Whenever I've been to Duarte's, there has been a crowd outside waiting to get in for the legendary local cuisine. But here's the thing: on the weekends, these are largely tours, so they are waiting for tables for 4, 6, 8 or more. I, the very savvy traveller, have come alone, so I slip inside and find a place at the counter.
And it's really better here anyway. You can chat with the other guests, watch the frenetic activity--and with a little kindness to the staff, you're likely to get samples of their specialties, too.
Favorite Dish: All I'm here for is the artichoke soup. They swear to me that it's just artichoke, onions, vegetable stock and cream, but I swear back at them that it must be spiced with fairy dust, or heroine or something else absolutely addictive. Pair it with the fresh baked bread, let it slide over your tongue. It's like rolling around in flowers--and not in the metaphorical sense. It's so magnificently floral it makes you want to weep for the summer of 1988, when all you had to do was go shopping in your back yard to put a meal on the table. Or maybe that's just me.
Taqueria de Amigos is a small Mexican take away located in a gas station shop. You will find it in the small town of Pescadero, a short detour off Highway 1 (3 miles East). We stopped in for some lunch on our way down the coast from San Francisco to Carmel.
It looked a bit dodgy from the outside, but on entering the shop our fears were quelled as there was a queue of people waiting to order lunch from the taqueria, and a few tables of people happily eating.
Favorite Dish: The menu above the counter showed a list of tacos, burritos and specials. After a quick perusal we both decided on a burrito - a chicken and a pork one, with various fillings. We took a seat and a couple of minutes later our giant burritos were bought over. And they were really good. And cheap. Well worth the detour.
Whether you're heading up Hwy 1 for a coastal day trip or camping up the road at Memorial Park like we were and only wanted to pack breakfast and beer, this is been the historic place to stop in for dinner since 1894. After a short wait with tourists, the local fire department, bikers, and families while eyeing the freshly splayed fish on ice and the famous olallieberry pies to take home, the friendly hostess led us through the more romantic dining room, through the bar, and into the more casual dining room. A group of families sat at a large table in the center, a longer table sat a group of girlfriends (who caused me to ask Curt never to let me have girlfriends who wear exclusively pink or purple), and a remainder of tables for two.
Hot, fresh sourdough bread and butter, available to purchase, arrived at our table with the menus and the friendly waitress indulged us patiently as it distracted us from ordering. Priced a little out of the atmosphere, we went for the cheaper basics while trying to stick to my rule of ordering what a place specializes in that you can't get elsewhere. A nice selection of fresh-caught fish, locally grown artichoke-stuffed raviolli, and delicious soups was available. I ordered the calamari steak sandwich on a hunch and got a perfectly juicy and springy steak, breaded and only slightly insulted by the roll, whereas Curt got the fish and chips, and, not being in England, its land of renown, it was disappointingly dry.
On our way back out through the bar we learned why Duarte's is dubbed a place "where friends meet," squeezing past the jukebox crowd and shouting to Curt that he dodge an empty walker abandoned by the power of that fountain of youth.
Nearby shops sell local artisans' wood and stone creations.
Let fish love you back! Get a Seafood Watch foodie guide at http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.asp
Parking: in the lot or on the street for free
Reservations: if you don't want to wait
Favorite Dish: The fish that came to nearby tables looked fine with nicely done veggies.
I ordered the calamari steak sandwich on a hunch and got a perfectly juicy and springy steak, breaded and only slightly insulted by the roll.
Battered fries were delicious.
The cream of chile soup tasted like pureed chile rellenos and made me hunt for the recipe!
The fish n chips was disappointing.
Famous pies and jams.
If you've come all the way to Pesadero and have forgotten to bring along something to eat have no fear. Infact, forgetting to bring something to eat to Pescadero is the thing to do. Before you head to the beach make way into town and visit Norm's Market where you'll find some of the best freshly baked bread in the world. Make sure that you arrive well before hunger strikes as Norm's is a favorite among the locals and those who know. Lines can be a bit long at times but it will be worth it.
Favorite Dish: For a simple meal pick up a loaf of artichoke or garlic bread, some cheese and your favorite drink. If you're looking for something a bit more you can visit the deli counter in the back of the store. You'll find whatever you need to make your picnic perfect.
Duartes is so wonderful because they maintain a quality of home cooked taste. Duartes is guarenteed to leave you full when you walk out!
Favorite Dish: The Artichoke Raviolis, 1/2&1/2 Soup, and the Chocolate Mousse Pie!