Pie with ice cream, coffee with whiskey: good times at Duarte’s in Pescadero. (Photo by Charles Russo)

We got hungry in Half Moon Bay…here’s what we ate.

Recently we found ourselves famished in the foggy region where the 6–5–0 meets the sea. You know—Half Moon Bay. So we ate our way down the coast to Pescadero, stopping in at coastal classics, new school arrivals and hidden hangouts alike. Not only was each place better than the next, but at a time when the rest of the Bay Area appears immersed in avocado toast and $50 cheeseburgers, the Coastside consistently served up quality eats with little pretension.

So take some notes, plan a day trip and check out our quick rundown of what we ate during our recent oceanfront excursion.

Let’s see…I’m gonna need a 3/8 ratchet head….and….(Photo by Charles Russo)

Fog Buster Coffee at El Granada Hardware

Yep, our favorite cup of coffee on the coast is found at a hardware store. We’ve been saying it for years now, and we’re sticking to it.

If you’ve never been…EG Hardware & Cafe is a Coastside mashup of a neighborhood mainstay where you can pick up a breakfast sandwich, a socket wrench and a first-rate cup of pour-over coffee all in one go.

And whereas many of the pour-overs we encounter in trendy third wave joints render lukewarm and watery, EG makes a scorch-your-insides hot cup of rich brew sans scenesters. In addition, they have a huge selection of fresh coffee beans available, from Costa Rican to “Jitter Juice” (but we typically stick with the house’s Fog Buster blend).

All up, it’s a high-quality cup of coffee in a low-key setting that’s just pure Coastside atmosphere.

EG Hardware & Cafe // 85 Ave Portola, El Granada; 650.726.5009

Chips, salsa, tacos (not pictured—more chips, more salsa). (Photo by Charles Russo)

Fish tacos (or anything really) with salsa bar chips, Tres Amigos

We have a wide range of favorites when it comes to the menu at Tres. Sometimes we go chicken tostada plate, often we order the fish tacos and lately we’ve been opting for the pollo asado Caesar salad. They’re all good.

But we often leave there wondering why we’re so full (like…Thanksgiving-dinner full) and realize it’s because we went back to the salsa bar three or four times. Yeah, super fresh pico de gallo, a mild verde sauce and all-you-can-eat chips. There’s nothing particularly innovative or special about it, but it’s the only taqueria where we find ourselves consuming a not-so-minor mound of chips and crushing cup after cup of various salsas.

Careful though…their salsa bar is situated as more of a….salsa cul-de-sac…and navigating the crowds during peak hours is a craft all it’s own. (Seriously…we warned you.)

Tres Amigos Restaurant // 270 Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay; 650.726.6080

Barn Burger vs Hamburger Sandwich. (Image via The Barn’s website and 650 file photo)

Barn Burger at The Barn, or…the Hamburger Sandwich at Dad’s Luncheonette

The barn or the train? The classic Americana or new (old) school wizardry?

Well…we just couldn’t decide which of these two phenomenal burgers to feature here…so we’re posting ’em both and leaving the choice up to you. They’re situated two miles apart from each other, but trust us when we say that it’s win-win in each direction.

On the north side of Half Moon Bay, the Barn is a cozy Coastside location (now in its fourth year) serving up top notch comfort food to the tune of BLTs, pulled pork sandwiches and …(wait for it)…fried mac and cheese balls. Better yet, they make one of our favorite burgers in the Bay, with a 1/4 pound of Marin Sun Farms beef, fried onions and all the classic fixin’s. It’s very much a burger lover’s burger. (In fact, we’re pretty sure whoever designed the cheeseburger emoji modeled it off of a Barn Burger…I mean , right?)

To the south, Dad’s Luncheonette is the life-work balance epiphany of former Saison alum Scott Clark who operates out of an old train car along Highway One just down from Half Moon Bay’s Main Street. The menu is simple, brief and thoroughly fantastic, anchoring off of Clark’s Hamburger sandwich—grassfed beef, “melty” cheese, a soft egg and sliced white bread, served with salty homemade potato chips and fresh greens. Honestly, we can’t tell if it’s an exquisite throwback or a futuristic vision of what burgers can be, but mark us down as faithful converts regardless.

Head’s up though….both the Barn and the train are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The Barn // 3068 Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay; 650.560.8363

Dad’s Luncheonette // 225 Cabrillo Hwy S, Half Moon Bay; 650.560.9832

Pie and coffee at Duarte’s. (Photo by Charles Russo)

Olallieberry pie and (Irish) coffee at Duarte’s Tavern

Duarte’s has been serving people food and booze since 1894 (which is to say before the advent of automobiles, widespread electrical power and the age of flight) so they don’t really need us to make the case for what they’re up to. But the CliffNotes read like this —artichoke soup, crab ciopinnio, Olallieberry pie; essentially…the Coastside and its marquee NorCal bounty encapsulated within a single three-course meal. Of course, that can be a commitment, so we suggest the abbreviated version—pie and boozy coffee—as a required pit stop during any coastal outing.

The restaurant can have a wait even on the most off hours of off hours, but the bar typically always has a couple stools (and a whole lotta atmosphere) ready to go. Pie, Irish coffee, Patsy Cline on the juke…no wonder Duarte’s has been around for 900 years.

Duarte’s Tavern, 202 Stage Rd, Pescadero; 650.879.0464

Cynara Maximus….the legendary garlic herb artichoke bread at Arcangeli. (Image via Yelp)

Artichoke Bread at Arcangeli Grocery Co.

Simply put—don’t pass Pescadero without picking up a fresh loaf of garlic herb artichoke bread. Arcangeli on Main Street cranks them out fresh all day long: warm, super flavorful and full of artichoke hearts.

It’s a must-try Coastside classic that is a meal in itself and can work as a simple alternative to all the other eats on this list. (Yeeeaah, we may have crushed an entire loaf once or twice on the ride back home.)

If they’re out when you arrive, stick around until they wheel out a fresh batch, usually every half hour or so (just be careful not to catch an elbow from another hungry loaf-seeker.)

Arcangeli Grocery Co. // 287 Stage Rd, Pescadero; 650.879.0147

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Charles Russo

Award-winning writer and photographer with extensive experience across mediums, including videography, investigative reporting, editing, advanced research, and a wide range of photography.

Author of Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America; represented by Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency.

Freelance clients include Google, VICE and Stanford University.

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