Since moving back to California, I'm trying to branch out more and find new places to eat all over the Bay Area. A few weekends ago my parents and I took a nice drive out to Pescadero, a quaint little town out on the coast, just south of San Francisco. We had an awesome Umamiventure out there a few months ago to a goat milk farm, remember?
I had recalled someone mentioning Duarte's Tavern, saying that it's one of the oldest restaurants in California, and that they serve a bombass cioppino. Of course it had been on my mind ever since.
One thing about my family is that we have always traveled far and wide for good food. When I moved out to NYC, I noticed how infrequently I left my neighborhood to eat- it's so easy to get caught up with the day-to-day that you don't leave your comfort zone very often when it comes to feeding yourself. The idea of Umamiventures came from the family tradition of driving anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for a good meal- this way, eating is an event on its own, not just something to do in passing.
Reading up on the history of Duarte's, I learned that they have been owned and operated by its namesake family since 1894. Today, the third and fourth generation of Duartes oversees the restaurant, which won the prestigious James Beard Honorary Award as an "American Classic". How awesome is that? In this day and age, "family owned" is such a rarity.
In visiting Duarte's, it's like a time warp- the wood paneling and beige walls all create a no-frills, cozy, cabin-esque setting. It is a tavern, afterall.
We seriously wanted to order the entire menu. We practically did. So much fresh seafood!
Although they do have a menu of the day's specials, we thought we should go with their signature dishes since it was our first time there.
They are well-known for their artichoke dishes. This is the cream of artichoke swirled in with cream of green chile soup- they are listed on the menu separately, but our server (who we loved) told us we can order it half and half. Genius! The flavors surprisingly went so well together, and the flower pattern is so lovely.
Fried oysters- a unanimous favorite at the table. The plump oysters were just slightly floured and fried.
The shrimp salad. Get it with the olloliberry vinaigrette, it was awesome!!!
Fresh half dozen Fanny Bays. One of my favorite oysters, ever, I was so excited to see them on the menu. They didn't taste so great, they may have been a day or two too old, but we slurped them down anyway.
Chilled artichoke hearts with aioli. Little cold hard diamond-shaped pieces of love.
The famed Dungeness crab cioppino. What made this so spectacular was the lightness of the soup- just tomato, carrots, celery and herbs. It was neither heavy, nor salty, so it really highlighted the crab. They make everything on the menu from scratch, and it was comforting to know that the soup didn't come out of a can.
The meal all went so well with my Mission Brewery Blond Ale.
Their pies are also extremely famous thanks to Grandma Duarte. She has passed on, but the legendary pies continue. This is the strawberry-rhubarb.
The peach cobbler, which I loved. Look at the floating biscuit!!!
The Original Umamiventurers. You know we will eat anything if it involves wearing a bib.
I was able to sneak a shot of the actual bar/tavern area. So old skool and saloon-like, with the dark walls and dim lighting.
This was probably one of the most delightful meals of the year for the Akabori crew. We will definitely be back for the fried oysters, the cioppino and try some of the other dishes next time (we've already decided on the pork chop with apple sauce and baked oysters). Yes, this is how we roll! You can certainly make a day out of going here, and saunter the shops of Stage Road. I highly recommend it!
202 Stage Road