This charming coastal destination is chock full of fun and adventure for the foodie, wine or beer lover and even the kids.
*By Laura Ness*
Have you been to Pescadero lately? It’s a quaint fishing village just north of Davenport, and about 25 minutes south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1. If you’re coming from the Peninsula, a spirited drive over highway 84, past the landmark Alice’s Restaurant, drops you down through the redwood-studded twisties of La Honda, out into the broad expanses of pastures and rangelands, into the lovely town of Pescadero.
Turn onto Stage Road and park on the street or at the Duarte’s Tavern parking lot. You’ll feel as if you’ve just gotten off a covered wagon as you step into the world famous restaurant that has been a favorite of locals and tourists for decades.
The name “Stage Road” conjures up images of a more bucolic era, and here in this coastside town surrounded by artichoke fields, you can feast on the local bounty of field and sea.
Duarte’s Tavern for Famous Soup and Much More
Duarte’s Tavern is famous for its cream of artichoke and/or green chile soup: ask for “the half,” which puts the two of them side by side in the same bowl. Omelettes, blueberry pancakes, abalone sandwiches, cioppino and scrumptious homemade pies, have enticed hungry patrons to return again and again, since 1894. And yes, pies can be ordered to go.
Sante Arcangeli Wine Tasting
After lunch or brunch, it’s time for winetasting next door at Sante Arcangeli, where finely crafted Burgundies, all grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains, are available for tasting Friday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Winemaker and proprietor, John Benedetti, has deep roots here in this village that means “fisherman” in Spanish. The winery is named for his great grandfather, Sante Arcangeli, founder of Arcangeli Grocery/Norm’s Market, a gourmet bakery and grocery that has been popular for decades. The grocery store, located just down the street, specializes in country-style Italian artichoke and garlic breads, along with salsas, sauces, marinades, gift baskets and gourmet delights. Definitely stop in and pick up a loaf of the artichoke garlic herb bread. It’s so good you will want to take home a loaf of the half-baked version to eat later.
Benedetti originally got into beer, and helped found Sante Adairius Rustic Ales brewery before turning his attention to full time winemaking. He credits his father’s collection of older French wines with informing his taste for older Rhones instead of Pabst. When he made his first batch of Pinot with native yeast, he was hooked. He refers to it as “a hobby gone haywire.”
Fruit sources include Ryan Beauregard’s Bald Mountain vineyard and the Split Rail vineyard in Corralitos, which is planted to a rare selection of Pinot Noir clones known as “David Bruce Selection,” traced back to cuttings from Paul Masson. Made Burgundian style, with native yeast and carefully chosen barrels, Benedetti’s wines are graceful, intriguing and infused with tensile inner strength: like Lauren Bacall.
Stay Overnight and Wander, Shop and Dine in Pescadero
Wander the town, dropping into the Pescadero Country Store, with weekend BBQ and live entertainment, a cocktail lounge, deli sandwiches, homemade pizza, soup, salads, espresso and groceries. There’s also Downtown Local, a vintage coffee spot with decadent hot chocolate, when only the creamy goodness of your favorite childhood beverage will cut the fog.
Craving Mexican? Pop into Mercado &Taqueria de Amigos, located at 1999 Pescadero Creek Road. This small taqueria is located in the convenience store of a gas station, yet it has been praised in the New York Times and Sunset Magazine for their authentic Mexican dishes.
Made in Pescadero, located at 216 Stage Road, offers a selection of beautiful furniture, and the gallery represents many local artisans from coastside studios, with displays of jewelry, quilts, ceramics, turned wood and more.
Take a short walk (.4 mi.) north up Stage Road, where you will find two beautiful cemeteries to wander and wonder in, Mount Hope and St. Anthony. Both active graveyards, they offer a glimpse into the region’s past and help provide quiet reflection on the circle of life.
Farms, Cheese and Berry Picking
Phipps Country Store and Farm, located one mile from downtown at 27000 Pescadero Creek Road, is open year round and offers picnic facilities and farm animals for the kids. Here, you can pick olallieberries and strawberries and selected fruit in season. Enjoy a peaceful walk through the flower and herb gardens along the creek. They have a great selection of more than 75 of the finest quality heirloom and exotic dry beans, grown at the ranch. Seasonally fresh fruits, vegetables and beans are also available, and don’t forget their delicious fresh fruit jams.
If you adore goats, and want to pet their sweet faces, Harley Farms Goat Dairy, located less than a mile from downtown at 205 North Street, is a must visit. Open year-round for farm and dairy tours, they also offer cheese-making classes. Book a tour online: reservations are required. Take home some delicious goat and feta cheeses, including fromage blanc, chevre, ricotta and the edible flower chevre, graced with locally sourced flowers. They also have a complete line of bath and body products, including goat milk soap, facial moisturizers and lotions.
Great Beer and Unusual Pub Food at Highway 1 Brewing
If beer is more your thing, you’ll delight in Highway 1 Brewing Company, located 10 miles south towards Santa Cruz on highway 1, a fairly new establishment dedicated to “turning water into something drinkable.” Some of their brews are pretty intriguing, including the French Mexican War, a French Saison made with fresh jalapenos. You can look forward to unusual small plates, too, like pepper bellies, roasted Brussels sprouts, mac n’ cheese topped with a crunchy Cheez-It crust, and beer battered deep fried cauliflower.
Explore a Bit Further Along The Coast
Along the coast, and especially in the town of Davenport (which is about 24 miles south), you’ll find a collection of potters, fine woodworkers, artists, photographers, organic farmers, coffee roasters and purveyors of fine food and drink. If you’re in the mood for more wine tasting, Bonny Doon’s latest tasting room is located there. And, just up Bonny Doon Road, you’ll find Beauregard Vineyards. For more info, check out northcoastartisans.com