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Half Moon Bay??

I'll be in Half Moon Bay for work in early August. Can anyone make any restaurant recommendations? Thank you.

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  1. HMB is a terrific restaurant town for its size. Here are my personal rankings:


    Cafe Gibralter: 3-4 miles north of town across from Princeton Harbor. Nice soups, salads, wines, atmosphere. Private booths.


    Pasta Moon: Downtown. Decent pastas, 1 step below the great pasta houses in SF. A staple in town for years.

    Cetrella: Nice house, extensive Mediterranean menu. I prefer the first courses to the entrees. I think a bit overrrated and overrpriced, but overall, fine.

    Tres Amigos: Surprisingly good, fresh, traditional Mexican

    Sushi Main Street: Ditto re sushi

    Mezza Luna: Moved to the end of the Pier in Princeton. Nice view, very serviceable N. Italian menu.

    Duartes: Another mainstay, south of town in Pescadero. Great soups (artichoke), pies (Ollaberry), breads. I've found most entrees just ok and am disappointed that they don't do a better job with shellfish. Good place for breakfast.


    Barbara's Fishtrap. Another restaurant on the Princeton pier. Some people love this place but I find the calamari, fish & chips, etc greasy and uninspired.

    Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Traditional ok brewpub food, good beers. Aging rock bands on weekend nites. Nothing special.


    The Miramar. Best views in town. Food disappointing x ok versions of crab and shrimp louie

    Moss Beach Distillery. Another nice view place when not fogged in, but food is horribly overpriced and mediocre at best. Best bet here is to go downstairs for steamers and beer & stare at the ocean.

    ??? The priciest restaurant in town is Navio at the Ritz Carlton. I have not been there.

    Also ... there is a breakfast place at the HMB airport which is decent and fun. Also a new restaurant across from the San Benito House, next to a hotel which has decent food. Sorry, names escape me.

    5 Replies
    1. re: doc

      >Mezza Luna: Moved to the end of the Pier in Princeton.<

      Wasn't Mezza Luna in the location of the old Princeton Inn? If so and they've moved, what's in the old Princeton Inn building (I still miss the Princeton Inn for lunch/brunch)?

      Added: I see the newer post below that Mezza Luna is still in the old Princeton Inn (Hotel?) location.

      1. re: doc

        Is "Doug's BBQ" still around? It was getting some very positive press here back in October 2005.

        "It is just off Main Street in the Stone Pine Center just south of Highway 92 (at the first stop sign)."



        1. re: doc

          I love the Half Moon Bay Coffee Company for breakfast or lunch. Their breakfast rice is wonderful and unique to them. Their biscuits and gravy on the weekends are wonderful too. The coffee and desserts are great, and the lunch options are varied.

          1. re: doc

            Barbara's Fish Trap is really good for fish and chips. There is also another good place on the road in from Hillsborough that's also good for fish. I believe it's called The Flying Fish. It's in a building with a little market, you can't miss it.

            1. re: SamuelA.L.

              Flying Fish Grill
              99 San Mateo Rd
              Half Moon Bay

              Very casual- good clam chowder, polenta fries, fish tacos ok depends on what they are using but I find the toppings boring.

          2. I was there once, and will always remember a spectacular berry crumble/cobbler dessert at Pasta Moon. Their butternut squash ravioli was terrific, so was their pizza. FYI, this was a couple of years ago.

            1. I have been living in HMB for a number of years and generally agree with your rankings. I do like Cafe Gibraltar but I would rank Pasta Moon and Cetrella above it. Sushi Main Street has decent sushi but service can be abysmal. Other Mexican I like are Happy Taco and Spanishtown. I feel Mezza Luna is on par with many of the best places in North Beach as far as its pastas go. Duarte's to me is highly overrated. The 301 Cafe at the HMB airport, I agree, is not too bad for what it is. Half Moon Bay Kitchen and Cocktails is the name of the place across from San Benito House on Main Street. I agree the food is decent and I like the decor, but I have talked to several people who really don't like this place. I'm not sure why.

              There is a new Asian fusion restaurant in El Granada called Red Ginger where the old Moon Bay was. I haven't been there yet. Sam's Chowder House (same owner as Cetrella) is supposed to open in August in the old Anchorage restaurant site on Highway One. Looking forward to that. A new Japanese restaurant called Shiki is opening in the Stone Pine Shopping Center. I will be absolutely shocked if it's any good. Cafe Gibraltar people are opening a place where Two Fools was on Main Street. Not sure if it's open yet.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Wendy_san

                It's the 30 Cafe, named for the primary runway at Half Moon Bay Airport. It's fun to fly in there (not on a foggy day) for brunch. Nothing spectacular, but better than quite a few other airport eateries.

