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jon777

Half Moon Bay

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Spending 2 nights in Half Moon Bay in February and looking for recommendations. Up for anything. Is Navio at the Ritz Carlton worthwhile?

Any and all recommendations appreciated!

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While living in Palo Alto, my husband and I would often take our dogs to the beach in Half Moon Bay. Needless to say, after spending a couple of hours in the cold wind, our clothes damp with sea spray and shoes filled with sand, we opted for less formal venues - places to warm up and enjoy some local fare.

One of our favorite spots was Duarte's Tavern (pronounced Doo-ert) in Pescadero, just south of HMB. The interior is somewhat dark and rather spare, but that's OK - this place is all about the food. The creamy atichoke soup warmed us right up. Then, local seafood was prepared simply, but was always fresh. Oysters were good, as was the cioppino. Leave some room for the olallieberry pie with vanilla ice cream. This place is a favorite among locals, and is usually packed for lunch and dinner (make a reservation), but accessible in the mid afternoon.

Another option for us was Main Street Sushi in downtown HMB - not on Main Street, as you might assume, but on a cross street. After a hot bowl of miso soup and a cup of green tea, we stuck to the sushi basics rather than exploring the myriad of invented rolls. The standards were always fresh and satisying (and relatively inexpensive).

Enjoy.

Veronica

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While I haven't been there myself, Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay was favorably reviewed by all three participants on a recent "Check, Please! Bay Area".

Pasta Moon on Check Please! (click for transcripts of the show or to stream the whole episode.)

I will second Veronica Volny's recommendation of Duarte's. I have been there and heartily recommend stopping in. Very good seafood and pie.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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While I haven't been there myself, Pasta Moon in Half Moon Bay was favorably reviewed by all three participants on a recent "Check, Please! Bay Area".

Pasta Moon on Check Please! (click for transcripts of the show or to stream the whole episode.)

I will second Veronica Volny's recommendation of Duarte's.  I have been there and heartily recommend stopping in.  Very good seafood and pie.

I will wholeheartedly second Pasta Moon on Main Street. Their house-made pastas and fresh local ingredients are equalled only buy their outstanding wine program. Kim, the owner runs a wonderfully cozy yet bustling dining room.

Save room for dessert!

Cetrella down at the end of Main Street is a big restaurant, popular with the more well-heeled locals. Expect Mediterranean-influenced California seafood heavily accented by the wood-fired grill & oven. The early evening weeknight prix-fixe dinners are a great deal, and you can follow it with their wide array of cheeses from their custom built cheese cave on display. The owner, Paul is an amiable New York transplant who really makes you feel at home.

If staying at the Ritz, Navio is a very beautiful room, and it has a wonderful brunch. However, it may not be worth the time & expense for dinner. If you get the room upgrade, their club lounge had great complimentary lunch & breakfast offerings in a beautiful seaside setting, including amazing pastries and an omelette bar in the mornings.

Their new Ocean Terrace grill has terrific, more casual dining options on the outdoor deck if weather permits. Also, one of our favorite things to do is order snacks & desserts in the Conservatory lounge (live music on some nights). Follow that with drinks & cigars outside in the Adirondack chairs circling the bluff-top firepit, and you have a great evening.

Enjoy your trip!


Edited by lizard (log)

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Thanks for the recommedations. We are staying at the Ritz (thanks to Marriot points!). Unfortunately the Navio thread is about 3.5 years old -- unless I hear that it's really worth the $$$$ now, will probably try some other options, as we'll be spending some time in SF and certainly have plenty of 4-star options there to blow our budget on.

While Pasta Moon does sound good, we have plenty of very strong Italian in NY/NJ, so probably won't do that. But both the suggestions of Duarte's (looks like a nice drive down the coast to get there) and Cetrella sound right up our alley. As well as the drinks by the bluff-top firepit at the Ritz.

Nice to know we've got some good options -- will happily take others!

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If you're in the mood for casual Mexican food (burritos, tacos, etc) stop in at Tres Amigos on Hwy 1 at the junction with Hwy 92. They have wonderful carnitas and al pastor meats.

