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Apr 27, 2006 11:19 PM

Crab Melt at Duarte's Tavern, Pescadero

  • m

Yesterday I took the parentals on a road trip up to Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero. My mom's been loving the pie, so I felt it was time they got the whole experience.

Mom and Dad shared a fried oyster sandwich that came with fries. It was served on an ok french roll. Fries were good, and the kitchen split the plate in the kitchen. They also had a bowl of soup, ordered 50:50 of green chili and artichoke. It's nicely presented with the artichoke soup part in the shape of an artichoke thistle. At late lunch time the normally creamy soup seemed cooked down and too thick though it tasted fine.

The best bite of the day was the crab melt I ordered. Pretty much just straight, fresh local Dungeness crab bound with some mayonnaise and a little parsley and scallions. There was a backnote that almost reminded me of cream cheese too. Picked clean, there were no shell bits and the sweet crab was tender and not stringy. Even more remarkable were the whole crab claw and the whole leg joint meat pieces buried in the filling. The buttered bread was light and airy, griddled to the perfect golden brown with some melted Monterey jack cheese on one side. Served hot, this was the lazy man's way to enjoy top quality Dungeness.

We got a slice of the pecan pie to go. My parents were happy with their lunch, even more so with the discount coupon.



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  1. Mmmm...looks scrumptious, Melanie. I can't get enough crab these days.

    Too funny about that coupon. I noticed that when I was looking at their website about their frozen pies. Maybe I'll take my folks there when they visit.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      There's a plain crab sandwich on the menu too, presumably served cold and without cheese. But I wanted something hot for lunch as it was still nippy yesterday. It was very rich but oh so good. And, about 10 times better than the last time I had the crab sandwich at Fenton's.


      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Oh man that crab sandwich looks like da bomb. Now your juicy report and photo make me regret not making a trip there after spending a few hours at Costanoa two months ago, whose cafeteria had so so food, but as hunger ruled over distance and uncertainty.... :-(

        1. re: KK

          Not everything's good at Duarte's. But, the crab melt is indeed da bomb. The oyster sandwich was quite forgettable. I really wanted to order the abalone sandwich that I love there, but didn't want my parents to know that I'd spend $25 on a sandwich. (g)

    2. s
      Sushi Monster

      Melanie! You are killing me here. That damn photo of the crab melt. Oh, dear God .... Stop!!!!!

      Some of my favorite memories of Duarte's: 1) Taking my in-laws from Colorado -- real steak-and-potatoes folk - there for a mindblowing dinner. It pretty much explained without a word to them why their beautiful daughter and I would put up with the insane real estate prices, etc. here .... 2) Ordering a QUART of the cream of artichoke soup to go, with a loaf of french bread, (being in a hurry to get back over the hill) with my snooty cousin from NYC. He nearly cried it was so good. 3) so many wet, muddy days I came out of the mountains off the trails in Butano , etc and thawed myself out in the bar there ...

      Some may say Duarte's is one of the polarizing topics among Peninsula hounds. So be it. The line is drawn. Anyone who doesn't love this, or at least appreciate it, ... well, frankly, that diminishes you in my opinion, but it doesn't diminish Duarte's in the least.

      So much is tied up in San Mateo County history, collective memory, culture ... so much for one table of food. When it comes to Duarte's (as with Applejacks, the current Barbara's Fish Trap, nee: Hazel's in HMB... et al) I am unashamedly on one side of the beam: How could you care about regional flavors and regional culture and not appreciate this? This is our heritage. This is what makes us different from Duluth or Dayton or Daytona Beach.

      End of rant ...

      Sushi Monster

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sushi Monster

        Thanks for posting! One cannot live by sushi alone . . . anyway, thought you'd like to read one of the debates about Duarte's linked below. Take note that my request for other spots that make my favorite Duarte's dishes as well has gone unanswered.


        1. re: Melanie Wong

          hello, we enjoy and appreciate Duarte's, but re. your "challenge", please try the ollalieberry pie at Avila Valley Barn (just south of S.L.Obispo). I put theirs ahead of Duarte's and Linn's (Cambria, also highly praised) as does another central coast 'hound (T.Jane?or C.Lover?) Probably just a personal preference thing, from my bias of having made thousands of fruit pies by hand minimally or un-sweetened from fresh fruit. cheers

        2. re: Sushi Monster

          Nicely put, re regional flavors, culture, heritage. Didn't Duarte's used to be a coach stop?

          1. re: Sharuf

            I believe it was (it is, among other things, on "Stage Road").

            Sushi Monster's comments were very eloquently put -- I agree completely. We had one of those quintessential Duarte's meals there with some chowhounds: musseling at Pescadero Beach and an afterhours elephant seal tour at Ano Nuevo (in the rain) was capped off with a convivial dinner, where I had sand dabs for the first time.

            Despite the fact that Duarte's does a brisk tourist trade, it really is the hub of the community. If you head there for an early morning breakfast (as I did once after a dawn tidepooling expedition), you'll find the street outside lined with muddy "working" pickup trucks, and on a winter weekday night, everyone in the bar knows everyone else and the coastside gossip is flying.

            And yeah, that's why we pay the big bucks to live here (that, and not having to shovel snow OR own an air conditioner).

        3. I ate there last week (hadn't been in about a year) and wish I'd had your crab sandwich -- looks great! I was disappointed to learn that you no longer get soup or salad with the meal. Had to have the soup so my total bill was much higher than before. It's always HOT, the way I like it. I always get 1/2 artichoke and 1/2 green chile because I like them both so much. Ordered fried prawns -- they were big, not greasy, very lightly breaded but would have liked 5 instead of only 4. The zucchini was overcooked and mashed potatoes were tasteless. Had to have the ollalieberry pie. Next time you go, go to the general store down the block and get the fresh baked bread with artichoke hearts!!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Walker

            I've had bad luck with the artichoke foccacia. Tried it twice, and both times it was wet and doughy in the center from underbaking. At our lunch at Duarte's, which I'm assuming uses the local bread (maybe not), the sourdough in our bread basket was soggy in the center too.


          2. Here's the new url for the 10% discount coupon, mon-thurs.