In-the-know locals and those bent on exploring likely all know of Duarte's Tavern down the Peninsula in Pescadero, one of the oldest and most beloved restaurants in the Bay Area clocking in at 122 years old. The restaurant, whose specialties include cream of artichoke soup and crab cioppino, has been doing things just about the same way for as long as anyone can remember, cooking mostly from the local landscape situated as the place still is next to artichoke fields, just a few hundred yards inland from the Pacific Ocean off Route 1.
Also, you can't leave without having some pie olallieberry is the house specialty, which is a hybrid of a loganberry and a youngberry, and could be described, as Duarte's does, as "approximately two-thirds blackberry and one-third European red raspberry."
The place is creaky, old, and magical, and has a saloon attached like any tavern would have over 100 years ago. And this week we get a brief ode to the place on the James Beard Foundation blog penned by Boulevard chef and James Beard Award winner herself, Nancy Oakes.
Our coast up here is foggy a lot, or else it's sunny until 2 P.M. and then this frostbiting fog comes rolling in and everybody has to leave their beach day and head for some place where they can get something warm and wonderful. So you go to Duarte's and you have artichoke soup and some sand dabs and a berry pie.
The lesson that Duarte’s has to teach all of us is sense of place: you’re in the artichoke fields, you're right by the ocean where the sand dabs come from. It’s really anchored in a sense of place and the food that surrounds it. And then they have the sense not to change. Whereas culinary trends come at us and everybody’s expecting something different, and I’m sure they could have turned it into a fast-food hamburger place, they had the commitment to continue serving the right things. And that’s how a tradition is born, really. It’s somebody who has the guts to say, I don't need to evolve, I don't need to experiment.
Duarte's Tavern won a James Beard Foundation Award as an American Classic in 2003 kind of like a Lifetime Achievement award for the country's most long-lived and loved restaurants.
They're open every day of the week, should you be passing through the tiny town of Pescadero, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Duarte's Tavern - 202 Stage Road, Pescadero