Grab a loaf of artichoke bread, a slice of pie, your mask and head to the beach.

One of my last pre-pandemic vacations was to Pescadero, where an off-the-grid weekend trip turned into an unexpectedly rich food tour. I ripped off hunks of Arcangeli Grocery Co.’s famous artichoke bread and followed my nose into the excellent Taqueria de Amigos, hidden inside a gas station convenience store down the street. Dinner at Duarte’s Tavern took me right back to slices of tart olallieberry pie I had eaten at the counter as a kid (à la mode, always).

A comfort-food driven escape to the coast is probably just what many of us need right now.

You can pick up takeout and head to a secluded spot — be it your car, the beach, a hike or back to your home — and safely support these small, local businesses. None of these places are undiscovered but all are well worth celebrating, especially now.

Here’s our guide for eating your way through Pescadero.

Behold, the Arcangeli Grocery Co. artichoke bread. (Photo by Elena Kadvany)

Arcangeli Grocery Co.

It’s been 171 days since my last Arcangeli artichoke loaf, but who’s counting? This Pescadero market has been baking enormous loaves studded with hunks of tender, local artichoke since 1929. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk through the doors right after wicker baskets at the front of the store have been filled with warm bread fresh out of the oven. If not, waste some time by wandering the aisles stocked with locally made products and grab some picnic essentials. (I can personally attest that prosciutto and a log of Harley Farms’ chive chèvre pair excellently with the bread.) You can also stock up on half-baked loaves to make at home, or order the bread for delivery online.

287 Stage Road, Pescadero; 650–879–0147. Open Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.// normsmarket.com

From top left, clockwise: Chile verde and carnitas tacos from Taqueria de Amigos, dried chilis by the pound, fresh baked goods and the counter at the gas station taqueria. (Photos taken in February 2020 by Elena Kadvany)

Mercado and Taqueria de Amigos

Taqueria de Amigos rewards those who seek it out. Housed inside a drab, nondescript gas station convenience store, the taqueria makes some of the best carnitas and chile verde tacos I’ve had. The adjoining market is worth perusing; don’t miss the fresh-baked Mexican pastries or back corner full of by-the-pound dried chilis, tamarind and corn husks for tamales. Cash only.

1999 Pescadero Creek Road, Pescadero; 650–879–0232. Open for takeout daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cioppino and olallieberry pie from Duarte’s Tavern, which is open now for takeout only. (Photos taken in February 2020 by Elena Kadvany)

Duarte’s Tavern

The best part about the legendary Duarte’s Tavern, opened as a saloon and barbershop in 1894, is how little it’s changed over the decades. The olallieberry pies and cioppino are always excellent, the warm sourdough bread with pats of butter flow freely and much of the produce still comes from a garden behind the restaurant. Thanks to a tip from the friendly couple sitting next to us, I now know about the glory that is the secret-menu artichoke and green chile soup. These days, Duarte’s is open for takeout only with a smaller menu regularly posted to Facebook.

202 Stage Road, Pescadero; 650–879–0464. Open Wed.-Sun., noon to 7 pm. // duartestavern.com/

Get your caffeine fix at Downtown Local in Pescadero. (Images via Yelp)

Downtown Local

Just across from Duarte’s is Downtown Local, which couple John Betteo and Nicole Sillapere opened in 2013. The funky cafe, full of vintage books, vinyl records, Italian newspapers and other memorabilia, is usually a gathering spot for motorcyclists making their way down Hwy. 1. (Betteo also rode motorcycles in a former life.) Downtown Local reopened for curbside coffee pickup in late May; grab a Sightglass Coffee cappuccino or kombucha on tap to go if you’re passing through. The Sunshine, a market inside the cafe, is also open (one person allowed in at a time, online pre-ordering encouraged) with fresh produce, housemade ice cream, farm eggs, meat from Pescadero’s Root Down Farm and other local goods.

213 Stage Road, Pescadero; 650–879–9155. Downtown Local hours: Thurs.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Sunshine hours: Mon. and Thurs. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday noon to 5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. // facebook.com/downtownlocal/

Harley Farms Goat Dairy recently reopened for small tours. Its farm shop is also open. (Photos by Philip Wartena)

Harley Farms Goat Dairy

Make a cheese pilgrimage to Harley Farms, where the farm shop is open and tours recently resumed (limited to 10 people, masks required and outdoors only). Dee Harley makes her award-winning goat cheeses with add-ons like honey-lavender, apricot, pepper and dill. The shop also carries goat cheese ravioli, soups, Meyer lemon marmalade, olallieberry vinegar and other specialty food made on the farm. If you can’t make it in person, Harley Farms offers limited delivery — from Palo Alto to San Francisco on the Peninsula (minimum order $100) and from Santa Cruz to Pacifica on the Coast (minimum order $50) — so recruit a few neighbors or friends to meet the minimum amount.

205 North St., Pescadero; Farm shop open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. harleyfarms-online.square.site

Make a pit stop at Pie Ranch on Hwy. 1 for fresh pie and local goods. (Images via Yelp)

Pie Ranch

Like all small businesses, Pie Ranch had to pivot during the pandemic, canceling all tours and longtime educational programs and launching a new food-relief program that now provides over 800 boxes of produce weekly to Bay Area families experiencing food insecurity (and also generates revenue for local farms). Pie Ranch also kept its Hwy. 1 farm stand open, selling local produce, Companion Bakeshop pies and shelf-stable pantry goods. “We believe that the stronger the connections we have with where food is grown, the more farms can be part of the solution to such health crises,” Pie Ranch said about its COVID-19 response. The farm stand accepts cash, credit cards and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

2080 Cabrillo Hwy., Pescadero; open weekdays (except Tuesdays) noon to 5 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. // pieranch.org

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Elena Kadvany

A writer with a passion for investigative reporting, telling untold stories and public-service journalism, I have built my career covering education and restaurants in the Bay Area. My blog and biweekly newsletter, Peninsula Foodist, is the go-to source for restaurant news in Silicon Valley. My work has been published in The Guardian, Eater, Bon Appetit’s Healthyish, SF Weekly and The Six Fifty.

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