There is also a wonderful little tacqueria in Pescadero although if you're in Pescardero for one day, I'd go to Duartes. (My favorite there, the green chile soup.) The tacqueria is on the northwest corner of the main intersection in Pescadero and is also a gas station and convenience shop. This recently made a list of top tacqerias along the CA coast.

Well, you're probablly not looking for tacquerias, but I thought I would add these recs to a dedicated HMB thread.

Has anyone heard of a newish bbq place in Half Moon Bay? I may heard about on it eGullet to good reviews.

edited to add: Have a good trip, jon777! Please report back to this thread if you have a chance. It would be helpful to hear your feedback.


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Thanks for the recommedations.  We are staying at the Ritz (thanks to Marriot points!).  Unfortunately the Navio thread is about 3.5 years old -- unless I hear that it's really worth the $$$$ now, will probably try some other options, as we'll be spending some time in SF and certainly have plenty of 4-star options there to blow our budget on.

While Pasta Moon does sound good, we have plenty of very strong Italian in NY/NJ, so probably won't do that.  But both the suggestions of Duarte's (looks like a nice drive down the coast to get there) and Cetrella sound right up our alley.  As well as the drinks by the bluff-top firepit at the Ritz. 

Nice to know we've got some good options -- will happily take others!

RE: Pasta Moon, it's not anything like a NY/NJ Italian place at all. While they emphasize house-made pastas, her cuisine is rooted in California with fresh ingredients grown by the farmers down the road, and well-executed meats & fresh seafood (caught just a stone's throw away).

Here are just a few selections from their sample menu:

Fettucine, Grilled Chicken Breast, Dried Cranberries, Sage, Cream & Harley Farms Goat Cheese

Butternut Squash & Mascarpone Ravioli, Brown Butter Sage, Crushed Amaretti

Porcini Mushroom Pappardelle, Prosciuotto, Wild Mushrooms, Porcini Mushroom Cream, Black Truffle Oil

My husband is a Rockland County & NJ native, and his father LOVES this place every time he comes out to visit. I would hope you wouldn't dismiss it for being too "Italian." If you're skeptical, stop by the wine bar for snacks and good wine selections by the glass. Stay for dinner if you're impressed.

[edited to add menu sample]


Edited by lizard (log)

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RE: Pasta Moon, it's not anything like a NY/NJ Italian place at all.  While they emphasize house-made pastas, her cuisine is rooted in California with fresh ingredients grown by the farmers down the road, and well-executed meats & fresh seafood (caught just a stone's throw away). 

Thanks for the clarfication/more detail. That does sound good -- will put it back on the list of potentials...

Well, you're probablly not looking for tacquerias, but I thought I would add these recs to a dedicated HMB thread.

Has anyone heard of a newish bbq place in Half Moon Bay? I may heard about on it eGullet to good reviews.

edited to add: Have a good trip, jon777! Please report back to this thread if you have a chance. It would be helpful to hear your feedback.

Don't discount the interest in Tacquerias -- if we're in the area and need a quick lunch would definitely do it. We'll be out there the Mon-Tues before T-giving. Will definitely report back.

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Just back from Half Moon Bay (and SF and Wine Country). Thanks everyone for the recommendations -- we definitely used them! My thoughts below:

- Navio/Ritz: Menu looked good, but VERY expensive. Would have to be in the Top 10 meals I've had to warrant the $$$, and hadn't seen anything saying it was not to be missed, so we didn't bother. Did have lunch in the Conservatory at the Ritz, which has the same view. Lunch was very good, although overpriced, but worthwhile for the setting/atmosphere.

- Ate first dinner at Pasta Moon. Very, very good. Risotto appetizer was creamy and delicious, pastas were perfectly al dente, and obviously homemade. Seafood in dishes was fresh and top notch. A home run. Interestly the wine list is 100% Italian -- had a nice glass of Prosecco to start, and a great Barolo with the meal.

- Cetrella was our other dinner. Also, very good, although wasn't as "special" as Pasta Moon. Everything we had was very good, and service was solid. Wine list was varied, not definitely lacking in mid-priced ($30-$50) wines. Nice space, open kitchen.

