PESCADERO – The locals call it “Doo-ertz.” I call it “Doo-ar-taze.” We all call it rockin’ good-cookin’. I am at the historic, one-of-a-kind, 1890’s Duarte’s Tavern with my friend Shirish for lunch. This award-winning James Beard Foundation “American Classic” restaurant is the ideal place to take a break if you are traveling the California coast between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. It’s two miles inland through fertile farmlands and unspoiled wetlands.
We sat in the back where the nostalgic original bar from 1894 offers a more authentic old-world experience. We tried the house specialty—artichoke soup, in deference to the thistle-like plant that grows in volume on the coast. I sampled the sautéed halibut—right out of nearby Monterey Bay, served with mushrooms, green and red peppers, and onion. Shirish noshed on the grilled shrimp and cheese sandwich, rich and decadent. The wine d’jour is a School House Cabernet 2006 from the Paso Robles region. If you can, try and make it on a weekday, otherwise expect to wait, this place is hoppin.’