bay area... half moon bay... pescadero...
Pescadero is my all time favorite day trip from the Bay Area because it checks all the boxes of beach, food, convenience, quaintness, and again, FOOD! Hop in the car for a fairly easy drive from the North Bay/Marin/SF area, hop on Highway 1 and enjoy coastal views. Those coming from East Bay and its environs, cross the San Mateo Bridge, CA-92 and scope out the redwoods, and then Highway 1 along the coast. Beautiful drives either way! Remember, “the coldest winter I spent was a summer in San Francisco” so always best to check the weather before heading down. On a gorgeous summer day, you can’t beat it.
I’ll take you through what I consider to be a great day and throw in a couple recs at the end of the post! Pack up the car, and #getoutside on the best coast!
What to Bring: Beach towel/blanket, sunglasses, credit card, a cooler (if you want cheese), picnic things if you are thinking ahead and anyone with a bottle opener or wine opener will be the day’s savior.
What You Get Out of It: A natural glow, a fuller belly, a little bit of salt/sand and a lot of fresh air, and an understanding of why you are lucky to live or visit California.
Our first stop of the day was Dad’s Luncheonette. After reading a couple different writes ups from the NYTimes & SF Chronicle I was intrigued. Mostly by the simple menu, the biracial family who own it, and the macaroni and cheese! I am a sucker for mac and cheese (and it’s been a challenging transition as I attempt to go dairy free… this is one of the days I use a heavy dose of lactase). I knew I had to try it. We arrived during the brunch rush where we waited for about 20 minutes for the mac. There were only two people cooking and Scott Clark,“Dad” himself, hand-delivered my bag of macaroni and cheese! I wanted to eat it right away but I knew I could wait another 15 minutes and really make it the perfect meal by enjoying it on the beach! For those of you who try Dad’s, there is limited seating there and there is always the curb if casual is cool with you. I will definitely be back to try the mushroom sandwich!
Quick Mac and Cheese Review:
Dad’s is focused on what I like to think as Classic American Mac and Cheese. It’s a medium cheese blend that is not very sharp. The novelty of it is its creaminess and perfect sauce to noodle ratio. They make it slightly gourmet with the onion potato chips and green onions on top, which help break through the creaminess. I seriously enjoyed it and will be back for another serving.
Half Moon Bay Farmer’s Market
A small market, but very local! We went for cherries and I walked away with some fantastic maple almond butter. Worth a stop on a Saturday if you want to take fruit to the beach!
what's better than mac and cheese with a view! There was a turn off with a parking lot after Pescadero State Beach North and Pescadero State Beach with a parking and a great view! I'd say picnic success!
harley farms, pescadero
When you turn left at the single stop light in Pescadero, blink quickly and realize that you are at the end of main street, you’ll find a girl and goat pointing you to Harley Farms,. Have no fear, they are your spirit guides to the goat farm where you can see baby goats napping and existing to be adorable, youths (both kids and real children kids) playing together, a bunch of mother goats passing the time, and a donkey scoping the crowd looking for a treat. The grounds are fairly small but you will see all of that along with their processing plant (not sure how often that is open to the public), the gorgeous garden, and then the house/shop/tasting room.
The goat spirit guide will redirect you to the tasting room! There you’ll find an assortment of goat cheese, olive oils, jams, and treats. The clear winner for me is the Honey-Lavendar goat cheese which comes in at $22 bucks for a block. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s local, you see the goats onsite, and you’re a tourist. Other favorites include the tomato-basil creamy goat cheese--great for eating soon after leaving because it’s easy to spread and share compared to crumbly cheeses--and the chive log. It’s hard to just have a few samples…
Pick a few cheeses for the beach and head back into town!
Artichoke garlic bread, that is all. Actually there is a lot more, but the warm, crusty, stuffed artichoke garlic bread is a must for anyone who remotely likes a good loaf of bread. At Arcangeli’s, giant pieces of artichoke are folded into the bread and are treasures as you pull or slice through the loaf. Garlic salt is spread over the top and makes the bread addictive! A delicious treat and a must when passing through town.
Arcangeli’s is also a stocked grocery store, perfect for picking up last minute picnic food, a bottle of wine, sandwiches for the beach, or a baked good. The prices are a bit pricey but it’s really the main option and again, it’s a family business. We ended up picking up some salami, more cheese, bread, and a bit of wine to take to the beach!
Next to Arcangeli’s is the Flowery. A great stop to check out their hip succulent section and in late summer/fall there are beautiful dahlia flowers! A fun stop on Main Street.
duarte's tavern & restaurant
Olallieberry pie from Duarte’s Tavern is what stole my heart the first time I visited Pescadero! My family had heard that the humble looking restaurant was a must and were sort of surprised by the wood paneling when we walked in. The first time we only went to try the pie and trying a slice, we walked out with at least two for the road. Olallieberry is a perfect pie berry that is tart initally, but sweet on the aftertaste, dramatic in color, and perfectly complements the flakey buttery crust. This pie is my favorite and in the area you’ll see it from other bakeries, but Duarte’s really has their recipe down! This is a well known favorite that probably gained more popularity after Guy Fieri reviewed it on Triple D.
If you dine in, try their cream of artichoke and cream of green chili soups by ordering a half and half bowl! Can also make a reservation here which is a good idea on weekends or with a large group.
The best part of picnicking is enjoying sun, slow food, and the company. Heck, we did two in one day but it matched the speed we were going. It gave us a chance to pick things up as we went but enjoy them with a view! The first stop was before the state beach where the fresh water met the ocean. The second picnic spot was at Pescadero State Beach North with soft sand. A few places to stop are: Pescadero State Beach Park, Pomponio or San Gregorio (a bit north), and Bean Hollow (South). There are plenty of stops, it depends where you want to park (lot or highway), if you want to pay (please pay to keep rangers there, help maintain the amenities, and keep the beaches beautiful and clean), and if you are looking for cliffs or sand. Remember to be careful--the coast is humbling and it’s better to play it safe if you are not familiar with the area.
half moon bay favorites
On this trip we did not stop at Sam’s but it’s definitely a diner’s destination. Sam’s boasts their infamous East Coast lobster roll along with a full menu of other seafood options. I typically come for the calamari and a lobster roll and also the view. Make a reservation if you are heading down on the weekend. It can get awfully busy.
Looking to enjoy a beer or a flight under string lights and with good company, then check out Half Moon Bay Brewing Co! It’s near the harbor and there are other restaurants walking distance after a few drinks.