                1. re: Wendy_san

                  Red Ginger closed in January 2007. They opened just before the closing of Highway 1 due to problems with Devil's Slide, and never recovered from the economic hit.

                2. Are we talking about the same Mezza Luna that was at 459 Prospect Way 2 months ago is now located at the end of the Princeton pier??

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TomG

                    Mezza Luna has not moved from its location at 459 Prospect.
                    In general I would agree with Wendy San's comments although I respectfully disagree with Spanishtown. Nice folks, nice service but the food is very old school Mexican American---big time heavy. I am a bigger fan of Happy taco than Tres Amigos. Last couple time there I ordered the Carnitas and they were more like stewmeat than Carnitas.

                  2. Sorry ... I am stuck in a time warp. If I am correct, I remember eating at Mezza Luna when it was located on Highway 1, just north of HMB ... thus the "moved to the pier comment".

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: doc

                      You are not mistaken. Mezza Luna was originally in the spot on Highway One where Ono Hawaiian Grill resides (and, btw, a place I do *not* recommend). Mezza Luna moved to the old Princeton Hotel site maybe 4 or 5 years ago and a restaurant named Demi Lune took its place.

                      1. re: Wendy_san

                        What do you have against the Ono Hawaiian Grill? I've enjoyed the Kalua Pig plate lunch there and didn't find the macaroni salad to be as unassuming as so many other places.

                        1. re: Peter Yee

                          Ono has since closed. An Italian place will open once renovations are complete. They were putting up the sign today, and I think it said "La Italia."

                            1. re: Chowada

                              Its actually going to be (yet) another Tacqueria with, I believe, the same ownership as the one in Montara on Hwy 1 called El Gran Amigo. Hopefully it will be a little more interesting than that.

                    2. The people who own Cafe Gibraltar have just opened on Main Street in the space formerly occupied by Two Fools Cafe, though I've not been there yet. Hawaiian Ono Grill closed suddenly a few days ago. Their food was truly terrible. Red Ginger opposite Princeton Harbor at Avenue Alhambra has an eclectic menu (pan Asian), and both times I've eaten there, the food has been quite good.

                      Doug's BBQ in Stone Pine Center has authentic Southern-style with two homemade sauces available. His beef brisket sandwiches are excellent.

                      The Rogue Chef on Main Street serves overpriced and pretentious food, based on our one recent dining experience there.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: dkspears

                        Thanks for the update, dkspears. We tried to go to Chez Shea (the new restaurant by the Cafe Gibraltar people) on Friday night around 7:00 and it was too packed to deal with. We ended up at Pasta Moon, which was wonderful. We were seated in the tranquil back room and it was great.

                        We've been hesitant to eat at Red Ginger even though we live close by, but I'm glad to hear of your positive experiences.

                        Yes, good riddance to Ono. It started out pretty good at the beginning but then really went downhill. I hope something fabulous opens in its place, but I'm not holding my breath. Haven't tried Doug's and haven't been to Rogue Chefs in a long time. Hoping that Shiki, a new Japanese restaurant in Stone Pine Center that has yet to open, will somehow be decent. And of course we have high hopes for Sam's Chowder House (same owner as Cetrella) on Hwy One, which is supposed to open this October.

                        1. re: Wendy_san

                          Hmmm, we were at Chez Shea around 7:00 Friday keeping Wendy San and company out I guess. No liquor license yet. We had pork baby back ribs with a Plum BBQ sauce which was great as long as you can deal with a mild sauce. As well we had slow roasted pork with a chile verde sauce which was great as well. The pork reminded me of a nicely done, moist lechon asado including some nice crispy skin. The sides were pretty straightforward without the rustic approach of Gibraltor. Maybe a bit too simple. The appetizer of Chorizo with Garbanzo was less successful being a bit too heavy. I know the idea is eclectic so it will be interesting to see how it evolves. It will also be interesting to see what their wine list is once they have their license. Ive always liked Gibraltors as short as it is.

                          Re Dougs, Im not sure I would call it authentic. Lets put it this way..I dont see any fires going in there but I see ovens. Having said that, for that very reason I have not actually had the ribs. I tend to stick with the brisket although it is not the fall apart, virtual mouth melt of the best of BBQ spots it'll do in a pinch.

                      2. We spent too much money by far for what we got at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. The fish & chips may have been the worst I have ever eaten.