- Quick snack at Tres Amigos was a nice change. Salsa and tortillas were very fresh and everything was nicely flavored. Good cheap eats after too many big (and pricey) meals.

- On the way back North we stopped at Sam's Chowder House (new). We were debating this and Barbara's (in Princeton) and chose poorly. Food was decent, but nothing special, and the service was horrible (server did not know anything about the menu, and couldn't describe the different oysters -- offered to have us go to the oyster bar and "take a look" LOL -- on the plus side, he did know how to get to the beach of Maverick)...

Overall a great trip -- appreciate the advice here!

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I have to agree about Sam's Chowder house vs Barbaras Fish Trap. My friend told me we had to go to Sam's, so I said ok.

This place is popular - there was a 40 minute wait for lunch at 1:30 on 12/26. Once seated, our waiter proved to be as slow as molassas. OMG. 20 minutes to get our drinks! I had to ask for water 3 times.

We had their "Famous" lobster rolls ($20, no concession to the currently low lobster prices). The lobster was warm, on a toasted roll, but as it cooled, it was clear just how overcooked and bland it was. The coleslaw was fresh, nothing exciting, and I didn't eat the potato chips. We shared an order of fries, which were dusted with Old Bay seasoning.

Afterwards, enjoying the sunshine, we grabbed a couple of the Aiderondack chairs and ordered Irish coffees. Which took 30 minutes to arrive. The sugar sat at the bottom of the cooled coffee and the whipped cream was melted.

So...... a nice place if you have lots of time and want to sit in the sun (on the beach, great views), but for good food and service, next time I'll go to Barbaras.


“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Regarding Duarte's, the wife of the owner/chef owns Harley Farms Goat Dairy, which is just down the road. www.harleyfarms.com

It is worth stopping in to buy some of Dee's goat cheese. She has a wonderful selection. There's an amazing fresh goat ricotta that she only sells locally as it is too delicate to sell in stores. Absolutely delicious. If you get a chance, chat with Dee. She is lovely.

You can also tour the farm. I got to visit the baby goats. :)

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Ditto on Pasta Moon, and especially Duarte's - you can get a half and half bowl of half Cream of Artichoke, half Cream of Green Pepper Chili soup. It's wonderful!

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I'll add to the chorus in favor of Pasta Moon. The linguine with ahi tuna, capers, and chili oil is absolutely wonderful: fresh, tangy, slightly spicy. When available, the rock shrimp pizza is also great - the shrimp taste like little exploding seafood jewels in your mouth.

The Meyer Lemon parfait with lemon curd, meringue, caramel, and sorbet is on my list of favorite desserts ever. I must hoover one of those down whenever I'm anywhere near Half Moon bay.

I really do need to try Duarte's sometime, however.


Edited by faine (log)

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I just spent the weekend in Half Moon Bay and had an excellent dinner at Cafe Gibraltar. I chose an option where you choose five courses for a tasting menu priced at $60. All the dishes I had were tasty:

MAR Y MUNTANYA (Ugalde)

Cubes of sashimi grade ahi tuna and filet mignon, pan seared with shaved onions, green peppercorns, tomatoes, chives and a balsamic jus, served atop spiced greens.

• CERVOL ROSTIT (Catalan)

Wood roasted venison loin, cubed and sauteed with baby onions, green peppercorns, tomatoes and roasted garlic in a spiced sour cherry-red wine glaze.

• CARNE DI COSTATA DI BOVINO CON UVA (Italian)

Wagyu beef short rib meat, slow braised with pearl onions, seasonal root vegetables and rosemary, served atop soft polenta and finished with a red wine-syrah grape glaze.

plus a sole dish stuffed with crab that I don't see on the online menu and a chocolate dessert whose exact nature I am blanking on. Nice quality fresh ingredients and well-prepared. Service was both friendly and pretty well-timed. I didn't take notes, and it was too dark for my pictures to be at all useful unfortunately.

Also had a lunch at Sam's Chowder House, and although I don't really recommend it for the food, it was a _great_ view. The chowder was fine though.

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