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Dinner between Santa Cruz and SF-suggestions?

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Hi there. This coming Fri., after hiking in Santa Cruz, I am hoping to find a good place to eat on or near Highway 1 on the way back to SF. There will be 8 or so of us, no kids. Yummy food (obviously), full bar, non-pretentious,decent vegetarian options, and great ambience are all a plus. Looking to feel like we are away from the city. Some of us (that would be me) are bigger food snobs than others-but we all enjoy fantastic food and at least attentive service.
thanks
(I am a first time poster here..not much for discussion boards by nature-but who the heck doesn't want to talk about food? Anyways-if i have not posted correctly I apologize. The other recent posts on topic I could find were about lunch)

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  1. www.duartestavern.com definitely fits your non-pretentious criteria and a feeling of away from the City!. Check it out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Giselle

      +1 for Duartes. OP's description could have come out of a press release about that place.

      1. re: Shane Greenwood

        Not sure about the vegetarian options, though -- might be pretty limited. And remember: stick to the fresh local fish, the artichoke dishes (the insiders know to order the artichoke soup mixed with the green chile soup) and the "specials" -- everything else can be mediocre.

    2. I don't think Duarte's has a full bar.

      My secret spot when I have the same desire is the San Benito House in Half Moon Bay. It's a century-old hotel with a warm and historic bar (warm is often critical after a day at the "beach"). The attached restaurant is always very, very good although it goes by different names at different times and is seriously underappreciated. Food is always some form of modern/cal/french. The cocktails are solid - GF remembers a dry ice lemon drop - but not up to the very tip-top of SF's cocktail scene.

      The bar area is more casual, and may or may not serve the full restaurant menu. I know they serve some food from the same kitchen. The restaurant also may or may not be open, or be as good as when I last stopped by a year ago. The restaurant area is a little peculiar by modern standards, tables set very far apart and two swinging doors into the kitchen that are always going CA-CHUNK.

      You will feel like you're out of town, and I've always had good service (although sometimes on the sparse side). I love the historic vibe of the place.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Duarte's does indeed have a full bar. In fact, it started as a bar, selling whiskey out of a barrel. Maybe you've never been in the bar, which is a whole separate room, full of dark wood and dusty deer heads.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Oh yeah! Right. My mistake.

          I still like San Benito House. They seem to do very good things with veggies, also. I particularly remember some great carrots and mushrooms. \

          1. re: bbulkow

            thank you all. very appreciative. will check out duartes and san benito.

      2. If you can waive the full bar and enjoy some wine instead, Gibraltar probably has some of the boldest and inventive food and many vegetarian/vegan options on the coast.

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        Cafe Gibraltar
        425 Ave. Alhambra, El Granada, CA 94018

        1. Duarte's would be my choice. Cioppino, half/half (artichoke-chile soup) and Olallieberry pie with one of the last lard crusts (the best for pie hands down) grown up the road at Phipps are all special. Not much for ambience but then again to me there are lots of other places in the bay area for ambience. Duarte's is a treasure and unique and who knows how much longer it will be there. I wouldn't miss it. great simple food (the soup is at least an interesting vegetarian option and quite hearty) with a full bar in a historic landmark.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cakebaker

            You'd have to check that there's no meat/poultry stock in the soup, though.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              So right...I was just about to go back and correct and you did it for me, thanks.

              Note: In the interest of accuracy...I called...the chile soup,(not the artichoke),artichoke omelet,chilled whole artichoke with aioli are the standard vegetarian options. I have gone many times and had a great meal of soup and bread with a salad in case that helps.