One of my favorite Bay Area back road destinations in California is the small town of Pescadero. Located off scenic Highway One and a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, this quaint town is situated midway between Santa Cruz in the south, and Half Moon Bay in the north. It’s close to both San Francisco and the heart of Silicon Valley, and yet it is worlds away. Arriving in Pescadero after enjoying scenic views along the coast, I often stop by Harley Farms to take pictures of their goats, and visit Phipps Farms to pick berries when the fruit is in season. I also enjoy leisurely strolling down Pescadero’s main street to search for hand-made treasures or antiques at the local shops, and eventually stop at Duarte’s for a bite.
Established back in 1894, Duarte’s Tavern has been lauded with local and national recognition and is a James Beard American Classic award recipient. Being close to the ocean, the menu offers fish and seafood options along with garden grown dishes and American classic pies for dessert. Pescadero means fish monger in Spanish, and Duarte’s Crab Cioppino tastes as though the ingredients were hauled off a boat the same day by fish merchants. Cioppino is an Italian fish stew, but being the Duarte family is of Portuguese decent, they added a bit of Portuguese inspiration to their soup recipe. Soup is perfect for the often cold fog-covered central coast, and whether it’s stew or their artichoke heart soup, both are filling and a perfect way to warm up. Served with hearty artisan bread, the soups, stews or even mussels steamed in a broth are popular.
Dessert at Duarte’s means pie. Flaky, crispy and buttery crusts packed with fruit that spill all over the plate, the pies are delicious. My favorites are classic apple and local favorite ollaliberry. The pies are served with fresh whip cream though I tend to like just pure pie.
If you head to Pescadero and Duarte’s, after enjoying a bite, visit the edible garden behind the tavern where you can find artichokes growing in abundance, along with crops of corn, kale, lettuce, squash and a host of other vegetables. It’s easy to be inspired by this backyard farm and the dishes served at the restaurant. Visit the Country Store down the road or other nearby farm stands in the area, pick-up artichokes, ollaliberries or the herbs and ingredients for the Cioppino and bring a taste of Pescadero home.