Good food, sane prices, welcoming crowd. With the Menlo Park favorite shut down, we take heart from the fact that plenty of longtime hangouts are going strong.
And so…the Oasis is no more.
By now you’ve already heard how the 60-year-old Menlo Park eatery closed after a dispute with their landlords.
And while classic local institutions do sometimes simply reach their end, the shuttering of the Oasis—the low-priced, Budweiser-serving, $8 burger bar—touched a nerve, owing to its devoted following and, maybe, growing paranoia that the Peninsula is increasingly unaffordable not just to people, but to the places people go to feel like people.
Thankfully, the Peninsula is still home to a fascinating cross section of long-running Oasis-like institutions that draw an eclectic mix of locals for burgers and beer in an upbeat environment. But nostalgia doesn’t pay their bills, so if (like us) you really love the legendary locations we’ve listed below, pay a visit in the near future and make some new memories.
It’s only right that we start this list with the Alpine —affectionately known as “Zott’s”—a location that is as embedded as any place in the early history of the Peninsula. Tucked into the cuts of Portola Valley, the old road house (technically, gambling hall) gained popularity with the blue-collar workers who were building Stanford University. The location has gone through various incarnations since then — including a 20-plus-year run beginning in the 1930s as Rossotti’s (Zott’s for short) — before officially becoming the Alpine in 1956.
All history aside (and there’s a lot, we didn’t even mention the location’s connection to the birth of the internet), the Alpine may be the only beer garden where bicycles, horses and Teslas meet in the parking lot, and which welcomes ranch workers, grad students and everything in between.
Notable on the menu is the monster $9 half-pound burger with cheese and bacon, though we’re a bit partial to their grilled Louisiana sausage with onion rings on the side.
Alpine Inn // Monday thru Saturday 11:30am — 9:00pm, Sun. until 6pm
3915 Alpine Road, Portola Valley (650) 854–4004
A younger cousin to the Oasis, the Dutch Goose has a similar vibe and likeminded menu. After a near-death experience a few years back, it seems as popular as ever with the usual mix of students, tech employees and local families. Dating back to the mid-1960s, the Menlo Park meeting place is the rare lively late-night spot in an otherwise tranquil stretch of The Alameda.
The Goose brings a (relatively) healthier sensibility to their pub food, showcasing Angus beef and cooking with trans fat-free canola oil. Their deviled eggs are required ordering and the salads are as enticing as the burgers (though their secret sauce “goop” is pretty epic).
Happy hour runs 3–6 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to close, featuring specials on nachos and beer. Better still, the Dutch Goose boasts a full bar and serves legit booze in the all of the well drinks (e.g., Ketel, Tanquray, Cazadoras).
The Dutch Goose // Weds. to Sat. 11am—2am; Sun. to Tues. 11am—Midnight
3567 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park (650) 854–3245
It just doesn’t get more local than “the Ketch.” (Or more old school: still no website.)
Located along the docks of Pillar Point Harbor in El Granda, the Coastside eatery and bar has a daily stream of fishermen, surfers and longtime residents arriving for a vast menu that specializes in seafood favorites, from chowder to calamari & chips. Dungeness crab is featured in abundance (when in season) alongside other fresh seafood sourced from the nearby boats and cooked to order (grilled, sauteed, deep fried…your call).
The atmosphere of the restaurant has an easy and low-key family environment, with a nautical aesthetic that feels like you’re kicking back in the cabin of a well-traveled sea vessel. The adjacent Harbor Bar (one of our favorite drinking spots on the Peninsula) can get rowdy well beyond the heavily attended 49ers games, and is famous for their made-to-order Bloody Mary’s (practically the official hangover cure of the Coastside).
Ketch Joanne // Open 7am — 9pm daily (until 10pm Friday & Saturday)
17 Johnson Pier, El Granda (Pillar Point Harbor)
While few Peninsula establishments can compare to the Alpine Inn in terms of local history, Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero has been serving food (and lots of whiskey) since the 1890s.
Located off of Highway 1, Duarte’s is the anchor point of Pescadero’s short-but-sweet Main Street, drawing locals and tourists alike throughout the day. On weekends the wait can be a bit long, but the food at Duarte’s is a long way from mere pub grub and is well worth your time.
Sourcing local produce and seafood, they are famous for a variety of dishes, namely, the artichoke soup, crab cioppino and olallieberry pie.
The adjacent tavern is one of the coolest old school bars in the Bay Area, and is worth a visit just to hang out and watch a Giants game with the locals.
Duarte’s Tavern // Open daily 7am—8pm
202 Stage Rd, Pescadero (650) 879–0464
The sanctuary of Skyline is beloved by both in-the-know bikers and living-in-the-woods locals. A quintessential California roadhouse, Alice’s was named after the Arlo Guthrie song around the time when Ken Kesey was throwing legendary acid parties just down the road in nearby La Honda during the late 60s. Today, it’s as popular as ever and can get pretty crowded on sunny weekends when motorcyclists take to riding our blue highways. Head up on a weekday afternoon, though, and you’ll have no problems getting seated and served.
Showcasing organic ingredients and locally sourced produce, Alice’s breakfast is especially worthwhile: we like the Redneck Breakfast (bacon, homemade biscuit, poached eggs and country gravy). At lunch, the bbq brisket sandwich with kettle chips does the trick, particularly when matched to their great draft beer selection.
Alice’s Restaurant // Thurs-Sat 8am-9pm, Mon-Weds 8am-8pm, Sun 8–6.30
17288 Skyline Blvd, Woodside (650) 851–0303