                        At the airport on Highway One is the 330 Cafe. (It's some number associated with flying.) I love that place and we often stop there on the way back from Monterey. In my experience, restaurants at tiny airports are often good. Locals eat here. It's a real bargain. It's good diner food, made with excellent ingredients. Lots of breakfasts, salads, sandwiches, blue plate special type meals, burger choices, Latino choices. I like the vintage aeronautical themed decor. Clean. Friendly staff. You want more of something (like hollandaise), they bring plenty, and pronto. Outdoor seating in back. You can watch planes taxiing around on the runway. My mother in law says the coffee is good. Things we eat often: bacon cheeseburger with well done fries, crab benedict, fresh o.j.
                        Their motto, painted on the front of the building: "Heavenly food at down to earth prices!"

                        1. Bummer about HMB Brewing Company. Is that this year? I haven't been since last year when they had a relatively new chef who was doing some good things. It wasn't amazing (except the special Portuguese dinner) but it was good.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            It was the end of October/beginning of November. My husband's birthday. They gave us very strange quasi sophisticated salsas with some of the food - if that helps identifies which cook was working. Like for the salmon, which was not that great - just tasted like generic "fish", it was a hot pepper and fruity combo that just did not work. I think the fish for the fish and chips was actually those pre-formed frozen "filets" - fish that mass market chain restaurants use - you know, kind of an elongated trapezoidal shape. The fries were also straight out of a freezer box - mealy anemic "steak" fries, and not that many of them. Kind of like the old Borscht Belt hotel joke: in a resturant dining room one woman turns to another and asks, "How's the food here?" the reply, "Terrible! And they give you so little of it, too!"

                            1. re: niki rothman

                              That's funny. We were there on Sunday night for dinner and three of us had the halibut fish and chips -- I've had the regular fish and chips recently, too. It was excellent. I know that they now only carry fish that's on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list and that they use local produce. We also had the beer-battered artichokes and the fried calamari (yes, we went to fill a fried food craving) and those were also excellent. The fries were really good -- peels on, well done, greaseless, hot, crispy and delicious.

                              The pale ale, summer ale, and "Summit" IPA that we had were excellent, as usual. I wish that they would pour beers with a head, though. I guess some folks feel that pints filled to the top without a head are a good deal (more beer,) but I like the foam.

                              I wouldn't order the hamburger there, though. It came overcooked and dry the one time I ordered it.

                          2. The view at the Ritz-Carlton is fabulous (and they play bag pipes every evening). Try to make it one early evening for cocktails.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Funwithfood

                              Herb Caen used to say, "The better the view, the worse the food." Seems to work that way.

                            2. We ate at Pasta Moon yesterday and I guess we didn't order the right courses as it was not very good. Also, the prices were way too high. $19 for a small portion of gnocchi??? At lunch time???? And even though we were the first customers to arrive, people all around us were getting their pizzas, etc. and our main course had not arrived until they were almost done. In other words, an abnormal amount of time passed from the time we were done with our salad until our pastas arrived - it was a good 40 minutes.

                              We enjoyed their Rosemary focaccia bread and olive oil/balsamic vinegar dipping sauce. We ordered for our salad:

                              Della Casa, G. Berta Farms Coastal Organic Greens, Sunchokes, Red Icicle Radishes, Sunflower Seeds, White Balsamic Vinaigrette

                              The salad was very tasty, but too much dressing - almost drowning it.

                              For our pastas, we had a fettucine type noodle with Prawns, Scallops, Clams, Mussels, - the clams were the only part that was not overcooked - the other fish was very chewy, tasted *old*. I had the gnocchi with a cream sauce with English peas and pancetta - it was way too cheesy. I wish I had ordered the butternut squash ravioli (but it sounded like a knock-off of Mario's famous dish which I had at his restaurant)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: BarbaraBell

                                Thanks for the report, Barbara.

                                Was this your first time at Pasta Moon. It is one of those restaurants I keep meaning to try, but it is sounding like no big loss.

                                Any favorite restaurants in the Half Moon Bay area?

                                Pasta Moon
                                315 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Yes, it was our first time eating at Pasta Moon. I don't know any other restaurants to recommend. Hopefully, someone can post some for us. We enjoy hiking over there and it would be nice to be able to look forward to a nice lunch after the hike.

                                  1. re: BarbaraBell

                                    I enjoy Sam's Chowder House. Paul Shenkman is a wonderful owner and host, coming from Cetrella he brought chef Lewis Rossman with him to create a really interesting menu emphasizing seafood. He also brought over a wonderful Happy Hour promotion with half priced drinks...ALL alcohol from 5 to 7 PM, weekdays. Very friendly with good food and service.