheese, pesto aioli, and a sour cream chip crunch.

“We wanted to supply a grab-and-go food stop for Los Olivos, which there isn’t,” he explained. “We have less than a handful of restaurants and you’re average cost is going to be a little high. We wanted something fast and easy.” Thus the Doggy Door was opened.

Scherer and his wife, Erin, are owners of Community Craft (which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary), a boutique wine bar that specializes in hyperlocal and international wines. It’s a charming spot that’s inviting and effortless, one affixed with more of a feel of a neighborhood bar than a stuffy wine tasting room.

“We were first interested in opening a local wine shop that focused on wineries that don’t have representation in town,” Scherer explained. “We wanted to provide something that wasn’t already available. We did local producers to give them a spotlight as well as a little bit of wine from around the world.”

Community Craft features dozens of local and international wines, including Field Recordings, Scratch, Kings Carey, Wonderwall, Sandhi, Hilliard Bruce, Liquid Farm, Bonacorssi, Ground Truth, Jaffurs, and many more. The space is stylish but laid back, with a perfect long bar to rest a couple of dogs on while sipping on a nice pinot noir.

Community Craft and Doggy Door offer a chance to enjoy local wines and beers as well as custom made hot dogs, featuring flavors such as pesto, nacho, BBQ, and more.

Once the wine bar was in place, the couple realized they were missing something—food. They thought about ways to incorporate affordable eats into their venue. Hot dogs seemed like a good idea, but the Scherers had no intentions of serving your average meat and bun. They wanted something that matched the caliber and quality of the wines they were serving.

So they opted for stylized hot dogs, loaded with fresh ingredients and packaged in playful themes. Hot dogs (100 percent Vienna beef) such as the nacho, BBQ, Reuben, and classic grace their menu, priced around $6 each.

The nacho is a play on traditional nacho chips. Served with a black bean salsa made with cilantro, black beans, corn, salt and pepper, onion, tomato, and sriracha aioli, the dog is topped with a big layer of nacho chip crunch.

Another popular item is the Reuben, a play on a classic Reuben sandwich.

“The Reuben has been a great success,” Scherer said. “We’ve underestimated the sauerkraut fan club. We do a Russian dressing, so you get the sweet relish in there with little ketchup and mayo, sauerkraut, brown mustard, parmesan cheese, onion, and classic Lays crunch on top.”

Community Craft offers a wide selection of local and international wines. Owner Andrew Scherer said he tries to stock the wine bar with local brands not featured in other venues.

My personal favorite is the pesto. Scherer starts with a helping of fresh arugula, topped with tomato, parmesan cheese, pesto aioli, and sour cream chip crunch. I’ve had about five of them so far (chill; it wasn’t all at once) and I think they are divine. It really is an ideal way to snack on something that isn’t greasy or fried if you don’t have the time or bank account to sit at one of the marquis restaurants in town but you don’t want to starve to death while drinking your way through Central Coast pinots.

Honestly, I’m not really sure how to pair wine with hot dogs. I am not dismissing the possibility that there is an excellent opportunity to dive into what varietals go best with the different toppings and flavors, but for my money, they all probably work great. But I’ll be sure to sample as many varietals as I can, just so I can let you know for sure.

 Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose can be seen hot doggin’ it just about anywhere. Contact her at




Lemon meringue tarts from Crumbles Cafe and Bake Shop in Santa Maria.

• Chef James Gentry has moved over to Crumbles Cafe and Bake Shop, where he is serving up sinful looking treats such as lemon meringue tarts (pictured). See what he’s doing at 1635 S. Broadway, Santa Maria.

• A little bird told me that Norman in Los Alamos (at the newly refurbished Skyview Inn) has hired a new chef, but I can’t say just yet who it is. Keep reading for more details soon. Check out the new menu at 9150 Highway 101, Los Alamos.

• If you’ve never had sweetbreads, you’ve never truly lived. (That’s my culinary hot take for the day.) Sweetbreads are the thymus gland, typically from veal, and are often found on steakhouse menus. The ones at The Far Western Tavern (pictured) are prepared lightly fried and served with fresh herbs. Pair them with a grilled artichoke and a round of drinks at the bar at 300 E. Clark Ave., Orcutt.

Sweetbreads at The Far Western Tavern in Orcutt.

Vino et Amicis (“wine and friends”) is now open and serving local wines in Orcutt. They have a big selection and offer a variety of specials during the week. Try a bottle of Westerly Wines’ Côte Blonde, which is 95 percent syrah and 5 percent viognier, available there now. The wine bar is located at 165 S. Broadway St., Orcutt.

Bell’s in Los Alamos (one of my favorite new places) is serving King Ora salmon for dinner, served with a beurre blanc, trout roe, and wilted spinach for $26. Get over there before they run out at 406 Bell St., Los Alamos.

Weekly Poll
How should the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District improve its A-G completion rates?

Align graduation requirements with university entrance requirements.
Ensure that students and parents are well aware of A-Gs and what they are before high school.
Improve support services and summer school classes for students who fall behind.
Completion rates are fine as is. Not everyone wants to go to a four-year college!

| Poll Results